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Smart windows can change the opacity

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New Delhi: Researchers from Harvard University have developed a technique that can quickly change the opacity of a window, turning it cloudy, clear or somewhere in between with the flick of a switch.

Previous technologies used in “tunable” windows relied on electrochemical reactions and were very expensive.

“However, the new technology uses geometry to adjust the transparency of a window which is a much cheaper option,” said David Clarke from Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The “tunable” window is comprised of a sheet of glass or plastic, sandwiched between transparent, soft elastomers sprayed with a coating of silver nanowires, too small to scatter light on their own.

With an applied voltage, the nanowires on either side of the glass are energised to move toward each other, squeezing and deforming the soft elastomer.

Since the nanowires are distributed unevenly across the surface, the elastomer deforms unevenly.

The resulting roughness causes light to scatter, turning the glass opaque in less than a second.

“It’s like a frozen pond. If the frozen pond is smooth, you can see through the ice. But if the ice is heavily scratched, you can’t see through,” added postdoctoral fellow Samuel Shian in a paper that appeared in the journal Optics Letters.

“Because this is a physical phenomenon rather than based on a chemical reaction, it is a simpler and potentially cheaper way to achieve commercial tunable windows,” Clarke noted.

The team is now working on incorporating thinner elastomers, which would require lower voltages, more suited for standard electrical supplies. (IANS)

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Google Expands Its Advanced Location Tracking System to the US

The location is computed on the device and delivered directly to emergency providers only when you explicitly call an emergency number.

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A Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Google is expanding its advanced location tracking feature for Android called “Emergency Location Service (ELS)” to the US.

Launched in 2016 and is currently available in 14 countries (excluding India), ELS provides accurate locations both indoors and outdoors by using a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks and sensors.

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The location tracking service is compatible with Android version 4.0 and above.

“Google is deploying ELS in the US, including the Virgin Islands, in partnership with emergency technology company RapidSOS and wireless service providers T-Mobile and West,” Jen Chai, Product Manager, Android, Google wrote in a blog-post late on Wednesday.

“Wireless providers like T-Mobile have existing ways to share emergency locations with emergency centers, but this integration with ELS will help deliver higher accuracy locations faster than before,” Chai wrote.

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Launched in 2016 and is currently available in 14 countries (excluding India) Wikimedia Coomons

Since the launch of ELS around the world, the most observed impact of the feature has been in critical, emergency situations by shortening emergency response times.

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“You don’t need to install a separate app, update your OS, or have special hardware to benefit from more accurate location. The location is computed on the device and delivered directly to emergency providers only when you explicitly call an emergency number,” Chai added.

The location tracking service is compatible with Android version 4.0 and above. (IANS)

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