October 7, 2016

Dutch students make dart containing Go Pro camera

Filed under: Film,Gadgets by Orangemaster @ 5:23 pm

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Three students from the University of Twente, Nick Schijvens, Pablo Trautwein and Mark de Boer, have developed a big plastic dart with a Go Pro camera inside it, called ‘Throw your Go Pro’, made by their startup, AER. The idea was to get the most out of a GoPro camera and bring it onto the market, with some help from crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The money seemed to be pouring in, with close to 59,000 euro as I write this – their goal is 70,000 euro in another 27 days, which sounds like it will hit the mark.

The gadget has a GoPro mounted into a flying dart which you can throw into the air to create cool aerial footage. Have a look yourself at what AER have shot on their instragram.

(Link: kennispark, Photo: AER)

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March 23, 2016

Robot falcon wins Tech Transfer award in Ljubljana

Filed under: Animals,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:02 pm

geese-don-deboldA mechanic peregrine falcon was named the best innovation of the year at the European Robotics Forum in Ljubljana this week, Tubantia reports.

The winning robot is called Robird and is made by Clear Flight Solutions from Enschede, a spin-off of the University of Twente. It mimics the flight of the peregrine falcon and is used to keep the air space near airports clear from birds such as geese.

In an interview in 2014 with RTV Noord Holland (see below), CEO Nico Nijenhuis said that real falcons will only hunt when hungry. They also tire quickly. “Once [a peregrine falcon] has made two flights in a row, it’s really tired. [Our robot] on the other hand keeps going. You swap out a battery and it’s good to go.”

Clear Flight Solutions received 1.6 million euro in funding from the Cottonwood Technology Fund last week and is in talks with Schiphol Airport for a pilot project [pun unavoidable]. Nijenhuis told RTL Nieuws last week: “Dutch rules are very strict, but we expect to have our paperwork in order within six weeks.”

See also: Scaring off seagulls with drones in Haarlem

(Photo of geese flying by Don DeBold, some rights reserved)

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December 1, 2015

Spencer the robot helps airport passengers get around

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 12:03 pm

Yesterday Schiphol Airport started tests with a robot to help passengers find their gates, which are often missed due to short transfer times, delayed flights, problems getting around the airport and language barriers.

Spencer the autonomous robot guide (see picture in the link) was designed by the University of Twente together with European partners from Sweden, France, Germany and Switzerland for KLM. The robot won’t drive into a group of travellers, but wait calmly until that group approaches it. “Spencer needs to be able to recognise group behaviour and obstacles, such as baggage trolleys as well as respond to unforeseen situations”. Tests are being carried out this week and won’t involve actual passengers just yet, something that will be done in March 2016 with a new and improved Spencer.

I happened to land at Schiphol yesterday on a day where it had closed down all but one runway due to very strong winds. On my flight, which left and hour and fifteen minutes behind schedule and had us in a turbulent holding pattern above Schiphol, many passengers had already missed their connections or had very short transfer times. I can imagine that when you’re in a rush to get the right answer, a robot may not be able to pick up on your stress, a bit like the photocopier that senses your panic and just won’t print. Then you’d want to talk to a human, as already postulated earlier this year by the University of Twente: “a social robot with an overly human appearance creates an unrealistic sense of expectation for most Dutch people”.

(Link: www.kennislink.nl, screenshot from the video Smart Homes)

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January 17, 2015

Scientist predicts more river floods in the Netherlands

Filed under: Nature,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:33 pm

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University of Twente writes:

In the future, due to climate change and corresponding extremely high water levels, rivers in the Netherlands will be more likely to break their banks. This was the conclusion reached by Dutch researcher Suleyman Naqshband […]. River dunes in the major rivers of the Netherlands tend to persist and not flatten out, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.

River dunes in this case is the somewhat unfortunate name for sand structures at the bottom of the river. Apparently they are quite common in Dutch rivers. The university adds:

These river dunes can reach large sizes, growing to as much as one third of the total water depth. This restricts the flow of water, causing water levels in the area of river dunes to be much higher than in sections of the river in which they are absent. River dunes are also dynamic, growing rapidly in just a few days then flattening out or even disappearing completely at extremely high flow rates.

(Photo of the river Meuse overflowing in 1980: Martin Collin)

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July 21, 2013

Cardboard dividers nets HEMA design award

Filed under: Design,Dutch first by Branko Collin @ 9:25 pm

The 2013 HEMA design award was won by Tessa Eising, a student at the University of Twente, for her laminated rectangular cardboard space dividers.

The dividers have one folding edge at both one short and one long side with a label you can write on. The idea is that you put them in a cupboard, fold the edge, write your name on it, and put your stuff on it. As we wrote a couple of days ago, Dutch students often share a flat because of the high rents and they often need to figure out ways to determine who owns what. (In my student days, we shared most of the food and wrote our name on the packaging in the rare cases we needed to reserve something for ourselves.)

