Tag: University of Sussex

Unbreakable phone screen may finally have been invented

Scientists have come up with a new technology that may make dropping your smartphone far less upsetting.

Scientists in the United Kingdom have announced that they have come up with a technology for an unbreakable phone screen. The tech involves the use of a special form of electrode. It would be possible to use it in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, or even in larger electronics such as TVs.

The team of scientists has predicted that the unbreakable screens could be available as soon as 2018.

The electrode for the unbreakable phone screen technology conducts electricity throughout the glass. A traditional form of electrode is made of indium tin oxide (ITO), which is an expensive type of metal. In fact, it is prohibitively expensive and has stopped that method from being used for more durable mobile phone screens until now. However, the UK scientist have made a new type of electrode by mixing graphene and silver nanowires.

These two materials were the key to being able to create the unbreakable phone screen display.

unbreakable phone screen - mobile phone with bulletThe silver nanowires are exceptionally tiny, at 1/10,000 the width of a human hair. And yet, they’re still much larger than graphene. The thinness of these materials has made it possible for an exceptionally flexible conductor which is far more resistant to breaking and cracking than the current standard glass screens.

When taking into consideration the number of people who break their smartphone screens, this is very good news. After all, a cracked screen isn’t just an inconvenience. In fact, inconvenience is only the beginning. Touchscreens as a standard on nearly all smartphones have meant that cracked screens can limit the use of the device or can render it unusable.

The unbreakable phone screen technology was created by a team of University of Sussex physicists who were working with an Oxford microelectrics firm. They developed these unique hybrid electrodes and published their findings in the Nanoscale journal. According to that publication, this is also an important discovery because the graphene and silver nanowire combination is actually better at conducting electricity than the older electrodes made out of the expensive ITO metal.

Distracted driving study shows hands-free mobile device not any safer

Recent research has revealed that the use of a hands-free device doesn’t make smartphone use safer behind the wheel.

The results of a new research study out of the U.K. have revealed that distracted driving is just as much of a problem among people who are behind the wheel with a hands-free device as it is when they’re holding a handset.

The study was conducted by the University of Sussex and involved the participation of 60 drivers.

The drivers were asked to take part in a series of different phone conversations. Sometimes there were very simple questions asked to the drivers during those discussions, such as “Where did you leave the blue file?”. What the research showed was that at times when the drivers were asked questions such as that one, the focus of the brain would shift onto an area of the road that was four times smaller than it had previously been. When the driver was thinking about the answer to the question, the outcome was a measurably slower reaction time. In fact, the distracted driving statistic changed by nearly a full second longer than their normal driving skills.

This mean that distracted driving isn’t necessarily based on the nature of the device as much as the talking itself.

Distracted driving handset and hands free carThe drivers who were paying attention to a mobile phone conversation – regardless of the mobile device – had a reaction time that was slower by nearly a second. According to Dr. Hole, the study’s lead author, “Our study adds to a mounting body of research showing that both hand-held and hands-free phones are dangerously distracting for drivers.” He added that “The only ‘safe’ phone in a car is one that’s switched off.”

Currently, the law in many areas that do not allow handsets to be used while behind the wheel are suggesting that by opting for hands-free devices, the driver has made the safer choice. However, according to Dr. Hole, that is hardly the case.

Equally, the study’s author admits that this issue of distracted driving regardless of the type of mobile device actually used becomes quite a struggle in terms of enforceability. “It’s very difficult for the police to tell if someone’s using a hands free phone,” he explained. However, he believes that the laws should be altered in order to make sure drivers understand that they’re not necessarily being safe by using any mobile devices while behind the wheel, regardless of whether or not they’re holding them in their hands.