30/04/2016 Click


30/04/2016

A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets. Click explores going into space on the cheap, and reports on a new type of hairdryer and video camera.


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Transcript


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This week, big space on a small budget. Small hairdryers on a big

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budget, and the big camera on no budget at all, because it is not for

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sale. Our dreams of exploring the great

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beyond have always been governed by very earthly concerns. Things like

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resources and safety. I want to go there, actually I think that is a

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dead pixel. The problem of course with sending stuff into space is

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that it is exceedingly expensive. Since Nasser was founded in 1958,

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they have spent more than 800 dollars on it. One of the reasons is

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that most things space related get sent up, then either stay up or burn

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up. If we ever want to get out here, things are going to have to get a

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lot cheaper, for a start. One way to make things cheaper is to reuse

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them. NASA had a go at this with the shuttle programme. The idea was to

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get it down to tens of millions per flight, but you know how these

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things go. The shuttle programme was retired in 2011, and now the

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gauntlet has been passed to the commercial act, Spacek. They have

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been trying to make their rocket reusable for some time, but it has

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not been without its challenges. In April this year, they finally did

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it, succeeding in touching down on their autonomous drone ship, of

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course, I still love you. That is the name of the ship, by the way.

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But I do still love you. The challenge was to reuse the ship,

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something Elon musk said they plan to do in the future, if it passes a

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battery of tests. But what if you didn't care if your spacecraft

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broke? Well, that is the driving force behind an idea recently backed

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by a host of very smart mines, including Mr Mark Zuckerberg and

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Professor Stephen Hawking. It is called the Star shop project, and

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the plan is to launch thousands of tiny spacecraft that are little more

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than circuit boards. If one of them breaks, that is fine, there are

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plenty of others that can still do the job. Even better, the hope is

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that because they are each so tiny, we can propel them to extraordinary

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speeds, possibly as fast as a quarter of the speed of light. That

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is more than a thousand times faster than the fastest spacecraft there

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has ever been, that we know of. The universe is a big place, so if we

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are to have any chance of understanding it it may be that

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swarms of miniature craft like these are the only realistic way to do

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it. But before the swarm can set sail there is still plenty of

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research to be done. One sort of diminutive spacecraft we have talked

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about before our each as big as a feast. LJ Rich has been to is Urich

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to find out how research could make them even cheaper.

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The recent manufacture of cheap electronic components has made

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high-speed travel much more viable. ETH Zurich is building a system to

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observe the ocean's surface, using cheap mobile phone chips. The first

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will be launched in 2017, and eventually a whole grid of these

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cubes will circle the earth. One doesn't

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But one doesn't simply fire cheapo components up into space

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This lab tests all kinds of equipment for space worthiness.

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There are tanks and dials and bargain components everywhere.

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This is how you can tell it is a working lab, and not just

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The equipment is literally tied to the area where you most need it,

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in case somebody walks off with the screwdriver.

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Each of these containers contain a little bit of space.

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OK, here on earth we can't get rid of the gravity.

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But we can make vacuum chambers by sucking most of the air out

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We can make things very hot, then very cold inside a container.

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Unsurprisingly, electronics really hate that sort of thing,

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so this is why lab techs try to break them before they launch them.

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We chose these ones because they have a really, really

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low power consumption, so it is, like, less than two watts we have

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for the whole satellite, and for this we can only use 200 milliwatts,

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When one component fails, the next one simply takes over.

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This is a one-to-one model of the cube sat that will eventually

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It has ten GPS chips on there, diagnostics, equipment,

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The outsides will be mainly covered in solar panels,

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and there will be antennas that will spring out once it is launched.

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And of course, once this thing is launched, that is

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This model of a Galileo global positioning satellite is what

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Ten of these are operational right now but it takes a lot

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This small satellite cannot fly on the rocket on its own.

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These are some 80 million euros or so.

