A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. Click tries out the world's tiniest printer and checks out high-tech home security.
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This week, giant drone blimp football.
A virtual peacock.
A hot, cold shiny tank thing.
And magic water.
This week, we are snowed in in Zurich, Switzerland's largest city
nestled away on the northern edge of the country and famous for its
Fs, finance, Fifa and the Federal Instituate of Technology, but here
it is known as ETH, that's the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule
if you're trying to show off.
ETH is Switzerland's most prestigious university.
Its number one in Continental Europe and it's in the top ten
in the world and in my humble opinion, right now it's
one of the coolest, about -8 cool.
Clapping like a seal.
Yes, and genuine applause is much deserved here because researchers
at ETH have been awarded a respectable 21 Nobel prizes
in its 160-year history.
Here's one laureate you might recognise.
Yes, Albert Einstein walked these halls as an undergrad
and then professor while ruminating his theory of general relativity.
100 years later, we are here to meet some of the researchers who may one
day follow in his footsteps.
You know what they say, it doesn't have to be big to be beautiful.
So prepare to be amazed by something you can't even see with
the naked eye.
And how big is that image?
It's 270 micrometres.
So that's 0.27 of a millimetre?
The whole image?
The whole image, yeah.
This is the world's highest resolution inkjet printed image.
And Doctor Patrick Gallagher has made it using quantum dots just
That is insanely small.
I would have thought that's a fake.
Can I move this?
Oh yeah, it's gone.
That's real, I just knocked it a tiny bit and it's gone.
It's 270 pixels by 270 pixels.
Each one is one micrometre across.
So you've got 1000 pixels per millimetre?
And we could do it even smaller.
I bet you could.
It took around ten hours to print.
Here under the microscope you can see that image being built up
a layer by layer, colour by colour.
To the human eye, the printer itself doesn't look
like it's moving at all of course.
It doesn't really look like a printer to be honest.
It's the result of six years of research.
But Patrick hasn't invented this so you can just run off
your e-mails before your meeting.
One field where it could already be interesting is
in security applications.
It's creating something that you cannot fake.
You could print stuff that would look a bit like a hologram
on a security document.
And with improvements in the print speed, this could be
a way of printing incredibly fine and complex electronic circuitry
onto flexible materials.
And you know how sometimes you find yourself inventing side projects to
aid your research that then become cool in their own right?
Well, here's Patrick's homegrown replacement
for the big 10,000 euro microscope.
It's a smart phone attachment controlled by an app
which can do a similar job.
Yes, it offers lower magnification but it also only costs 175 euros.
There they are.
It's amazing how hypnotic something so tiny can be.
Bring it back into focus.
Personally I'm sold.
I get the feeling in the next few years this could be massive.
I could look at this all day.
Have you seen this?
Oh, you have.
And just down the way, something else that's about to blow my mind.
This surface is afraid of water.
It is hydrophobic.
Now, we've seen this sort of thing a few times in the past.
Surfaces nano-coated to make them completely water repellent.
But this is the lab where much stranger things can happen.
These researchers wanted to find out whether hydrophobic surfaces would
still repel water in extreme conditions, for example in a vacuum.
The answer turned out to be yes...
And then some.
Oh my God!
Apparently out of nowhere the water jumps, bouncing higher and higher.
Something these guys are calling trampolining.
But hold that Nobel Prize just for a second, we haven't just
created energy out of nothing here.
What's actually happening is the water is evaporating very quickly.
And it's the pressure of the resulting vapour against
the hydrophobic surface that makes it jump over and over and over.
But every time it jumps it gets smaller because some is evaporating,
so it is getting smaller and smaller and smaller and then go away.
And eventually it will be gone but before that you still saw
the cool behaviour.
Can you do super cool stuff with droplets that just start bouncing
and then bounce higher and higher and higher,
even if it's only for a small time?
We did it with small motors, we tried to create little tiny levers
were these droplets could make mechanical motion at smaller scales.
