iBamboo is an Electricity-Free iPhone Speaker Made from a Piece of Bamboo

iBamboo is an Electricity-Free iPhone Speaker Made from a Piece of Bamboo

by Mark Boyer, 04/20/12

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iPhone users aren’t exactly at a loss when looking for a place to dock their phones these days. But even in a market that’s flooded with a myriad docking and music amplification systems, theiBamboo Speaker by designer Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree manages to separate itself from the pack. The simple-yet-chic design consists of a single piece of bamboo — one of the world’s greenest natural materials — with a slot cut into it where the iPhone is placed. The natural shape of the speaker amplifies the tunes, producing a pseudo-stereo effect that requires no electricity.

This isn’t the first electricity-free iPhone speaker we’ve encountered, but the iBamboo has some notable advantages over the competition. The one-foot-long bamboo tube is lightweight and durable, and because it’s made from natural material, no two speakers will be identical. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, and it produces more oxygen than an equivalent mass of trees.

Earlier this year, Omelchenko told Gizmag that in response to requests for plastic versions of the iBamboo Speaker he was working on prototyping a new version of the speaker that’s made from recycled plastic. The iBamboo Urban design is shaped exactly like the natural bamboo version, and it’s reportedly even more durable. Unlike the original iBamboo speaker, which adds warmth to music and is good for listening to jazz and folk music, Omelchenko tells Gizmagthe that the Urban design has a crisper sound. According to the iBamboo website, the original iBamboo design is currently out of stock, and once it hits the market, the recycled plastic version will retail for $30.

Norway $713bn Sovereign Wealth Fund Flees Currencies Tainted by Stimulus Addiction; Adds Turkey, Taiwan

Norway Fund Flees Currencies Tainted by Stimulus Addiction

Norway’s $713 billion sovereign wealth fund is turning away from the world’s biggest currencies and their debt-laden governments as policy makers undermine their exchange rates through unprecedented stimulus measures.

The Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s largest wealth fund, cut its holdings in French and U.K. government bonds by almost half last year as it raised its share of government bonds in emerging-market currencies to 10 percent of its fixed-income holdings by adding investments in Turkey, Russia and Taiwan.

“It’s what we perceive as a risk-reducing investment strategy,” Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management, said in a March 8 interview in Oslo. Cutting dollar, yen, euro and pound investments is a “prudent” move, he said. “These four major currencies all have structural issues, with regards to government debt, to private sector debt, to unconventional monetary policy, and to growth and the demographic profile of the countries.”

At issue is how central bankers across the globe will eventually unwind the uncharted stimulus measures enacted to prop up global growth since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. Debt levels have soared for governments across much of the developed world. In Europe, political leaders are trying to save the region from a fiscal crisis now in its fourth year. Read more of this post

Future of China Railways Ministry’s US$426bn debt unclear

Future of China Railways Ministry’s US$426bn debt unclear

Staff Reporter

2013-03-11

China’s plan to break up its Ministry of Railways has led to concerns about the ministry’s bulging debt, which it accumulated during the rapid expansion of the railway system in recent years, the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily reports.

The Chinese government announced a restructuring plan on Mar. 10, with one of the main proposed changes being splitting up the Ministry of Railways into a State Railway Administration under the Ministry of Transportation and a state-owned enterprise that will be called China Railway Corp.

The proposed railway administration will play a managerial role at the Railways Ministry, while the state-owned company will be tasked with running railway operations, according to the government announcement.

Since the Ministry of Railways had accrued a total debt of 2.66 trillion yuan (US$426 billion), compared with its total assets of 4.3 trillion yuan (US$689 billion) at the end of September, how this debt will be paid off had become a hot topic of discussion, the newspaper said.

“This is a very important issue. As the Ministry of Railways will cease to exist, the party liable to repay the debt will be different, giving creditors the right to seek immediate repayment or even bring up subsequent litigation,” said Mao Zhenghua, a co-director at the Institute of Economic Research at Renmin University of China. Read more of this post

The vacancy rate of China’s New South China Mall, also known as the world’s largest shopping mall, has reached 99% since its opening in 2005

World’s largest mall is ghostly quiet

Staff Reporter

2013-03-11

The vacancy rate of China’s New South China Mall, also known as the world’s largest shopping mall, has reached 99% since its opening in 2005, reports caijing.com, a Chinese-language website specializing in financial news.

The shopping mall — which was built off of a total of 4.5 billion yuan (US$723.7 billion) in investments — is located in Dongguan of China’s southern Guangdong province. The 450,000 square meter mammoth can accommodate 2,350 stores and 8,000 parking lots. However, the near 99% vacancy rate has earned it the less fortunate name of “ghost mall” by the Chinese people. Read more of this post

China hoarding over half of global cotton reserves

China hoarding over half of global cotton reserves

Staff Reporter

2013-03-11

China’s cotton reserves reached 9.28 million tons in February, accounting for 52% of global reserves, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

As of Feb. 1, reserves stood at 6.15 million tons, accounting for 83% of the country’s cotton reserves expected in 2013, according to texnet.com.cn, a leading Chinese-language textile website. The record stockpiles will make it difficult for the country to control its reserves for the rest of the year.

