Category Archives: Innovations

Urine powered phones might increase water intake ;-)

In July 2013, scientists at the University of West England (UWE) developed a way of using urine as a power source to generate electricity and created the world’s first MFC (microbial fuel cell) powered mobile phone. Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos said at the time:

‘By harnessing this power as urine passes through a cascade of MFCs, we have managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone.’..So far the microbial fuel power stack that we have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.’

However, he said that making a long call on a mobile phone is far more power-hungry. This professor believes that they will get to a place where they can charge a battery for longer periods of time.

Meet Google Home

Google Home is a voice activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. It is designed to fit your decor, therefore the base colours vary. Underneath the swappable shell a speaker waits to play back songs and allow Google Assistant to talk to you.

On top of the device is a capacitive touch display with four LEDs that are used to:

  • interact with Home
  • trigger the assistant
  • adjust the volume, etc

There are no buttons on the top, just mics that listen for your voice, but a single mute button can be found on the shell. Google Home can filter and separate noise from speech to offer an Assistant that can follow instructions.

You can ask it questions, tell it to do things and have your Google always ready to help. Just start with: “Ok Google” to power your Google Assistant up.

Google Home is a WiFi speaker that can stream music directly from the cloud. It also works as a smartphone control centre and an assistant for the whole family. You can access songs, playlists, albums, and podcasts from your music services by using your voice. You can also use Google Cast to send music from your Android and iOs devices.

Google Cast allows you to adjust the other speakers in your home. You can even get multi-room playback if you add one or more Google Home devices to a group of speakers to hear music where you are in the house. Google Cast will also allow you to watch choose videos from Youtube. Tell the assistant and the content will appear on the television.

Google Home can be used to:

  • playback entertainment throughout the entire house
  • manage every-day tasks
  • and to ask Google to do something
  • set alarms and timers
  • manage to-do-lists
  • control lights, switches and doors and Googles own Nest products

Google is working with others to allow you to:

  • book a flight or car
  • order dinner
  • send flowers

You can ask Google assistant anything:

  • weather
  • facts on Wikipedia
  • any question that can be answered by Google
  • ask follow-up questions.


  1. You can ask Google who George Clooney is. And then you can ask where he went to school. Google will understand that you mean George Clooney!
  2. You can even ask complex questions such as What was the USA population when NASA was established.
  3. Google can also read the relevant part of the webpage back to you.
  4. You can ask Google Home to play that Shakira song from Zootopia and he will be able to find the correct song from your favourite app without you having to name the song

Google Home supports the following:

  • YouTube Music
  • TuneIn
  • Philips Hue
  • Pandora
  • IFTTT (to activate recipes over speaker)
  • SmartThings
  • iHeart Radio
  • Google Play Music
  • Nest

Google Assistant and its machine learning capabilities allows Google Home to know you and your preferences. It can also act as a Chromecast Audio Receiver. Google Assistant is a Siri-like bot that is an adaption of Google Now and OK Google. It is called Google Assistant and improves two-way conversation experiences of those two services.

I cannot wait for the 4th of November when this little accessory with the big heart will be released!



3 Nano technology innovations I can do with

Nano-technology is amazing. After watching this video, I think I love the spray on clothing the most!

A)  Ultra-ever dry (0:00-4:03)

Sprays on anything to protect it from being damaged by accidental water, oil, mud and even concrete spillage.

B)  Spray on material (see minute 4:05).

The material can be washed and worn again, but it can also be dissolved to create a new clothing.

C)  Liquipel (5:33)

Protects cellular phones from accidental water damage.

Mac desktops found their voices

Siri, the 5-year old intelligent assistant of Apple mobile devices is now also available on Mac desktops since she is part of the new macOS 10.12 Sierra operating system introduced on the 20th of September 2016 and offer features designed exclusively for desktops.

Siri, the intelligent assistant, includes all favourite features and new ones designed for Mac desktops:

  • send messages
  • create reminders
  • search the web and more while you work
  • drag and drop or copy and paste Siri results
  • pin Siri results in notification centre and reference later
  • find files
  • adjust settings
  • get system information by asking Siri.

Copy and paste between devices near each other with universal clipboard. Copy a quote, image and video from an app on one device and paste it into an app on another device.

Drag and drop search results into emails, messages and notes

Pin results where you can find it, right in the notification centre, where it stays up to date. Just click + to pin results to today’s view, where it stays up to date.

Apple watch: log automatically into my Mac by wearing my Watch.

Use iCloud Drive to get access to files on Mac desktop from iPhone. Store and update files on desktop and in Documents automatically in iCloud Drive and access on any of your iOS devices and even another Mac.

Apple pay in Safari makes it faster, easier and more secure to pay on the web since you can check out without providing your credit card details. Complete the transaction by Touch Id or double-clicking the side button on the Apple Watch.

