News Column

The Week - Science and Environment

June 22, 2014

William Mwangi

Embu town is the third urban centre in Kenya to launch a free wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) network, as the county government seeks to advance its technological infrastructure.Wi-fi is a technical standard that enables transmission of data over wireless networks.

Governor Martin Wambora said the establishment of hot-spots for free Wi-fi is one of the county's commitment to ensure improvement of the living standards of the people.

"We are now connecting all our sub-counties with fibre cable, establishment of hot spots for free Wi-fi and building up of technological institutes.This will open up markets locally and internationally for farmers to sell their produce,"he said.

Wambora has also launched an ICT park and incubator sheds.

Would you drive a urine car?

The world produces around 10.5 billion litres of urine each day - enough to fill 4,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.While most of us will label this as waste, scientists from Korea University are hoping to use urine to someday generate power for vehicles, homes and cities.

This, they claim, would be done by replacing expensive platinum used in current fuel cells with carbon naturally found in human waste. Fuel cells are a promising technology that convert chemical energy into electricity by reacting hydrogen and oxygen. The study was led by Jong-Sung Yu of Korea University, who said there are other environmental benefits that come with treating urine as a commodity rather than a waste product.He argues that fewer pollutants, such as leftover drugs, from urine would reach water bodies. As well as fuel cells, the carbon they recover from urine could also be used in battery applications.

New solar lease model to ease access to power:

Companies seeking to invest in solar power generation as a source of cheaper power generation as a source of cheaper electricity but cannot raise enough capital can now benefit from a new leasing model where they raise minimal up front capital and a commitment to buy the electricity.

The new industrial scale solar lease model has been introduced in the market by East Africa Solar.

The firm participated in the construction of 1MW solar power park opened at Williamson Tea in Kericho recently. The lease model will be utilized for the construction of another 1MW roof mounted solar power park for an upcoming shopping mall along Thika superhighway.

The leasing model could be a game changer in industrial scale solar power projects in Kenya as more companies are seeking alternative, cheaper and green energy because of the increasing cost of national grid electricity sold by Kenya Power.

Philips ultrasound tablets in Kenya:

Electronics maker Royal Philips has unveiled its new ultra-mobile ultrasound system VISIQ to the Kenyan market. The VISIQ tablet is portable and easy to use so it's available for expectant mothers in remote areas. Philips said it provides high quality images for expectant mothers wherever care is taking place. The new system demonstrates the company's dedicated support to the Kenyan Ministry of Health in its mission to improve maternal health, the company said. "We are very eager to contribute to the Vision2030 goals of the Kenyan government to improve access to quality care for all Kenyans," says Peter van de Ven, Vice President & General Manager, Philips Healthcare Africa.

Samsung launches smart bikes:

Samsung has launched a prototype bike that fuses traditional cycling design with modern safety features.

The Samsung 'Smart Bike' comes complete with GPS, rear-view camera, a curved frame, a live video feed and even its own laser beams.

The bike can turn on the lane markers automatically, using an ambient light sensor that can tell when it is getting dark.

Additionally, a GPS system tracks people's daily routes and lets local authorities know which ones should be turned into real bike-lanes

The bike also has a blind-spot detector to alert a rider to potential danger by vibrating the handlebars.

The frame itself is made of curved aluminium, which helps absorb some of the vibrations from the road before they hit the rider.

At the front of the frame is a magnetic smartphone mount that lets riders connect the bike to their phone to track distance, speed and direction.

A rear-view camera allows cyclists to keep an eye on traffic as it approaches from behind, with video streamed to the bike-mounted smartphone.

Samsung, along with collaborators Giovanni Pelizzoli and Alice Biotti, introduced the prototype for its Smart Bike at a design trade show in Milan earlier this year.

'World's smallest' pacemaker fitted for first time in England:

The world's smallest pacemaker has been fitted inside the heart of a UK patient, medics have said.

The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System was fitted for the first time in England at Southampton General Hospital.

Consultant cardiologist Prof John Morgan said the procedure was a "landmark moment".

He said the device was "not much larger than an antibiotic pill" and was one tenth the size of traditional models.

Currently, pacemakers, which use electrical impulses to regulate the beating of the heart, are inserted under the skin and connected to the heart via a lead.

The lead carries electrical signals to correct slow or irregular heartbeats, but they can require replacement due to broken or dislodged wires.

The new device can be implanted directly in the heart and delivers electrical impulses from an electrode, removing the need for a lead.

Prof Morgan said: "In addition to the advantages of the device's size and wireless technology, the procedure reduces the risk of infection and extended recovery time associated with traditional, more invasive surgical pacemaker implants.

"This a big step forward in patient treatment and a milestone for cardiac rhythm management in the UK."

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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