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.
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”.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.