• New Breakthrough Allows Electronics To Dance The "Twist"

    November 21 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    You’ve heard about electronics that can bend and even stretch, but a team at Northwestern University has managed to make electronics that can withstand any configuration, including twisting.

    This breakthrough could help in developing gadgets that are located on the human body which is itself highly flexible (except mine). “This emerging technology promises new flexible sensors, transmitters, new photovoltaic and microfluidic devices, and other applications for medical and athletic use.” Flexible electronics have the potential to change how we view visits to the doctors office, how we talk on the phone, even interacting with people.

    Imagine being able to wrap an X-Ray machine around your leg at the emergency room to see exactly what the break looks like and where it’s located. Or having a 40-inch screen folded into the size of a pack of cigarettes. Why not incorporate your music into your winter beanie? The possibilities are already amazing and we haven’t even scratched the surface.

    via PhysOrg

  • Despite Your Skepticism, Lasers Are Being Used By The Military

    November 21 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Security

    The Economist reports that a Humvee-mounted laser is already being used in Iraq to detonate roadside bombs which have plagued the military over the years. And yes, it’s named after the Greek God of lightening.

    The Zeus laser (I am inclined to say cannon for all you Final Fantasy fans out there) possesses a range of 300 meters (just shy of 1,000 feet) and has been successfully used in Iraq. Although they only possess one Humvee equipped with the laser, plans are in effect to make more.

    Why is the military laser-crazy?

    Lasers are the dream weapon for the military. You can fire them from incredible distances with pinpoint accuracy and have the potential to be a game-changer in any battle. Advanced lasers could be used to detonate RPGs or missiles before they get to the target, they can punch through walls, and could potentially blow up ICBMs before they get too far off the ground (Reagan’s infamous Star Wars plan). There’s no ammunition concerns, just power, and despite being totally un-serviceable in the field, the lack of moving parts makes the possibility of breaking very slim.


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  • Who Doesn't Want Their Own Personal Flying Watercraft?

    November 21 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Flying planes has been the sort of thing that, to most, seems daunting enough to avoid entirely. Pilot’s license, cost of the plane, upkeep, runway dues, etc. Luckily for us, there’s a company out there which designed a small airplane that’s cheap, easy to handle, and drives like a car. Meet the ICON A5.

    Designed for the budding sport-flying enthusiast, the A5 is more affordable than most small aircraft (it will cost an estimated $139,000) and is incredibly easy to operate having taken much of its cockpit design from cars. Its carbon fiber body ensures that it will be lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant to water. The wings also fold back for easy transportation.

    What does a product like this mean for me?


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  • Korean researchers use 3D silicon material to improve lithium ion batteries

    November 21 2008 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    It’s very hard to build a better battery. The chemistry is just bad. Pulling together the right combination of elements is either expensive, toxic or the ideal performance is short lived. The long view favorite for portable power systems remains micro fuel cells, but until that day arrives it is likely to be lithium ion batteries that dominate the market share for micropower.

    Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power everything from cell phones and laptops to digital cameras. But they have failed to keep up with the pace of development in high performance, power hungry consumer electronics. iPhone owners struggle to get through a full day of use without running out of juice. And laptop carrying road warriors scramble inside airports, and geek freelancers position themselves in cafes just to find a plug. But hope for lithium ion batteries may be on the horizon!

    What happened?
    A Korean research team led by Dr. Jaephil Cho at Hanyang University has demonstrated a novel 3D silicon material used as a lithium-ion battery anode that greatly improves performance.

    Li-ion batteries charge by transporting lithium ions from a positive cathode to a negative anode usually made of carbon (graphite). The energy charge is stored on the anode side of the unit, until needed by the device. Researchers try to expand performance by increasing the amount of energy that can be stored. Switching from carbon to silicon based materials is one path towards better performance.

    Materials scientists have been exploring silicon as an anode material but, until now, have been unable to overcome its main barrier: maintaining its structural integrating after repeated charging and discharging.

    A solution? Cho’s team of researchers have created a 3D porous silicon material that appears to hold its own and avoids collapsing on itself.

    Why is this important to the future of energy?

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  • Socially Assistive Robots: The Psychology of Robotic Helpers

    November 20 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan
    Category: Technology

    Socially assistive robots — robots that help care for the disabled, elderly or injured — will be a primary part of the coming robotics revolution, argued Maja Mataric founding director of the USC Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems at the Robo Development Conference in Santa Clara on Tuesday.  But because of subtle psychological factors, they need to be carefully designed.

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  • [Video] Honda reveals hydrogen fuel cell electric sports car

    November 20 2008 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Transportation

    [2008 Los Angeles Auto Show] Honda has revealed the FC Sport design study model- a three-seat sports car concept hydrogen powered electric car based on Honda’s V Flow fuel cell technology already deployed in the Honda Fuel Cell (FCX) Clarity sedan.

