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Vision system for household robots

January 12, 2015 7:36 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For household robots ever to be practical, they’ll need to be able to recognize the objects they’re supposed to manipulate. But while object recognition is a highly studied topic in artificial intelligence, even the best object detectors still fail much of the time. Researchers at MIT believe that household robots should take advantage of their mobility and their relatively static environments to make object recognition easier.

Smartwatches get face lift at CES

January 9, 2015 1:22 pm | by Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press | News | Comments

Smartwatches don't have to look ugly to be functional. Clothing and accessories designers are collaborating with engineers to produce computerized wristwatches that people will want to wear all day and night. With Apple Inc. preparing to release a watch line that includes an 18-karat gold edition, rivals know they need to think beyond devices that look like miniature computers.

Countering a new class of coffee shop hackers

January 9, 2015 10:52 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, tapping away on your laptop, feeling safe from hackers because you didn’t connect to the shop’s Wi-Fi, think again. The bad guys may be able to see what you’re doing just by analyzing the low-power electronic signals your laptop emits even when it’s not connected to the Internet. And smartphones may be even more vulnerable to such spying.

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How the “Beast Quake” is helping scientists track real earthquakes

January 9, 2015 10:31 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

It’s not just the football players who have spent a year training. Univ. of Washington seismologists will again be monitoring the ground-shaking cheers of Seahawks fans, this year with a bigger team, better technology and faster response times. Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will install instruments this Thursday to provide real-time monitoring of the stadium’s movement during the 2015 NFL playoffs.

First responders get mobile app for biodetection

January 9, 2015 9:07 am | by Susan Bauer, PNNL | News | Comments

First responders have downloaded more than 10,000 copies of a guide to commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies created to help them determine what they might be up against in the field. Since many first responders do not always have immediate access to a computer, a mobile version of the guide is now available for cell phones and tablets.

Quantum dots have made quantum leaps

January 9, 2015 8:57 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Outside his career as a noted nanochemist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) director Paul Alivisatos is an avid photographer. To show off his photos, his preferred device is a Kindle Fire HDX tablet because “the color display is a whole lot better than other tablets,” he says.

Toward quantum chips

January 9, 2015 8:10 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team of researchers has built an array of light detectors sensitive enough to register the arrival of individual light particles, or photons, and mounted them on a silicon optical chip. Such arrays are crucial components of devices that use photons to perform quantum computations.

Emissions-free cars get closer

January 8, 2015 12:06 pm | by Andrea Boyle Tippett, Univ. of Deleware | News | Comments

A Univ. of Delaware research team is considering the important question of what it will take to create an affordable emissions-free car. Hydrogen fuel cells may be the best option for powering zero-emission vehicles: Toyota has just introduced a hydrogen-powered car in Japan and will make them available in the U.S. in 2015.

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Shedding light on why blue LEDs are so tricky to make

January 8, 2015 11:19 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

Scientists at Univ. College London, in collaboration with groups at the Univ. of Bath and the Daresbury Laboratory, have uncovered the mystery of why blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are so difficult to make, by revealing the complex properties of their main component—gallium nitride—using sophisticated computer simulations.

Technology quickly traces source of tainted food

January 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Foodborne illnesses kill roughly 3,000 Americans each year and about one in six are sickened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet most contaminated foods are never traced back to their source. That’s because existing methods to track tainted food following its supply chain from table to farm are highly inefficient, jeopardizing the health of millions and costing the food industry billions.

FAA OKs two commercial drone permits

January 7, 2015 9:35 am | by Associated Press, Joan Lowy | News | Comments

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate. The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for “crop scouting,” and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

Optimizing Industrial Drying Systems Using CFD

January 7, 2015 8:30 am | by Mehul Patel | Articles | Comments

Industrial drying systems are most commonly used in process industries to remove moisture content from the materials. These systems are designed according to the required moisture removal requirement. The working principle of drying systems is purely based on evaporation of liquids from solids.

Hackers could make smart homes stupid

January 6, 2015 4:40 pm | by Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

If a hacker got to every smart home in a neighborhood, utility bills would shoot up and brownouts, if not blackouts, would be imminent. It’s a cybersecurity nightmare. And it’s exactly what one Michigan Technological Univ.'s Shiyan Hu is working to prevent. His research focuses on hardware and system security for smart devices, ones with chips embedded that respond to a central controller powered by Wi-Fi.

