Skip navigation
For size comparison, the 5mm hard-disk. How much longer will rotary drives exist? (via Western Digital)   Thin is in. At least Western Digital thinks so as the hard-drive company recently announced their sampling of a 5mm thick (down from 7mm introduced earlier this year) hybrid hard-drive for notebook PCs. As notebooks become thinner and more efficient so too must the technology so component manufacturers must design their gear with 'weight-loss' in mind. Hard-drives for mobile devices, su ...
Concept breakdown of the robotic arm system (via Lancet & the Guardian)   I never bought that IQ tests were the ultimate measure of intelligence. A paraplegic woman  has shown that she has an almost genius-like affinity towards learning how to move a robotic arm with only her thoughts, blowing away researchers with her fast progress.     Jan Scheuermann, now 52 years old, was a business owner in California, when at age 36, she noticed that she was beginning to lose cont ...
PR image from Imec (via Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre)   Imagine the ultimate AR (Augmented Reality) system. What would it consist of? Two 20 inch LCD screens duct-taped to your head while that late 80’s camcorder mounted on an old football helmet, video processed by the computer tower strapped to your back, software overlays to augment those images before sending the almost real-time information to the monitors? Maybe, but Imec (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre) and ...
Last week Spectrum Magazine interviewed Daniel Beringer about an initiative to end traditional landline telephones by June 2018.  To those of us for whom the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which often goes by the nickname plain old telephone service (POTS), was once the primary means of communication, this feels like a radical change.    One advantage to an all-VoIP system is audio quality could be improved.  A POTS line runs at a constant data rate of 8k samples ...
Drive a cat around by guiding a laser pointer. (via Sam Brenner)   It is easy for the cat to get fat when all it does is sit on its couch-throne as king of the jungle…or living room. Designer and NYU computer science grad student, Sam Brenner noticed that cats are motivated to move by their curiosity especially towards shiny lights, so he tried to invent an interactive way to get his cat off its butt.     To do this, Brenner designed something called the "Cat Car." He mo ...
Minitel terminal and Travel agency page (via Le Monde, L'Express, Minitel.com, Wiki)   It's truly the end of an era, and not the Mayan calendar. Before there was the internet, communicating digitally was something that seemed to be out science fiction to most people. In the early 80's, the internet was in its infancy, and the United States main source of communicating was through mail and the telephone. However, across the Atlantic, France was just beginning digitally interconnecting every ...
Futaba OLED concept watch (via Futaba)   Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) may very well be the Japanese equivalent of the American Consumer Electronics show. Top companies and technological innovators come to show off their latest tech and give everyone a glimpse into the future. This year Futaba revealed their prototype OLED display watch.     Their display, which was not in the most attractive housing, did manage to attract everyone's attention. It featur ...
Quantum radar samples (via Quantum-Secured Imaging)   While it was Maxwell who predicted and described the physics of electromagnetic waves, it was Heinrich Hertz's experiments in his laboratory that found waves could be transmitted through certain materials, while other materials would reflect the waves back.     Nikola Tesla took this information one step further and predicted the general concept of radar in an article for Century magazine in June 1900, “Stationary wave ...
The blue area is meant for the optical signals, which the yellow areas are copper wire carrying electrical signal. Both technologies are integrated on the same chip. (via IBM)   Electrical signals travel anywhere between 40% to 95% of the speed of light. A typical twisted pair telephone line signal, for example, is somewhere in the 40-70% range.     What would happen if a data signal could travel uninhibited at the full speed of light? The innovators at IBM have long pondered t ...
OwnFone in use promo (via myownfone)   Are you overwhelmed by all the options of cell phones or smart phones, data plans and contracts, a myriad of downloadable apps, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS or mobile TV? Most likely as a nerd or geek, you are not, but our parents and the elderly often do complain. As a solution to this hectic cell phone world, a British company called OwnFone has developed the simplest cell phone that is intuitive and could greatly simplify the decision making process for peo ...
  It may not have received as much publicity as the new iPad or the Amazon Kindle Fire, but the Raspberry Pi device has made a bigger splash in 2012 than most other innovations. And in light of enthusiasm among consumers, the firm behind the impressive product has announced plans to open a one-stop shop for the consumer market. The new shop will also allow tech enthusiasts to share games and applications, as well as tools for the computer.   Details of the new store appear in a blog ...
