There's a lot of talk about making things smarter using electronic gadgetry. We have in our lives electric replacements for just about everything only to find that sometimes the old ways were the best. Your electric coffee maker is gathering dust since a component snapped and now you're back to the simpler plunger system; the electric tooth brush that just broke and you've gone back to the manual system only to find that your gums are healthier than before; the e-book reference guide that is never read because it's easier (and more satisfying) to flick through the pages of a physical book and make handwritten notes or bookmarks.
In our ever more manic attempts to try and harness Mother Nature, we're ruining the countryside with monolithic wind farms. Since the wind blows stronger and more consistently above 50 meters, commercial wind farms by necessity are built to be tall. But now a designer from Paris has developed an artistic windmill that wouldn't look out of place in a city park.
For any gardener recognizing which plants they have in their plots or pots is a challenge especially if you're growing different varieties of the same species. For amateurs, there are apps available which crowd-source information. But for farmers, trying to grade the quality and even variety of their produce is a perennial problem. One variety of strawberry looks pretty much the same as another to the untrained eye and even long-term farmers may struggle, as do peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and so on. So for a commercial enterprise being able to grade and classify their produce is essential if they're to get the best prices and avoid mistakes.
We/re familiar with touchscreens. Once restricted to high-tech kiosks, now every mobile phone, GPS, and tablet has one and without them, we'd all be lugging around much heavier devices. The big advance in touch screen technology in recent years has been multi-touch, where screens recognize two or more simultaneous finger tips at the same time. This has lead to great effects such as zooming and rotating of images and websites. Now, this technology has even found its way into the usually Luddite industrial automation world.
Most of us take it for granted that we can walk around and find where we need to go without any problems. It's something as sighted individuals we don't really think about. But if you can't see, going to new places outside of the usual locations is a challenge and a problem they struggle to overcome. But now technology is helping to make cities a lot easier to navigate for those without sight.
Shale gas, accessed from scale rock using a process known as hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, is just one of a number of non-conventional forms of natural gas such as deep natural gas, tight natural gas, and coal-bed methane.
Wearable tech is the latest thing to get us to part with our hard earned cash. No longer are mobile phones the best way to send and receive messages and monitor how far we walk, now we're being sold watches and wristbands that will monitor our pulses, footsteps, and how much we move during our sleep. Until the marketers got involved, we never knew our lives were missing so much gadgetry. But in the world of building automation, wearable tech many just be able to help engineers fix faults and not just be a gimmick.
Although the term 'robot' was originally invented in 1920 by Czech playwright Karel Capek in his play RUR where he defined robota statute labor, the idea of an automation that would do our bidding dates back to somewhere around 3 B.C. in China where allegedly an engineer called Yan Shi presented the king with a life-size human-shaped figure of his mechanical handiwork. Despite there popularity in fiction, it's been far harder to replicate the workings of the human form than was ever imagined. However, there have been some interesting developments from robot camel jockeys in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, to replace small children to robotic waiters and kitchen staff at the Robot restaurant in Harbin, China.