    The lightweight sports car design has an ultra-low center of gravity, powerful electric motor performance and zero-emissions. The design study concept is inspired by supercar levels of performance through low weight and a high-performance, electrically driven fuel cell powertrain.

    Hydrogen cars are electric cars!
    While many journalists and bloggers are getting this story wrong and asking is the future ‘battery or fuel cell’- – the answer is both. Hydrogen fuel cell cars ARE electric powered cars! Hydrogen converted in a fuel cell produces electricity to power electric motors.

    Pure battery vehicles are based on first generation energy storage systems. But cars are not iPods and next generation high performance electric vehicles- will combine batteries, fuel cells and capacitors! Not one device rules them all, and Honda understands this engineering reality!

    Now for some futuristic sports car eye-candy!!

    Video via Edmunds Insider

    Music Video & Images #2

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  • Ecobee's Smart Thermostat Comes to America

    November 20 2008 / by amisampat
    Category: Environment

    By Ami Sampat

    What happened?

    Ecobee, the makers of the Smart Thermostat announced new sales offices opening in California and New England. The Smart Thermostat allows for the consumer to save time, energy, and money by controlling the thermostat of their home through touch screen programming and a personalized web portal.

    Interest in Ecobee’s newest offices is taking off. “Our Regional Sales Managers on both coasts have been very busy due to the company’s phenomenal start,” says Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard.

    Why is this important to the future?

    Ecobee’s products symbolize a new wave of the future of appliances where we actively manage our energy appliances. With the Smart Thermostat, consumers have greater awareness and more control of when systems are used, for how long, and at what cost. This type of awareness, knowledge, and control over energy systems is fundamental in making an environmental and energy-centric change.

    What to Watch

    Keep a look out for appliances to be ‘smarter’ in the near future as companies integrate sensors, microcontrollers, and web-based software to create new levels of control that helps costumers save energy and money. The booming pre-sales of the Smart Thermostat is a positive indicator that people are thinking in the direction of a change.

  • GE Labs Make Water Bounce With Superhydrophobic Surfaces

    November 20 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    The video you see above is from a high-speed camera shoot where water is bouncing off a superhydrophobic surface. Posted at the GE Global Research Blog (nicknamed “Edison’s Desk”), they have three videos which show surfaces repelling water to different degrees, even managing to have water bead up right on top of it without getting wet. Some of you may recognize it from the concept phone Nokia dreamed up in this video (go to 2:55 minute mark).

    Superhydrophobic surfaces could help us out in more ways than just being able to keep your car clean year-round. Applying them to wind turbines, airplanes and ships could help reduce corrosion, a huge problem with water. Being able to coat a dock, boat or car with this could ensure your property will only die of old age, not rot.

  • Cryo-Pet™ Ensures Your Animals Won't Mind Extended Travel

    November 20 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    Worried about how Fluffy will handle being in the cargo hold at 35,000 feet? For just $1,780 you can purchase a Cryo-Pet™ which uses the latest cryonic technology to put your pet into a gentle slumber.

    Although the operation of such a device may seem rather daunting, Cryotranz™ hopes that by combining their newest cryo-breakthroughs with eye-appealing design that cryonics will move past the image the industry has of just freezing the heads of the rich and break into the mass consumer world.

    How does it work?

    On the side of Cryo-Pet™ you’ll find a “Pre-Cryo Preparation Kit” which contains all you need for putting your animal into a suspended state.

    First, a breathing nozzle is used to deliver two different chemicals to your animal. One is a drug which will knock your pet out for easy handling, the second is a chemical which enters into the blood stream and begins slowing the metabolism of your animal. The effects only last for about thirty minutes in case you change your mind.

    After your animal is asleep, place him or her into the chamber and close the door. A button will light when the door has been locked and his or her metabolism and breathing has stopped. Cryo-Pet™ is then ready to begin the freezing process.

    What happens during the freezing process?


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  • Turning VR Inside Out

    November 20 2008 / by StuartDobson
    Category: Metaverse

    Instead of trying to create reality virtually, what if we embed virtuality into reality?

    Crossposted from Super Concepts.

    This video shows how RFID can help improve control over stock inventory both in real world and virtual world situations. With the current state of virtual reality, it’s unlikely that virtual supermarkets will take off. They’re just too…clunky. However, one distinct possibility is a reversal. Computer controlled reality.

    RFID will play a large part in this. The data it will provide will change the way we look at reality. By reporting and recording our locations and activities, it will digitise us – turning us into real life avatars.

    In virtual reality, everything we do can be recorded. The software can record our every movement and interaction. This will soon be possible in real life, thanks to RFID and our interactions with computer interfaces.

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