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The professor's made a model cube sat on the same scale at the Galileo

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satellite model to help us get our heads round the size difference.

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I bet he's glad he didn't have to carry the big one!

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Observation satellites, or navigation satellites, also need

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a precise position and orbit, so we try to show that on the smallest

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satellite available we can really get a position on the level of one

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to two metres, with equipment that is low cost, very cheap, not using

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Most tech trends show components getting cheaper or more

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user-friendly, followed by more people accessing the technology.

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It will be interesting watching legislation catch up with our

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increasing ability to put things into orbit ourselves, and if the

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democratisation of space travel, like much tech before it, is

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inevitable, perhaps we might all get to send our

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own project into space one day, even if we can't boldly go ourselves.

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That was LJ, and here is one man that really

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We first met him back in 2014, when we followed his project to send 100

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Well, since then, he has been busy working with Imperial College

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London, on the next wave of crowd-funded space exploration.

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I can't ignore the fact I am leaning on an

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Look, there is proper science on this desk.

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Look, we have flashing stuff, we have -

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I am afraid it is South Kensington's finest builders' sand, and I threw

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away the genuine fake lunar dust, which was the cement, because I

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What that is, that is our cheapskate Mars yard.

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So we are working on a Mars lander concept.

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So this is a mixture of thin film devices,

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so basically a Mars weather network, so try and drop a few hundred

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By weather stations, you are talking about a variation

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on your pocket spacecraft idea, thin film printable circuits.

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This would be about 20 microns thick, so that is

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Onboard, they would have the radio, the computers, temperature sensors,

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humidity sensors, all the bits and pieces you would have

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Cube sats are relatively cheap to make, but you still have to put them

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on a rocket and get them into space, but you have

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a plan to make them up there, rather than down here, don't you.

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So depending on where you are going, it can take from a couple

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of years to a decade to reach another planet in the solar system

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What we would like to do is take the spacecraft

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printers that we currently have in the lab, put them in cube sats,

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and you can print the spacecraft in orbit around Mars or around

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That means if you want to design a new space mission,

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rather than waiting for several years you can go file, print on your

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laptop, and then a few minutes or a few hours later, out pops a new

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You are printing spacecraft in orbit,

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It will take a while, but we will have our first

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prototypes flying hopefully towards the end of this year.

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Why are we seeing so much activity round small

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So, up until ten years ago, when you bought a launch

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for a spacecraft, you actually designed your spacecraft go to be

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And then along came the cube sat standard, which

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suddenly decoupled the shape of your spacecraft from the type of rocket

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So you can go shopping to lots of different launch providers and see

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what is offering the best deal, who is going in the right direction.

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I am going to play with your little Mars yard for a bit.

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Sticking with galactic fancies, Spacex announced

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its partnered with Nasa in a mission to Mars, which boss Elon Musk says

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If all goes to plan, it will be the first ever interplanetary mission

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And it was a week full of bad news for Apple and Twitter, as they

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announced their financial results for the first quarter of this year.

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On the other hand, it was a triumphant week

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for Facebook as the social network tripled its profits, compared to

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It was the week that Stanford University's Ocean One robot

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explored a 17th century shipwreck at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

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The humanoid sub-bot is powered by artificial intelligence and haptic

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feedback systems, and its creators hope it will eventually be able to

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And not to be outdone in the robot stakes, China unveiled one that

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The self-charging anbot is a human-hunting, pain-inducing

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droid, designed by the military's National defence University.

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Capable of speeds of up to 11 mph, the fearsome beast intends to zap

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citizens partaking in any lewd behaviour.

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This week saw the release of a brand-new product by British

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I was invited down to its HQ in advance to find out just what it

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I had a feeling it might have something to do with air.

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Because from innovation in the field of vacuum cleaning -

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sucking, if you will - Dyson has moved on to blowing, with hand

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driers and those fans with the whole load of nothing in the middle.

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Something that still weirds me out, if I am honest.