(Left) Purpurin extracted from the center madder root is chemically lithiated (meaning treated with lithium of its compounds, shown right) This treated extract can make for an alternative to current lithium-ion battery cathodes. (via Rice University)   To combat the increasing amount of pollution and waste being produced every year, green technology has quickly grown into a large and important area of research. More specifically, green technology involves creating products that can meet ...
Gravity light concept (via Indigogo)   Sometimes people come up with an ingenious idea or an alternate way of redesigning things we might take for granted such as a generator that runs on bodily waste (Maker Faire Africa) or a cooking pot that generates electrical energy from heat (PowerPot). It’s along those lines that another pair of individuals has designed a way to light-up (literally) the lives of those who don’t have easy access to power with their device known as the Grav ...
A cross-section transmission electron micrograph of the fabricated transistor. The central inverted V is the gate. The two molybdenum contacts on either side are the source and drain of the transistor. The channel is the indium gallium arsenide light color layer under the source, drain and gate. Image courtesy of the researchers (via MIT)     Transistors are one of the most significant components that sparked the beginning of the computing revolution, this month it is celebrating it ...
Back in July, hacker Cody Brocious, a Mozilla software developer and security researcher, exposed a way to hack into the very common Onity hotel room keycard locks. The device he built costs less than $50 and can breach the lock within seconds by reading a digital key stored in the lock's memory. The embarrassing  demonstration had chains of hotels around the world worried about their customers security and sparked a chain of hotel room burglaries.     Upon first addressing the ...
  London may well be home to one of the world's oldest and largest public transport networks, but that doesn't mean that the city isn't open to new, innovative ideas. And this point has just been underlined by the announcement that London's world famous red buses wills start accepting contactless payment from today (December 13th) onwards.   The streets of the city are patrolled by as many as 8,500 vehicles and, under a new plan being rolled out by Transport for London, passengers wi ...
Sitting around anjoying some wireless power (via Alliance for Wireless Power)   I am sure your have noticed the innovations that are slowly making our world wireless. First go the file transfer cables and now, a tech giant is leading two major wireless power organizations into the tether free frontier.     Texas Instrument, the self proclaimed leading provider of power management integrated circuits, battery management and power supply tech, has announced they will join the Alli ...
aPriori work flow concept (via aPriori)   Companies and institutions often find themselves incurring additional overhead and labor costs when designing or developing new products, which can, and often does, lead to increased time before the product is manufactured. While these companies and institutions have found ways of overcoming these issues one in particular has acquired a software solution that, for lack of a better word, serves as a behind the scenes manager of sorts. The software in ...
  The UK must double the number of engineering graduates and apprentices it produces by 2020 in order to match demand, according to EngineeringUK. The body observed that the country produces 46,000 engineering graduates each year, but there is demand for around 69,000. Additionally, the report confirmed that the UK produces 27,000 apprentices a year qualify at level 3, but there is demand for nearly triple that number.   The figures have prompted Paul Jackson, EngineeringUK's Chief ...
Dave Young

Thank Your Mentors

Posted by Dave Young Dec 17, 2012
I love this time of year leading up to and including Christmas, New Year's, and most importantly, the week between the two.  Not just for the delightful skiing weather, but it offers a chance for the engineer's working world to slow down (even more than Chinese New Year).  It allows people to take stock of their current situation, look back at where they've been, and where they want to go.  It's a good time to review goals, budgets, and challenges for the upcoming year both person ...
Charles Gervasi

Spice Gets Easier

Posted by Charles Gervasi Dec 17, 2012
In college I found Spice very frustrating.  I was still learning the basics of circuits.  Spice won’t tell you that a typical SMT discrete can’t dissipate several watts.  Some of the analyses won’t even tell if you the circuit isn’t biased properly; they provide output as if it were biased right.  So I came away with the idea that Spice is more trouble than it was worth.  I thought if the circuit was so close to the edge of meeting spec that you n ...
Doorbot exploded assembly (via Christie Street)   Getting up to get the door can be distracting if you are watching the kids play in the pool or if you are getting ready for a dinner party. When you are not home, receiving packages can be difficult and you can miss out on seeing people popin’ in or telling that one guest that the party is not till tomorrow night. But now, as Apple would say, there’s an app for that.     This app is tied to a device called the DoorBot ...
