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10 Technologies that Very Few People Know Exist

6. Scientists have developed a new technology that can make things invisible under the sun. “Spectral invisibility cloaking” renders objects unseen by shifting the frequencies of light that interact with an object.

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Invisibility cloaks may not just remain in Harry Potter novels anymore. Scientists have come up with a technology that can make things invisible right under the sun. This amazing feat has been achieved by a team of researchers led by José Azaña, a telecommunications engineer. Their technology involves a device that can manipulate the frequencies of light when the light encounters an object.

So, when light encounters an object, this new device changes the frequency of the light rays to another frequency that is not visible to the human eye. It then switches it back to the original frequency when the light rays are leaving the object. So, the original visible frequency does not interact with the object at all. Hence, the object is not visible to the naked eye.

This technology can have immense security applications in military and telecommunications sector. By making optic cables invisible with this technology, telecommunication companies can keep people from looking at classified data that are generally transported as broadband signals via these cables. (source)

7. Scientists discovered a new technique that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and converts it into liquid gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. A similar process could be used to trap greenhouse gases, reducing the amount of heat-trapping substances in the atmosphere.

DAC
Banks of fans blow air through a carbon dioxide–capturing solution in this rendering of a direct air capture plant. Image credits: Carbon Engineering

Scientists working at a company, Carbon Engineering, part-owned by Bill Gates, have come up with a way to convert carbon dioxide in the air to gasoline. This could be a huge game-changer considering the dangerous climatic shifts that we have been witnessing in the last decade. Plus, it would also be a source to produce cost-competitive gasoline.

The scientists collaborated with researchers from Harvard to design the technique known as “DAC” or “Direct Air Capture.” Basically, for just $94, they were able to remove one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the air by using only limestone, air, and hydrogen. Earlier, it was estimated that the DAC technology would require $600 to remove one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the air. That would have been financially infeasible. But now, the team of scientists and researchers have the data to prove that the technology would actually cost less than one-sixth of the estimated price.

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The DAC technology works by combining the captured carbon dioxide with hydrogen. The mixture is then made to go through electrolysis in water. The team has set up a hydro-powered plant in Squamish, British Columbia that has been running the procedure since 2015. The resulting liquid can be blended or used alone as gasoline, jet fuel, or diesel. When the oil burns, it releases the exact amount of carbon dioxide that went into making it which means that it’s carbon neutral. Such a product would be very beneficial to maintain the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and not increase it further. (source)

8. Researchers have developed the first-ever mind-controlled robotic arm that does not require any surgery or other invasive procedures to make it operate. Basically, no brain implants are required to control computerized objects in this technology. 

BCI
BCI setup using a robotic arm. Users controlled the 2D continuous movement of a robotic arm to track a randomly moving target on a computer screen. Image credits: Edelman et al., Sci. Robot. 4, eaaw6844/Techxplore

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon in partnership with the University of Minnesota have come up with a mind-blowing technology. They have developed a robotic technology wherein a person can control a robotic arm with just their minds! The technology does not require any surgery to incorporate an implant or any device inside the brain of the user. Basically, no invasive procedures whatsoever to make this possible.

In the experiment that the team demonstrated, the mind-controlled robotic arm showed a high degree of mobility and control. The arm was able to track a cursor on a computer screen. This is actually a very big step forward as it demonstrates the successful controlling of a computer with the mind.

There are a plethora of potential applications for this technology. People with permanent paralysis or disorders can now look forward to a future where they would be able to control computerized devices. (source)

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9. “ALON” is a new, transparent, aluminum technology that is four times harder than fused silica glass, 85% as hard as sapphire, and nearly 15% harder than magnesium aluminate spinel. Since it has a cubic spinel structure, it can be fabricated into transparent windows, plates, domes, rods, and tubes.

ALON
Image credits: Surmet

How would you like a window made of aluminum but completely transparent and unbreakable, unlike glass? This is actually the dream, and scientists have been successful in creating such a material that looks like glass but is actually as strong as aluminum.

Known as “aluminum oxynitride,” or “ALON,” this ceramic material is composed of aluminum, oxygen, and nitrogen. It has more than 80% transparency and is four times stronger than silica glass. Surmet, a manufacturing company, started the development of the material in 2002, and in the past 12 years, the material has been used in various commercial projects. Other properties of the material include scratch resistance, high clarity, and no birefringence.

The material has a wide range of applications especially in areas where high transparency and strength are required. A few examples include uses in the security, defense, aerospace, mining, and energy sectors. (1, 2)

10. There’s a device that allows blind people to see through their tongues. They look like a regular pair of sunglasses but with a technology that converts images into patterns of electricity that the wearer can taste and identify.

Brainport
(Image 1) Women using the brainport. (Image 2) If the tongue has a high number of nerve sensors it means that the image can be converted to a higher resolution. Image credits: Theplaidzebra

The “BrainPort” vision device is a unique technology that enables people with visual impairments to experience vision through their tongues. The device looks like a pair of ordinary sunglasses but has a camera installed onto it. The tiny, external camera captures an image which is then converted into electrical impulses. These impulses are transferred to the tongue of the wearer via an electrode array.

The electrical impulses are then sent to the brain for interpretation. Basically, each image tastes different and can be interpreted differently. After a certain amount of practice, people would be able to make out objects and shapes in front of them.

The device deploys the concept of sensory substitution in which, if a sensory organ is damaged, the part of the brain responsible for that sense will eventually learn to perform another function. The device is designed and manufactured by Wicab, a biomedical engineering company. (source)

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