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NIST, five journals find way to manage data errors in research

September 10, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Poor research data can lead to mistakes in equipment selection, over-design of industrial plant components, difficulty simulating and discovering new processes, and poor regulatory decisions. However, traditional peer review is not enough to ensure data quality amid the recent boom in scientific research findings, according to results of a 10-year collaboration between NIST and five technical journals.

Satellite cameras saving endangered species

September 6, 2013 3:47 pm | Videos | Comments

Product development firm Cambridge Consultants is helping conservationists protect some of the world’s most rare and endangered species. As part of the Instant Wild project, new satellite-connected and motion-triggered cameras are beaming near-real-time images of animals from the remotest areas of Africa. A mobile app allows users anywhere in the world to view the photos, providing early warning of illegal poaching activity.

Inflatable antennae could give CubeSats greater reach

September 6, 2013 7:53 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The future of satellite technology is getting small. CubeSats, and other small satellites, are making space exploration cheaper and more accessible. But with such small packages come big limitations: namely, a satellite’s communication range. Now researchers have developed a design that may significantly increase the communication range of small satellites.

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Video: First microdrone crosses the Alps

September 5, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Earlier this summer, a small drone managed something that even larger flying robots had not yet been able to do. Equipped with an HD camera, and in adverse conditions, it set off from Switzerland and crossed the Saint-Gotthard Massif towards Italy. The company behind this experiment has just released video of the record flight.

Microsoft buying Nokia's devices and services unit

September 3, 2013 12:54 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Microsoft Corp. is buying Nokia Corp.'s devices and services business, and getting access to the company's patents, for a total of $7.2 billion in an effort to expand its share of the smartphone market, the companies announced. Microsoft will pay $5 billion for the Nokia unit that makes mobile phones, including its line of Lumia smartphones that run Windows Phone software.

Skype eye contact finally possible

August 29, 2013 4:27 pm | by Angelika Jacobs, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Those separated from family and friends by long distances often use video conferencing services such as Skype in order to see each other when talking. But who hasn’t experienced the frustration of your counterpart not making direct eye contact during the conversation? A software prototype from the laboratories ETH Zurich may be able to help by leveraging the color and depth information made available by XBox Kinect cameras.

Space laser to prove increased broadband possible

August 29, 2013 12:07 pm | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.

GM says almost-driverless cars coming by 2020

August 28, 2013 4:42 pm | by TOM KRISHER - AP Auto Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Sometime before the end of this decade, General Motors will put a car on the road that can almost drive itself. The automaker says the system, called "Super Cruise," uses radar and cameras to steer the car and keep it between lane lines. Also, the radar keeps the car a safe distance from cars...

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Trimming Port Operations

August 28, 2013 11:53 am | Award Winners

Container ships are designed to always be at sea, transporting goods. But slow loading and unloading—a common occurrence at congested ports—can cost them money. To help speed this process, researchers at the Institute for Information Industry (III) have developed CraneAbide, a container transship management technology that applies existing technologies to help manage an often overlooked factor at many ports: trailer positioning.

Space Radio, Redefined

August 28, 2013 8:17 am | Award Winners

The NASA/Harris Ka-Band Software-Defined Radio (SDR) from NASA Glenn Research Center and Harris Corp. is the first SDR transceiver to operate in the Ka-band and sets the stage for replacing unique fixed-function, single-vendor mission radios with reprogrammable SDRs.

Real-time UAV Structural Monitoring

August 28, 2013 8:16 am | Award Winners

In 2003, the Helios solar electric airplane broke up in mid-air and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The incident highlighted a problem: Operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had no way of knowing when the wings were experiencing unsustainable strain. Scientists at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and 4DSP, a company specializing in signal and image processing systems, co-developed a lightweight, robust Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) that greatly speeds the operational monitoring and sensing.

Beefed-up Wi-Fi Service

August 28, 2013 8:15 am | Award Winners

One of the key limitations of wireless Internet service installations, even those designed for long-range use, is that range is limited to less than 50 km. Seeking a better solution, developers at the Institute for Information Industry and K-Best Technology Inc. in Taiwan have launched BestLINK, a regional area WLAN solution that operates as a superset of standard Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11), yet combines the advantages of both Wi-Fi and WiMax communications protocols.

Researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests

August 23, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

A lightweight and field-portable device invented at Univ. of California, Los Angeles that conducts kidney tests and transmits data through a smartphone attachment may significantly reduce the need for frequent office visits by people with diabetes and others with chronic kidney ailments.