Another nominated design that I liked is Kim Monster’s ‘spider’ which you screw onto a standard soda bottle filled with water. Put the bottle ‘feet first’ in a planter and you’ve got a drip for your plants. There is also the travel bottle by Zsolt Hayde with two caps, one for dispensing whatever cream you put into it, the other for cleaning it when it’s empty. Handy for these paranoid times where governments won’t let their electorate onto planes with full bottles.

The HEMA design contest is held every year by the department store of the same name. Winning designs sometimes end up in the store, and it seems that first prize winners are sold through HEMA’s web shop. I have seen 2011’s winner Vrachtpatser, an extension for your bicycle’s luggage rack, in the wild a couple of times. This years prizes were awarded at a ceremony held 11 June at the OBA, the Amsterdam public library.

(Photo: HEMA)

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December 1, 2012

Microscopic pyramids can cage living cells

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 3:37 pm

Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a way of trapping cells in microscopic pyramids.

According to the university, these pyramids allow the study of cells in a three dimensional environment. “Compounds and protein-like deposits were soon seen forming between cells in nearby pyramids. Changes in cell phenotype can therefore be studied better than in a flat plane, as this is the right way to grow cells. This yields a promising tool for research into such things as tissue regeneration.”

Building microscopic silicone pyramids was accidentally discovered. The technology can also be used to make microscopic writing utensils.

(Link: New Scientist. Photo of a macroscopic pyramid by Wilhelm Joys Andersen, some rights reserved.)

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March 1, 2012

‘My fast Internet connection is more accessible than yours’

Filed under: General,IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:30 am

As of today, the Dutch University of Twente in Enschede has the fastest Internet connection in the world, clocking in at 1 Gigabit upload and download speed. The only thing that comes close is the Google campus in Stanford, California. However, the big difference is Twente is the first university to be able to offer super fast Internet to its students and campus residents, while the Google connection lets people connect to and from home, but isn’t campus wide.

IT department and students set up the network at Twente, not some corporation. ‚ÄúThere are strict rules regarding the use and content of the university network. The upload limit of 50 GB per week will be maintained and any complaints about illegal uploads will be treated seriously.”

Stanford, it’s your move.

(Link: www.utwente.nl, www.npr.org)

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November 28, 2010

Internet use of lesser educated people trumps that of better educated people

Filed under: Online by Branko Collin @ 1:53 pm

Says the Trend Report Computer and Internet Usage 2010 of the University of Twente (PDF, p. 54):

The differences [in the amount of Internet use] are the most noticeable where education and social position are taken into account. On average people with a lesser education use the Internet more per day than people with a higher education— some 3.1 as compared to 2.6 hours. The unemployed and people unfit for work use the Internet on average 4.0 and 4.1 hours respectively per day, whereas working people average 2.6 hours. This suggests that the available time is an important factor. […] In the past 20 to 25 years it was the better educated who were the pioneers of Internet access.

The report unfortunately does not define ‘better educated’ and ‘lesser educated’ (in fact, it measures along three education levels, but does not define any of them).

Also notable is that the higher educated use the Internet far more to educate themselves further than the lesser educated do. (p. 41)

(Link: Blik op Nieuws. Photo by Woolie Monster, some rights reserved.)

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December 6, 2009

Spin polarisation achieved at room temperature

Filed under: Science,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:04 pm

We could hardly contain ourselves either, but then we found out what Engadget is getting so excited about, and it is pretty nifty.

Electronic particles don’t just have or constitute a charge, but also a spin direction. If you have a medium, say a hard disk that works by setting the charge of particles, you can add an extra dimension of information by also storing and reading its spin direction (polarisation). It appears that by doing so, you can speed up reading a hard disk by several orders of magnitude.

The only problem so far was that all this reading and writing required an environment dozens of degrees Celsius colder than even the basement of the loneliest computer geek. Scientists from the University of Twente apparently have now come up with a way of doing all this spinning at room temperature, which has the added bonus of not scaring away their dates, thus improving their sex lives. And you were wondering what science was good for!

The University of Twente also mentions huge energy gains that can be acquired this way.

(Source of sciency looking image: University of Twente)

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September 1, 2009

Student makes wind turbines quieter

Filed under: Design,Dutch first,Science by Orangemaster @ 12:51 pm
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Stefan Oerlemans, a student from the University of Twente, discovered a way to reduce the ‘noise source distribution’ of modern wind turbines. For those of you who may not know, people living near these wind turbines have to deal with the loud ‘swishing’ sound they make. Yes, there are downsides to green energy.

Oerlemans figured out that the sound level could be reduced by half by fitting jagged edges, or teeth on the blades of the turbines. Now all I need is some black, red, yellow and orange to paint some flames and make them look cool as well.

(Link: depers.nl)

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