Super wood

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Super wood

Engineers reinforced wood and now it's 12 times stronger than normal wood and 10 times tougher.
How did they do that? Well they started by boiling it in an aqueous mixture of caustic soda and sodium sulfite (NaOH and Na2SO3).
That way they partly removed the wood's lignin (the chemical substance that makes wood rigid) and hemicellulose.

Then they compressed the wood under mild heat, at about 65 degrees Celsius (150 F). Holes, knots or any other defects are crushed together.
On another scale the compression leads to to the total collapse of cell walls and the complete densification of the wood with highly aligned cellulose nanofibres.
The engineers found that if the wood's fibers are pressed together so tightly they form strong hydrogen bonds.
Also the compression makes the wood five times thinner than its original size.

It works for multiple types of wood.

The benefits are clear:
The process isn't that complex or expensive. It results in a cheap, very strong lightweight construction material, with stable features even in humid environments.

The team consists of engineers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and is led by Liangbing Hu.
They previously made a range of emerging technologies out of nanocellulose related materials:
for instance photonic paper improving solar cell efficiency by 30%, a battery out of wood, and transparent wood for energy efficient buildings.


Vaunt: Basic smart glasses that may make it.

Intel is developing smart glasses: Vaunt.

The Vaunt smart glasses can provide you with information that seems to be on a screen in your peripheral vision somewhere outside.
Actually the image is shone onto a holographic reflector on the glasses' right lens by a safe low-powered laser (VCSEL), and reflected in your eye.
That means nobody else can see it.

Besides the laser it also contains an accelerometer and a compass.

Vaunt pretty much looks and feels like normal glasses. Actually you can put in normal lenses or any corrective lenses you may need.
But built into the stems of the eyeglasses are two small and light modules containing all the electronics (including batteries) needed to project readable information in your eye, and the accelerometer and the compass.
Because the modules are small the stems still can be adjusted to fit your head (like normal glasses). And they're light enough so you can were the glasses all day without getting painfull ears or red dents in your nose.
The device works together with your smartphone (android / Iphone) via Bluetooth.
It can give you simple messages like directions, notifications, maybe some information about the person calling you, sightseeing details about the streets you walk.
It's not designed for watching video's, checking facebook and that sort of things.
It's not a replacement of your phone or tablet. It's a small extra screen, one you can always access (provided you're wearing the Vaunt).
No need to grab it out of your pocket and hold it, so your hands are free.
It seems like Intel hasn't chosen yet how you're supposed to operate the glasses.
But it seems logical you can interact with it by small head gestures (thanks to the accelerometer and the compass).
Maybe they'll add a microphone so you can control it with your voice.

In december they presented prototypes that were just running through a loop of pre-canned information, so no interaction with the reality at that moment.
Still the experience was said to be good.
Next is an early access program for developers. They are given the oppportunity to create apps, and come up with creative ideas how the Vaunt can be put to use.

Intel is said to be looking for partners to help them to make this a real product and to sell it.

It's going to take a while before we can buy it, if it makes it to the shops at all.
Former attempts to launch smart glasses failed big time.
But Vaunt is different.
It's more simple and it looks normal. It might actually be a good start.
Source: The Verge (

labels: gadget, smart glasses, wearable device, laser, prototype