The best of 2014

Electronics

Pyle's PVTTBT8 turntable, open for business

While many people consider record players to be "delightfully retro," those same folks might not have much use for something that plays nothing but vinyl. Pyle Audio has set out to address that, with its decidedly un-retro-named PVTTBT8 turntable. It looks like something you'd bring to a 1950s sock-hop, but it plays both records and digital music files.  Read More

The new RF circulator could revolutionize microminiature communications devices (Photo: Co...

In the world of electronic components, there are many devices out there that do their job well and reliably, but are almost never heard of – even though they may be vital to equipment that plays a role in our technology-driven lives. The radio frequency (RF) circulator is just such a device: it has simply done its job as a nondescript box of gubbins buried in radio communications systems, quietly directing radio frequency signals to the places they should go. Now researchers at the University of Texas have given the RF circulator a makeover. Not only is the new prototype smaller, lighter, and cheaper, it's also claimed to be easily adapted to different frequencies on the fly, which is something the old style circulator cannot do.  Read More

Natural vibrations caused by two surfaces with different work functions repelling and attr...

Electrical energy is normally generated through heat, motion, nuclear transformation, or chemical reactions, but now scientists at VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have devised a new method that involves mechanical vibrations. They figured out how to "harvest" the vibrational energy that occurs naturally when two surfaces with different work functions are connected via electrodes, and this energy could potentially be used to power wearables and other low-power electronics.  Read More

The Flux, a modular all-in-one 3D printer that goes for under US$700, has just hit Kicksta...

A Taiwanese team has developed the Flux 3D, a cheap all-in-one 3D printer, scanner and laser engraver that, thanks to its modularity, also leaves room for further expansion. The device also allows users to create, share and download designs directly from their mobile devices and connect to the printer via Bluetooth for more convenient operation.  Read More

Researchers have developed a coating that prevents a battery from conducting electricity w...

It can be a herculean task to get kids to eat their vegetables, but they'll happily chow down on things they aren't supposed to. If one of those things is a button battery, serious injuries can result in the form of burns to the esophagus or tears in the digestive tract. Researchers may not have found a way to stop kids swallowing button batteries, but they have found a way to make such culinary no-nos safer.  Read More

The prototype LCD requires no power to maintain an image and can display in 3D as well (Im...

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are a common and increasingly pervasive method of displaying information for everything from watches to giant TV screens. Though, like most other displays, LCDs require electrical energy to constantly display an image. Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, however, have produced an ultra-thin LCD screen prototype that is not only capable of displaying images without continuous power, but in 3D as well.  Read More

The Fireside digital photo frame uses intelligent computing and cloud services to deliver ...

Generally speaking digital photo frames are as dumb as bricks. The sole purpose of these low-end electronics is showcasing the hordes of digital pictures you take on your smartphone or digital camera, without much thought to intelligent curation of your memories. A crowdfunding push is underway to change this, though, in the form of the Fireside smart frame and cloud service.  Read More

Don't Move sends a Bluetooth alert when the item that it's resting on is moved

Don't like the thought of people sampling your lunch, "borrowing" your pens, or making unauthorized withdrawals from your cookie jar? Well, then you may like Don't Move. It's a small device that's essentially an electronic version of the "Do Not Touch" sticker, except it also tells on people who ignore it.  Read More

The Bluesmart smart carry on brings a wealth of technology features into the world of lugg...

Let’s face it, air travel sucks. You are crammed in a small cylinder at 35,000 feet with a herd of other people like cattle, noshing on junk food a cranky flight attendant pitches at you while hurrying by. Worst of all, you forgot to charge your tablet and now can’t watch all those Marvel movies you wanted to catch up on. A solution could exist to at least this last problem though, courtesy of a new so-called "connected carry-on" called Bluesmart that packs a built-in battery capable of charging your gadgets many times over.  Read More

Electron microscope scan of a THz circuit detailing its high-electron-mobility transistors

Getting into the Guinness Book of World Records isn't just about who can eat the most hotdogs or fly a paper airplane the highest. Sometimes it involves technological breakthroughs with huge potential. Guinness has handed DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program the award for the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit. Developed by Northrop Grumman, the Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) is a ten-stage common-source amplifier that cranks speeds of one terahertz (1012 Hz), or one trillion cycles per second.  Read More

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