Did it work?
It did work.
But will it be useful?
We don't know.
And this is how some world changing things happen,
completely by accident and without a clue as to how they
might be used in the real world.
This discovery, though, already has more obvious applications.
Is you freeze the water in the vacuum on the hydrophobic
surface it melts off.
So, ice-proof surfaces anyone?
Plane wings and cars that refuse to freeze?
Well, give it a few years and this research may lead to exactly that.
A lot of the stuff, though, we deal with in technology happens at the
other end of the temperature scale.
Computers get hot.
And we actually use an awful lot of energy trying to keep them cool.
That's why everyone is moving their data centres to cold parts
of the world.
And in fact, not even Switzerland qualifies for that because it's not
like this all year round.
They are working on one thing here, though, that is very hot
and that makes it very cool.
Here's LJ Rich.
Being cool is especially the important
when it comes to competing.
Components get hot when they work hard, not unlike
humans, some humans even jump into the sea when they're too hot.
So why not put a datacentre at the bottom of the sea,
which is very cold.
This is a Project Natick which puts chips along with fish
in this nature-proof container for three months.
A nifty proof of concept that you actually can have clouds underwater.
But what if you didn't need anything cold to keep something cool?
The people at IBM are using the heat produced
by a computer to cool it down.
Yes, using heat to cool something down actually sounds
Likely Patrick at IBM Research is here to explain everything.
How does this work?
The goal is to have a technology that can produce
cooling without any moving parts.
The way we do this is by using materials like desiccants that you
frequently find in these desiccant packs and these materials take up
a lot of moisture, as we know.
If this happens in a cooler system then it produces a cooling effect.
To explain, Patrick has set up a simple experiment in front
of a thermal camera.
The bottle on the left contains water, water is used in lots of
computer cooling systems often to take heat away from hot components.
At the moment it is room temperature.
The bottle on the right contains desiccant, basically
the stuff that dries things out.
You've probably got a pouch or three of these in your home.
It turns out that desiccant spontaneously sucks
in or adsorbs water.
This process evaporates the water taking heat out, and it leaves the
remaining water colder, so we can remove heat without doing anything.
So how does this relate back to keeping things cool?
Going from this two-bottle demo to a technical system you would install
now in an actuall adsorption chiller, you would need to apply
the desiccant to a heat exchanger.
And this kind of heat exchanger can look like the following.
That does look quite big.
Sending hot or cold water through that massive heat exchange system
changes how it works.
Cold water makes the desiccant coating suck
in water and hot water restarts the process by drying the desiccant
out ready to do it all over again.
If this is making no sense, try this.
The water takes the heat away from the computer servers by heating up.
The desiccant sucks this water up causing
the cooling effect we saw earlier.
All great so far but now we have desiccant saturated with water
so it can't carry on cooling.
But never fear as now the waste heat from the
servers is used to dry this out, and as the water evaporates away and the
desiccant dries, the whole process can begin again and thus computers
can be cooled using their own heat.
Currently this test rig can only cool a system the same size, so it
does need to be a little smaller.
Patrick says once it's finished the system should pay for itself
in saved electricity bills over just a couple of years.
By introducing another technology that can use waste heat
by satisfying cooling demand is a very sustainable
and energy efficient approach.
Hello and welcome to the week in tech.
It was the week BT broadband went down, leaving several hundreds
of thousands of customers without Internet access.
The outage lasted most of the day before being restored
and BT apologised, blaming a router problem.
Microsoft bought UK-based predictive keyboard company SwiftKey
for over ?170 million.
The ever elusive mixed reality firm Magic Leap was valued at ?3 billion.
Google's parent company Alphabet overtook Apple
as the world's most valuable public company at a cool ?370 billion.
It was also the week that GoPro revealed a new promo video
for its upcoming 4K Karma drone.
Again without actually showing it, but it did give away some clues
about its features, specifically its apparent ability to carry on
flying after its operator releases it, even while on the move.
