Newsletter | July 13th, 2017
This week we’re talking about electric bike-sharing programs 🚲⚡, a new phone that doesn’t need a battery 😒, cryptocurrency using more energy than small nations, and an AR device that screws in like a light bulb. Now let’s get lit… 💡
Electric bike-sharing in Denmark, it’s moving 🚲⚡
Bike-sharing programs have spread from San Francisco to Shanghai, but what about newly emerging electric bike-sharing programs? In Copenhagen, their Bycyklen program is really growing in ridership, from 169,000 in 2015 to 933,000 last year. The program started in 2013, and took two years to reach maturity, installing all docking stations and delivering all bicycles.
The bikes themselves are pretty fancy (and expensive), with their own tablet computer embedded into specially designed handlebars. Users can use the tablet to log in to unlock the bicycle, manage account information, navigate to their destination, and find nearby docking stations. A similar program exists in Madrid, but E-bike sharing hasn’t hit the same level of success in the U.S. One possible reason for this may be that many in the U.S. enjoy bike-sharing programs for the exercise. However, not as much for mixing up their daily commute.
First cellphone makes calls without a battery 📱
You may have seen wireless charging in some Starbucks here and there. Offering free charging like that is pretty cool. But what’s even cooler, is not having to worry about charging at all. Would a battery-free phone mean no more hunchback iPhones? Maybe. University of Washington researchers have the best clue of how close we are to this dream world.
They invented a cellphone that requires no batteries, as the phone harvests microwatts of power from ambient radio signals and light. The technology has been detailed in a paper publish this month, called Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitious Technologies. You can’t play games or listen to music, but their phone is able to make Skype calls within a limited distance, depending on whether the phone is powered by radio signals or light. 😮👏
Electricity requirements of crypto surpasses a few nations ⚡⚡
Power use in mining Ethereum and Bitcoin has surged so dramatically that the collective amount of electricity now surpasses that of a small country. Bitcoin alone has an energy consumption on par with Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan 🇹🇲 isn’t even that small of a country, let alone energy-consumer, ranking 81st in the global energy consumption. Here’s another way to put this energy consumption in context. The latest Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index states that the average Bitcoin transaction requires 163 kilowatt hours (KWh) of electricity, enough to power the average U.S. household for about five and a half days.
Ethereum on the other hand has an average energy consumption that is roughly a third of Bitcoin, or 49Kwh. Though even Ethereum energy consumption nears the entire energy consumption of Moldova 🇲🇩 (120th globally). Essentially, Bitcoin & Ethereum may be doing some incredible things for the world, but they don’t seem to be that energy efficient. Hard to imagine Venmo or Chase Quickpay reaching the same energy consumption rates per transaction, but that’s comparing apples and oranges.
Just screw in your AR like a light bulb? 💡
Ok, this one’s a prototype so don’t pull your wallet out just yet. With all the devices the consumer device world wants to sell you, where do you put them all? Well, an interesting project from the researchers at the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University have come up wtih an AR-device powered by a lightbulb socket. That means no more competing for desk-space or outlets for that matter. It’s called Desktopography.
Robert Xiao is a graduate student leading the project, and explains that it uses a small projecter, depth sensor, and computer to project images onto surfaces. The two interesting parts, it screws into a lightbulb socket – possibly a desk-lamp or overhead light – and the augmented reality projections can move to stay out of objects already on your desk. One interesting example involved projecting an interactive calculator on a desk. Unfortunately, he estimates that it could take 5 years to make it a real commercial product, but with the rate of progress in the field it could be a lot sooner.