2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Darren Quick

Purdue associate professor of mechanical engineering, Douglas Adams, and graduate student ...

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a system which can detect damage to critical suspension components simply by driving over a speed bump-like "diagnostic cleat". Designed to streamline vehicle maintenance in the military, the unit uses accelerometers to gather data on the condition of tires, wheel bearings and suspension components.  Read More

Dr William Richard (left) takes an ultrasound probe of colleague David Zar's carotid arter...

Looks like smartphones are getting even smarter. We can already access our email, GPS navigate and use a wide range of business document formats, making them an integral part of a business person’s day. Now doctors might soon be packing a smartphone alongside their stethoscopes. Computer engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have coupled a smartphone with USB-based ultrasound probe technology to produce a mobile imaging device that fits in the palm of a hand.  Read More

The gumstix-based Somniloquy prototype
 Pic. credit: Yuvraj Agarwal

Computers are often left running so they stay connected to a network or the Internet – be it to ensure remote access, availability for virus scans and backup, maintaining presence on instant messaging (IM) or voice-over-IP (VoIP) networks, or for file sharing and downloading. Although such tasks mean the PCs are relatively idle, they remain in awake mode and draw more power than they really need. Now computer scientists at UC San Diego and Microsoft Research have created a plug-and-play hardware prototype for personal computers that induces a new energy saving state known as "sleep talking", which provides much of the energy savings of sleep mode and some of the network-and-Internet-connected convenience of awake mode.  Read More

The space age looking AirPenguins

The latest example of biomimicry in robotics to cross our desk is from German electrical automation company Festo, which has used the shape of the acquatic, flightless bird to construct two different types of bionic penguins. The AquaPenguins use the bird's hydrodynamic body contours and wing propulsion to allow the robot to maneuver in cramped spaces, turn on the spot and, unlike their real-life counterparts, swim backwards. The larger helium-filled AirPenguins use the same principles to lift the usually flightless bird into the air.  Read More

The Elios line of speakers from ELAN

As any home cinema buff will tell you, a good picture is only half of the equation when it comes to a truly superior home theater experience. The other half is of course good sound, an area that unfortunately often takes a back seat when it comes to setting up a first rate home cinema. The new Elios line of speakers from ELAN Home Systems boasts some new technology aimed at those who recognize the need for good sound reproduction as well as new designs that make the installation of the speakers into a wall or ceiling a much simpler task.  Read More

The space sail for an Ariane 5 launcher (pictured), for example, would is conical with a s...

We’ve recently examined the danger posed to future space missions by the ever increasing collection of space junk orbiting the Earth. Now a plan by a pair of space engineers to use a sail to take out the trash – or rather, bring it back to Earth – may help to stop future space missions adding to the problem of space junk.  Read More

The Samsung N120 joins Samsung's mini notebook line

The flood of mini notebooks and netbooks that threatens to bury us shows no sign of abating, with Samsung announcing another addition to its mini notebook lineup. Joining the recently featured N110 is the N120, which includes most of the features found on the N110 in a slightly larger form factor.  Read More

The WristShot makes filming yellow walls easy

Camcorders have come a long way from the analogue behemoths people were forced to lug about in days gone by. With the steady reduction in size, it has not only lightened the load for budding directors, but also it has done away with the need to rest the camera on your shoulder when filming, with the exception of expensive professional models. But this has had a downside – increasingly unstable shots as the user’s hand tires and begins to shake. Camera accessory manufacturer Hoodman has come to the rescue, however, with a simple solution that gives videographers’ wrists a rest. The WristShot is a camera mount that transfers the weight of the camera from the wrist to the forearm.  Read More

The prototype 3-volt battery built by a virus (Photo: MIT/Donna Coveney)

Be they biological or computer, viruses generally get a pretty bad rap - what with their reputation for infection, reproduction and disease it’s not surprising that their name is actually Latin for toxin or poison. But it's not all bad press - for example geneticists harness viruses to further the study of cell biology and they also hold much potential in the emerging field of nanotechnology where their size, shape and well-defined chemical structure has led to them being used as templates for organizing materials on the nanoscale. Now MIT researchers have turned viruses to the task of building a battery – and they’ve succeeded.  Read More

Yamaha's methane powered golf cart

We've all heard of vehicles that run on the smell of an oily rag, but what about one that runs on the smell of cow dung? A new prototype golf cart developed by Yamaha does just that - sort of - by running on the methane. The golf cart was tested with the assistance of the Osaka Gas Co. which provided methane at low cost to Yamaha for the vehicle tests as part of efforts to promote the use of cow dung biomass as a fuel.  Read More

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