Tag: mcdonalds

Do you want electricity with that?

mcdonalds-hospitalPurveyor of meat themed products McDonalds is installing 600 charging hotspots in 50 of its British restaurants.

The move means that anyone with a compatible smartphone or tablet can simply sit it on the counter to start automatically charging its batteries. They will have to be quick of course, it does not take long to eat at McDonalds, something seems to propel you from the building after five minutes.

The setup is part of a deal with wireless charging technology company Air Charge which will provide  the charging pads, which operate on the Qi standard.

Air Charge made the announcement during this week’s International CES in Las Vegas but it has been trailed in some UK McDonald’s already.

The charging plates, which will be integrated into tables and counters, are water resistant and wipe clean and offer native support to 70 different smartphone handsets currently on sale.

Nokia Lumia handsets support the Qi wireless charging standard, either out of the box or via an optional back plate.

Starbucks has been named as rolling out wireless charging points across its US operation. However, rather than the Qi standard, backed by the Wireless Power Consortium, Starbucks has opted for the Power Matters Alliance standard instead.

There were three competing wireless charging standards all attempting to become the global standard, but two of them the Power Matters Alliance (which counts Google as a member) merged with the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), which is backed by Dell and Microsoft to integrate the two standards in future devices and chargers.

McDonald’s takes control of lost satellite

mcdonaldsAn independent team of boffins, working from an abandoned McDonalds, is taking control of a a NASA satellite and running a crowdfunded mission. The entire project uses old radio parts from eBay and a salvaged flat screen TV.

The ISEE-3 is a disco-era satellite that used to measure space weather like solar wind and radiation, but went out of commission decades ago.

Now, a small team led by a former NASA employee Keith Cowing,  has taken control of the satellite with NASA’s blessing.

The satellite’s battery has been dead for over 20 years, but it had solar panels to power 98 percent of the satellite’s full capabilities. When it was working it ran missions around the Moon and Earth, and flew through the tail of a comet.

Everyone knew it would come back in 2014, but NASA was not sure it was a project worth rescuing.

Since the satellite went offline, the team had retired, the documentation was lost and the equipment became outdated.

A crowdfunding campaign raised $160,000 to get the satellite back into service.

At the outset of the crowdfunding campaign, they brought the idea to NASA, but there was no precedent on which to base an agreement. No external organization has ever taken command of a spacecraft, but NASA didn’t want to say no, so they asked the team if they needed any help.

Their new control centre, has been dubbed “McMoon’s.” For their console, they pulled a broken flatscreen TV from a government dumpster and fixed the power supply. The other pieces are from eBay, including a Mac laptop and some radio parts.

With just those bare-bones pieces, they were able to MacGyver a computer-radio hybrid that made contact with the ISEE-3.

Once they were able to communicate with the satellite, they established a new orbit around the Sun, slightly larger than the Earth’s orbit. This will allow more testing. It will be providing solar weather data and then open sourcing it.

Google has been helping the team build a site that will open up the data to the world. Everything coming from the satellite will be available in different formats and packages so that anyone can get it.