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Well, it turns out the next logical frontier to air is hair.

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Welcome to Dyson's hair laboratories.

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They have spent ?50 million on this set up.

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And they have on site 1,010 miles of hair.

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Not all of it from the same person, I hasten to add.

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The result is something called the Dyson Supersonic.

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So take a few seconds to think about what

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Five years in development, and after a lot of work with all that

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hair, Dyson believes its offering can overcome what it sees as the

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Ones that I, for one, had not noticed as being problems but then

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The Supersonic's temperatures is regulated 20 times a second,

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which should mean your hair can't be damaged by overheating.

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Something that cheaper models are apparently guilty of.

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The device is said to be quieter, lighter, and crucially,

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it claims to offer more powerful and more controlled airflow,

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Most of these advantages come from the motor technology at its heart.

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This is a conventional hairdryer motor, so it is big, heavy,

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This is the new Dyson supersonic motor.

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So it is as small as a two pence piece.

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That is so small we have been able to put that inside the handle.

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So it sucks in air there at the bottom.

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Because it is small, it can be located in the handle,

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Because it is small, it can be located in the handle,

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That is weird, you can do that with a hairdryer.

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What is happening, how it works, this motor generates

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We are getting that air to blow round that channel there, and that

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When it accelerates, it sucks in a load more air

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On average, there is about three times more

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airflow coming over the outside of this and through the middle.

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That then, as they say, is the science bit, but what you really

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want to know is does any of this make a blind bit of difference?

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Well, meet Lily, who has kindly volunteered to get her air done, all

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in the name of science, and George, hairdresser to the stars, with

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Kirk Douglas, who I was very keen to talk to, about Spartacus, Ulysses,

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He was much more interested in the hairdressing business than

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Let me know when you are ready to dry, George.

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Now George reckons it would normally take about 30 minutes to dry Lily's

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hair with his normal hairdryer, so certainly long enough

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What is your first impressions about it?

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It is much lighter than a conventional hairdryer.

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Airflow is good for what I am doing now, which is just taking most

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It is a lot more expensive than the most expensive conventional

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Possibly double the price, if not more, but - hey.

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Is it worth several times the cost of a salon-quality hairdryer?

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Yes, we all spend, I don't know, 20 or 30 minutes a day doing

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Every morning, you use it an awful lot.

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Beauty is very important, doing your hair so it is glossy

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and smooth and undamaged, and done quickly, because this is

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Yes, I believe people will pay for that.

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Next week, we will hear more from Sir James Dyson and his lovely hair.

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Last week, the broadcast industry gathered in Las Vegas for NAB

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On show there were loads of 4k cameras, loads of VR cameras,

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loads of high dynamic range cameras, as you would expect,

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but there was one piece of kit there that really did stand out.

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We think it could change the way that films are made in the future.

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A camera from a start up called LightO, which housed some quite

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Instead of taking a flat 2-D image, it captured a scene

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You could change the focus after you had taken the shot or

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It did this by taking in so-called light rays on the sensor

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Clever as it was, LightO's consumer camera and subsequent

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Proving too pricey to tempt shutter bugs away

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Well, now from the ashes a new Phoenix has arisen.

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A beast of a camera, giving movie makers a new palette

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LightO Cinema, capturing a staggering amount of information

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It has millions of tiny lenses inside, sucking in

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The end result is in fact more like a 4k image,

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using the same core light field technology as the still cameras.

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Knowing the distance of objects or people in front of the lens means

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they can be isolated and replaced more easily than with today's blue

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Of course, as with the original cameras you can decide

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where to focus the shot in the footage after you have captured it.

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Or change the perspective on a scene.

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But doesn't this new-found creative palette mean the director's vision

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In fact what we do is record as meta data what the decision was

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made on set, and that is the first thing that we render out.

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We also record a whole lot of other aperture views,

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which means different perspectives, and we offer up that array

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of different perspectives in a whole range of refocus range,

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to make your shot different from when you originally controlled it.

