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Electronics

Like many computer users of my generation, I've notched up many hours of virtual flight time in a number of fairly realistic simulation programs. There are those who are simply not satisfied with keyboard, mouse and joystick control of jet fighters and passenger airplanes on a desktop computer system, though. Air traffic controller and pilot James Price is one such simulation-junkie who has taken his desire for realism to dizzy new heights by having the nose lopped off a veteran Boeing 737, fitting out the gutted cockpit with working controls, dials and monitors and then interfacing the hardware with flight simulation software. It's been a labor of love but we think the result is well worth the enormous amount of time and effort that's gone into the build. Read More
French researchers have produced highly conducive plastic fibers with a thickness of only a few nanometers that self-assemble when exposed to a flash of light. The tiny fibers (one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter) could become a cheaper and easier-to-handle alternative to carbon nanotubes and play a role in the development of electronic components on the nanoscale. Read More

German cyberpunk weapons-maker Patrick Priebe has created another dangerous toy, and this one's a doozy. Previously, he’s built things such as a laser-sighted wrist-mounted crossbow, and a hand-mounted flamethrower. His latest creation, the Blade Driver, is a full-size laser-sighted crossbow ... oh yeah, and instead of shooting arrows, it shoots spinning rotary saw blades. Read More

Initially released in Japan last November, Epson has now announced Stateside availability for its Moverio BT-100 wearable display. The rather chunky eyewear projects images onto a virtual floating screen in front of the user that grows in size the further away the wearer stares into the distance - up to the equivalent of a 320-inch screen at a distance of 65 feet (20 meters). Read More

Despite technology's best efforts, headphones and sports just don't mix that well. Loss of awareness of your surroundings, uncomfortable earphones and tangled wires make them less than a perfect solution and it's these shortcomings that The Sonic Walk aims to address by providing a more natural, ergonomic way of listening to music and exercising. Read More

According to Dr. James M. Tour, a synthetic organic chemist at Houston’s Rice University, flash memory devices can only be built smaller for another six to seven years – at that point, they will reach a technological barrier. Already, however, Tour and his colleagues have developed a new type of memory chip, which they believe could replace flash in thumb drives, smartphones and computers. Not only does their chip allow more data to be stored in a given space, but it can also be folded like paper, withstand temperatures of up to 1,000ºF (538ºC), and is transparent – this means that devices’ screens could also serve as their memory. Read More
If Star Trek has taught us anything, it's the importance of gathering as much information about the alien planet you've just been beamed onto as quickly as possible. To that end, the Science Officer on the away team would perform a quick scan of the surroundings with a handheld, multifunctional sensing device called a Tricorder. Fortunately, we now live in an age where the science fiction of yesteryear is increasingly becoming the science fact of today, and the once futuristic Tricorder is no exception. For his Tricorder Project, Canada's Dr Peter Jansen has designed and built some pocket-friendly devices housing a number of sensors which reveal the secrets of the unseen world around us. Read More
Like most display manufacturers, LG has kept a finger in the flexible e-paper pie. Now, however, the company has announced that its six-inch XGA resolution Electronic Paper Display (EPD) is now in full production, and should be in devices bound for Europe within the next month. Read More
The wonders of graphene seem to know no bounds. Not only is it one of the strongest materials known, is both highly conductive and piezoelectric, it can generate electricity from flowing water and now it is being used to make better supercapacitors. Using a DVD writer, a team of UCLA researchers has invented a new process for making high quality graphene electrodes and used these electrodes to make a new species of supercapacitor. Though the work is in the early stages of development, it could lay a foundation for supercapacitor-based energy storage systems suitable for flexible portable electronic devices. Read More
Scientists have succeeded in endowing graphene with yet another useful property. Already, it is the thinnest, strongest and stiffest material ever measured, while also proving to be an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. These qualities have allowed it to find use in everything from transistors to supercapacitors to anti-corrosion coatings. Now, two materials engineers from Stanford University have used computer models to show how it could also be turned into a piezoelectric material – this means that it could generate electricity when mechanically stressed, or change shape when subjected to an electric current. Read More