Hello fellow tech fans and welcome to yet another Week in Technology for September 11th, 2013. While the world hovers over every word spoken about Syria and chemical weapons, it has actually been quite an eventful week for tech innovations as well. This week’s edition will take a look at NASA’s latest space launch, smart chargers for our smart devices, and California’s quest to turn all of their license plates digital. So sit back, relax, and get ready for another action-packed episode of This Week in Technology.
NASA Orbits the Moon with LADEE
Our first tech story of the day introduces NASA’s latest rocket; it’s the Lunar Atmospheric Dust and Environment Explorer (or NASEE for short). This innovative solar powered space crawler stands less than 8 feet high, but big things can definitely come in little packages. This robot’s goal is to explain the lunar atmosphere around the moon and it’s equipped with four different modules to achieve that task; a Lunar Dust Experiment, a Neutral Mass Spectrometer, an Ultraviolet Spectrometer and a Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration.
For those of you who don’t speak NASA, the LADEE rocket will use various tools to collect particles around the moon’s atmosphere to try and understand what the “weird glow” was that Apollo astronauts have commented on seeing. It will measure both gasses and solids to try and understand the moon’s exosphere and it will send data back on the first true space Internet that will reach speeds of 622 MB per second.
While the LADEE robot isn’t quite to the moon since NASA is running a few test laps around the Earth first, it’s expected to enter the moon’s orbit in less than a month and remain there for approximately 140 total days. We will definitely revisit this story when more information becomes available.
Our next tech story of the day relates to a common frustration that we all face on a daily basis; not enough power for our smartphones. A German company called ClicLite plans to solve this problem with a small keychain-sized solar panel that will naturally soak up the sun’s energy throughout the day. The green LED light on its interface indicates it’s charging and once it holds sufficient power, a smart digital device can be plugged into it directly to receive power. This device is also expandable to hold additional solar cells, which snap together like Legos.
The downside is that with just one solar cell, the ClicLite takes around 10 hours of sunlight to fully charge and it only holds enough juice to bring the latest generation iPhone up to around 20% battery life. When compared to other portable chargers like the PowerPak Extremefrom rising tech company New Trent (which charges via USB and holds enough power to charge the average smartphone six times), the ClicLite certainly isn’t for everyone since its limited in functionality and carries a steep purchase price. It should be coming to US shores within the next 18 months though or it can be ordered directly from European tech stores online.
California Takes License Plates Digital
Our final tech story of the day takes us to the Eureka state of California and a recent decision by the CA State Senate to create digital license plates. We know, it sounds absolutely ridiculous at first, but the reasoning is actually pretty sound. Besides the time it would save residents at the DMV (since digital plates could be “beamed” to them directly after purchasing a vehicle), digital license plates would also function as a GPS beacon that could almost instantly be updated with a message like “STOLEN” or “EXPIRED” whenever the need arose.
We can only assume that the Folsom State prison inmates who have crafted California’s license plates for the past several decades are left scratching their heads, but this idea seems perfectly at home in CA for a number of reasons. While this technology could be viewed as yet another way for the government to track its citizens, most would say that it’s definitely a fair trade-off for not having to deal with our local DMV’s.
Well, that’s all we have for you in This Week in Technology for September 11th, 2013. Be sure to check back with us next week as we continue to search the globe for the latest and greatest tech stories around.