Concept art of the Spacecraft (left) and a landing module (right) (via Golden Spike)   Would you do anything to travel to the surface of the moon? A new company, started by former NASA administrator Allan Stern, called Golden Spike (GSC) will send you there by 2020. All you have to do is accumulate $700-800 million for one two-way ticket.     Don’t turn down this offer just yet. This ticket comes with much more. Of course, GSC will provide and take care of all regulatory c ...
Porter, Monty, and Ginny (top row) in their driving test chairs! (via Mark Vette)   The saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ has just gone out the window with the New Zealand SPCA’s (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) new initiative to teach man’s best friend to drive. Ok, so the dogs in question, aren’t exactly old and the mere notion of canine driving seems preposterous at best. However, there is a purpose behind the project tha ...
Carbon nanotubes, some smeared. Outside diameters average 13-16 nm, inside is 4 nm. (via University of Missouri)   Graphene is a super-strong material (has a breaking strength of 200 times greater than steel) made from 1-atom thick sheets of pure carbon. It can be produced by using a myriad of techniques and methods (heating silicon carbide, epitaxial growth on a metal substrate and graphite oxide reduction to name a few) and can be formed into various allotropes (substance variant that exh ...
Blue medical sensor that measures pH level through skin. The "eyes" of the face are working electrodes that can be accessed any time to retreive data. (via University of Toronto Scarborough)   Temporary tattoos do not have much appeal for people past adolescence, but researcher Vinci Hung, from the University of Toronto Scarborough, has developed one that will catch the attention of athletes, coaches and physicians.     These temporary tattoos are just like the ones you get fro ...
Chevy Volt Christmas Tree made of Volt parts. (via Chevy)   People have unique ways of expressing their holiday spirit. Vauxhall Motors and The King's Cross Filling Station left the task of creating a unique display for this holiday season to illustrator Gary Card. Card, which has had work appear in multiple publications, envisioned an electric tree with mechanical parts. The result was a spectacular piece of art, created entirely from Vauxhall Ampera parts.     The tree which i ...
Milli-Motein bot prototype (via MIT)   Robots can be configured to perform a wide range of tasks from vacuuming floors to working with explosives. However, you’d be hard-pressed in trying to reconfigure a Northrop Grumman MarkV-A1 bomb handling robot to replace an iRobot Roomba (even though it would be an interesting show-piece at parties). That notion might become a thing of the past as MIT has developed a reconfigurable robot that can shape-shift to become almost anything. The tiny ...
Argonne National Laboratory - a researcher is using a detector array system to test the limits of a lithium battery (via energy.gov)     The US government sure loves its acronyms, especially when it comes to the DOE (Department of Energy) who are looking to improve on current battery technologies. The energy arm of the government recently formed the Batteries and Energy Storage hub (headed by Argonne National Lab) which will form JCESR (Joint Center for Energy Storage Research) in an e ...
A small but powerful array. The MWA antenna has sixteen croos dipoles. It is powered by a 35kVA trailer-mounted single phase diesel generator. I'm sure in the expanded form they will have grid connectivity. (via MWA)   After five long years of development and construction the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) Observatory, located in Western Australia, is finally completed and currently undergoing preliminary testing. The array is a joint effort between institutions from the US, India, New Zea ...
A new study, conducted by a team of researchers in the US, has suggested that future Moon colonists will be able to use lunar rocks to create new tools. The assertion comes after the team at Washington State University used a 3D printer to make small objects out of melted simulated lunar rocks.   Throwing this idea forward, the technique could help to reduce the weight and expense of carrying materials into space, according to the researchers, who said that a digital file should suffic ...
Scientists from IBM Research and ETH Zurich, arranged gold nanorods to display the STOP Ampelmann, which is 50 μm × 60 μm in size. The arrows indi- cate the traveling direction of the meniscus in the assembly process. The nanorods, which constitute the individual pixels of the image, are placed with single-particle resolution in line- lets measuring 50 nm × 140 nm in size. The assembly yield is larger than 95%. The pixels are separated by 500 nm. The round holes placed next ...
Good old Capitol Hill at it again (via stock photography)   Since 2006, Congress granted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to collaborate with foreign governments in order to crack down on international scams and fraud that target US consumers. On December 4th, President Obama signed an extension of this law for another 8 years (2020).   During the four years that the “Safe Web Act” has been practiced, over 100 investigations were conducted. However, the FT ...
