What if the light in the room could sense you waving your hand as you enter? And what if it responded by introducing minute light changes that instructed your smart coffee machine to switch on? Researchers at Dartmouth College have developed a sensing system called LiSense that aims to make the light around us "smart." Not only does it use light to sense people’s movements, but it also allows them to control devices in their environment with simple gestures, using light to transmit information.
Although the ability tends to wane as we get older, the human auditory system is pretty good at filtering out background noise and making a single voice able to be understood above the general hubbub of a crowded room. But electronic devices, such as smartphones, aren't quite as gifted, which is why getting Siri or Google Now to understand you in crowded environments can be an exercise in futility. But now researchers have developed a prototype sensor that’s not only able to figure out the direction of a particular sound, but can also extract it from background noise.
Strawberries may be delicious, but they don't have much of a shelf life. So if you find a great bargain on a flat of them, you can end up throwing half of it away after a few days. In a move that may save many a shortcake, scientists at the University San Nicolás de los Garza in Mexico have developed an edible coating made from pectin that preserves strawberries for longer without affecting their taste.
When it comes to human phobias, snakes are frequently found toward the top of the list. But despite the negative reputation, these reptiles make up an important part of our ecosystem while exhibiting some very unique biological aspects. The way snakes move across surfaces is pretty incredible, and researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have figured out how to potentially use that feature to enhance everything from hip prostheses to computer hard disks.
Where and when you form new memories affects where they are stored in the brain's hippocampus, which is the memory center in our brain, researchers at Ohio State University found in a new study. They saw evidence that a particular part of the hippocampus stores memories relative to time over durations of at least a month and space over distances of up to 30 km (18.6 mi).
"Ignorance is bliss," so the old saying goes, but who wouldn't give their brainpower a boost if they had the chance? By altering a single gene to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase (PDE4B), researchers have given mice the opportunity to see what an increase in intelligence is like. While many people would welcome such a treatment, the scientists say their research could lead to new treatments for those with cognitive disorders and age-related cognitive decline.
A head trauma can be difficult to diagnose and destroy a life years after the event. Being able to tell immediately if the force someone has suffered is sufficient to result in a traumatic brain injury can make all the difference in limiting the damage. A team from the University of Pennsylvania has developed a material that could one day be incorporated into headgear to instantly gauge the severity of blows and provide a clearly visible indication of injury.
If you offer someone "a penny for their thoughts," how good a deal might you be getting? A study conducted at the University of Leicester has sought to shed some light on the value of our brainpower, finding a single penny to be worth to precisely three hours, seven minutes and 30 seconds worth of thinking.
Fusion power can seem a bit like the last bus at night; it's always coming, but never arrives. MIT is working to change that with a new compact tokamak fusion reactor design based on the latest magnetic superconductor technology. The ARC (affordable, robust, compact) reactor design promises smaller, cheaper reactors that could make fusion power practical within 10 years.
Researchers have created printable solid-state batteries that can be printed in any conceivable shape and can be seamlessly embedded into a variety of surfaces. To demonstrate the technology, the scientists printed a working heart-shaped battery onto a cup, another onto a paper eyeglass and even one in the form of the letters "PRISS", all of which were capable of powering LEDs.