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Both images show regular glass on the left vs Invisible Glass by Nippon Electric Glass Co Ltd on the right   Find the reflection in your monitor and cellphone to be a big distraction? Ever find you are watching yourself more in the reflection then say a movie? (I suggest this from a time I caught myself in that situation, so, it could be isolated to just myself.) Reflections in our gadget screens may be killed off simply by improving the light permeability of the glass.   At the Flat ...
Chemical shift test using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) on a hexaborane B6H10 molecule. (via wiki)     When it comes to taste testing there are now two options, a refined palette and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR). In fact, the latter option might replace human testing all together. According to the paper published by researchers in Milan (J Agric Food Chem) the NMR method correlates spot on.   The concept exploits the magnetic properties of the ato ...
People who have had a class on DSP or Signals and Systems are aware that any signal can be broken down into a sum of sinusoids of various amplitudes and frequencies.  The Fourier Transform (FT) can break down a signal into its frequency-domain spectral components.  The FT is typically run on a short window of data within which the signal is stationary, i.e. its statistical parameters are not changing.  An example is a speech recognition algorithm analyzing a few milliseconds of a ...
A Facebook server farm (image via Time)   Aluminum is the most-used building material. It is in almost every product made today. Smelting aluminum, extracting the metal from the oxide alumina, uses 2% of the world's energy, and it has been that way for a long time.   A new contended looks to surpass the metal as a major energy drain on the world, the Internet.   Two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the International Computer Science Institute, Justin Ma ...
  Imagine being told you or your loved one will never be able to walk again, the devastation, the shock …   Well, there may be hope after-all.  In a lab at Duke University doctors, engineers, neuroscientists and physiologists from Brazil, Switzerland, Germany and the United States are all actively working on what many might call a miracle, a “prosthetic exoskeleton” that would allow those immobilized by injury or illness to walk again.  Their goal is to de ...
"No, sir. Robots are not programmed to love. I am simulating loving the baby.'' -Robot R781 from John McCarthy's short story "The Robot and the Baby."   A 1974 photo of John McCarthy at Stanford University. (via Stanford)   During his life, John McCarthy created a impressive body of work. From foundations of artificial intelligence to a concept for a space elevator, McCarthy never stopped creating. After his retirement in 2001, he continued to speculate on his website and Usenet foru ...
"The future of wireless communication is increasingly about building an Internet of everything," said Adam Lapede, senior director of product development at Qualcomm Atheros.  Speaking at the opening the Smart Grid Electronics Forum Monday in San Jose, Lapede addressed challenges and opportunities for smart grid implementation.   The smart grid is a huge edge-to-edge network based on varied media, distance, mobility, and ownership, he pointed out.  There is no standard topology f ...
Last week while I was debugging a memory bus, my wife came down and asked if I could watch the kids when they woke up.  I knew the design was good, so the bus problem was just an assembly defect, which I hoped to find before the baby woke up.  She handed me the old 49MHz FM baby monitor receiver.  I set it next to the scope and began looking at each line of the bus.  When I touched the probe to a digial net, the high-frequency components coupled from probe’s ground lead ...
  All the graces of modern technology are being applied to the age-old dirigible airship, aka the blimp, by the company Solarship. Lightweight textiles, batteries, and electronics  with solar panels on top of the air-cells, drive the three different, zero emission, models from the company. The original goal is to provide a way to carry cargo or complete tasks in remote regions, but looking at the specs, we are sure to see it everywhere.   ‚óŹ The smallest of the group is the Caraca ...
  Is it true that 50% of the average household electric bill is controlled by the thermostat? According to the company "Nest," that is the case. The EPA has stated that properly adjusted household temperatures can save up to 20% on the monthly energy bill. Nest has taken the EPAs concept to the next level with the learning thermostat dubbed, coincidentally, "Nest."   After a week's time, the thermostat learns the user's behavior. At that point, it will attempt to auto-adjust to where ...
