Though he may have been the youngest participant at Geneva's International Exhibition of Inventions, 21-year-old Shervin Taghavi-Larigani presented one of the show's more provocative exhibits--good enough to earn a silver medal. The idea: Convert random noise into electric power.
Operation, as the inventor explains it, would be simple and cost efficient. A dish satellite focuses acoustic waves onto a battery of microphones. Basic circuitry converts the collected frequencies to electricity, charging a condenser, which subsequently functions as a generator.
Shervin Taghavi-Larigani; 102, ave Jean Moulin; 78170 La Celle St. Cloud, France; Tel: +33 39 69 51 52.
Like a bucket brigade, this pump's series of check pistons lifts water from depths reaching 200m. On the downward stroke, the pistons open allowing water in; during upward travel, the pistons close. Mechanical and transmission elements locate above ground for easy repair and replacement. Grand Prize winner of this year's exhibition, the low-tech pump can be operated by hand, battery, or motor.
Sorelec SA; 10, rue de la Bionne; La Motte Saint Euverte, B.P.11; 45801 Saint Jean de Braye, France; Tel: +33 38 75 29 00, Fax: +33 38 75 27 45.
When a vehicle exceeds the pre-selected speed, this electromechanical system signals the driver by stiffening the accelerator pedal. Components include the control unit, an actuator, and Hall effect speed sensor. The actuator, a motor-driven coil spring, attaches to the accelerator cable. The system easily retrofits to existing cars and trucks.
JPN Concepts; 40, rue des Troi Villes; 88100 Saint Die, France; Tel: +33 29 56 69 50, Fax: +33 29 55 21 51.
Auto accidents take only a moment's carelessness or a bit of bad luck. Lookahead (R) reduces a driver's risk by transmitting and receiving beams of infrared light. If partial reflection indicates an obstacle, the system's microcomputer calculates distance and approach speed. By relating this data to the driving style, it can recognize situations in which there is a real danger of collision.
False alarms are suppressed by an adaptive algorithm, which considers the vehicle's own actions such as braking, accelerating, turning, and speed.
S. Szpiro, Montedato, CH-6595 Riazzino; Switzerland, Tel: +41 91 840 9012, Fax: +41 91 840 9015.
Tiny, but smart, ID
Swiss engineers are famous for sub-miniature design. It's no surprise, therefore, to find a Swiss company responsible for the "world's smallest" electronic label. Said to be good for product identification, part traceability, security applications, or electronic money systems, Smart Point (R) offers:
- Up to 600 characters of read/write memory
- Six-character access protection
- On-board power.
Additionally, the Smart Point label can be produced in various forms in accordance to OEM specifications.
Valgay; Gay Frares Vente et Exportation SA; 12, Glacis-de-Rive; 1211 Geneva 3, Switzerland; Tel: +41 22 794 2004; Fax: +41 22 794 2085.
No strings attached
When PhD candidate Nabeel Shirazee was working on his thesis regarding permanent magnet lifting systems, he was approached by a company that wanted to "float" small objects. Shirazee succeeded in designing an electronic circuit/magnet assembly that would suspend a 50g bolt using 5 A current and a 1-cm air gap.
Now, two years later and a partner in his own company, Shirazee can offer systems that will support a 1/2 Kg load across a 5-cm airgap, using as little as 50 mA current. An electro-permanent magnet, placed on a fixed or moveable structure, and a similar magnet mounted on the suspended object, form the system. Attaching high-energy, rare-earth, neodymium-boron-iron permanent magnets to the soft iron core of an electromagnet produces the electro-permanent magnet assembly.
In the near future, Shirazee expects to further lower current consumption "by a factor of four."
Magnetic Suspensions Ltd., Systems House, Vallicot, Glen Maye, Isle of Man IM5 3BJ, UK, Tel: +44 1 624 844 292, Fax: +44 1 624 843 858.
Birotor thermal engine
Also on display in Geneva was an interesting internal combustion engine designed to eliminate the traditional crankshaft and connecting rods. The engine integrates combustion chambers and pistons into juxtaposed rotors that rotate in opposite directions. Patent rights for the compact engine, presently available as a hand-cranked demonstrator only, are available.
Jean-Louis Vergnaud; 16, rue de la clairiare; 17100 Saintes, France; Tel: +33 46 93 07 23.
Gold medal winner Jesus Marques envisions his speed variator in future automobiles. Designed to avoid the abrupt increases in engine speed necessary for gearshifting, the system comprises two cones, identically shaped but inversely positioned.
One cone (A) is linked to the engine via the clutch system; the other cone (B) connects to the transmission. A roller transmits motion from A to B. To work properly, the system incorporates the following design considerations:
1) Cone generators are concave, while those of the roller are convex, reducing wear.
2) Roller axle is inclined relative to the general axis of its course to facilitate progression along the cones.
3) Spring force and a high roller/cone coefficient of friction eliminate slippage.
Jesus Marques, 1265 avenue Saint Martin, 06250 Mougins, France, Tel: +33 92 92 10 00, Fax: +33 92 92 90 40.