Tech of 2012 that will shape the tech landscape of 2013

mayan calendar

With 2012 coming to an end(not the world), it’s time to reflect on this years tech that will help shape tomorrow. From the NASA Curiosity Rover, to the Microsoft Surface and the Tesla Model S, see the tech that will revolutionize the world in 2013 and beyond.

6) NASA’s Curiosity Rover & Sky Crane Landing System

NASA Curiosity Rover and Sky Crane

Manufacturer:
NASA
Cost:
$2.5 billion

NASA has made history in 2012 by landing the 1,982lbs Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars. Although this may seem like something we have done many times before, it was a revolution in spacecraft landing techniques.

All previous rovers landing on Mars were essentially wrapped in bubble wrap, given a parachute and we hoped for the best.  The Space Crane system will allow us to land much larger and more delicate mechanical systems on Mars by gently lowering the equipment to the surface of Mars, and then jettisoning the space crane miles away from the equipment.


5) MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer

MakerBot Replicator 2

Manufacturer:
MakerBot Industries, LLC
Cost:
$2,199

The MakerBot Replicator 2 allows anyone with $2,199 budget to easily fabricate and create almost anyting they can think of.  This device makes it much cheaper to prototype and even create products for sale.

The machine uses spools of plastic filament to lay down layer after high-resolution layer of resin that forms your object. The 3D printer revolution has begun.  Head over to http://www.makerbot.com  to make your imagination and 11.2 L x 6.0 W x 6.1 H your limits of fabrication.


4) Philips Dimmable LED 12.5 Watt(60 Watt equivalent) Light Bulb

Manufacturer:
Philips
Cost:
$21.23
Life expectancy:
22.8 years
Energy savings:
$130.62 per bulb

With the incandescent light bulb being banned in the United States in 2014 you will have no choice but to use a more efficient light bulb. Most people are familiar with the CFL(aka Compact fluorescent, aka squiggly bulb). These bulbs are an excellent energy saver, but have about half the life expectancy with the nasty side effect of releasing toxic mercury into landfills when disposed of improperly. That’s right, CFL bulbs are to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Save your self the trouble by investing in an energy saving bulb that doesn’t have to be handled as hazardous waste.

Philips 60 Watt LED equivalent bulb consumes only 12.5watts of energy, lasts 22.8 years, can be used on a standard dimming circuit and will not fade fabric or colors. That all sounds great, but a common argument they cost twice as much as a CFL. Keep in mind that that negligible 1.5 Watts saved with an LED light over a CFL is over the 22.8 years life span, which is over 3 times longer then the CFLs 7 year life span. Pay twice upfront, save energy and get and extra life out of the bulb. That sounds like a winner to me.


3) Second Generation Nest Learning Thermostat

Manufacturer:
Nest Inc.
Cost:
$249.99
Energy savings:
20% of HVAC bill

Your heating and cooling bill is typically 50% of you energy bill. This fact alone means small improvements in efficiency will save you a lot of money in the long run. The Nest thermostat can save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling bill. The Nest thermostat allows such savings by learning your living patterns, controlling your HVAC system more efficiently and allowing for remote control of your heating and cooling system via your computer or smart phone.

All of these features can be added to your home in less then 30 minutes. Not only will you save yourself some money on you monthly energy bills, but your thermostat will look a whole lot “cooler.” The savings of 20% on half of your energy bill, essentially paying itself of the first year, makes this the number one pick for saving money on your energy bill.


2) Microsoft Surface Tablet

Manufacturer:
Microsoft
Cost:
Windows RT – $499.99
Windows 8 Pro – $899.99

Microsoft has been in the tablet category for a while now, but never in a form that customers accepted. Microsoft made a bold move with Windows 8 by removing the Start menu and replacing it with the touch friendly Start Screen (aka Metro), and in the process they have created the Surface tablet that may even rival the iPad.

The Microsoft Surface Pro tablet runs a full version of Windows 8 that runs all of your favorite x86/64 Windows programs in a form factor that was dominated by what is essentially an operating system for a smartphone. This allows for you to run any app that you would typically run on your PC like Microsoft Office or its free rival Libre Office. These full featured Office suites alone makes the Microsoft Surface, for many users, more useful then a tablet running iOS or Android.

In addition to the Surface Pro being able to run legacy Windows apps, a program call “Blue Stack” allows you to run most Android apps on your Windows 8 machine. With Blue Stack you have access to 700,000 Android apps to keep you busy until the Windows Store gets filled with apps.

Even with the oddities found in Windows 8 we think that the Microsoft Surface is on the path to being a no compromise tablet, even for hardcore PC users.


1) Tesla Model S

Black Tesla Model S

Manufacturer:
Tesla Motors Inc.
Cost:
$57,000

The Tesla Model S is in our opinion the single most influential piece of tech this year. The Tesla Model S is showing the world that electric cars are viable alternatives to standard gas powered vehicles, and that you can go green without driving a slow ugly shoe.