The biological logic gate Via Professor Kitney   An AND logic gate made from Escherichia Coli (E.Coli) and DNA was made at the Imperial College London, demonstrating the much hypothesized concept of the biological computer. The experiment also showed how several of these gates can be connected to for other more complex forms, such as a NAND. The foundation is set, in-body biological computing is close.   Co-author of the paper, Professor Richard Kitney explained the concept further, " ...
  How does it work? I will get right into it.   A thin sapphire wafer is coated with a micro-thin ceramic layer of yttrium barium oxide (which is a superconductor at low temperatures). Exploiting the Meissner effect, where a magnetic field repels a superconductor while it is transitioning to the superconducting state, the frozen disc will levitate over a set of permanent magnets. Due to the thin superconducting layer, the magnetic force passes through the material, at "weak points" in ...
  Many believed we would have true virtual worlds by 2011, just see about any science-fiction film or book. Microsoft's Research Cambridge facility has taken a rather large step in letting humans interact with a virtual space. The "Holodesk" is the latest from the Sensors and Devices group, which combines graphics processing algorithms with Kinect for fast, real-time, virtual object manipulation.   In the Holodesk, a user can manipulate virtual objects with their hands. Using what the ...
What do you do with the desiccant bags that come with IC shipments?  I try to put them in my parts bins to avoid throwing them away.  The drawers are not air tight, so I doubt it has any effect, but I hate to throw them away.  I don't mind throwing one or two away, but I get quite a few each time I order a kit for a small build.  As they started filling my trash while I was building a board last week, I wondered if throwing away all of these bags was bad for the environment.& ...
V0.1 of the ChemHackerSTM     To award a "flash of micro-brilliance," The Awesome Foundation's Chicago chapter has just awarded a micro-grant to Sacha De'Angeli, their October winner, for his open source Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM). The $1,000 dollar, no-strings-attached grant will be the catalyst De'Angeli needed to push his project to completion, right when he needed it most. I met Sacha De'Angeli a few years ago when he told me he had the desire to build a Scanning Tunnel ...
  Sometimes we cannot even spare 5 minutes to read an article, let alone 10 to watch a video. Here are the article's highlights: - Developed at the Modular Robotics Laboratory in the University of Pennsylvania. - A mothership robot assembles joint robots into a larger system with insulating, hard, foam. - Onboard software figures out the best way to move the assembled system. For those who do have time, continue below:     One of the pinnacles of robotics is when bots can ...
The modern practice of website password authentication is breaking down.  I first began using passwords in the 80s to log on to BBS.  I selected a password that was four letters, all lower case.  In college, the university VAX required five characters, so I selected a new password.  Later another system at college required at least six characters.  I remember thinking that this was getting crazy. The trend continued.  Here is a list completely from my memory on whic ...
A Phosphene interpretation image   Now for some weird science from MIT's Cognitive and Brain Science Department. Peter Schiller, and his team, believe that people who have lost their vision due to injury by disease or accidents are still "capable of seeing." Through electronic stimulation of optical nerves, the team has shown the ability to induce a ghost image into research monkey eyesight.   Two make rhesus monkeys, fully able to see, were trained to look at two dots on a computer s ...
Dropped calls on cell phones due to faulty antenna placement have been selectively publicized, as in the case of the Apple iPhone 4G, but have been a common occurrence in all phones released in the past two years.  Mobile carriers are putting heavy pressure on manufactures to avoid, if not eliminate the problem as soon as possible.  No, actually they want it done now.   That puts the problem squarely in the laps of the test and measurement industry, which is meeting the demand wi ...
pjclarke

What the FPGA is that?

Posted by pjclarke Oct 17, 2011
FPGAs or field-programmable gate array are becoming more and more popular it seems. Over the last year I have seen an increase in people asking what FPGA kit should they buy, which languages should they learn, VHDL or  Verilog? There are lots of questions and lots of answers. So to deal with that I am starting a series of blog posts here on DIT to look at how to get started with FPGAs - starting with what a FPGA really is.   I started in electronics before FPGA’s really came alo ...
