[AI] Biodegradable laptop, low-power TV
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Thu Feb 21 07:25:12 EST 2008
Date:21/02/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/seta/2008/02/21/stories/2008022151501700.htm
Biodegradable laptop, low-power TV
With its power-hungry gadgets and thousands of delegates flying in from across the world, an enormous technology conference hardly seems an appropriate
venue for championing green issues. But the group behind the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week is trying to demonstrate that technology
may be about saving the environment rather than damaging it.
With ecological concerns playing an increasing part in the decisions made by shoppers, plenty of the 2,700 companies showing off their latest technologies
seemed desperate to claim any sort of green credentials.
However, some companies at CES really were attempting to produce innovative technologies to reduce damage to the environment.
Later this year the Japanese manufacturer Fujitsu will launch a laptop in its home market which is moving away from plastic: instead, the Biblo PC has a
case made partially from corn oil.
According to the company this means it is biodegradable, although scientists have questioned whether it will make any difference since the corn-based plastic
is mixed with a petroleum-based material.
Using corn reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during its creation by 15 per cent, but it does nothing to minimise the toxicity of the computer's
internal workings. Fujitsu says the development is a response to consumer demand.
Seen by many inside the technology industry as the green successor to flat-screen televisions, the Organic LED screen uses less power than normal TVs and
delivers a better picture.
The tiny pockets of material inside the screen produce their own light. Although OLED screens are small due to the difficulty of making them, Korean manufacturer
Samsung showed off a 32-inch model at CES and says it will go into full production by 2010. Japanese rival Sony has an 11-inch model on the market - but
it costs $2,500 (GBP1,276).
The world's largest phone maker Nokia is trying hard to improve the image of the mobile phone industry, which is responsible for a large portion of the
mountain of gadgets discarded every year.
Its latest drive is to encourage people to buy a phone made from recycled and reused parts - the Nokia 3100 Evolve.
Built from renewable material and packing a charger which claims much better efficiency than some of its rivals, it is available in Europe. The company
also showed off an Eco Sensor Phone, which is able to analyse the owner's health, environmental changes and local weather patterns.
Part of Nokia's approach is based on research which shows that huge amounts of energy get wasted because people do not switch off their handsets after charging.
Although the Finnish company is working on its own technology to stop this, one of the big stories of the conference has been the Green Plug.
The device promises to help the environment by using software that lets your gadget talk to its power supply. If no more charge is needed, the plug will
switch itself off.
Alternative energy sources were in limited evidence at CES this year, despite technologies using hydrogen and ethanol to create no-emissions power having
been heavily promoted in the past. Shanghai-based Horizon, however, was displaying what it says will be some of the world's first commercially available
fuel cell products, including a generator which needs only water.
Pouring liquid into a container the size of a large can of drink is enough to cause a fuel cell reaction with a chemical compound inside to generate power.
One canister is enough to power 10 laptops, and they should be available to buy this year.
- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
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