The nature-inspired Smartflower is a smart solar panel that follows the sunlight

When it comes to soaking up the sun, don’t look to your over-tanned neighbor for pointers — look to your backyard autotrophs instead. We’re talking, of course, about plants, those cleverly engineered products of nature that understand better than just about anything the importance of solar power. So of course, it comes as little surprise that the latest solution for sustainable energy comes in the form of a giant sunflower … or rather, a solar panel that looks like a giant sunflower. Meet Smartflower, described as “a fully integrated, plug-and-play solar system that powers your world with clean energy.”

Not only does the Smartflower look an awful lot like overgrown flora, it behaves that way, too. You see, Smartflower does what natural flowers already know to do — follow the sun. At sunrise, this next generation solar panel unfolds itself, and sets its “petals” at a 90-degree angle in order to capture and produce energy. As the sun moves across the sky, the Smartflower adjusts itself accordingly until the sun finally sets, at which point the panel puts itself to sleep, folding back into itself. Similarly, if environmental conditions are not conducive to energy production (high winds, rain, etc.), Smartflower will protect itself and keep itself folded.

The Smartflower’s ability to follow the sun’s position is thanks to its GPS-based dual axis tracking, and because it’s always situated in the most efficient position, it claims to produce 40 percent more energy than traditional solar powers. It also doesn’t hurt that the Smartflower is self-cleaning — tiny brushes go to work every time the panel unfolds itself, cleaning the petals, and thereby improving efficiency by 5 percent.

As it stands, American customers will be able to get their hands on a Smartflower in mid-April. Already, around 1,000 units have found new homes across Europe, with some powering individual homes, while others gracing public spaces like the Botanical Gardens in Madrid, and a cafe in the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein in Austria. You can learn more about the Smartflower (and how to get one yourself) here.

Emerging Tech

Robots can now carry out plutonium production process for space exploration

Plutonium-238 is a crucial component in deep space exploration to the outer reaches of our Solar System. The only problem? We've been running low on our stockpiles. Perhaps until now.
Home Theater

QLED and OLED may have similar names, but they're totally different technologies

The names may look almost identical, but OLED and QLED are two entirely different beasts. In our QLED vs. OLED battle, we dissect the differences between these dueling TV technologies, and help determine which might be best for you.

Samsung's advanced folding phone needed 'total reconfiguration' to make it real

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Brightest quasar ever seen discovered by Hubble, may be star-producing machine

The brightest quasar even seen has been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope using a technique called strong gravitational lensing. The quasar is enormously energetic and may be producing thousands of stars per year.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.