Professor David Carroll and Greg Smith (background) with the prototype lighting element (via Wake Forest University)   The days of flickering, buzzing fluorescent lighting could be coming to an end if scientists from Wake Forest University have their way. The group, led by physics Professor David Carroll, has designed a new light that’s flicker-free and shatterproof that can be implemented on a large scale like that of their gaseous counterparts. The fluorescent replacement (based on ...
SSD prototype (via Edmond and Lily Safra Neuroscience Center)   Scientists from the Edmond and Lily Safra Neuroscience Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed an algorithm that turns video, captured by a camera mounted on sunglasses, into sounds. The intent is to create a sensory substitution device (SSD) that allows congenitally blind people to perceive their surroundings via sounds. While testing their device, they were able to take images of the brain, which showed s ...
“Chips will continue to swallow board functions” “Size, complexity, development time, and cost requirements are making individual components an expensive luxury”   As chip manufacturers continue to get better and better with integrating functionality on System on a Chip (SOC) devices, engineers are saying things like those listed above.  It is true that the industry of making Integrated Circuits (ICs) is becoming more and more advanced every day.  Some of ...
  New statistics, produced by Reuters, have confirmed that ageism is a worse problem than any other form of discrimination in California. What's more, it has been suggested that this trend is, in part, driven by Silicon Valley's obsession with youth-led start-up firms. The report warns that as the Valley goes in search of the next Mark Zuckerberg, it is violating US Federal Law which specifies that job candidates should be of a certain age. Unlike more traditional areas of the business ...
Utah State University "Aggie Bus," using wireless charging up to 90% efficient. (via Utah State University)   One of the biggest problems with switching to electric public transit buses is the issue of long-lasting, reliable batteries that last throughout the day and night. This dilemma has been tackled and researchers at the Utah State University in Logan, Utah, have obtained a solution. Their invention, called the “Aggie Bus”, will be tested on the USU students in 2013.  ...
Heat flash! Current through the gate layer creates heat that "heals" the oxide layer. (via Macronix and IEEE)   Spintronic memory may take over in the future, but until then, we need to extend the life of what we do have available. Flash memory is some of the most reliable, non-volatile memory, but it tends to fail after about 10,000 write/erase cycles. However, engineers from the Taiwanese company, Macronix, have found a way to anneal the parts damaged in NAND flash cells and bring them b ...
Prof. Dr. Tilman Esslinger (via Quantum Optics)   While testing concepts on the quantum mechanical effects of superfluidity, scientists accidentally created an atomic equivalent of a transistor. Tilman Esslinger and his team of researchers working at the Institute for Quantum Electronics in Zurich, Switzerland, were trying to observe the transition from non-superfluid to superfluid to better understand superconductivity when they happened to stumble upon an atomic transistor.     ...
Braille Phone concept (via Sumit Dagar)   When it comes to mobile technology for the visually impaired or blind, choices are extremely limited. Sure there are a few choices, such as Sight and Sound Technology’s Georgie Android-based smartphone (that works much like Apple’s Siri with optical recognition and other haptic features added on) and Qualcomm’s upcoming Ray phone. These phones rely on sound, gestures and haptics (vibrations) to convey information or make phone call ...
IBM says they have moved a step closer towards creating an artificial brain. I've been following their work, expecting their system to achieve consciousness. I may have been a bit hasty in my expectations. Of course, this is a tremendous leap in a gargantuan mission, but their system has artificial neurons (computation), synapses (memory), axons and dendrites (communication). The system dubbed, TrueNorth has been tested using two supercomputers: the IBM Blue Gene/Q (using 16 racks, 262,144 CPUs ...
Production bot and conceptual drawing (via Brave Robotics)   Brave Robotics (no transform
o robot) is set to unleash their updated version of their transforming RC robot on the masses as the company readies itself for production. Sure there are a bunch of transformer-like robot RC cars, like Blue Hat’s Savage, Raiden Tech’s Remote Control Car and Hammacher Schlemmer’s Remote Controlled Transforming Robot Car, but none of them can stack up to hobbyist Kenji Ishida’s ...
  A dearth of skilled engineers is stunting social and economic progression in sub-Saharan Africa, a new report has suggested. The Royal Academy of Engineering observed that a new wave of experienced people is needed to ensure that sanitation targets and efforts to reduce rural poverty can be met.   The contention is founded on a series of interviews and surveys with people in South Africa, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania, all of which continue to see their efforts to boost g ...

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: