Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Good Thinking

First a nanobattery, now an ultra-sensitive Magnetometer

February 25, 2007 mPhase Technologies has been very successful in taking its message direct to the people in recent weeks with a video demonstration of its Smart Nanobattery on YouTube. The nanotech-based smart batteries (pictured bottom) can store reserve power for decades and generate electric current virtually on demand. Now mPhase has released another video, this time demonstrating its ultra-sensitive sensor magnetometer. “The extreme advantage of size, sensitivity and low cost allows us to develop the next generation of military and homeland security sensor applications while also addressing a number of commercial markets as well,” said mPhase Technologies’, Ron Durando. That's the magnetometer on the coin.  Read More

The Privacy-enhanced SmartCheck System

February 25, 2007 Ever since Al Queda ever so kindly pointed out the vulnerability of domestic airliners, the world has been paying a hefty bill in the form of added security. At first it was very costly, because much of it was labour-intensive, but then industry responded with ever-more-clever devices to screen humans and ensure they were weapon free. So good have the machines become at peering through clothing that many scanning techniques have become very invasive. It will hence be of some comfort to know that the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun testing the privacy enhanced SmartCheck personnel screening system today at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. SmartCheck provides optimum security by safely screening for a wide variety of threats concealed on a passenger, while ensuring their privacy. The SmartCheck system creates an image that looks like a chalk outline of the passenger with threats and contraband outlined, but does not reveal facial features. A product of X-ray detection technology specialist American Science and Engineering, the SmartCheck system installed in Phoenix cannot store, export, print, or transmit images. The machine produces images such as this privacy-enhanced SmartCheck scan of a female (front and back) which presents only an outline of the scanned individual and an outline of any threats on the person.  Read More

The Little White Purse by Saab

February 20, 2007 Targeted promotional opportunities for premium brands often makes for some strange bedfellows, and resulted this week in premium aerospace and automotive brand Saab releasing ‘The Little White Purse.’ Created by Fashion designer Osman Yousefzada, the purse was designed as an innovative way to keep a woman’s keys stylishly at hand. It banishes those clumsy key-fumbling moments so you look fashionably efficient while stepping into your car, home or workplace. According to Saab, on average a woman wastes one day each year fumbling around for keys in the bottom of her handbag, which does seem a lamentable waste of time. The clever design means the purse can be worn as a necklace, attached inside a handbag, or around a wrist where it could no doubt double as a weapon should the need arise.  Read More

Macrovision responds to Steve Jobs’ Open Letter on DRM

February 19, 2007 A fortnight ago we wrote about Steve Jobs’ provocative open letter on Digital Rights Management and the extraordinary reaction to the letter. In the interests of fairness, there is another viewpoint and in our humble opinion, the best presented counter to Jobs’ position is presented by DRM specialist Macrovision. Macrovision has been in the content protection industry for more than 20 years, working closely with content owners of many types, including the major Hollywood studios, to help navigate the transition from physical to digital distribution. The company has been involved with and has supported both prevention technologies and DRM that are on literally billions of copies of music, movies, games, software and other content forms, as well as hundreds of millions of devices across the world. Macrovision CEO & President Fred Amoroso penned the response. Wikipedia offers perspective on the issue with links to all the stakeholder groups, and the illustration comes from here. Via Slashdot  Read More

Handheld T-ray Device promises new capabilities

February 19, 2007 “T-rays” have been touted as the next breakthrough in sensing and imaging, but the need for bulky equipment has been an obstacle to reaching the field’s potential. Enter Brian Schulkin, winner of the first-ever $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize. Schulkin has invented an ultralight, handheld terahertz spectrometer — an advance that could help catapult T-ray technology from the lab bench to the marketplace. Schulkin’s “Mini-Z” is dramatically smaller and lighter than any previous terahertz device, and it already has proven its ability to detect cracks in space shuttle foam, image tumors in breast tissue, and spot counterfeit watermarks on paper currency. The system, which weighs less than five pounds and fits snugly in a briefcase, could open the door to a wide range of applications in homeland security, biomedical imaging, and nondestructive testing of industrial components.  Read More

