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Report: Federal support enabled 22 major technology advances

February 19, 2014 9:52 am | by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation | News | Comments

A new report examines 22 cases of successful U.S. innovation in which the development of key foundational technologies stemmed at least in part from federal investment in research and development (R&D). The cases cover technologies developed across a wide range of fields over the past half century, from information and communications technology, energy and health care to transportation, agriculture and mathematics.

Smarter caching

February 19, 2014 7:32 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Computer chips keep getting faster because transistors keep getting smaller. But the chips themselves are as big as ever, so data moving around the chip, and between chips and main memory, has to travel just as far. As transistors get faster, the cost of moving data becomes, proportionally, a more severe limitation. So far, chip designers have circumvented that limitation through the use of “caches”.

Engineers in Korea develop head-mounted display with augmented reality chip

February 18, 2014 11:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have made a low-powered, high-speed, head-mounted display device they are calling K-Glass. This wearable electronic display has an augmented reality processor that enables users to do things like browse the menu, food and available tables of a restaurant simply by walking up to it and looking at its name.

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Robotic construction crew needs no foreman

February 14, 2014 8:42 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Inspired by the termites’ resilience and collective intelligence, a team of computer scientists and engineers at Harvard Univ. has created an autonomous robotic construction crew. The system needs no supervisor, no eye in the sky and no communication. Exhibiting a swarm-like intelligence, these robots, in any number, can cooperate simply by modifying their environment.

Nokia touts video recording in new Lumia phone

February 12, 2014 5:10 pm | by Anick Jesdanun - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Nokia is selling a new Windows phone that promises enhanced video-recording capabilities. The new Lumia Icon sports four microphones, compared with the one or two typically found in smartphones. The two on the front are activated when making phone calls, while the two on the rear are used when taking video.

Technology decodes more information from single photons

February 12, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

It's not quite Star Trek communications—yet. But long-distance communications in space may be easier now that researchers have designed a clever detector array that can extract more information than usual from single particles of light. Described in a new paper, the NIST/JPL array-on-a-chip easily identifies the position of the exact detector in a multi-detector system that absorbs an incoming infrared light particle, or photon.

NASA to launch students’ nanosatellite

February 12, 2014 8:16 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

EQUiSat, a nanosatellite being built by a team of Brown Univ. students, has been cleared for launch. NASA announced that EQUiSat is among 16 small satellites selected to fly on rockets to be launched over the three-year period beginning in 2015. EQUiSat has not been assigned to a particular rocket, but the announcement assures that the student-led project has a ticket to ride.

Palestinian women make strides in high-tech

February 11, 2014 3:09 pm | by Karin Laub - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Growing up in a traditional society, Abeer Abu Ghaith was often told a woman's future is in her husband's kitchen. Quietly, the 29-year-old proved everyone wrong. Abu Ghaith has become the first female high-tech entrepreneur in the West Bank, setting up an Internet employment brokerage and software development firm.

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Smartphones may get kill switch

February 10, 2014 12:07 pm | by Terry Collins, Associated Press | News | Comments

Legislation unveiled in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a "kill switch" to render them inoperable if lost or stolen. State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and other elected and law enforcement officials say the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.

Sochi: Our tweeted emotions to be decrypted in real time

February 7, 2014 10:59 am | News | Comments

Via social media, researchers at the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne (EPFL) will be tracking emotions of the viewing public during the Olympic Games in Sochi. Their goal is to show, in real time, what people are feeling during the competitions. The new software will not only contend with multiple languages and breakneck speed, it will also track dozens of commonly used emoticons.

Car-to-car talk offers warning on collisions

February 4, 2014 1:33 pm | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press | News | Comments

Your car might see a deadly crash coming even if you don't, the government says, indicating it will require automakers to equip new vehicles with technology that lets cars warn each other if they're plunging toward peril. The action, still some years off, has "game-changing potential" to cut collisions, deaths and injuries, federal transportation officials said at a news conference Monday.

Pressure mounts for Apple to expand its horizons

January 29, 2014 10:01 am | by Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

Apple reshaped technology and society when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone seven years ago. Now, the trend-setting company is losing ground to rivals that offer what Apple has stubbornly refused to make: smartphones with lower prices and larger screens than the iPhone. The void in Apple's lineup is a major reason why the company's quarterly revenue may be about to fall for the first time in more than a decade.

