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— Automotive

Volvo testing concepts to extend range of electric vehicles by up to 1,000 km

While there have been huge strides made in battery technology in recent times, the limited range of electric vehicles remains one of the main barriers to their general adoption. While maybe not an ideal solution, Volvo is producing a few electric test vehicles with range extenders – combustion engines that increase the effective range of the electric vehicle by effectively turning it into a hybrid. The project, which is supported by he Swedish Energy Agency and the EU, will test three different electric motor/combustion engine combinations. Read More
— Telecommunications

AR system lets engineers show remote technicians what they're talking about

It can be very frustrating trying to fix something, when the person instructing you isn’t there in person, but is instead communicating with you over a phone line – “Whaddaya mean, ‘The silver cap’? Which silver cap?!” This is why engineers sometimes need to be flown in to factories or other places that use complex machines, to make repairs that simply can’t be explained verbally. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, however, have developed an augmented reality system that lets those engineers provide real-time visual instructions to distant on-site technicians ... and it can be done without internet access. Read More
— Urban Transport

App could reduce freeway pile-ups by allowing cars to warn one another

More and more, we’re hearing about vehicle navigation and communication/entertainment systems that are able to access the internet. As these systems begin to become standard in all new cars, the possibilities for using them to allow cars to communicate with one another will start to open up. Along those lines, Italy’s University of Bologna has developed an app that should allow vehicles on a motorway to instantly notify one another when an accident occurs. In computer simulations, it has been shown to reduce multi-car pile-ups by approximately 40 percent. Read More
— Automotive

Caterpillar 5230B Excavator wooden model priced at US$35,900

If you think that heavy construction machinery like a Caterpillar 5230B Excavator is an unlikely source of inspiration for a piece of art, then you obviously don't work for Michigan art studio Woodchuck and Co. The team there has built a highly detailed wooden model, or rather, a semi-working replica of the large machine, in 1/16th scale. The collector's piece is up for sale at US$35,900. Read More
— Environment

Intelligent street light system uses 80 percent less electricity

Of all the energy-saving tips out there, probably the one we hear most often is to not leave lights on when we leave a room. It’s good advice, yet cities around the world are not following it in one key way – their streetlights stay on all night long, even when no one is on the street. The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system on its campus, however, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution. Read More
— Architecture

AME-LOT student housing is made entirely out of recycled pallets

AME-LOT is a recent material reuse building plan from French architectural firm Malka, in which student housing is primarily made up of a variety of reused pallets which are added to an existing structure. The technique not only creates a striking architectural display, but also ensures that no existing building is destroyed, thus minimizing its carbon footprint. Read More
— Environment

Researchers create inexpensive biodegradable carpeting

Have you ever wondered what happens to old carpets, after they're thrown away? For the most part, they're incinerated, with only about 20 percent of the material being recycled. Given that over 700 million square meters (837 million square yards) of carpets are produced in Europe every year, with the U.S. reportedly producing ten times that amount, that's a lot of burning floor coverings. Dutch companies Bond Textile Research, Best Wool Carpet, and James wanted to change that, so they commissioned a research team from Spain's Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and Austria's University of Graz to come up with a solution. The result was a new type of wool carpet that is reportedly cheaper and lighter than traditional products, and that can be completely composted when worn out. Read More
— Music

New sensor digitally captures complex guitar-playing movements

For most of us, digitally capturing our six-string virtuosity involves plugging an axe into a guitar interface like Apogee's JAM and then launching some software on a laptop or mobile device. Researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films are currently developing a somewhat neater, and potentially more accurate, solution that also holds the promise of replacing the humble guitar pickup. The guitar's tailpiece has been thinly coated with a contact material which is claimed to precisely capture complex playing movements in minute detail and convert them to digital control signals for onward processing. Read More
— Digital Cameras

Adapter lets you mount SLR lenses on iPhone

There's little doubt that when it comes to snapping spur-of-the-moment photos, nothing quite matches the always-ready convenience of the smartphone. Apple's iPhone is second only in popularity to Nikon's D90 for overall image uploads to Flickr, and takes the top three spots in the Cameraphone category. There are now a whole host of apps available that can help add numerous clever effects to the photos taken with an iPhone's camera, and a growing number of hardware-based enhancements. If you find yourself yearning for a little more zoom than the Eye Scope offers, or the close-up goodness of the Fisheye and Macro/Wide Angle lens is just too small and fiddly for you, then perhaps what you need is an iPhone SLR Lens Mount. Read More
— Electronics

Concrete speakers sound like a strange idea

We've seen a number of unusual speakers before, such as the Whamodyne glass speakers or Solid Acoustics' dodecahedron speakers, but concrete speakers are definitely something new. It's definitely not a very popular material for audio systems, but Israeli designer Shmuel Linski would like to change that with his "Exposed" concrete speakers, each of which weighs 123 pounds (56 kg). They're just one part of his line of unusual creations, that include a concrete coffee maker and a concrete canoe. Read More
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