The partial release of national reserves of cotton into the textile industry in February further lowered the market price, leading to a record low turnover rate. Read more of this post

Technology forecasting: A new “step and wait” model claims to outperform industry rules of thumb in predictive power; advances in performance are often followed by a waiting period before the next step forward

Predicting the Path of Technological Innovation: SAW Versus Moore, Bass, Gompertz, and Kryder

Ashish Sood, Gareth M. James, Gerard J. Tellis, and Ji Zhu*

Marketing Science

Abstract

Competition is intense among rival technologies and success depends on predicting their future trajectory of performance. To resolve this challenge, managers often follow popular heuristics, generalizations, or “laws” like the Moore’s Law. We propose a model, Step And Wait (SAW), for predicting the path of technological innovation and compare its performance against eight models for 25 technologies and 804 technologies-years across six markets. The estimates of the model provide four important results. First, Moore’s Law and Kryder’s law do not generalize across markets; none holds for all technologies even in a single market. Second, SAW produces superior predictions over traditional methods, such as the Bass model or Gompertz law, and can form predictions for a completely new technology, by incorporating information from other categories on time varying covariates. Third, analysis of the model parameters suggests that: i) recent technologies improve at a faster rate than old technologies; ii) as the number of competitors increases, performance improves in smaller steps and longer waits; iii) later entrants and technologies that have a number of prior steps tend to have smaller steps and shorter waits; but iv) technologies with long average wait time continue to have large steps. Fourth, technologies cluster in their performance by market.

The law and the profits

Technology forecasting: A new “step and wait” model claims to outperform industry rules of thumb in predictive power

Mar 9th 2013 |From the print edition

PREDICTING the course of technological progress can be a risky business. Scorn the latest advances and you risk being left behind, as when Sony kept investing in flat-screen versions of cathode-ray televisions in the 1990s while Samsung piled into liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), and eventually replaced Sony as market leader. Embrace new ideas too early, though, and you may be left with egg on your face, as when General Motors spent more than $1 billion developing hydrogen fuel cells a decade ago, only to see them overtaken by lithium-ion batteries as the preferred power source for electric and hybrid vehicles.

To determine when to proceed with a new technology many managers and engineers employ popular heuristics, some of which are seen as “laws”. The best known is Moore’s law, proposed in 1965 by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel. At first it stated that as more transistors are crammed onto the surface of silicon chips, the devices double in performance every year. This law was later revised to two years, and chip performance is now usually reckoned to double every 18 months. Other laws use “S” curves and various other calculations to predict how technologies will evolve.

Many of these laws have become widely accepted and are now applied when drawing conclusions about a broad range of technologies. Some have become self-fulfilling. Chipmakers, for example, use Moore’s law to co-ordinate their research and development (R&D) activity and plan their capital investment. In reality, however, such laws are unreliable because progress is rarely smooth. So Ashish Sood of the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University, Atlanta, and his colleagues have come up with their own law, which is explicitly based on the tendency of technology to progress in stops and starts.

Their “step and wait” (SAW) model, recently published in Marketing Science, notes that advances in performance are often followed by a waiting period before the next step forward. The steps can be big or small, and the waiting periods long or short. The researchers also hypothesise that greater support for innovation means new technologies improve in larger and more frequent steps than old technologies did. This is the result of higher R&D spending, the existence of better tools and the fact that more countries are undertaking research. But as the number of competitors in a new field increases, both the size of the steps and the length of the wait for the next step can change. Read more of this post

A new invention lets pacemakers scavenge the energy to power their circuitry from the motion of the beating heart itself

Let’s have a heart-to-heart

Medical technology: A new invention lets pacemakers scavenge the energy to power their circuitry from the motion of the beating heart itself

Mar 9th 2013 |From the print edition

IN 1958 a priest named Gerardo Flórez, then 70 years old, was blessed with the world’s first artificial pacemaker. The device kept his heart ticking in good order for another 18 years. It connected to the heart externally, weighed 45kg (100lb) and was powered by a 12-volt battery that had to be lugged around on a cart and recharged every 72 hours.

Since the 1950s pacemakers, which use electrical impulses to regulate a beating heart, have shrunk substantially, as have their power packs. But scientists would dearly love to get rid of the batteries altogether. Even the best modern ones run out every 7-10 years and patients must undergo surgery to have replacements installed. The process can be painful, expensive and can lead to infection.

One approach, being pursued by some researchers, is to deliver the necessary energy wirelessly. Some designs beam energy to a receiving coil in an implanted device, and others use an external pacemaker that wirelessly stimulates an electrode implanted in the heart.

Another possibility is to scavenge energy from the natural processes occurring in the patient’s body. In 2011 a group of Swiss engineers installed a tiny turbine inside a simulated artery which was propelled by a bloodlike fluid flowing through it. And now Amin Karami and his colleagues at the University of Michigan have figured out a way to power a pacemaker by harvesting energy produced by the very heart it is nudging along.

This is not a new idea, and Dr Karami’s approach, like previous attempts, relies on so-called piezoelectric materials, which produce a current when subjected to mechanical stress—in this case the vibrations caused by a beating heart. Those earlier efforts stumbled, however, because the piezoelectric components were only able to harvest enough energy to power a pacemaker if the vibrations fell within a narrow frequency range. As a result, they worked for a limited range of heart rates, typically between 58 and 63 beats per minute. Any lower (as when sleeping) or higher (during physical exertion, say) and the piezoelectric elements did not produce enough oomph. Dr Karami’s “non-linear harvester”, by contrast, still works at heart rates of 20 to 600 beats per minute. Read more of this post

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