Metamaterial could speed up underwater communications by orders of magnitude

January 24, 2014 11:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have made progress in a project to develop fast-blinking light-emitting diode systems for underwater optical communications. They have shown that an artificial metamaterial can improve the “blink speed” of a fluorescent light-emitting dye molecule 76 times faster than normal while increasing brightness 80-fold.

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NASA launches newest communication satellite

January 24, 2014 11:25 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

An unmanned rocket blasted into a chilly, clear sky Thursday night carrying the latest, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). The TDRS system, used on several satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, is so vital it's considered a national asset. Together they supply real-time global coverage at all times.

Wireless RFID detection greatly improved

January 23, 2014 10:17 am | News | Comments

A new long-range wireless tag detection system, with potential applications in health care, environmental protection and goods tracking, can pinpoint items with near 100% accuracy over a much wider range than current systems. The system, invented in the U.K., improves the performance of passive, battery-less RFID tag detection through the use of a new antenna setup.

Highly efficient broadband terahertz radiation from metamaterials

January 20, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have demonstrated broadband terahertz (THz) wave generation using metamaterials. The discovery may help develop noninvasive imaging and sensing, and make possible THz-speed information communication, processing and storage.

Europe launches RoboEarth: “Wikipedia for Robots”

January 17, 2014 8:38 am | by Toby Sterling, Associated Press | News | Comments

Expectations are high for RoboEarth, a new European-funded system to speed the development of human-serving robots. Scientists from five major European technical universities have gathered in the Netherlands this week for its launch and to demonstrate possible applications. The first: the deceptively simple task of delivering a glass of milk to a patient in a mock-up hospital room.

Quantum physics could make secure, single-use computer memories possible

January 15, 2014 3:49 pm | News | Comments

Computer scientist Yi-Kai Liu at NIST has devised a way to make a security device that has proved notoriously difficult to build: a "one-shot" memory unit, whose contents can be read only a single time. The innovation, which uses qubits and conjugate coding, shows in theory how the laws of quantum physics could allow for the construction of such memory devices.

Google builds a “Nest” for future of smart homes

January 15, 2014 8:30 am | by Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

When our Internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation. This imagined future is still a few years away, but the search giant is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs.

Self-driving vehicles offer potential benefits, challenges for lawmakers

January 6, 2014 8:38 am | News | Comments

New research finds that the social benefits of autonomous vehicles will outweigh the likely disadvantages. Decreased crashes, increased mobility, and increases in fuel economy will drive the technology forward, says RAND Corp. researchers, despite privacy concerns and need for updates in insurance regulations.

New MIT technology allows 3-D image interaction

January 3, 2014 11:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to allow people in one place to interact with 3-D versions of people or objects in a different location. MIT's Tangible Media Group calls the technology inFORM, and it could one day be used by architects, urban planners, or even doctors who need to look at computed tomography scans.

Laser demonstration reveals bright future for space communication

December 26, 2013 11:07 am | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The completion of the 30-day Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission has helped confirm laser communication capabilities from a distance of almost 250,000 miles. In addition to demonstrating record-breaking data download and upload speeds to the moon at 622 and 20 Mbps, respectively, LLCD also showed that it could operate as well as any NASA radio system.  

Researchers send world’s first text message using vodka

December 19, 2013 10:08 am | News | Comments

After successfully text messaging “O Canada” using evaporated vodka, two researchers in Canada and their UK-based counterpart say their simple system can be used where conventional wireless technology fails. The chemical signal, using the alcohol found in vodka, was sent 4 m across the lab with the aid of a tabletop fan.

Researchers design first battery-powered invisibility cloaking device

December 18, 2013 1:37 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have proposed the first design of a cloaking device that uses an external source of energy to significantly broaden its bandwidth of operation. The team has proposed a design for an active cloak that draws energy from a battery, allowing objects to become undetectable to radio sensors over a greater range of frequencies.

Can smartphones snap out of technological stupor?

December 13, 2013 3:05 pm | by Michael Liedtke and Youkyung Lee, AP Technology Writers | News | Comments

Although high-definition displays on smartphones have gotten bigger and their cameras have gotten better, the pace of gee-whiz innovation has dawdled. Smartphone and software makers are working on ways to snap out of this technological lull, although it probably will be at least another year or two before breakthroughs revolutionize the design and function of mobile computing devices.

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