This would certainly benefit Rainforest Connection with their cell phone monitoring project for illegal deforestation. Their using solar cells to power old cell phones that listen for the tell-tale sound of chainsaws cutting down trees.
Powering the device by using television and cellular transmissions in the air would be a revolutionary thing even without any communication capability. People are availing communication services provided by a number of companies. Dead battery is a problem many times especially for on field professionals. If there could be such power source, people won't bother if it gives them the ability of free communication or not.
@ Mydesign, you have posed a relevant question because it is not mentioned in the article whether power is actually stored in the device's battery or it is just a live source of power and dies away as soon as the source is turned off. I would love if ambient power could be stored somehow.
Although studies show that nearly everyone is a linguistic sponge for the first few years of life, some people acquire language more easily than others, and can continue to do so later on. I've noticed it runs in families; mine, for instance. I still remember some of the French I learned in high school and used when I was there in my 20s, and two other immediate family members were nearly bilingual in Spanish. For other people, learning hands-on stuff like auto repair or cooking, gardening, sewing or construction is easy to learn at any time in life.
But I agree--it's best to start with some things earlier in life.
I meant to comment on this earlier and forgot. Yes, this is totally true especially in one case (something I struggle with all the time living in a foreign country): language. I am still not a fluent Portuguese speaker (I get by, but it's not great) after nearly four years in this country, yet I watch chlidren with parents from different countries chatter away in each of their parents' languages and English, too (if it's not one of their parents' first languages). Kids really are sponges! Shame our brains turn to mush for these sort of things as we age.
Yes, Ann, I have to say...now that I am approaching middle age I realize the most useful things I have learned in my life I did not learn in school. But it's also good because it means I still get to learn new things all the time, which keeps life fun and interesting. :)
Elizabeth, I agree--at some point, schools started eliminating anything useful or practical, or fun: art, music, P.E., sewing/cooking or wood/metal shop. Regarding continuing education, I've been a lifelong learner. In high school I basically taught myself how to use simple carpentry tools. Now there's a ton of free how-to videos on YouTube to learn just about anything you can imagine. So in some ways there's a lot more than before. But I agree--it's best to start with some things earlier in life.
MyDesign, for a few years now, we're seen devices produced that receive their energy from vibrations in the air do to traffic on freeways or traffic over bridges. While this technology allows devices to work without batteries, the device does need to be within range of vibration. The devices described in the article could be placed anywhere, since the power they grab from the air is everywhere.
You are lucky, Ann--I didn't get to learn any of that stuff in school (neither cooking nor sewing...nor shop-like things like working with tools) and had to learn much of it in the school of life, so to speak. There are definitely things I wish someone had taught me when I was young and more sponge-like. The adult mind doesn't absorb things as fast or easily. Of course, the experience of discovering and learning new things over the years has definitely been rewarding.
Indeed, JimT, while this capability has been around for a long time, the ability to get it out there to the masses would be game-changing indeed. Perhaps we're not far off, given the amount of research going into this space at the moment.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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