  Rule enterprise level devices, rule the world. That is what the Blackberry cell phones, by Research In Motion, did in the past. Everyone in business had one, there was no other option. That was until Apple's iOS started taking huge chunks of the market. Now the leading mobile OS, Android, wants a piece of the pie. Motorola Mobility's side company 3LM, Three Laws Mobility, has made Android enterprise ready. Founders of 3LM, Tom Moss and Gaurav Mather were once members of the Android Se ...
Conceptual landing of a SpaceX Falcon rocket   There is a design for a "green rocket" that will not make a big impact on the planet, literally. A private space firm, SpaceX, has designed a rocket called the falcon, a reusable payload rocket. Currently, the falcon rocket is sent into space, and after it delivers its payload, the rest of the hardware is discarded.   In the past NASA had recovered and refurbished rocket segments from oceanic spashdown, but their refurbishment process was ...
Front of the house in question, Setagaya, Japan (image via Yoshiaki Miura)   It turns out that the Fukushima nuclear plant is not the only radiation threat in Japan. Since the accident, residents across Japan carry individual radiation detectors. A hotspot was been detected just outside of Tokyo all centered by a mysterious abandoned house.   In a Tokyo suburb, Setagaya, a house has sat abandoned for many years. From just outside the house a measurement of 2.7 microsieverts was confir ...
Dave Young

Internet Ideas

Posted by Dave Young Oct 14, 2011
Years ago while on co-op I was having lunch with Mark M, one of the lead technical people at the company.  April 1st was fast approaching, so the conversation was obviously focused on pranks we could pull on a co-worker.  The standard ideas were tossed out like Saran-wrapped car, cubicle filling, and changing the walls of the cubicles.  But since we worked for a company that was only 7 or 8 years old we figured we could get away with something a little more 'interesting'. Be ...
Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs   The generation that blazed the path to modern electronics is reaching the age of a full century. As time moves, we lose more and more of these early pioneers. The person who has influences every single engineer has passed, Dennis Ritchie (September 9, 1941 - October 8, 2011).   Dennis Ritchie, the son of Bell Labs scientist and co-author of "The Design of Switching Circuits", Alistair E. Ritchie. Luckily, Dennis Ritchie followed in his father's footsteps. ...
TranTalk (image via Raytheon)   As many celebrate the ability to talk to and be understood by the new iPhone 4S, including myself, we still cannot overcome the language barrier with other human beings. The company Raytheon is focused on breaking down that wall.   TransTalk is Ratheon's translation app for Android phones, designed to let English-only speaking soldiers converse with other non-English-speaking people. The system works as follows: one side talks into the phone, the other ...
OctoScope’s new refrigerator-sized anechoic chamber, called the octoBox, reminds me of past projects involving RF and EMI testing.  When I was at Jabil Circuit, they had a nice 100 sq ft walk-in chamber. The DUT and antennas could be placed in the chamber with the “master” and the test equipment outside.  In practice, we often moved the test equipment into the chamber so we could make changes to the DUT and get immediate feedback by looking over at the test equipment. ...
ePetri patform of cell phone and LEGOs (left), imaging sensor (right)     The California Institute of Technology, CalTech, has built a new way to culture cells using LEGOs, a smartphone, and some high tech imaging devices that will change petri dish usage forever. Guoan Zheng, grad student and author of the study, explained, "Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform. We can directly track the cell culture or bacteria culture within the incubator. The d ...
Pictures and video via TOTO   ...Human excrement.  TOTO, a toilet tech manufacturer in Japan, built the motorcycle as part of the 2010 "TOTO Green Challenge." The goal is to cut down 50% of CO2 emissions in bathroom technology by 2017 (50% vs 1990 levels).   The "Toilet Bike Neo," as it is called, is on a 1,000km journey promoting its cause across Japan. The bike is equipped with many interesting gadgets. A residual light imagery setup, also known as a persistence of vision, can ...
Images via the PaperSpeckle datasheet     Forged documents have tricked people for ages. In modern times, document counterfeiting is running rampant in developing countries. Another issue, the countries which have the problem cannot afford the laser scanning equipment that is currently being used to battle the problem. However, New York University has devised an inexpensive solution using cell phones, a microscope, and secret codes that might just be the solution.   The tech is c ...
