Future Tech: Plus…a battery-powered private jet & visual lyric speakers.
Standard lenses could be replaced with ‘optical phased array’ chips
Even as our phones get thinner, there’s one spot that keeps sticking out: the camera lens. Taking good pictures and being able to focus at multiple distances requires a layer of glass that’s a certain size, but there’s really no getting around it — or is there?
Researchers at Caltech have devised an “optical phased array” chip that uses math as a substitute for a lens. By adding a time delay — down to a quadrillionth of a second — to the light received at different locations on the chip, it can change focus without a lens.
According to Professor Ali Hajimiri, it “can switch from a fish-eye to a telephoto lens instantaneously — with just a simple adjustment in the way the array receives light.” The principle is similar to the way phased communication arrays can focus and steer radio waves in a particular direction, but working in reverse.
Climb aboard this elegant electric jet
If you’re just coming around to the idea of battery-powered cars, prepare for the next onslaught, because the future of flight is electric too. And just as with ground vehicles, nothing pushes along new tech like some sex appeal. Tesla did that for cars, with sleek looks and ludicrous acceleration. Now, Eviation Aircraft wants to do the same for the sky. At last week’s Paris Air Show, the Israeli company unveiled a prototype electric light aircraft, a private jet without the jet engines.
Eviation says that because it designed the Alice Commuter plane to be all-electric from the outset (instead of converting an existing model), it could re-imagine key components, like the design of the spindly looking composite airframe, and placement of the motors, without the usual constraints of heavy engines and fuel tanks.
And so the Alice Commuter looks like the future should: sleek, white, and pointy. Round portholes dot the length of the cabin, which can carry up to nine people and two crew. The plane, 40 feet long with a 44-foot wingspan, is roughly the same size as the Beechcraft King Air, one of the most popular turboprop light aircraft. The plane’s distinctive twin-tailed design is reminiscent of a Global Hawk military drone.
A stylish new speaker that displays song lyrics
From The Verge:
Japanese company COTODAMA recently made its visual lyric speaker available in the US, and the device features translucent screens that display a song’s lyrics as it plays. COTODAMA says it’s “the first lyrical listening speaker available to the public.”
First released in Japan last year, the COTODAMA Lyric Speaker features slick, minimal-looking housing made of translucent TFT LCD panels sandwiched between acrylic. There are two speakers on the front with a volume knob, and a circular disc on the back that holds the computer generating the displayed lyrics and graphics. Handmade in Japan, only 15 COTODAMA speakers are produced each month.
When music plays on the speaker, the back panel turns a milky white, and the front displays animated lyrics. The speaker’s technology is linked with SyncPower Corporation (PetitLyrics), Japan’s largest lyrics database. Once it recognizes a song, it analyzes the mood and its “expression engine” chooses fonts and animations accordingly.
See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across.