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Electronics

Once upon a time, tasters were employed by the well-to-do, in order to check that their food or drink wasn't poisonous. Today, there are electronic biosensors that can do more or less the same thing. Unfortunately, as was no doubt sometimes the case with the tasters, the biosensors can’t always give us immediate results. Additionally, they’re usually only able to test for specific substances, and not simply for “anything that’s toxic.” An experimental new device known as the Dip Chip, however, is said to address both of those problems. Read More
If you listen to your elders, electricity is a dangerous, often fatal, medium that shouldn't be toyed with. If, like Rob Flickenger, you decide to completely ignore such sage counsel, then electricity is awesome and a whole bunch of fun – especially if you build yourself a working battery-powered Tesla Gun that handles some 20,000-volts and 2,000 amps of current and shoots out bolts of lightning! Read More
As I discovered when reviewing the Minty Geek Electronics Lab a while back, experimenting with circuit building can be a great deal of fun. There was one particular project in this kit that made use of the human body to complete a circuit, with a simple lie detector test being the end result. With their Makey Makey open source hardware project, Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have taken such touch interaction to a much more entertaining and inventive degree. Everyday objects like bananas, coins, and even Play-Doh can be transformed into a computer keyboard key or mouse click to control onscreen gaming action, play software-based instruments or type out short messages. Read More
As machines get more and more sophisticated, the mental capacity of their human overlords stays at a static (albeit seemingly impressive) level, and therefore slowly starts to pale in comparison. The bandwidth of the human brain is not limitless, and if an overloaded brain happens to be overseeing machines carrying out potentially dangerous tasks, you can expect trouble. But why had we built the machines in the first place, if not to save us from trouble? Brainput, a brain-computer interface built by researchers from MIT and Tufts University, is going to let your computer know if you’re mentally fit for the job at hand. If it decides your brain is overloaded with tasks, it will help you out by handling some of them for you. Read More

If you’re a fan of things retro and an electronics do-it-youselfer, this might might be just the thing for you – it’s a kit that lets you built your own clock, that displays the time using wonderfully outdated nixie tubes. Read More

As great a convenience as they are, headphones and earbuds appear destined to forever plague active music listeners. First, there are the annoying, dangling cords smacking you in the face. Then, there's your complete obliviousness to the outside world. For the former, we have inventive storage systems like Cordcrunchers and Hoodiebuddies. For the latter, AIRbudz. Read More
The newest entry in ARM's Cortex line, the Cortex-M0+ is claimed to be the world's most energy-efficient processor, delivering 32-bit performance on around one third of the typical energy requirements of an 8- or 16-bit processor. Targeting low-cost sensors and microcontrollers, the M0+ will come with a very modest price tag and could act as a crucuial stepping stone to a world in which everyday objects communicate with each other, sharing data to make smart, coordinated decisions that will improve our quality of life. Read More
I doubt there are many Star wars fans out there who haven't, at one time or another, fantasized about owning a lightsaber. These are the weapons favored by Jedi and Sith, resembling a sword but with a blade formed of colored light. To have one at your disposal is the dream of geeks everywhere; a dream that has edged closer to becoming reality with the LaserSaber. Read More
Sonic technology that allows audio to be specifically directed at a limited audience, as opposed to booming sound out as far and as loud as possible, has been around for a good many years but has yet to penetrate the mass consumer market. That situation could well change very shortly, however, thanks to the Soundlazer. The low-cost, pocket-friendly, open source, and completely hack-friendly parametric device developed by Richard Haberkern uses ultrasonic carrier waves to transmit sound from a connected music player on a narrow beam to a select listener. Read More
Ordinarily, if you wanted to include blue, green and red laser light sources in the same device (such as a BluRay player), you would need to build in three separate lasers – each one incorporating different semiconductor materials. Now, however, engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University have succeeded in creating different colors of lasers, all using the same nanocrystal-based semiconductor. Among other things, this opens the door to digital displays that could produce various colors of laser light simultaneously. Read More
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