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From the Publisher
January 31, 2013   
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I must admit that for me, as a layman, the most important thing about a scientific research project is the end result.

And before a project ends in success, what researchers—in both Poland and elsewhere—need, in addition to expertise and talent, is top-caliber equipment and funds. All this is indispensable before research results can be put to a commercial use. Without these things it would be impossible to develop science and technology in a modern economy.

One potential success story in Polish science could be the Talking Maps project designed to make life easier for blind people in this country. The project aims to develop a small device—referred to as a mobile geographic information system—to enable blind people to move around on their own, especially in an urban environment they are not familiar with. The system is expected to appear on the Polish market in 2014. It will not be expensive: it should cost no more than zl.2,000-2,500—or even less if the newest version of the Android operating system becomes more widespread.

Working on the project are researchers from the Gdańsk University of Technology together with a privately-run company from the northern city of Elbl±g. The Talking Maps project is headed by the university’s Prof. Andrzej Stepnowski, a recognized authority in the field of geoinformatics, who says work on the project will be completed by the end of June this year.

While Talking Maps sound futuristic, graphene—a new carbon-based “supermaterial” that holds out a promise of an exciting revolution in electronics—also appears to be the stuff of science fiction. Researchers from the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering at the Technical University of ŁódĽ have teamed up with engineers from the Seco/Warwick company from the western town of ¦wiebodzin to develop new graphene-based materials that could used for storing hydrogen. The project, billed as ground-breaking and innovative internationally, also covers the construction of a production line for the manufacture of such materials. If the project ends in success, it will benefit the automotive industry, the researchers say.

“The solutions we have developed will form the basis of modern devices using graphene for energy storage,” says Prof. Piotr Kula, director of the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering and head of the team working on the innovative graphene-based materials, which are collectively referred to as GrafRoll.

Wojciech Modrzyk, vice-president of Seco/Warwick, says his company is in talks with leading international automotive companies interested in the project. The new Polish technology could also be applied in the aerospace sector, Modrzyk says.
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