Optimized storage since Sierra automatically stores files rarely used in iCloud. Store files in the cloud until you need them. This feature includes the following:

  • remind you to delete used app installers
  • clears out duplicate downloads, caches, logs, and unnecessary stuff
  • ind and delete large apps and files and ones not used
  • delete files that have been in the trash for 30 days

Rediscover memories, and turn them into memories, including:

  • new technologies for powerful face recognition
  • display all photos on interactive world map, zoom in and out to see where the shot was taken
  • search photos by objects and scenery in them
  • memories automatically creates slide shows and sharable collections of best photos, based on people, places, holidays, and more
  • find photos of beach, sunset, birthday cake, etc.
  • sort photos based on face recognition

Improved messages to express yourself in new ways, including:

  • huge emojis
  • respond with heart of thumbs-up
  • play videos in conversation
  • preview links in the conversation

iTunes makes is easier to find favorite songs and discovering new ones. For you makes it easier to:

  • discover new music and playlists Apple think we would love
  • new browse function – new releases, exclusives, playlists, top charts
  • view lyrics while listening to refined mini player

Tabs works same as in safari, but now in most of the apps. It allows for example to:

  • breeze between multiple page documents in full screen mode
  • look at various destinations in maps

Picture in Picture allows you to float a video window from Safari and iTunes over desktop or full screen app, his allows you to:

  • play a video in the corner of the desktop, resize it and see what is behind while you catch up on email
  • or to watch a game while you are busy with something else

Questions to ask Siri:

  • Show all PDFs in my downloads folder
  • How much free space do I have on my mac?
  • Play the top 40 jazz songs
  • What’s the weather like in Barberton?
  • Add Laura to my 10AM meeting
  • How do I spell broccoli?
  • Find photos I took at home
  • What is the time in Cape Town?
  • Show me all files I have shared with Karen last week
  • Find tweets from Paul
  • FaceTime Jane
  • Get information about Cape Town
  • Search the web for images of Cape Town

I am an Apple fan, therefore I do love the new MacOS Sierra. Now I have a reason to learn to use Siri more effectively! For more ideas, watch Help!


Microsoft HoloLens: Are we there yet?

I have been invited to attend the Empower Technical Summit of Microsoft at Gallagher Conference Centre on the 14th of June 2016. One of the new technologies that intrigued me, was Microsoft’s HoloLens.


In this video short presentation, the following uses of the HoloLens have been identified:

  • technologies are all around us
  • if we don’t, our students use it in all aspects of their lives
  • it enables us to do amazing things

But, the presenter identified even more. We can go beyond the screen to blend the digital world with the real world to create augmented realities if we use holograms. That will provide new ways to:

  • visualise our work
  • share ideas with each other
  • play
  • teach
  • learn (I love the example)
  • collaborate
  • explore the worlds we have never visited (walking on Mars)
  • create the things we imagine with a snap of a finger

According to the presenter:

If we can change the way we see the world, we can change the world we see

Therefore, I am adding a few videos to help us to see what have been done so far. In the following video a real person wears a HoloLens and wearable holograms to enter an augmented world where he has to fight holograms able to identify real objects in a real world to create strategies to fight a real person in his real world (Project X Ray).


The features of the HoloLens, its uses and potential uses are discussed in the following video.


I have also found the following video informative.


Windows 10 allows developers to develop new applications, therefore many holograms might soon be available to enrich our mode of delivery. However, the question remains:

Are we there? yet ….?



Periodic Tables updated by adding four new elements: downloadable tables

It is now official, four new elements have been added to the periodic table. This may be the event of a life time since the four new superheavy elements  complete the seventh row of the periodic table.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.14 PM

The elements were named 113, 115, 117, and 118, meaning that new elements between hydrogen (having only one proton in its nucleus) and element 118 (having 118 protons) have been discovered.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.28 PM

These elements were known since end of 2015 as ununtrium (Uut), Uup (ununpentium), Uus (ununseptium) and Uuo (ununoctoium).

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.39 PM

The discovery gave the scientists naming rights. Certain rules apply, since only five categories of names are allowed, namely:

  • mythological concepts or character
  • mineral or substance
  • place or geographic region
  • a property of the element
  • scientist

The names selected were announced in June 2016, namely Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennesine and Oganesson.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.56.26 PM


  • Nihonium (Nh) – 113, since this element was discovered by scientists at the Riken Nishina Center for Accelerated Science in Japan
  • Moscovium (Mc) – 115, since this element was discovered at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow
  • Tennessine (Ts) – 117, since this name acknowledges scientific contributions from Tennessee, home of the Oak Ridge National Labatory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxvile
  • Oganesson (Og) – 118, since this element was discovered by collaborating teams of Russia in the city of Dubna and Americans at the Lawrence Livermore national Laboratory in California.

The names of these new superheavy, radioactive elements were for five years up for public comment.

The following links can be followed to get access to printable periodic tables:

  1. Colour-coded periodic table
  2. Black & white periodic table
  3. Shiny periodic table
  4. PDF with transparent background
  5. Interactive periodic table

Please note: You can use it as you please, but you are not allowed to publish it on your websites.