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New technology enables ultra-fast steering, shaping of light beams

January 6, 2015 10:12 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

A team of engineers has developed a new acousto-optic device that can shape and steer beams of light at speeds never before achieved. The new technology will enable better optical devices to be made, such as holographs that can move rapidly in real time.

Crowd science provides major boost for certain research projects

January 6, 2015 8:04 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Crowd science is making possible research projects that might otherwise be out of reach, tapping thousands of volunteers to help with such tasks as classifying animal photos, studying astronomical images, counting sea stars and examining cancer cell images. Also known as “citizen science,” these efforts to involve ordinary people in research projects have attracted interest from policy makers, scientific agencies and others.

DNA origami could lead to nano “transformers” for biomedical applications

January 5, 2015 3:59 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | Videos | Comments

If the new nanomachines built at The Ohio State Univ. look familiar, it’s because they were designed with full-size mechanical parts such as hinges and pistons in mind. The project is the first to prove that the same basic design principles that apply to typical full-size machine parts can also be applied to DNA; and can produce complex, controllable components for future nanorobots.

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency, environment

January 5, 2015 11:35 am | by Institute for Basic Science | News | Comments

The Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science has succeeded in proposing a new method to enhance fuel cell efficiency with the simultaneous removal of toxic heavy metal ions. The direct methanol fuel cell (DFMC) has been a promising energy conversion device for electrical vehicles and portable devices. However, the inevitable carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the main factors reducing its performance.

Acoustic levitation made simple

January 5, 2015 11:22 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

A team of researchers at the Univ. of São Paulo in Brazil has developed a new levitation device that can hover a tiny object with more control than any instrument that has come before. The device can levitate polystyrene particles by reflecting sound waves from a source above off a concave reflector below. Changing the orientation of the reflector allow the hovering particle to be moved around.

Drive-by heat mapping

January 5, 2015 11:09 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2007, Google unleashed a fleet of cars with roof-mounted cameras to provide street-level images of roads around the world. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout Essess is bringing similar “drive-by” innovations to energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Speeding cyanobacteria growth “brightens” biofuel’s future

January 2, 2015 9:27 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rapidly growing bacteria that live in the ocean and can manufacture their own food hold promise as host organisms for producing chemicals, biofuels and medicine. Researchers are closely studying one of these photosynthetic species of fast-growing cyanobacteria using advanced tools developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to determine the optimum environment that contributes to record growth and productivity.

Atom-high steps halt oxidation of metal surfaces

January 2, 2015 8:27 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Binghamton Univ. | News | Comments

Rust never sleeps. Whether a reference to the 1979 Neil Young album or a product designed to protect metal surfaces, the phrase invokes the idea that corrosion from oxidation is an inevitable, persistent process. But a new Binghamton Univ. study reveals that certain features of metal surfaces can stop the process of oxidation in its tracks.

Nanotech used to engineer ACL replacements

January 2, 2015 7:50 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Lindsey Vonn. Derrick Rose. Tom Brady. Mickey Mantle. They have all fallen victim to the dreaded pop of the knee. Connecting the femur to the tibia, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is one of the most devastating injuries in sports. No other injury has sidelined more athletes for a season or even the rest of a career.

Crafting ultrathin color coatings

December 26, 2014 4:15 pm | by Caroline Perry, Harvard University | News | Comments

In a sub-basement deep below the Laboratory for Integrated Science and Engineering at Harvard University, Mikhail Kats gets dressed. Mesh shoe covers, a face mask, a hair net, a pale gray jumpsuit, knee-high fabric boots, vinyl gloves, safety goggles, and a hood with clasps at the collar—these are not to protect him, Kats explains, but to protect the delicate equipment and materials inside the cleanroom.

New technology makes 3-D tissues, maybe organs in the future

December 22, 2014 10:34 am | Videos | Comments

A new instrument could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today: with precise picking and placing of parts. In this case, the parts are not resistors and capacitors, but 3-D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells that need a constant stream of fluid to bring them nutrients and to remove waste. The new device is called “BioP3” for pick, place, and perfuse.

Research aims to improve rechargeable batteries by focusing on graphene oxide paper

December 19, 2014 8:19 am | News | Comments

A Kansas State University engineering team has discovered some of graphene oxide's important properties that can improve sodium- and lithium-ion flexible batteries.                               

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