Weekly News Bites: Raining energy, GPS-free tracking, and AI that can make you dance

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the potential of harvesting energy from rainfall, a new method of geolocation that can see underground, and how AI can use a single photo to make you dance.

Rainfall can provide abundant renewable energy according to Tsinghua University scientists. The researchers have found a way to capture this potential through new solar panel technology. By using bridge array generators these panels can facilitate large-area raindrop energy harvesting.

GPS tracking uses satellites to find our position but can fail when we are underground, like when we are in a parking lot. The University of Tokyo and NEC Corp have found a new method that looks at particles which can pass through solid rock, avoiding this problem. Muons are tiny particles that can penetrate through thick materials and so can be used to track objects underground or in tunnels. 

By comparing the climate and carbon cycle scenarios of reducing carbon emissions and afforestation (planting more trees), scientists from the IISC’s Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences found that reducing emissions may have a larger benefit. Planting more trees can change the properties of the landscape, such as reducing the reflectivity of the area, which can offset the cooling effect while reducing emissions directly decreases carbon dioxide release. 

AI can create a video of you dancing from a single still photo. The technology called DisCo, created by Nanyang Technological University, combines dance data taken from sites like Tiktok with your image to make it come alive. You can start your dance influencer career without ever having to learn a step!