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Google begins launching Internet-beaming balloons

June 17, 2013 2:54 pm | by Martha Mendoza and Nick Perry, Associated Press | News | Comments

Eighteen months in the works, the top-secret project was announced Saturday in New Zealand, where up to 50 volunteer households are already beginning to receive the Internet briefly on their home computers via translucent helium balloons that sail by on the wind 12 miles above Earth. Google is launching these Internet-beaming antennas into the stratosphere aboard giant, jellyfish-shaped balloons.

Can you feel me now?

June 14, 2013 7:31 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the near future, a buzz in your belt or a pulse from your jacket may give you instructions on how to navigate your surroundings. Think of it as tactile Morse code: vibrations from a wearable, GPS-linked device that tell you to turn right or left, or stop, depending on the pattern of pulses you feel.

Researchers reveal next-generation emergency response technology

June 13, 2013 5:07 pm | News | Comments

Americans are accustomed to calling 9-1-1 to get help in an emergency. A research team lead by Ram Dantu of the University of North Texas sees the growth of cell phone and smartphone usage as an opportunity to improve 9-1-1 response. His team has designed several innovative smart phone apps that virtually place 9-1-1 operators at the scene of an emergency, allowing faster response.

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With brain-computer interface, tasks become as simple as waving a hand

June 11, 2013 6:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, University of Washington | News | Comments

Small electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions. Researchers have recently shown the brain can adapt to this brain-computer interface technology. Their work shows that it behaves much like it does when completing simple motor skills such as kicking a ball, typing, or waving a hand.

Whispering light hears liquids talk

June 7, 2013 12:02 pm | News | Comments

Ever been to a whispering gallery—a quiet, circular space underneath an old cathedral dome that captures and amplifies sounds as quiet as a whisper? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan are applying similar principles in the development optomechanical sensors that will help unlock vibrational secrets of chemical and biological samples at the nanoscale.

Is Big Data turning government into 'Big Brother?'

June 7, 2013 3:08 am | by MICHAEL LIEDTKE - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked. The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed.

Firefighting robot paints 3-D thermal imaging picture for rescuers

June 6, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Engineers in California have developed new image processing techniques for rapid exploration and characterization of structural fires by small Segway-like robotic vehicles. Thermal data recorded by the robot’s small infrared camera is maps it onto a 3-D scene created by a pair of stereo cameras, producing a virtual reality picture that can be used by first responders as the robot navigates a building.

Metamaterial flexible sheets could transform optics

June 6, 2013 8:38 am | News | Comments

New ultrathin, planar, lightweight and broadband polarimetric photonic devices and optics could result from recent research by a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists. The advances would boost security screening systems, infrared thermal cameras, energy harvesting and radar systems.

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Wi-Fi signals enable gesture recognition throughout entire home

June 5, 2013 5:44 pm | by Michelle Ma, University of Washington | News | Comments

Forget to turn off the lights before leaving the apartment? No problem. Just raise your hand, finger-swipe the air, and your lights will power down. Using the common Wi-Fi signals generated by a commercial router, University of Washington computer scientists have developed gesture-recognition technology that brings this a step closer to reality.

“Temporal cloaking” could bring more secure optical communications

June 5, 2013 12:08 pm | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have demonstrated a method for "temporal cloaking" of optical communications, representing a potential tool to thwart would-be eavesdroppers and improve security for telecommunications. While the previous research in temporal cloaking required the use of a complex, ultrafast-pulsing "femtosecond" laser, the researchers achieved the feat using off-the-shelf equipment.

Simple wavelength detector could speed data communications

June 5, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have created a new device, smaller than a grain of rice, that could streamline optical data communications. It can directly identify the wavelength of light that hits it, and should scale down to the even tinier dimensions needed for multichannel optical data receivers on future generations of computer chips.

Improving the safety of the nation's blood supply

June 3, 2013 12:23 pm | News | Comments

A six-year collaboration between industry and the University of Wisconsin-Madison RFID Lab has achieved a major milestone with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearing the first RFID-enabled solution to improve the safety and efficiency of the nation's blood supply.

NIST, partners offer solution to communications impasse in factories

May 29, 2013 5:15 pm | News | Comments

Once uncommunicative industrial robots and machine tools are now beginning to talk turkey, thanks to a prototype application developed by a team of partner companies led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). This application was successfully demonstrated and tested by manufacturing researchers at NIST.

