Mingis on Tech: Floating solar panels -- oxymoron or coming energy wave?

And it's time to check back in on VR and AR -- after last year's hype, is there hope for a breakout anytime soon?

Have you ever seen a solar panel float? Probably not yet. But that's one of the ways solar tech is advancing, as companies hoping to collect the sun's rays find ever more esoteric places for photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Computerworld Senior Reporter Lucas Mearian has the latest on "floating solar," as the emerging energy tech is called. Why floating?

With space limited in some parts of the world -- and real estate getting pricey -- companies are looking to install PV panels on lakes, canals, bays and perhaps some day even out on the ocean. (Cue the Jaws theme music and/or an image of Namu the killer whale breaching in just the wrong place.)

What could go wrong?

That said, the trend is gaining ground in places like China, the UK and Japan. (The world's largest floating solar panel farm is currently the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan. Completed in 2016, it has a generating capacity of 13.7MW and can power more than 5,000 households.)

From there, Computerworld Executive News Editor Ken Mingis turns the conversation over to Multimedia Editor Keith Shaw for an update on the state of virtual and augmented reality. Both were hyped a lot in 2016 and then...not much happened. Yes, there was that VR-augmented rollercoaster -- leading to questions about the need for virtual barf bags -- but the question remains: Is there a real-world use for VR or is it destined to wind up like 3D TVs -- a nifty bit of technology that never really finds a place in the world.

One possibility? Immersive movies, like the ones Shaw has checked out on the Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater. His verdict: The Moon mobile theater is , but the headpiece isn't always comfortable to wear. 

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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