The Tesla Model S can get 300 miles on a single charge, while out performing many gas powered competitors in the same class.  While the Model S still suffers from the long charging time EV’s are know for, there are now options that allow you to charge your Model S to 80% in 30 minutes.


Tesla reports profitable week and Model S gains “Sleep Mode”

Tesla Model S White

 Tesla Model S White

Tesla Motors is having a good week with the announcement by CEO Elon Musk that the company had achieved a positive cash flow last week.  In addition to getting their cash flow Back in Black, Tesla has updated the firmware on the Model S to v4.0.

In this firmware update Tesla has added a new energy saving sleep mode, as well as made improvements the door handle capabilities, Voice Commands and enhanced media browsing capabilities, and added functionality for Maps, HomeLink, and Steering Wheel Controls.

The new power saving sleep mode shuts down all electronics when you leave your car, and will power them up again when your key comes in range of the vehicle.  This allows for minimal wait time before you can begin driving.  This feature saves up to 8 miles worth of electricity from being drained from the battery pack while with vehicle is in storage, your at work or run errands. This will let you squeeze even more range out the the battery pack when you don’t have a charger at your disposal.

Press Release

MODEL S SOFTWARE RELEASE NOTES v4.0

A new software update will be available in the coming days. The onboard notification will guide you through the installation. If you would like to review the process, instructions are available at the end of this email.

After installation, Model S will feature new energy-saving “sleep” functionality, improved door handle capabilities, Voice Commands and enhanced media browsing capabilities, and added functionality for Maps, HomeLink, and Steering Wheel Controls.

Beginning with this update, Release Notes will be displayed on the touchscreen right after the update and can always be accessed later by tapping the Tesla T in the status bar and tapping the Release Notes link located above your VIN number, next to the software version number.


NEW FEATURES

  • Vehicle Sleep
  • App Launcher
  • Release Notes
  • Voice Commands

ENHANCEMENTS

  • Synchronized Door Handles
  • USB Media Browsing
  • Alphabetical Index
  • Calling from Maps
  • Steering Wheel Controls – Fan
  • Speed / Sunroof
  • Throttle Response
  • HomeLink – Location Awareness
  • Energy App

NEW CONTROLS / SETTINGS

  • Auto-Presenting Door Handles
  • Alarm
  • Metric Distance Unit
  • Range Driving Mode

NEW FEATURES

Vehicle Sleep

With this release, Model S will power off the display and vehicle electronics each time you exit, transitioning to a “sleep” state. When you return to Model S, you’ll note a modest increase in the time it takes the touchscreen and instrument panel to wake from this energy-saving state.

Model S will initiate the startup process the moment the key is recognized nearby. You can only begin driving once both displays are ready.

If you would prefer to keep the displays powered so they’ll be instantly available each time you return, you can change the setting in Controls > Settings > Vehicle. Note that keeping the displays powered will reduce your car’s range up to 8 miles per day when the car is not plugged in, and will also reduce the life of your 12V battery and vehicle electrical systems. If displays are set to power off, the displays will power off 2 hours after the rest of the car goes to sleep. The displays will also power off when the battery charge is low (or after 60 hours without use), regardless of the setting.

DISPLAYS

  • App Launcher – With this feature, you can easily launch an app in the bottom app window (in addition to the current default behavior, where tapping an icon replaces the app in the top window). To try it, tap and hold an application icon. You’ll notice a small pop-up indicating the top and bottom viewing panes. Drag the icon to your preferred location.

KEEP DISPLAYS POWERED ON

COPYRIGHT 2012 TESLA MOTORS INC

5 products that save you money on your power bill

Philips LED Light Bulb

5) Belkin Conserve Valet with Energy-Saving USB Charging Station

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$39.99

Energy vampires will Nickle & Dime your power bill to death. What is an energy vampire? Most AC adapters like your phone or iPod charger draw power 24/7 to charge you devices, even when its not connected to the charger. An average a home has at least 3 USB wall chargers multiplying the problem further.

This problem can be solved with the Belkin Conserve Valet USB charger. The Valet can charge up to 5 USB devices at once, and will shut off completely after the device charging is complete. Not only does the Valet save you from up to 5 power sucking wall chargers, but it organizes the mess at the same time.


4) Belkin Conserve Socket with Energy Saving Outlet

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$29.99

This device slays power vampires as well, but these are much larger and suck even more power. The Belkin Conserve Socket plays multiple roles by acting as a surge protector to keep your devices safe from surges, at the same time saving you from the 24/7 draw of you home electronics.

This power strip is best suited for home entertainment systems with multiple devices. The TV or AV Receiver acts as the master on/off switch. When the TV is OFF all the wasteful standby power is cut from the other devices, while the power is restored when the master device is ON. This is an easy solution to a very wasteful problem.


3) Watt Stopper Motion Light And Fan Switch

Manufacturer:
Watt Stopper
Cost:
$29.99

Most families have someone in the house that seems to forget that lights also turn off. This wastes a lot of power, burning up the life of the bulb and wasting money on your power bill.

