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Moto Z hackathons create more interesting Mods than Motorola

The modular Moto Z was the tool of choice at the latest Motorola hackathon in San Francisco this past weekend. Developers and entrepreneurs took on the task of hacking the mobile phone with a variety of other hardware to come up with innovative add-ons. While available mods are thought of as too high-priced and non-essential, competitions like these show off some intriguing potential.

Projects at the latest event include a baby monitor with real-time notifications for things like room temperature, a color sensor that can emit sounds for people with visual impairments and — from the winning team — a solar-powered battery charger.

Many of the ideas at this weekend’s competition were health-related. One team of high-school kids came up with the unfortunately named ModCoholic, a breathalyzer mod, that will ask if you want to grab a taxi when over the legal limit. The team won Honorable Mention for its submission. Another developer created Simple Syrup, a mod that allows diabetics to check their blood sugar.

The San Francisco event was just the latest location in a series of hackathons held across the globe, including New York, India and Buenos Aires. The next one happens in Shenzhen, China mid-March. The winning teams from each event will head to Motorola’s headquarters in Chicago to present their ideas to industry leaders like Lenovo Capital, who might invest and fund promising concepts. If the Moto Z takes off like Motorola hopes, it’s possible we’ll see some of these inventive ideas on store shelves in the near future.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Motorola

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick