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Environment

Environmental contaminants revealed by new thousand-color sensor

When any two compounds are combined, the resulting chemical reaction shows up as a specific color when natural sunlight reflects off the area where that reaction is occurring. Therefore, by assessing the colors of an object, material or environment, it is possible to determine what compounds are present within it. Unfortunately, many of those colors fall outside the mere three bands of light (red, green and blue) visible to the human eye. Spectral analysis equipment can detect a much wider range of light, but it is typically located in labs, which samples must be transported to. Now, however, a scientist from Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU) has created a portable hyperspectral sensor, that can “see” over 1,000 colors – this means that it could be used to detect pollutants in the environment, on location and in real time. Read More

Science

New Omni-Crawler can move in all directions

When the need to move super-heavy objects arises, short, squat crawlers are usually deployed to get the job done. Unfortunately, that heavy lifting ability comes at the sacrifice of mobility (no sideways motion), so maneuvering objects into place can be a lengthy process. Recently, researchers from Japan's Osaka University (OU) rolled out an innovative battery-powered, remotely controlled prototype crawler that incorporates properties from an omni-directional wheel, the Omni-Ball (also designed by the OU team), to travel in virtually any direction desired with minimal energy loss. They dubbed it the Omni-Crawler and it's likely to change the way things are moved from now on.Read More

Mobile Technology

Capta connects any smartphone to a tripod

One thing you can say about smartphones: their limitations have opened the door for all sorts of new inventions. Among those limitations are the facts that many phones lack a tripod mount, and require a model-specific cover/kickstand if you wish to prop them up. That's where Adewale Adelusi-Adeluyi and Bojan Smiljanic's invention, called Capta, comes in. It's a universal stand, tripod mount and cable management system, that works with any make or model of smartphone, or other mobile device.Read More

Electronics

Hobbyist builds wrist-mounted, laser-sighted crossbow

A lot of people think crossbows are pretty cool. Lasers, miniaturized things, and wearable devices also tend to rate pretty high on the neat-o-meter. It goes to follow, therefore, that a small wrist-mounted laser-sighted crossbow should have a lot of admirers. Well, laser hobbyist Patrick Priebe built just such a device, and his video of it in action has already racked up over 100,000 hits in just four days. As it turns out, the "WristBow" is just the latest of his cyberpunk-esque creations.Read More

Environment

Dissolving food stickers also wash your fruit

New York based electrical engineer and designer Scott Amron has come up with an idea that could transform the way industries label fruit and vegetables. You may not pay much attention to that fruit sticker on your apple or orange - though it's often frustrating to remove - and it usually just ends up in the trash. However, Amron is a man who has put considerable thought into that sticker, creating the Fruitwash label. Just as the name suggests, the new label dissolves into organic fruit soap that helps remove water-resistant wax, pesticides and fungicides. Read More

Digital Cameras

The Scarlet X camera from RED, at last

It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast between today's launch by Canon of its EOS C300 digital cinema camera and the launch of RED's long-awaited Scarlet. Canon's event was huge and long-winded with a string of cinematography heavyweights on stage. At the RED gathering half an hour later, an ad hoc bunch of the faithful turned up at RED studios, ostensibly just to watch the same web page update as the rest of the world. Alas it didn't quite work out like that. Read More

Robotics

Foxconn gears up to build industrial robots - world industrial robot population to double

The world's industrial robotics industry will get considerably larger in the near future as Taiwan-registered Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (best known as Foxconn) has announced plans to begin building industrial robots. Its initial plans of building one million industrial robots for its own purposes will nearly double the number of industrial robots in the world (currently The International Federation of Robotics puts that number at 1,095,000). Foxconn is best known as the largest exporter in China, the assembler/manufacturer of Apple's iPad and iPhone and for the extraordinarily high suicide rate of its employees. Read More

Automotive

Ford begins taking orders for 2012 Focus Electric

Ford has started taking reservations for its 2012 Focus Electric ahead of initial deliveries to dealers in California, New York and New Jersey. The vehicle is Ford’s first all-electric passenger car and the first of five all-electric vehicles the company has planned for the next three years. With a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering a 130 kW (130 hp) permanent–magnet electric motor producing 181 lb-ft of torque (245 N-m), the Focus Electric boasts a range of up to 100 miles (161 km) on a single charge and a top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h).Read More

Digital Cameras

The new Canon EOS C300 camera

The fact that Canon chose to release its new camera on the Paramount lot in Hollywood should be a big clue as to how it is positioning it's new baby. Scorsese was there! Ron Howard was there! Though it records to the same video codec as previous Canon cameras (50Mbps 4:2:2 Canon XF) 'video camera' would be a misnomer. Digital cinema camera would be more appropriate with the S35-sized 4K sensor designed to appeal to budget film makers and episodic TV producers. Canon sees an opportunity to sell the equivalent of an Arri Alexa for a third of the price and compete with Sony's CineAlta F3 large sensor offering. Of course Canon has a bit of a psychological advantage in this regard. Read More

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