The most common failure mode I notice in cheap consumer electronics is failure of capacitors.  A rough rule electrolytic capacitor life is it doubles for every ten degrees below the rated temperature.  If the capacitor does not handle large AC currents causing self-heating, the effects of temperature predominate over factors like how close to that rated voltage it is used.  When I have to select an electrolytic cap, I take the life of the product and temperature at the capacitor&# ...
CEATEC 3N solar film on curved glass. (Image via Tim Hornyak)   Almost every engineer I have ever met came up with this idea; a photovoltaic, solar, film that can be placed on window glass. However, for most of the people I know, financial constraints keep their ideas at bay. Luckily, mega-corp 3M had the time and money to make the idea come to fruition.   At the CEATEC, Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, in Tokyo Japan, 3M unveiled the solar film which they called a "windo ...
In a discussion with a non-technical and environmentally-minded friend about the engineering education program I run for high schoolers (BlueStamp Engineering) he asked, “Do you really think that training more engineers is the solution to our problems?  It seems that many of our problems today are a result of 'solutions' engineers found over the last 100 years.  Pollution, global warming, long-distance wars, oil spills, etc...  What is to say that the 'progress' your well ...
Last June I wrote about issues of coexistence of GPS and Lightsquared’s 4G nationwide wireless broadband system.  At that time I was not able to get a comment from either Lightsquared or the GPS receiver manufacturer interest group, the Coalition to Save Our GPS (CSOG).   This issue came to my attention again when LightSquared tweeted a link to a video critical of GPS manufactures' efforts to stop LightSquared from implementing their broadband network on a band adjacent to the G ...
One of my favorite pictures of Steve Jobs. Here he is demonstrating the iPhone 4 to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on June 23rd, 2010.     I have never been a huge fan of Apple Computer's products or the lifestyle philosophy that comes along with them. I am not afraid to admit that I have been a Steve Jobs fan the whole time. Although the film "Pirates of Silicon Valley" portrayed him as a self-important narrow-minded big shot, the real-world  Jobs was far from it. It was his f ...
Graduate student Jian Shi (left) and Professor Xudong Wang (right) with the respiration generator (via University of Wisconsin-Madison)   The piezoelectric effect, a 131-year-old  discovery, still continues to show new development. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Xudong Wang and graduate student, Jian Shi, have developed a material that when vibrated produces a micro-current. What is notable about the belt shaped material, it can be used with air flow. The team is tar ...
By Loring Wirbel Senior Correspondent, Footwasher Media   The recent expansion and diversification of the FPGA verification market bears a certain resemblance to the ASIC verification market of 20 years ago, though beset with opposite challenges, thanks to the changes wrought in 20 years by Moore’s Law.  When companies such as Quickturn Systems created large logic emulation systems to verify ASICs in the early 1990s, users had to be convinced to spend significant amounts of mo ...
Claremont prototype (via Intel)   Intel has recently developed technology that seems to be years ahead of time. This time it is a solar-powered  microprocessor, code-named Claremont, with a low-energy mode of less than 10 milli-watts, that allows for applications to be constantly running.   According to Intel, the purpose of the Claremont processor is to achieve unparalleled energy efficiency. Most embedded chips operate at nominal voltage of about 1V today. Claremont, dubbed the ...
By Douglas Alexander and Brian Steeves, CE Consultants Special to Footwasher Media http://www.componentsengineering.com   My first up close and personal experience with a resistor was a 9V transistor radio in the middle of a Dodgers baseball game in 1959. I  was listening to the game in the fourth grade with the earphone wire  snaked from my jeans' front pocket, through my belt, (first historical  use of a strain relief), under my sweater, up through the button hole in  ...
Artist Peter Paul Ruben's copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Battle of Anghiari."   Argonne National Laboratory is its own city just outside of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The company has a heliport, guest housing, and is a tourist attraction with daily tours. Argonne is soon to be a powerful force in energy research. But, buried in the company's plethora of projects and technology is one scientist is working towards re-discover a lost, and priceless, work of art.   Leonardo da Vinci's "Bat ...

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