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Heidi Hoopes

Heidi Hoopes

Heidi measures her life with the motley things she's done in the name of scientific exploration. While formally educated in biology and chemistry, informally she learns from adventures and hobbies with her family. Her simple pleasures in life are finding turtles while jogging and obsessively winnowing through her genetic data.

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— Automotive

Mcity opens as a first-of-its-kind sandbox for autonomous and connected vehicles

By - July 21, 2015 8 Pictures

Mcity at the University of Michigan is defined by over 28 acres (11 hectares) of fake buildings, purposefully defaced road signs, and pedestrians pointedly standing in roadways. While this could tax any human driver, the Mcity simulation is designed to test the university's fleet of connected and autonomous vehicles as they interact with an everchanging research facility that's the first of its kind.

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— Aircraft Review

Review: Parrot Bebop drone and Skycontroller

By - July 17, 2015 20 Pictures

As the latest in Parrot's line of smartphone-operated drones, the Bebop boasts a number of improvements over the AR.Drone 2.0 including a better camera, longer range, and an optional joystick-based controller. We put the Bebop in the hands of several quadcopter neophytes, tested it indoors (which is supposedly one of its strengths), and enlisted its 14-megapixel camera to capture some aerial footage. We also powered on Parrot's new Skycontroller, which adds physical controls and a more powerful Wi-Fi antenna for extended big range and potential FPV fun. So how did it perform?

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— Science

Carnegie Mellon to form "living lab" of internet of things through Google initiative

By - July 13, 2015 2 Pictures

When Google proposed its Open Web of Things initiative last December, it was seeking to increase interoperability, security, and an elegant user interface in the global movement towards connected smart devices. The company has awarded half a million dollars towards Carnegie Mellon University to develop its campus and eventually Pittsburg, PA into a "living lab" of cheap and ubiquitous sensors, integrated apps, and user-developed tools to work towards Google's vision of an integrated machine future.

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— Space

First ISS to Earth "handshake" demonstrates space-to-ground remote control

By - June 4, 2015 3 Pictures

NASA astronaut Terry Virts, aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and ESA telerobotics specialist André Schiele, in the Netherlands, made space history this week with the first telerobotic "handshake" between space and Earth. Using special force feedback joysticks that acquire force data and create the sensation of pressure, Virts and Schiele brought the agencies closer to allowing astronauts in remote locations to naturally and safely control robotic devices and perform potentially dangerous or otherwise impossible tasks.

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— Science

Almost universal SERS sensor could change how we sniff out small things

By - June 3, 2015 1 Picture

Identifying fraudulent paintings based on electrochemical data, highlighting cancerous cells in a sea of healthy ones, and identifying different strains of bacteria in samples of food are all examples of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), a sensor system that has only become more in-demand as our desire for precise, instantaneous information has increased. However, the technology has largely failed commercialization because the chips used are difficult and expensive to create, have limited uses for a particular known substance, and are consumed upon use. Researchers led by a team from the University of Buffalo (UB) aim to change nanoscale sensors with an almost-universal substrate that's also low-cost, opening up more opportunities for powerful analysis of our environment.

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— Electronics

Better Re battery pack gives new life to old phone batteries

By - May 12, 2015 9 Pictures

If you're like a lot of phone junkies and replace your phone as soon as the latest thing comes along, you'll know that often the hardware in the old phone is perfectly fine, even the battery. But fancier new screens and more powerful processors mean that battery life usually remains a problem, making battery packs a popular accessory. Enlighten's Better Re lets you get some more use out of your old phone's battery, by allowing it to slot into an adjustable external battery charger for your new phone.

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