A disturbing trend in consumer electronics has been a steady disappearance of replaceable batteries on our devices. Finding a mobile phone with a swapable battery is a struggle, and many other devices follow the trend by sealing in a Li-Po cell. The result is an ever-shorter life for electronics, and a greater problem with devices going to recycling or worse still, landfill. Hope is at hand though, thanks to a proposed European Union law that would if passed make batteries in appliances “designed so that consumers can easily remove and replace them themselves“.
In case any readers in the rest of the world wonder what it has to do with them, the EU represents such a huge market that manufacturers can neither ignore it, nor in most cases afford to make separate EU and rest-of-world versions of their products. Thus if the EU requires something for sale in its territories, in most cases it becomes the de facto norm for anything designed to be sold worldwide. We’ve already seen this with the EU’s right to repair legislation, and while we have not doubt that manufacturers will do their best to impede this new law we don’t think they will ultimately prevail.
By and large, automakers have spent much of the last century trying to make cars quieter and more comfortable. Noise from vehicles can be disruptive and just generally annoying, so it makes sense to minimise it where possible.
However, the noise from the average motor vehicle can serve a useful purpose. A running engine acts as an auditory warning to those nearby. This is particularly useful to help people avoid walking in front of moving vehicles, and is especially important for the visually impaired.
Electric vehicles, with their near-silent powertrains, have put this in jeopardy. Thus, from July 1st, 2019, the European Union will enforce regulations on the installation of noise-making devices on new electric and hybrid vehicles. They are referred to as the “Acoustic Vehicle Alert System”, and it’s been a hot area of development for some time now. Continue reading “Electric Cars Sound Off, Starting July 1st” →
What’s a smart city? According to Wikipedia, a smart city uses ICT (information and communication technologies) to enhance quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services while reducing costs and resource consumption. Hackers have been using technology to enhance all sorts of things for years.
London is joining forces with cities across Europe to demonstrate smart city technology, mostly in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The project is in conjunction with the EU Horizon 2020 project, which is still soliciting proposals for funding. It seems like some Hackaday readers–especially in the EU–ought to have some ideas worth funding.
Continue reading “London Tries Smart Cities” →