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— Science

'Sensing skin' could detect cracks in concrete structures

Concrete may be one of the toughest buildings materials in common use but it does develop cracks over time, and in the case of structures such as buildings or bridges, it is imperative that those cracks are noticed before they lead to a collapse. While visual inspections are useful, they are also time-consuming, and may miss tiny but structurally-significant cracks. Some technologies have been developed to automate the process, such as rust sensors for steel-reinforced concrete. Now, an international team of scientists is proposing a system of flexible crack-detecting skins, that could be applied to the surfaces of concrete surfaces. Read More
— Wearables

Glasses convert headache-inducing 3D movies into glorious 2D

Despite the current proliferation of 3D movies, cameras, televisions and mobile devices, there are those of us who still question whether 3D is here to stay, or if it’s just a marketing gimmick that will eventually peter out. One thing’s for sure: with current technology, the viewing of 3D movies gives some people headaches, or makes them feel dizzy. If you’re one of those people, but you don’t want to be left out when your friends go off to see My 3D Dinner With Andre, this might be just what you need – De-3D glasses. Read More
— Environment

GE Ecomagination Challenge winners announced

General Electric says that over 100 products have been brought to market since launching its Ecomagination project in 2005. Phase I of its latest Challenge has already resulted in 12 commercial partnerships aimed at developing the next generation of power grid technologies (including the outright acquisition of smart grid technology company FMC-Tech), and now the winners of Phase II: Powering Your Home have just been announced. GE has awarded five innovators US$100,000 each to further develop their technologies and also partnered with ten Home Energy technology companies. Read More
— Science

PossessedHand controls hand movement with electrical stimulation

It's often during those early stages of learning to play a new instrument that many people give up in despair. Even though you swear that you're hitting the right notes, everything still sounds like an old gramophone recording played at the wrong speed. If only you could let someone take control of your hands to fast forward through the arduous repetition phase before muscle memory kicks in and the piece you're trying to play begins to sound more like it should. That's precisely the kind of potential offered by the PossessedHand project. Electrode-packing armbands placed on a user's forearm send electrical pulses through the muscles to take control of the movement of the hand - with fledgling Koto players testing the system having demonstrated greater accuracy and speedier progress. Read More
— Automotive

Toyota confirms 2012 U.S. launch for all-electric Scion iQ

At its annual U.S. national dealer meeting held in Las Vegas at the end of June, Toyota confirmed the launch dates for its Prius family are still on track despite complications arising following the disasters that hit Japan on March 11, saying production is expected to return to normal levels in Japan after July. The company also raised a few eyebrows with the announcement that the all-electric Scion iQ EV microcar that was on show in Geneva earlier this year is set to arrive in the U.S. sometime in 2012 Read More
— Marine

Seeds inspire new artificial anti-fouling surface

With marine biofouling on ship hulls increasing drag, which results in an increase in fuel consumption and therefore cost and pollution, the search has been on for a way to prevent fouling that is better than the environmentally damaging, toxic marine paints currently used. Taking inspiration from floating seeds, scientists from the Biomimetics-Innovation-Centre (B-I-C) in Germany have developed a promising new anti-fouling surface that is toxin-free. Read More
— Robotics

HULC robotic exoskeleton undergoing biomechanical testing with the U.S. Army

Following lab evaluation tests, Lockheed Martin’s ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device. Read More
— Automotive

Antonov's 3-speed transmission for electric vehicles boosts efficiency by 15 percent

Electric vehicles have been a reality for more than 100 years, but it's only in the last decade or so that the world has truly woken up to their potential as a viable, cleaner urban transport alternative to their combustion engined cousins. During this EV renaissance much of the focus has been on developing improved power sources like batteries and fuel cells in order to deliver the range and performance consumers have become accustomed to during the age of oil. Transmissions on the other hand, despite being so important in the ICE space, hardly rate a mention because the wide torque curve of electric motors makes them largely irrelevant. It could be time to rethink that approach according to U.K. based engineering firm Antonov. The company has produced a 3-speed transmission designed specifically for electric vehicles that promises to bring significant efficiency gains and a better driver experience. The company's Business Development Manager Dave Paul outlined these benefits in a presentation at the IDTechEX Electric vehicles conference this week in Stuttgart. Read More
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