Facebook Home, the new software that takes over the front screen of a smartphone, is a bit of a corporate home invasion. Facebook is essentially moving into Google's turf, taking advantage of software the search giant and competitor created. Launching April 12, Home will operate on phones running Google Inc.'s Android software and present Facebook status updates, messages, and other content without making the user fire up Facebook's app.
Orlando-based photonics technology acceleration company Open Photonics Inc. and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have announced a partnership to accelerate the commercialization of VTT’s advanced Fabry-Perot visible and infrared spectroscopy and spectral imaging technologies.
A specially-adapted “tactile helmet”, developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield, could provide fire-fighters operating in challenging conditions with vital clues about their surroundings. The helmet is fitted with a number of ultrasound sensors that are used to detect the distances between the helmet and nearby walls or other obstacles. These signals are transmitted to vibration pads that are attached to the inside of the helmet, touching the wearer's forehead.
Engineers have recently developed a portable mapping system—carried in a backpack—that can be used to automatically create annotated physical maps of locations where GPS is not available, such as in underground areas and on ships. The system improves upon algorithms once developed for robots—which are not practical for all environments—and has a built-in allowance for normal human movement, like walking.
Using a low-cost apparatus designed to quickly and accurately measure the properties of handheld laser devices, NIST researchers tested 122 laser pointers and found that nearly 90% of green pointers and about 44% of red pointers tested were out of compliance with federal safety regulations. Often, these pointers emitted more visible power than allowed by law
Singapore company Hoestar PD Technology is working with that country’s leading research organization, A*STAR, to deploy wireless piezoelectric sensors that will track vibrations and stresses that affect the health of machinery such as motors, pumps and generators. The size of a coin, the sensors increase productivity by saving time, reducing manual checking, and offering precision at detecting defects.
A research team in Austria has developed an entirely new way of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet. The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet. With no electronics or internal components, the imager’s elegant design makes it ideal for a new breed of imaging technologies.
There are various boxes today that bring Internet content to TV sets, with popular ones made by Roku and Apple. But Intel Corp. wants to go further and make its box and streaming service a replacement for cable. The company said Tuesday that it will sell a set-top box that brings Internet-delivered movies and shows to a TV set this year, along with a “vastly superior experience” to today’s cable boxes.
In Germany, a project called MEMS2015 is underway which has the ultimate goal of developing the first-ever universal design methodology for microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS. The effort, a joint government and industry project coordinated by the Robert Bosch corporation, will improve sensors and actuators, and plug the gaps between electronics and mechanics design, manufacturing, and subsequent integration into products.
Researchers in Japan and Germany have recently demonstrated a device that can focus and steer terahertz beams electrically. Based on an array of metal cantilevers which can be micromechanically actuated by electrostatic forces, the device can create tunable gratings that may be crucial in future terahertz wavelength communication systems.
Advanced electronics are indispensable in modern warfare, but locating and tracking them all on the field of battle is almost impossible. To prevent valuable and strategic technology from falling into enemy hands, DARPA has announced the Vanishing Programmable Resources program, which has the aim of improving “transient” electronics, or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them.
Existing optical beamsteering assemblies for technologies like LADAR, which scans a field of view with a laser to determine distance, are typically mechnical, bulky, slow, and inaccurate. In an effort to design a better, scalable technology, DARPA researchers have recently demonstrated the most complex optical phased array ever built onto a 2D chip.
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.
Through a new website unveiled Wednesday, Google is opening a virtual window into the secretive data centers where an intricate maze of computers process Internet search requests, show YouTube video clips, and distribute email for millions of people. The photographic access to Google's data centers coincides with the publication of a Wired magazine article about how the company builds and operates them.
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.