Technology fit for an April Fool
In the spirit of April Fools’ Day, we explore some technology that seems too unbelievable to be true, but is 100 per cent real.
Yet, some technology we think of as some kind of joke – whether it’s too ridiculous to believe, or seemingly impossible – actually exists. In celebration of April Fools’ Day, let’s have a look at what we found.
Active denial system
Yet, like the powers of Superman without the weird external pants, the Active Denial System (ADS) is actually a heat ray. It normally sits on military vehicles and looks mighty scary. However, it is a non-lethal directed-energy weapon from the United States.
China and Russia have worked on their own heat/pain rays in recent years, too.
Selective hearing earbuds
It also does all that you’d expect from a techy pair of wireless headphones, like music streaming and touch-controlled phone calls.
The company is still tweaking the product – it is working on extending the poor two-hour battery life – but the Here One seems to be a pretty unbelievable gadget. On paper at least. https://hereplus.me/
Measuring Big Ben’s bong
Engineers from the University of Leicester recently mapped the vibrations of London’s most famous bell to try and discover why it produces such a ‘harmonious’ sound.
The team are part of the Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Centre (ASDEC) at the university, and measured four of Ben’s chimes from 9am until noon.
Working with the BBC, the ASDEC engineers measured the structural dynamics of Big Ben in an unprecedented level of detail after being given exclusive access to the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster.
Using two scanning laser Doppler vibrometers, they created a 3D computer model of Big Ben, and then used lasers to map vibrations in the metal as the bell bonged. For some reason. Sometimes I think that people in the creative team at the BBC run out of ideas.
density vibration measurements without any loss of accuracy or precision.
Martin Cockrill, a technical specialist from the university’s Department of Engineering, who leads ASDEC’s measurement team said: “Aside from technical aspects, one of the most challenging parts of the job was carrying all of our equipment up the 334 steps of the spiral staircase to the belfry. Then to get everything set up before the first chime, we were literally working against the clock.” Chortle.
They were able to get over 500 measurements across the bell’s surface, which they couldn’t have done with previous technologies.
The clock tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.
The super-exciting findings were revealed in a BBC4 documentary early in March called ‘Sound Waves: The Symphony of Physics’. I bet you all tuned in to watch the riveting experiment.
The single-seat aircraft from manufacturer Hoversurf can lift a person in the air with full passenger control.
The Scorpion-3 ‘hoverbike’ uses drone quadcopter technology and a typical motorbike design to let the rider control the aircraft like riding a (motor)bike, for up to 27 minutes.
According to Scorpion-3’s makers, it can get you 10 metres up in the air, carry up to 19 stone (120kg) in weight and hit speeds of 30mph. There’s a safety mechanism built in though, so riders can’t go too crazy on it.
For $150,000, I expected more. Like a heat ray that beams out of its headlights.
The creators hope that this kind of product will be the future of transport, replacing cars as the obvious choice of travel, but for now its just for extreme sport.
It’s a shame, because VR is quietly developing into something quite extraordinary, with new products and add-ons surfacing all the time, like VR shoes from Japanese firm Cerevo, which make you feel like you’re walking the terrain of the virtual worlds you explore.
As well as touch, scent is also a big deal if you want to get even more immersed into your favourite fantasy world.
So you can have a kind of 4D cinematic experience in your own home, but you have to wear a kind of claustrophobia-inducing mask/motorbike-type helmet.
There are lots of scents available such as the sea, strawberries, hay grass and the jungle. There’s even an aphrodisiac smell, whatever that is.
The FeelReal mask is wireless so you’ll be able to hobble around on your Cerevo shoes, smelling the virtual world around you in your living room. You can even choose a meat scent, for all your VR barbeque needs. Or burning enemies, depending on your mood.
Pop on the headset, have some stink vaporised onto your face and smell the coffee or fire. Or feet.
Hushme voice muffler
There’s another use for it too – it has built-in speakers, so when the self-awareness kicks in and you realise you look like a numpty, you can use it as speaker for your music. Neat. http://gethushme.com/