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Researchers use mobile phones to measure happiness

August 23, 2013 9:10 am | by Tara Thean, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

In a study involving volunteers who agreed to provide information about their feelings and locations, Princeton Univ. researchers found that cell phones can efficiently capture information that is otherwise difficult to record, given today’s on-the-go lifestyle. Using an application built on the Android operating system, they had participant record feelings “in the moment”.

Researchers develop walls that can listen, talk

August 21, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

Using a modern twist on a technology developed in the 1920s, researchers at Princeton Univ. have embedded ultrathin radios directly on plastic sheets, which can be applied to walls and other structures. The innovation could serve as the basis for new devices ranging from an invisible communications system inside buildings to sophisticated structural monitors for bridges and roads.

Electronic warfare development targets fully adaptive threat response technology

August 19, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

When U.S pilots encounter enemy air defenses, onboard electronic warfare (EW) systems protect them by interfering with incoming radar signals: a technique known as electronic attack (EA) or jamming. Conversely, electronic protection technology prevents hostile forces from using EA methods to disable U.S. radar equipment assets. A research team is now developing a new generation of advanced radio frequency jammer technology.

Wireless devices go battery-free with new communication technique

August 15, 2013 8:32 am | News | Comments

We might be one step closer to an Internet-of-things reality. Univ. of Washington engineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power. The new communication technique, which the researchers call “ambient backscatter,” takes advantage of the television and cellular transmissions that already surround us around the clock.

U.K. bars trash cans from tracking people with Wi-Fi

August 14, 2013 11:38 am | by Raphael Satter, Associated Press | News | Comments

Officials demanded Monday that an advertising firm stop using a network of high-tech trash cans to track people walking through London's financial district. The Renew ad firm has been using technology embedded in the hulking receptacles to measure the Wi-Fi signals emitted by smartphones, and suggested that it would apply the concept of "cookies"—tracking files that follow Internet users across the Web—to the physical world.

Encryption is less secure than we thought

August 14, 2013 7:30 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For 65 years, most information-theoretic analyses of cryptographic systems have made a mathematical assumption that turns out to be wrong. A team of researchers has shown that, as a consequence, the wireless card readers used in many keyless-entry systems may not be as secure as previously thought.

Study: Dolphins can problem solve like humans

August 12, 2013 9:03 am | by Suzette Laboy, Associated Press | News | Comments

A dog may be man's best friend, but dolphins can imitate human actions, and even how they solve problems. According to a recent study at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida, when a dolphin has one of its senses blocked, it can use other senses to mimic a human's movements.

A new light wave

August 12, 2013 8:41 am | News | Comments

Hold a mag­ni­fying glass over the dri­veway on a sunny day and it will focus sun­light into a single beam. Hold a prism in front of the window and the light will spread out into a per­fect rainbow. Lenses like these have been used for thou­sands of years. Until now, all lenses have shared one big lim­i­ta­tion: It’s impos­sible to focus light into a beam that’s smaller than half of the light’s wave­length.

Faster, more powerful mobile devices

August 12, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

The next generation of smartphones could be capable of storing 250 hours of high-definition video and carrying a charge for a week, thanks to an advanced data storage technology from a Univ. of Michigan startup that could upend the memory market. Crossbar Inc., which licensed the technology from U-M in 2010, recently announced it has developed a working resistive random access memory prototype in a commercial fabrication facility.

Targeting product design for the developing world

August 12, 2013 7:37 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Designing products for the developing world can be a hit-or-miss endeavor: While there may be a dire need for products addressing problems, such as access to clean water, sanitation and electricity, designing a product that consumers will actually buy is a complicated process. More often than not, such products go unused due to poor quality, unreliability or differences in cultural expectations.

Researchers discover atomic clock can simulate quantum magnetism

August 9, 2013 9:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers at JILA have, for the first time, used an atomic clock as a quantum simulator, mimicking the behavior of a different, more complex quantum system. Atomic clocks now join a growing list of physical systems that can be used for modeling and perhaps eventually explaining the quantum mechanical behavior of exotic materials such as high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity without resistance.

Team produces squeezed light using silicon micromechanical system

August 7, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

One of the many counter-intuitive and bizarre insights of quantum mechanics is that even in a vacuum all is not completely still. Low levels of noise (quantum fluctuations) are always present. Always, that is, unless you can pull off a quantum trick. And that's just what a Caltech team has done.

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