It was also the week that Uber got a facelift.
And if you ever thought you weren't getting the most out
of your leaf blower, ex-NASA engineer Mark Roper has turned his
into a snowball firing machine-gun.
The wearable contraption can fire up to 15 icy balls
at once with a magazine reload load speed of three seconds.
Ghostbuster getup not compulsory.
Now, while you're away from home, have you ever wondered what's going
Hopefully not this.
Although this intruder was caught by a free home security app,
this one called Manything.
As connectivity and cameras improve, it's a fast expanding area, as Lara
Lewington has been finding out.
The latest home security gadgets are closer to another pair of eyes
and ears than ever before.
Many have remote access via the Web and some even add a spot of
artificial intelligence to the mix.
Myfox is one way of simplifying the whole home security experience.
As soon as you enter your house, this key fob will connect via
bluetooth to the home security system and automatically disarm it.
Up to four cameras can be used at once, and if you are at home
and want a spot of privacy, you can simply close the shutter.
There are also these sensors, that can be attached to doors or
windows, which monitor vibration.
A clever algorithm will tell whether it is just, say, a ball
hitting the window, or someone trying to force their way in.
Netatmo's prototype camera comes complete with a floodlight,
and also aims to spot suspicious signs ahead of any problem.
Its software can decipher between people, cars and animals,
so it will provide alerts of only relevant incidents.
You can also watch videos back via the app at a later date.
As well as the LED light, it also has night-vision,
so there is no risk of missing anything taking place at night.
If the camera gets stolen, the footage on the card can only be
viewed with the phone the camera has been synced to.
There is also the option of backing up all
of the content to a secure server.
With over half of UK break-ins quite surprisingly occurring
at the front of houses, it makes sense to be focusing on that area.
This HD video doorbell allows every member of the family to receive
an alert each time someone comes to the door, so as long as they have
internet connection, wherever they are in the world, they can remotely
answer the door, see who's there, speak to them, and if they have
an electronic door lock, they can let them in, which could come in
handy if you are late for guests.
I will be there in a couple of minutes.
Just drying my hair!
The camera's face recognition will identify members of the family, or
if a person seems undesirable, you can sound an alarm and shine a light
on them to hopefully scare them off.
For something a bit different, this remote control robotic ball is
actually a wide lens HD camera.
It also records sound, and it means instead of setting up
various cameras throughout your home, you can just move this
to whatever you want to look at.
It's only a beta at the moment.
There will be an app available soon when it is released.
Right now, you have use a fiddly website.
But it is fun once you see the camera up and running.
The prototype is tricky to control, but the finished product should be
a little smoother.
If you don't want to shout out on a full-scale device,
one option is using an app that will re-purpose an old smartphone
to turn it into a security camera.
All you need to do is make sure the device is connected to the home
Wi-Fi, then you can log into it anywhere in the world via the web.
Presence works this way, and after a successful launch last year,
sensors and even smart bulbs can now be integrated into the system.
Manything is another, free to download and easy to set up.
When you open it, you'll be presented with the option
of continuous recording or just recording motion.
If you have something like a window in shot or a fish tank
that will set off alerts too often, then you can set up a detection
zone so that area is blocked out.
Watching your home from a distance does not make
for a very relaxing holiday.
But this tech could give that extra peace of mind to rest
a little more easily.
The one good thing about virtual reality taking so long to go
on sale is that researchers have had a massive lead time in order to
work out the full capabilities of VR kit.
We will take a break from snowy Switzerland now
and head to sunny California.
The University of Southern California's Institute
for Creative Technologies is where the brains behind Oculus Rift
used to work before he hit the big-time,
and they are on the cutting edge of VR research.
We have been to see what they are up to.
While most of us wait for VR headsets to hit the shops,
engineers and researchers at the University of Southern California
are already thinking about the next stage of VR's revolution.
