Tech 2.0 for Monday, December 30, 2013

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 12/30/2013 2:33 pm


The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six states to develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies. The FAA announced Monday the sites will be based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs. The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015. Officials concede it may take longer. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says safety is the first priority in moving drones into U.S. airspace.

American homes are more energy-efficient these days -- and so are the appliances and gadgets inside the homes. And as a result, the average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to levels that were last seen more than a decade ago. According to the Energy Information Administration, power usage is on track to decline this year for the third year in a row. And there are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, as energy prices rose in the early 2000s, more states adopted or toughened building codes, making builders seal homes better. Bigger appliances like refrigerators and air conditions have become more efficient, thanks to federal energy standards that get stricter every year. According to manufacturers, a typical room air conditioner uses 20 percent less electricity than it did in 2001. Some TVs use 80 percent less power than similar units in the past. And incandescent light bulbs are being replaced with fluorescent bulbs and LEDs that use 70 to 80 percent less power. And then there's the switch from computers to laptops, tablets and smart phones. The Electric Power Research Institute says it costs more than $28 to power a desktop for a year -- as opposed to $1.36 to power an iPad.

Samsung says a 110-inch TV that has four times the resolution of standard high-definition TVs is going on sale for about $150,000 in South Korea. The launch of the giant television set reflects global TV makers' move toward ultra HD TVs as manufacturing bigger TVs using OLED proves too costly. Last year, Samsung and rival LG Electronics touted OLED as the future of TV but they are still struggling to mass produce larger and affordable TVs with OLED. Japanese media reported that Sony and Panasonic decided to end their OLED partnership. Samsung's 110-inch U-HD TV measures 2.6 meters by 1.8 meters. It will be available in China, the Middle East and Europe. In South Korea, the TV is priced at 160 million won ($152,000) while prices in other countries vary.
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