Data cable links Tokyo to Singapore

The 7,800km Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) connects Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. This is a high-speed undersea data cable which transfers data via an optical fibre system at 40 gigabits per second, and is three milliseconds faster than any other cable between Tokyo and Singapore.

So-called “high-frequency trades”, controlled by computers, involve making what may be hundreds of thousands of transactions in less than a second – all determined by a program that tracks market conditions. Even though the increase in speed may not sound significant, it could prove critical to financial trades made out of the region.

With banks and hedge funds competing against each other, the size of the profit or loss can come down to a matter of beating the competition by a fraction of a second, according to Ralph Silva, a strategist at Silva Research Network.

“High frequency trading is basically computer trading – you program a set of rules and as events happen – the computer decides buy or sell commands,” he said.

“As all incoming data is received by all banks at the same time, and because the computers are all the same with the same speed of processors, the length of time the command takes to get to the exchange makes a big difference.”

“So if all banks come to the same trading decision at the same time, the one to get the transaction to the master computer first wins.”

The data transfer capacity of 40Gbps is the equivalent of downloading a high-resolution DVD in about two seconds. Due to the decision to make the cable as straight as possible, the time to get information from one end to the other was reduced to 65 milliseconds.

As many comparable undersea cables were damaged by powerful earthquakes that hit Japan in March 2011 and Taiwan in December 2006, a lot of attention was paid to the actual location of the new cable.

Hiroyuki Matsumoto of NTT, one of the four partners involved in the project, stated that the area around Taiwan was avoided as earthquakes in this area are common. A route near the Philippines was chosen instead making the cable safer and more reliable.




College Dorms in Denmark

A university in Denmark has created a circular dorm that will make you incredibly frustrated at the tiny double room where you spent your college years. Bet you didn’t have french windows, balconies, and a bike workshop.

It’s hard not to be envious of the students who get to live in Copenhagen’s Tietgen Student Hall (Tietgenkollegiet), a 288,000-square-foot, seven-story building designed as a communal space for residence. Among the building’s features:

  • All rooms face outwards, thanks to the building’s circular space (a symbol of its equality and communal nature). That means everyone gets ample natural light.
  • The rooms all have energy-efficient floor heating and their own showers and toilets (a big bonus for anyone who has shared a bathroom with their entire dorm hall).
  • Every room has either a French window or a balcony.
  • 30 kitchens in the building, each of which has four fridges and two stoves.
  • A ground floor given over almost entirely to common facilities, including a bike room, two music rooms, a gym, a computer room, a study room, an assembly hall, and an outdoor area for basketball and other sports.
  • Three workshops: a sewing workshop, a bike workshop, and a wood workshop.

In the U.S., universities are quickly figuring out that they must add amenities to attract students–they’re featuring everything from climbing walls to sustainable improvements but Tietgenkollegiet offers an impressive combination of energy efficiency and community building.

Combining sustainable improvements with community building to optimise student’s academic performance and well-being seems the way forward.




SMART is a support system co-funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission (EC). As the EC states on its website, “the FP7 bundles all research-related EU initiatives together under a common roof playing a crucial role in reaching the goals of growth, competitiveness and employment.

Basically, SMART is a web portal that offers support in being involved in RTD research projects at European level to all organizations operating in the Surface-Transport sector. The web portal offers networking and partnering opportunities, as well as providing information and tools to enhance the active participation in research programmes in the sector.

In other words, the main aim of SMART is to provide services to support SMEs participation in RTD research projects under the Transport Work-Programme. The following services are provided:

  • connecting Clustersof Transport sector in different European countries
  • training on EU funding mechanisms
  • facilitating networking opportunities and partnerships creation among all stakeholders of the transport sector (using the metacluster approach)
  • addressing SMEs research capabilities/needs
  • facilitating the creation of consortium with large organizations in projects led by SMEs
  • supporting SMEs in submitting proposals for own project ideas
  • creating a nurturing environment for transnational research projects

In terms of partners involved, SMART has a wide range of stakeholders including Private Technology Transfer companies, Regional SMEs Clusters, Public Innovation Agencies, and Large Enterprises linked to Regional Clusters such as ECONET in Spain and IMAST in Italy.

So what are the actual benefits of SMART?

SMART Web Portal offers a virtual meeting point for all the organizations operating in the Surface Transport Sector. SMART identifies the market needs and the organisations’ skills and competences facilitating the matching of research and innovation demand and offer.

As SMART is co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, it must be stated that this is another smart initiative of the EC to generate growth, competitiveness and employment.



Transmitters that cost a penny to print

Researchers in Korea have devised a cheap way of transmitting data from objects to mobile phones when swiped with the use of Near Field Communication, which is already used in some devices allowing shoppers to make card payments by touch.

The researchers from Sunchon National University and the Paru Printed Electronics Research Institute have printed small rectennas (a cross between an antenna and an AD/DC current converter) onto plastic foils using electronic inks that use radio waves emitted a smartphone to transmit data to it from a tiny chip.

“What is great about this technique is that we can also print the digital information onto the rectenna, meaning that everything you need for wireless communication is in one place,” co-author of the study Gyoujin Cho told the IoP.

The advantage of the rectenna over current technology is lower cost, since the research team produced a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner. Additionally, they can integrate many extra functions without huge extra cost in the printing process.


The printed rectennas cost less than one penny per unit to produce and could be used as an alternative to QR codes. In general, QR codes are rather limited in terms of usage. They can only be used for one thing at a time and can only contain so much data.

The rectennas will make their debut in the journal Nanotechnology, published by the Institute of Physics (IoP) this month.








Green, sustainable, clean and quiet are normally not the characteristics that people link to automobile travel considering its CO2 emissions, dependency on limited petroleum reserves, and clogged highways. With electromobility however, this seems possible.

Vehicles that run on electricity have low emissions and are directly linked to smart grids, enabling them to not only consume power, but also to provide mobile storage of energy acquired during periods of high electricity generation from renewable sources, sunshine or high winds. In terms of high demand, they can feed electricity back into the grid. In other words, electromobility’s greatest potential for climate protection is the interaction with renewable energies and sustainable mobility.

In the US, plans are shaped for a million electric vehicles to be on the road in the US by 2015. The cities of Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco will be the first to adopt electromobility, creating a benchmark for other cities. The U.S. plans to take the lead in electromobility, explaining the government investment exceeding $140 billion.

In general, the demand for innovative technologies is increasing. The company Siemens already offers a wide range of products and solutions for the electromobile market such as:

  • Smart grids
  • Charging infrastructures
  • Components for electric cars
  • Coordinated software portfolio

It is expected that electromobility will be increasingly adopted by city authorities to shift towards a smarter way of moving people around cities. We are excited to see how this will develop in the upcoming years.