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It should enable creativity in film making, rather than remove it.

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Saying we can lock it, this is one thing, and achieving it

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Somebody, anywhere in the path, an editor - editors do

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fantastically important things for movies, but they are not the people

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LightO has one eye on the next generation

:19:53.:20:12.

of film-makers - those producing content in virtual reality.

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It has developed a light field VR rig called the Merge.

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Content made with this camera would let you move around live action VR

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environments, something impossible today, where you are rooted to

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This kind of so-called computational imaging

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technology might be compelling, but of course, it is not cheap.

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Renting the cinema rig starts at $125,000.

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Right now, it is aimed at the pros, but who knows,

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a few years down the road we may see it re-emerge as a creative tool

:20:32.:20:35.

Now, summer is on the way, and that means

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if you a biker it is time to dust off the leathers and hit the road.

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It can be exhilarating if you are of that persuasion,

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but it can also be a long and lonely road if you have an accident.

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It could take a while before the emergency services are

:20:58.:21:00.

Well, Kate Russell has been for a spin with a piece of tech that

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could speed up the response time and potentially save lives.

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Just you, the road and 1200cc of pure power.

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A motorbike isn't just a vehicle to move you from place to place.

:21:23.:21:25.

It is an adventure every time you ride it, and wide-open spaces,

:21:26.:21:28.

with sweeping curves and corners like this, bring body and bike

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It is hard to beat once you have experienced it.

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70% of all accidents on bikes happen on rural roads.

:21:45.:21:48.

If you are on your own, that could be a real problem.

:21:49.:21:54.

If you are out by yourself - I mean we ride together quite a lot, if you

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are out by yourself, if you fall off, we have technology that tells

:21:59.:22:01.

the emergency services where you are and sends medical information.

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It is about keeping riders safe but still having fun.

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To ensure pinpoint accuracy during a crash,

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the app using downstream satellite data to locate a fallen rider.

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If you are in an open space, where there is no blockages to the

:22:16.:22:19.

signal, then you can be located down to a metre accuracy very reliably.

:22:20.:22:22.

The really good news is there are more satellites going up every day,

:22:23.:22:25.

including the European Galileo system,

:22:26.:22:26.

which means the more satellites, the better quality signals, and that

:22:27.:22:29.

accuracy is coming down to sub-metre level in the years to come.

:22:30.:22:37.

We are protecting against the worst case scenario, when you

:22:38.:22:40.

If you hit something, you are carrying a lot of speed.

:22:41.:22:46.

They knew roughly the route he was taking, but not exactly.

:22:47.:22:53.

And it was 12 hours before they found him.

:22:54.:22:56.

But the bike could also be, you know, over a hedgerow or

:22:57.:23:06.

You might not be visible from the road.

:23:07.:23:10.

The alert is triggered by the smartphone app,

:23:11.:23:12.

which is then connected through to BT, like any other 999 call.

:23:13.:23:15.

That is presented to our 999 call handlers, with some enhanced data.

:23:16.:23:18.

Call handlers continues with triage, by attempting to call

:23:19.:23:20.

If they are unable to get in contact with the patient, then

:23:21.:23:25.

It is the first app in the UK to gain DCMS certification, allowing

:23:26.:23:29.

it to route activation directly through the emergency services.

:23:30.:23:31.

Giving riders peace of mind that, should the worst case scenario come

:23:32.:23:34.

to pass, they have the best possible chance of surviving.

:23:35.:23:47.

That was Kate, and that is it from Dyson's HQ.

:23:48.:23:51.

If you are wondering what this is, this is what the engineers got

:23:52.:23:57.

I would be rather annoyed if they did this to my car.

:23:58.:24:04.

That is from us, @BBCClick on Twitter throughout the week, please.

:24:05.:24:08.

A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news.

Click explores going into space on the cheap, and reports on a new type of hairdryer and video camera.


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