2008 brought with it numerous advances in computer technology, including a new speed record for magnetic memories set by German researchers, a new switch that could allow the internet to become 60 times faster than current networks, developed by scientists at the University of Sydney, and a high speed, close proximity wireless transfer technology called TransferJet currently under development by computing giants such as Sony, Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Pioneer, Toshiba, Samsung and many others.
Storage has also evolved considerably since 2007and we have continued to follow the development of solid state drives including Toshiba’s new 256GB SSD, ioSAN’s superfast (and super expensive) SSD, as well as a look into the future of the SSD market. In addition to the SSD market, TFOT covered several other storage related technologies including the development of new laser hard drives, a new 32GB NAND flash memory developed by Toshiba, and a special SDHC storage card developed by the Taiwanese company A-DATA for Eee-PCs.
In 2008 TFOT looked at countless gadgets from across the world. We covered several advanced cell phones (and Pocket PC Phones), such as the HTC S-740 smartphone, the HTC touch diamond, and the more recent HTC Touch HD. We also covered the Samsung Haptic SPH-W4200, the more advanced and finally the Sony Ericsson C905 Cyber-Shot with an 8.1 Megapixel camera. On a lighter note, we also covered a German technology that allows cellular phone users to send and receive scents.
The micro projector is a gadget that made its first commercial market appearance in late 2008. TFOT previously covered a prototype pocket projector in 2007, developed by the Israeli company Explay. Although Explay’s projector has yet to reach the market, several other pocket projectors are already available including Optoma’s pocket projector and Aiptek’s iPhone sized pocket projector.
Robots have always had a special place in TFOT and 2008 was no different. We looked at a grasshopper inspired jumping robot developed at the University of Bath in the U.K., a multi-agent autonomous rotorcraft developed at Stanford University and self learning helicopters developed by a team from MIT. TFOT also covered several robotic rovers developed for a variety of tasks including Scarab, the autonomous lunar rover developed at Carnegie Mellon, the iRobot Negotiator developed by the iRobot Corporation, and SnowMote – the robotic arctic explorer developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
TFOT covered several aquatic robots in 2008. Among these you can find the Seaglider Explorer developed at the University of Washington, the Odyssey IV, hovering underwater robot developed by researchers from MIT and capable of hovering in one place like a helicopter, and the GhostSwimmer spy vehicle developed at the Boston Engineering Corporation. A different type of aquatic robot is the amphibious snake-like robot developed at the Hirose-Fukushima Robotics Lab in Japan, which moves in the water just like a real, flesh and blood snake.
In 2008 TFOT covered many nanotech and advanced materials stories. We looked at the development of super strong antimicrobial coatings by a team from the Auburn University in Alabama, which could have a range of applications in home appliances, medicine, aerospace, and national defense. Another super material we covered is a new ‘super paper‘, said to be stronger than cast iron, which was developed by a group of researchers in Sweden and Japan.
The energy crisis led to renewed interest in green technologies. During 2008 we covered many advanced solar cell technologies including a flexible nanoantenna which can capture abundant solar energy, developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, as well as a new way to improve solar cells by adding imperfections which could allow for reduced cost and better power conversion. We also looked at a new type of bendy solar cells developed by researchers at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore, a new method which could double the efficiency of solar cells, developed at the University of Washington, and more recently better plastic solar cells under development at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in Switzerland.
In 2008, we also looked at many green cars, including the futuristic fuel cell based Honda FC sport and the more “conventional” hybrid Honda Insight. Many other companies have also unveiled future green models including General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, which is scheduled to be launched in 2010, and Chrysler’s hybrid Jeep Renegade concept.
Aside from green cars we also covered several other advanced vehicles and transportation technologies in 2008. Among other topics, we looked at the fastest bullet train in Japan, a new Hyper-Sub Powerboat and the Triton 1000 Personal Sub.
Defense and Security
Although 2008 didn’t make the world a safer place to live in, some defense and security related technologies covered by TFOT this year might. We looked at a new camera under development in the U.K., which can literally ‘see’ under clothes, as well as a portable plastic explosives detector developed by the Maryland based company RedXDefense of Rockville. Another surveillance related technology covered by TFOT is SpyFinder, which was developed by C&C Technology as a personal gadget used to detect and locate possible hidden cameras.
We examined many unmanned vehicles including the Stingray Project developed by the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, and the Yamaha’s Terrascout autonomous vehicle. In 2008 we covered over half a dozen different unmanned flying vehicles including the Voyeur – autonomous UAV developed by Lite Machines Corp, the Excalibur – armed UAV project, the U.S. Coast Guard upcoming new UAVs and the United States Special Operations Command’s new Hummingbird UAVs.