Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Ben Coxworth

Light pulses (white spheres) traveling down the optical fiber can be converted into electr...

When data is transmitted as pulses of light along a fiber optic cable, chips at either end of that cable must convert the data from and back into an electronic signal - this is what allows an outgoing video image to be converted into light pulses, then back into video at the receiving end, for instance. There are a number of technical challenges in coupling chips to fibers, however. Now, an international team of scientists are developing an alternative ... fiber optics with the electronics built right into the fiber.  Read More

One of the nanowire meshes, created by the Stanford scientists

Some day, meshes made from nanowires could be used in devices such as video displays, LEDs, thin-film solar cells, and touch-screens. According to research performed so far, such meshes would be very electrically conductive, cost-effective, and easy to process. What has proven challenging, however, is finding a way of getting the criss-crossed nanowires to fuse together to form that mesh – if pressed or heated, the wires can be damaged. Now, engineers from Stanford University may have found the answer ... just apply light.  Read More

A new technique that allows CPUs and GPUs to collaborate on computing tasks has resulted i...

Want to get your computer to run faster? Well, consider its graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU). The two work away at their own tasks, each one rarely helping the other shoulder its workload. Researchers from North Carolina State University, however, are in the process of changing that. They have already developed a technique that allows GPUs and CPUs located on a single chip to collaborate on tasks, and it has resulted in a processing speed increase of over 20 percent.  Read More

Pureflame's Adena wall-mounted fireplace

At this time of year, many of us living in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere start wishing that we had a fireplace in our home. Unfortunately, installing a fireplace and chimney in a house that doesn't already have them is quite an involved and expensive process. Here's a solution in the form of a functioning fireplace that you simply hang on the wall like a picture - it's made by a company called Pureflame.  Read More

VITAband is a bracelet for solo outdoor athletes, that provides a link to their emergency ...

There’s one thing that everyone should have on their person when they venture off on solo outdoor activities – their I.D. That way, should they end up injured and unable to communicate, first responders will know who they are, and who to contact. While the various cards kept in one’s wallet are a good form of identification, a lot of people don’t want to lug a bulky wallet around in their pocket while doing things like running or rock-climbing. That’s where the VITAband comes in. Not only does the waterproof bracelet provide a link to its wearer’s full Emergency Response Profile, but it also allows them to make cash-free purchases.  Read More

A new type of radio frequency identification (RFID) tag doesn't have an antenna of its own...

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are definitely a handy way of tracking shipments. Instead of simply crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, importers and exporters can check the location and condition of shipped items in real time, by remotely accessing the data being transmitted by RFID tags attached to those items. Unfortunately, many such tags don't work on metal objects such as shipping containers or oil drums, as the metal interferes with the functioning of the tags' antennas. A new tag developed at North Dakota State University gets around that limitation, however - it uses the metal object as its antenna.  Read More

Prof. Robert Zoellner, with a model of the molecule created by ten year-old Clara Lazen

I don't know about other people, but when I was a child, I was inventing things such as a musical instrument made out of a folded piece of cardboard and some rubber bands. Ten year-old Clara Lazen, however, has done something a little more noteworthy. The fifth-grader from Kansas City, Missouri, built a model of a molecule that is new to science. If the molecule itself were to actually be created, it could possibly be used for energy storage, or in explosives.  Read More

Titus Appel (left) and Steve Sanderson, with their power-over-fiber communications cable

When you want to isolate communications between two devices or locations, a fiber optic link is one of the best ways to go. Under some circumstances, however, you might also want to isolate the transmission of power – in situations where traditional copper wire might prove unsafe or impractical, for instance. That’s why researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a power-over-fiber (PoF) communications cable. It carries not only data, but also optical power.  Read More

A new device known as NIRS uses light to non-invasively monitor blood oxygenation in the b...

Approximately one third of stroke patients experience another stroke while they’re still in the hospital. Nurses therefore keep a close eye on them, and arrange for them to be taken for tests if a subsequent stroke is suspected. Unfortunately these tests can be invasive, and in some cases are even potentially harmful to the patient. A new device being developed at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, however, could watch for strokes simply by shining light onto a patient’s forehead.  Read More

Kai Richter (left) and Holger Mai of DLR inspect the installation of humpback whale-inspir...

Oh, those humpback whales and their weird fins. First, they inspired more efficient wind turbines. Next, their unique qualities were copied by undersea turbines used to harness tidal flow energy. Now, they’ve led to rotor blades that allow helicopters to be more maneuverable. It all comes down to bumps along their leading edge, known as tubercles.  Read More

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