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Electronics

HyperCam would let you see the unseen

Because regular cameras just process visible light, the images that they produce look like what we see with our own eyes. By contrast, hyperspectral cameras process additional wavelengths, showing us things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to see. Unfortunately, they also tend to be big, expensive, and thus limited to scientific or industrial applications. That could be about to change, however, as scientists from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research are creating a compact, inexpensive consumer hyperspectral camera. It may even find its way into your smartphone.Read More

Powered by body heat, Lumen flashlight never needs batteries

Whether it be for everyday carry, outdoor adventure, or disaster preparation, flashlights tend to be found towards the top of must-have items. But one common aspect of these luminescent devices is that they're only as good as the batteries inside. If you've ever switched on a flashlight only to experience a flood of frustrated disappointment, you might appreciate owning an "eternal flashlight." Lumen is designed to be powered by body heat, never needing batteries.Read More

Breakthrough rectenna converts light into DC current

Rectifying antennas – "rectennas" – are used as parasitic power capture devices that absorb radio frequency (RF) energy and convert it into usable electrical power. Constructing such devices to absorb and rectify at optical wavelengths has proved impractical in the past, but the advent of carbon nanotubes and advances in microscopic manufacturing technology have allowed engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to create rectennas that capture and convert light to direct electrical current. The researchers believe that their creation may eventually help double the efficiency of solar energy harvesting. Read More

Portobella mushrooms improve battery recipe

The number of electric vehicles and mobile devices is expected to surge over the coming decade, which would place considerable strain on our environment and resources as far as battery technology currently stands. In an effort to find more sustainable alternatives for battery materials, researchers from the University of California, Riverside have created a battery incorporating the skins of portabella mushrooms. The move not only has the potential to reduce the economic and environmental cost of battery production, but may also result in batteries whose capacity increases over time.


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"Designless" brain-like chips created through artificial evolution

Scientists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have devised a new type of electronic chip that takes after the human brain. Their device is highly power-conscious, massively parallel, and can manipulate data in arbitrary ways even though it doesn't need to be explicitely designed to perform any task. The advance could pave the way for computers that think more like we do.

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Trinity portable wind turbines switch between vertical and horizontal blade settings

Think of wind turbines and massive blades spinning above Kansas prairies or off Danish coastlines are probably what comes to mind, but Minnesota-based Janulus has developed something a little more portable. Having found crowdfunding success in 2014 with its 12-inch (30 cm) cylindrical vertical axis (Savonius) type Trinity wind turbine, the company is now returning to the well for an updated version that is available in four different sizes and switches between horizontal and vertical axis form factors.Read More

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