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U.S. defense programs target of China cyber threat

May 29, 2013 1:20 pm | by Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press | News | Comments

While officials have been warning for years about China's cyber espionage efforts aimed at U.S. military and high-tech programs, the breadth of new revelations about the extent of cyberattacks will increase pressure on American leaders to take more strident action against Beijing to stem the persistent breaches.

Cradle turns smartphone into handheld biosensor

May 23, 2013 10:49 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, University of Illinois | News | Comments

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules. Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination, or provide immediate and inexpensive medical diagnostic tests.

Unusual testbed analyzes X-ray navigation technologies

May 21, 2013 8:10 am | by Lori Keesey, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Pulsars rotate rapidly, emitting powerful and regular beams of radiation that are seen as flashes of light, blinking on and off at intervals from seconds to milliseconds. Their predictability could be useful for future navigation systems. Built to test and validate next-generation X-ray navigation technology, the Goddard X-ray Navigation Laboratory Testbed will demonstrate the feasibility of this approach.

Nanoantennas help improve infrared sensing

May 20, 2013 7:52 am | News | Comments

A team of University of Pennsylvania engineers has used a pattern of nanoantennas to develop a new way of turning infrared light into mechanical action, opening the door to more sensitive infrared cameras and more compact chemical analysis techniques.

Cells must use their brakes moderately for effective speed control

May 15, 2013 11:34 am | News | Comments

All living cells have a regulatory system similar to what can be found in today's smartphones. Just like our phones process a large amount of information that we feed them, cells continuously process information about their outer and inner environment. Researchers have recently modeled how cells regulate this processing function.

Making frequency-hopping radios practical

May 15, 2013 7:45 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The way in which radio spectrum is currently allocated to different wireless technologies can lead to gross inefficiencies. Cognitive radio serves as a solution. Different proposals for cognitive radio place different emphases on hardware and software, but the chief component of many hardware approaches is a bank of filters that can isolate any frequency in a wide band. Researchers have developed a new method for manufacturing such filters.

Temporal filtering technique improves solid-state single photon sources

May 9, 2013 3:21 pm | News | Comments

An international collaboration led by researchers at NIST has demonstrated a novel temporal filtering approach that improves the performance of triggered single photon sources based on solid-state quantum emitters. The technique is compatible with a broad class of photon sources, and is expected to provide significant improvements in areas important for applications in photonic quantum information science.

Physical by smartphone becoming real possibility

May 3, 2013 8:35 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

It's not a "Star Trek" tricorder, but by hooking a variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete physical—without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor's office. Companies are rapidly developing miniature medical devices that tap the power of the ubiquitous smartphone in hopes of changing how people monitor their own health.

Transfer of ultraprecise time signals over a wireless optical channel

May 2, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

By bouncing eye-safe laser pulses off a mirror on a hillside, researchers at NIST have transferred ultraprecise time signals through open air with unprecedented precision equivalent to the "ticking" of the world's best next-generation atomic clocks. The demonstration shows how next-generation atomic clocks at different locations could be linked wirelessly to improve distribution of time and frequency information.

The day NASA’s Fermi dodged a 1.5-ton bullet

May 1, 2013 12:08 pm | by Francis Reddy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

On March 29, 2012, the science team for NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope learned that a defunct Cold-War spy satellite would pass too close for comfort on April 4. The two spacecraft were expected to occupy the same point in space within 30 milliseconds of each other. The story of how it sidestepped a potential disaster offers a glimpse at an underappreciated aspect of managing a space mission.

Study: People may welcome talking tissue boxes

May 1, 2013 9:55 am | News | Comments

According to researchers from Penn State University, who presented their findings at the 2013 Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris today, people who have embraced computers and smart phones are likely to give their blessing other smart objects, like talking tissue boxes or tweeting refrigerators. Their tests involved the use of actual talking, interacting objects.

NASA mission will study what disrupts radio waves

April 26, 2013 8:46 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will launch from an atoll in the Pacific in the next few weeks to help scientists better understand and predict the electrical storms in Earth's upper atmosphere These storms can interfere with satellite communication and global positioning signals.

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