The Watt Stopper Motion Activated light turns on your lights or exhaust fans when it detects motion in the room and turns them off after a preset time when motion is not longer present. In addition to limiting power usage with motion the Watt Stopper also keeps light off when enough ambient light is present from the sun or other sources. The Watt Stopper also features a “force off” mode that prevents the light from turning on when you don’t want them on.


2) Philips Dimmable LED 12.5 Watt(60 Watt equivalent) Light Bulb

Manufacturer:
Philips
Cost:
$21.23
Life expectancy:
22.8 years
Energy savings:
$130.62 per bulb

With the incandescent light bulb being banned in the United States in 2014 you will have no choice but to use a more efficient light bulb. Most people are familiar with the CFL(aka Compact fluorescent, aka squiggly bulb). These bulbs are an excellent energy saver, but have about half the life expectancy with the nasty side effect of releasing toxic mercury into landfills when disposed of improperly. That’s right, CFL bulbs are to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Save your self the trouble by investing in an energy saving bulb that doesn’t have to be handled as hazardous waste.

Philips 60 Watt LED equivalent bulb consumes only 12.5watts of energy, lasts 22.8 years, can be used on a standard dimming circuit and will not fade fabric or colors. That all sounds great, but a common argument they cost twice as much as a CFL. Keep in mind that that negligible 1.5 Watts saved with an LED light over a CFL is over the 22.8 years life span, which is over 3 times longer then the CFLs 7 year life span. Pay twice upfront, save energy and get and extra life out of the bulb. That sounds like a winner to me.


1) Nest Learning Thermostat

Manufacturer:
Nest Inc.
Cost:
$249.99
Energy savings:
20% of HVAC bill

Your heating and cooling bill is typically 50% of you energy bill. This fact alone means small improvements in efficiency will save you a lot of money in the long run. The Nest thermostat can save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling bill. The Nest thermostat allows such savings by learning your living patterns, controlling your HVAC system more efficiently and allowing for remote control of your heating and cooling system via your computer or smart phone.

All of these features can be added to your home in less then 30 minutes. Not only will you save yourself some money on you monthly energy bills, but your thermostat will look a whole lot “cooler.” The savings of 20% on half of your energy bill, essentially paying itself of the first year, makes this the number one pick for saving money on your energy bill.


Tesla Model S wins Car of the Year

2013-Tesla-Model-S-front

  Tesla won the 2013 Motor Treat Car of the Year, making it the first electric car to win this prestigious award.  This a a step forward for Electric Vehicles becoming mainstream vs standard combustion vehicles or even hybrids.  What is that made this the first major EV success?

Styling

Lets start with the Model S styling.  The Model S looks like its gas powered counterparts,  and does not suffer from the typical form before style that EV’s, hybrids and even your standard eco-cars do. The Nissan LEAF being the worst most recent offender here.  The Model S style is on par with all of the luxury sedans that it is intended to compete with.  Most people are shocked to hear that this is an all electric car.

Performance

So the Model S looks fast, but what is the real world performance like?  Lets start with the raw numbers first.  The base(signature) Model S has 362hp, 325 ft/lbs of torque and a range of 300 miles, while the performance model model pushes 416hp and 443ft/lbs of torque.  To put those numbers into perspective the 2013 Ford F150 with a 6.2L V8 outputs 411hp and 434ft/lbs of torque, making the Model S more powerful then a V8 Ford F150 pickup.  Yeah, wrap your head around that one!

Watch the Tesla Model S drag race a BMW M5...

Concerns

Now what about the downsides of electric vehicles?  Isn’t long distance travel going to be difficult, if not impossible? The Model S gets 300 miles on a charge with the 85kWh battery pack and Teslas’ free Supercharging stations will give owners of the Model S free long distance charging for the life of the vehicle.  The superchargers are capable of charging your vehicle with 150 miles of range in 30 minutes.  A 30 minutes break after 300 miles of driving seems like a well deserved break.

What about the high cost of the Tesla Model S?  The Model S is intended on competing in the luxury sedan market, so we will use the BMW M5 as the baseline example.  The BMW M5 starts $89,900 for the base model, which provides 560hp and 500 ft/lbs of torque.  The top-tier performance Model S pushes 416hp and 443ft/lbs of torque for $97,900, yet with what seems to be a power disadvantage for the Model S it still smokes the BMW M5 drag race(as seen above).  The secret sauce is the fact that in the Tesla Model S, and all other EV’s, 100% of their torque is available at 0 rpms making this think the 1/4 mile king.

Conclusion

In conclusion the Tesla Model S is the style and functionality benchmark for all future EV’s to be based on.  The Model S is the first mass production EV to show the world that EV’s are efficient, fast and can look just as good as a standard ICE vehicle, while in many cases superior to gas powered vehicles.  Let’s hope the next vehicle after the Model X crossover, the rumored sub $30,000 Telsa BlueStar, has the same polish for a price that most people can afford.  If Tesla can pull this off we may have to start referring to the US automakers as the “big 4.”

         Watch the Motor Trend Car of the Year announcement