Vale Robert Adler, 1913-2007 - TV Remote Control Co-Inventor

February 17, 2007 The man who invented the remote control for the television, Dr. Robert Adler, died this week, giving us a timely reminder of just how fast technology is progressing. Dr. Adler's "Space Command" ultrasonic remote control for TV sets was introduced by Zenith in 1956 and two years later saw him win the 1958 Outstanding Technical Achievement Award of the Institute of Radio Engineers (now the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE) for his "original work on ultrasonic remote controls" for television. Though he was best known as co-inventor of the wireless remote control for television , along with fellow Zenith engineer Eugene Polley), Adler was responsible for a large number of significant scientific contributions to the electronics industry, including landmark inventions in sophisticated specialized communications equipment.  Read More

Easy Sankey Diagram creation tool helps visualize complex issues

February 16, 2007 e!Sankey is a new, US$100 windows-based software for engineers, environmental consultants and scientists that creates good-looking, pain-free process diagrams and flow charts for presentations, scientific papers and internal communications. Sankey diagrams are graphic representations of technical or economical interrelationships. They help viewers visualize and understand the connections between individual processes, for example, material, cost or energy flows. The relative value of each material flow is represented by the width of the connecting arrows within the Sankey diagram. Putting the tools into the hands of the people who have the knowledge rather than having a graphic artist in the process allows users the opportunity to visualize a wide range of processes, such as production costs, energy losses of a particular machine or material flows within specific economic sectors.  Read More

The 2007 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

February 15, 2007 If there’s an absolutely golden imprimatur for the person-most-likely-to-succeed, it’s the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Jerome H. Lemelson, one of the world's most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program funded via his own private philanthropic Lemelson Foundation, the Student Prize recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Given that MIT attracts the very brightest students to begin with, the winner is usually a stellar high achiever and this year’s winner is already that. 2007 winner Nathan Ball's inventions include the Atlas Rope Ascender (see separate story) and a needle-free injection technology that will enable greater efficiencies in mass inoculations, both capable of saving many lives and both with many commercial applications. Last year’s winner Carl Dietrich is the CEO and CTO of his own flying car company Terrafugia. We’ve also written about Saul Griffith, the 2004 winner. All the winners and their exploits in this article.  Read More

The economic benefits of obtaining a degree

February 14, 2007 We all intuitively know that having a degree offers many advantages but just how much difference it makes has now been quantified in a new report from Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ umbrella body. The report highlights the economic benefits associated with higher education qualification attainment and shows that the gross additional lifetime earnings is now approximately UKP160,000 or between 20 and 25% more for individuals with a higher education qualification than for those with two or more A-levels (UK Secondary qualifications). The study showed the financial benefit of a degree is greatest for men from lower socio-economic groups or from families from lower levels of income, and the benefits associated with HE qualifications increase as graduates get older.  Read More

In terms of setting the global scientific agenda and stimulating innovation, nothing seems...

February 13, 2007 Two heads are better than one. Six billion are even better. In solving big problems, you need a lot of brain power and the opportunity now exists via this wonderous global network to pour cubic brainpower on problems we need to solve. Tens of millions of scientifically trained minds all thinking about the same problem ensures that if there’s a way, we’ll find it. In terms of setting the global scientific agenda and stimulating innovation, nothing seems to work quite as well as a clearly defined challenge and a big fat prize. It immediately gives that limitless source of human intelligence out there a focal point – throughout history, such prizes have consistently proven to be the most effective method of fast forwarding development of enabling technologies, opening new vistas of human endeavour and solving key society-enabling problems. In announcing the Virgin Earth Challenge, Branson showed he had been an attentive student of innovation history when he said, “History has shown that Technology Prizes have been invaluable in encouraging technological advancements and innovation in many, many areas of science and industry.” History has indeed given us many big thinkers who have left massive legacies – people whose macro perspective on the world is such that they can identify a seemingly insurmountable societal problem and set in motion the process of solving it with an audacious stroke and a lot of money. In recent times we have seen DARPA’s Grand Challenge which gave us the world’s first truly autonomous vehicle inside a few years and for just a few million dollars. The Ansari X Prize fast-forwarded space development by decades. The British government offered the first prize of this type for a device capable of accurately measuring longitude in 1714. The prize was claimed 59 years later when clock maker, John Harrison (pictured) was awarded UKP 20,000 for devising an accurate and durable chronometer and it transformed our ability to sail the seas. The French have often used prizes as an incentive to fuel innovation, with a 100,000 franc prize in 1775 resulting in an artificial form of alkali being produced and hence began the French chemical industry. Napolean is best known for his battlefield genius but a 12,000 francs he offered in 1810 resulted in the first vacuum sealed food. A newspaper prize catalyzed the first flight across the English channel in 1909 and reset human boundaries as to what was possible with powered flight.  Read More

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