Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cool New Technology: RFID kit and Foldable solar panel

Wow! I haven't been this excited since Mr. Wizard went off the air. The Boston Globe tech reviewer Mark Baard has some online videos reviewing interesting technical innovations (see the complete and growing menu at this link to Globe Biz page), scroll down near the bottom of the page, left hand column, "Tech Lab" or see individual videos at links just after the 2 reviews I highlight below.

Portable Solar Charger
A Foldable array of solar chargers so you can recharge portable electronics anywhere. Put it in your car; it includes jumper cables, or take it camping, or put it in your emergency kit. You can get either a 12 or a 26 watt Solaris foldable solar panel. See them at Brunton (the link takes you right to the 26 watt model which should power a laptop at need or jump-start your car in a pinch (after it sits in the sun a while, natch!). Cell phones, blackberries, PDAs would take a smaller charge, and you could use the 12 watt Solaris 12. Take your electronics camping or have a back-up system for emergencies. The company's home page is www.brunton.com and they have all kinds of camping equipment. (Link to Globe video review here)

Wow! You can tag your kid or your cat or your spouse and then track them. I'll bet librarians can think of a bunch of other things to track with this kit. It includes a nice array of RFID tags (that can dangle, stick, in credit card, or even one to surgically insert, with a warning not to do it!), and a reader. Comes from www.thinkgeek.com (RFID Experiment Kit. Check out their home page, too! They also have RFID blocking billfolds (in case you want to protect that info from others), and a USB port that also includes a mock doomsday button in case you get too frustrated with your computer. Lots of fun stuff. (Link to Globe video here)

The RFID reader in the kit above is made by Phidget.com. You might also want to look at their home page for a broader list of USB port accessible phidgets. A related website is http://www.phidgetsusa.com/, which also makes USB port accessible phidgets. Both companies offer RFID stuff of their own, as well as phidgets. These are programmable gadgets that link to USB ports. So, lots of interesting potential. At least we should be aware of these things, because I predict we'll be using them one way or another in libraries.

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