We're inside USC's Mixed Reality Lab, and just through here,
they are working on taking a limited amount of space and turning it
into an almost unlimited amount of space using virtual reality.
If that sounds a little bit complicated and difficult to get
your head around, imagine this room is the very first version
of the holodeck from Star Trek.
This warehouse is fitted with motion tracking sensors, which wirelessly
communicate with a computer attached to a VR headset.
Here's the laptop.
This little thing is a communication device for our tracking system, and
we pack it up inside a backpack.
You will be touring the virtual village.
We will guide you around.
You'll see the green waypoints there.
Think of it as GPS.
It shows you where you would like to go.
Occasionally, the system might decide to switch paths
and change waypoints.
You look for the new one and go there.
I will not just be walking around.
I also have to take panoramic photos while inside the virtual world.
I do this by moving my head and clicking
the hand controller at the same time.
So there are elements of a game as well as exploration.
Why did you introduce the gaming elements?
To give people something else to do as they explore the space?
Partially it is to make it more interesting but also to
make sure we can reorient you.
It is a bit of a trick.
Smoke and mirrors.
As the panoramic photo is taken, the computer is recalculating my route.
It should fool me into making me think I am walking
around in a larger space than I am.
Put the headset on.
If I look around I can see what looks like a mediaeval village.
If you follow those little arrows on the edges to see where
the first waypoint is.
It is really unusual being inside this virtual space
knowing I am in...
..knowing I am in a warehouse.
This is the clever bit these guys have introduced
into their environment, where it
recalibrates and makes use of the limited space by making me
think there is more space here.
This view shows me the route I am actually walking
if viewed from the top down.
Part of my brain is worried I will end up walking into a wall,
even though I'm pretty sure there is not much chance of that happening.
That is really, really cool.
Let's see if I can walk back the way I came.
I just walked into a wall.
Next up, the team showed off their version
of a VR art gallery, complete with 3-D stop motion exhibits.
It is not wireless, as I am tethered to a computer by cables, but it does
have a trick up its sleeve.
I have been instructed to walk towards
a stop motion animated museum.
My hands have appeared on screen.
I wasn't expecting that.
So this is a mixture of a whole bunch of different technologies.
They have strapped an Elite Motion motion tracking sensor to the front
of the headset, which monitors what my hands are doing, seamlessly
introducing them into the virtual world and further
making me feel like I have disappeared down a VR rabbit hole.
A giant leap for VR, and just like the holodeck, safety protocols
need to be observed at all times.
That was Mark, and we'll finish our trip to ETH in a giant hangar,
where something big is in the air.
Meet Project Skye, an inflatable drone that
the team are hoping will entertain and film audiences at concerts
and other large indoor venues.
Is it wise to have it fly over there?
It is not wise, but it is not a problem.
Full of helium and protected from punctures by a double-layered
hull, this is being billed as a heck of a lot safer than a normal drone.
This could go anywhere.
There we go.
It is ever so slightly heavier than air,
which means if it loses power, there is no high-speed crash.
And this does, in my mind at least, qualify as a drone rather than just
a blimp, because if you give it a push, it intelligently maintains
If it were outside and armed with GPS, it could also
in theory keep its position.
Now, about that control system.
Can I have a go?
You want to fly it?
Let's try it first.
Here is the ground station.
I am a very good drone pilot.
I have only ever seen three crashes and two of them were my fault.
So it turns out you fly with a 3-D mouse that is usually used
for computer-aided design, and delicate movements are the order
of the day, ladies and gentlemen.
Just like any drone, it is important not to panic and jam the thing
in the opposite direction.
Apart from that, if I'm honest, it is just plain fun.
That is it from Click in Zurich.
Thank you very much for watching.
I hope you've had a good time.
If you can't tell by my face, I have.
So we'll see you soon.
I will just try a landing.
A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. Click tries out the world's tiniest printer, checks out high-tech home security and visits a holodeck (sort of).