The world's love affair with gadgets—many of which contain hazardous materials—is generating millions of tons of electronic waste annually. Now, Purdue and Tuskegee universities are leading an international effort to replace conventional electronics with more sustainable technologies and train a workforce of specialists to make the transition possible.
Not everything there is “high-tech”, but the annual Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to see the newest and most fanciful products to reach the market each year. From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound (725-kg) mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden "smart" TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big—and bizarre—chances.
VPG's new System 8000 StrainSmart data acquisition system features eight software-configurable input channels with RJ-45 connectors. It can accept signals from strain gages or strain-gage-based transducers, thermocouples, or high-level voltage sensors.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are trying to open the world of tablets to children whose limited mobility makes it difficult for them to perform the common pinch and swipe gestures required to control the devices. In their Access4Kids wireless input device, a sensor system to translate physical movements into fine-motor gestures to control a tablet.
A team at Wake Forest University has used a nano-engineered polymer matrix to convert electrical charge charge into light, creating an entirely new bulb based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology. Unlike conventional fluorescent bulbs, these new lights will not flicker, hum, or shatter, and they offer a soft, white light.
A research team in Korea developed a powerful audio rendering technology that reproduces a desired sound field more clearly and accurately. The system, which they call a “Virtual Sound Ball”, establishes a virtual array of loudspeakers and a virtual sound source within that system. Application of acoustical mathematics and a “spatial equalizer” allows the user to more accurately reproduce 3D sound effects with an existing speaker setup.
A research team from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Portland State University has retrieved a sensor containing previously unavailable data about changes in chemistry or acidification in the remote waters of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. The device collected data through June, when the battery expired in the harsh polar sea.
Thanks to an ultrasensitive accelerometer—a type of motion detector—developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, a new class of microsensors is a step closer to reality. Instead of using an electrical circuit to gauge movements, this accelerometer uses laser light and is so sensitive it could be used to navigate shoppers through a grocery aisle or even stabilize fighter jets.
People can let their fingers—and hands—do the talking with a new touch-activated system that projects onto walls and other surfaces and allows users to interact with their environment and each other. Developed at Purdue University, the "extended multitouch" system allows more than one person to use a surface at the same time and also enables people to use both hands, distinguishing between the right and left hand.
Conventional defibrillators, known as transvenous defibrillators, are implanted with wires, called the leads, that snake through veins into the heart. Not all patients are suitable for a conventional defibrillator, and complex and invasive surgery is often involved when they are. What makes a new device at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute special is that it is entirely subcutaneous. No part of it actually touches the heart.
Researchers at Rice University are designing transparent, two-terminal, 3D computer memories on flexible sheets that show promise for electronics and sophisticated heads-up displays. The technique is based on the switching properties of silicon oxide.
Digital cameras and camcorders deliver high resolution film sequences that are several gigabytes in size. These can take several minutes to transfer wirelessly to your home computer via Bluetooth. A researcher in Germany has come up with a speedier alternative: a “multi-gigabit communication module” that is six times faster than a USB cable.
Tiny, fully biocompatible electronic devices that are able to dissolve harmlessly into their surroundings after functioning for a precise amount of time have been created by a research team led by biomedical engineers. Dubbed "transient electronics," the new class of silk-silicon devices promises a generation of medical implants that never need surgical removal, as well as environmental monitors and consumer electronics that can become compost rather than trash.
A prototype sensor array built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers can be worn on the chest and automatically maps the wearer’s environment, recognizing movement between floors. The prototype system is envisioned as a tool to help emergency responders coordinate disaster response.
It’s a bit like Twitter, only instead of 140 words or less, the electronic tags needed by ornithologists researching the behavior of small birds had to 1 gram or less. This type of miniaturization for a rugged, mobile tag was previously unavailable until a biologist teamed up with an electrical engineer at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.
Belgium-based semiconductor manufacturing firm imec announced Tuesday that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded in medical and lifestyle applications where user comfort and unobtrusiveness is key, such as wearable health monitors or smart clothing.
Developed by a company in San Diego, a new automated system that lets consumers trade in cell phones and mobile devices for reimbursement or recycling relies artificial intelliigence and sophisticated machine vision diagnostics. The building blocks for the ecoATM have existed for many years, but none, until now, have been applied to the particular problem of consumer recycling.
The transparent electronics that were pioneered at Oregon State University may find one of their newest applications as a next-generation replacement for some uses of non-volatile flash memory, a multi-billion dollar technology nearing its limit of small size and information storage capacity.
According to data from a 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey by the National Science Foundation, businesses perform the lion's share of their R&D activity in just a small number of geographic areas, particularly the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area and the New York-Newark-Bridgeport area.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new technique for magnetically separating oil and water that could be used to clean up oil spills. They believe that, with their technique, the oil could be recovered for use, offsetting much of the cleanup cost.
In spin-based electronics, the spin of the electron is used as a carrier of information. To meet the need for faster electronics, the speed must be increased as far as possible. Uppsala University physicists have shown how spin information can be transmitted using spin currents at terahertz speeds, a thousand times faster than today.
A "magic carpet" which can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help to predict mobility problems has been demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists. Plastic optical fibers, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real time, their walking patterns.
A critical element in any microchip is an inverter—an electronic component that spits out zeros when it is given ones, and vice versa. Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor, or CMOS, is the industry standard for this type of component, but still requires billions of dollars to achieve production scale. Researchers have recently pioneered a room-temperature additive process that creates a nanoscale inverter quickly and at low cost.
During the next four years, research teams who have been the recipients of 15 innovation grants totalling $30 million from the National Science Foundation will pursue transformative, fundamental research in three emerging areas: flexible electronic systems that can interface with the body; self-folding materials and structures; and large-scale chemical production from photosynthesis.
To control the 3D shape of engineered tissue, researchers grow cells on tiny, sponge-like scaffolds. These devices can be implanted into patients or used in the laboratory to study tissue responses to potential drugs. A team of researchers has now added a new element to tissue scaffolds: electronic sensors. These sensors could be used to monitor electrical activity in the tissue surrounding the scaffold, control drug release, or screen drug candidates for their effects on the beating of heart tissue.