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Ishin-Den-Shin lets a person hear a recorded spoken message through a finger (Photo: Disne...

Forget using tape recorders and smartphones to play back spoken messages – what if you could simply hear them through a finger? Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev has come up with a system that allows for just that. Using the human body as a sound transmitter, the technology lets you hear audio messages when someone touches your ear with their finger. Even more strikingly, it also lets you hear those spoken messages off the surface of any ordinary object you might touch, like a knife or a ring.  Read More

One of the Mylar test antennas

CubeSats are certainly in the process of revolutionizing the satellite industry. They can serve many of the same functions as full-sized satellites, but at a size of 10 x 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in) and a mass of under 1.33 kg (2.9 lb), they’re much cheaper to build and get into orbit. With that smaller overall size, however, comes smaller onboard antennas. These severely limit CubeSats’ communications range, restricting them to fairly low orbits. That may be about to change, though, as MIT is developing larger, inflatable antennas.  Read More

Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)

Brain-to-brain interfacing – it’s previously been accomplished between two rats, but now it’s been achieved between two humans. Rajesh Rao, who studies computational neuroscience at the University of Washington, has successfully used his mind to control the hand of his colleague, Andrea Stucco. The two were linked via a Skype connection.  Read More

The tailbot, a running, jumping mobile sensor that can maneuver in mid-air with its tail (...

Imagine mobile sensor networks that run around, jump and maneuver in the air to get the job done. That's what Jianguo Zhao is working towards; his design for such networks involves biologically-inspired sensors in the form of robots with little tails. These "tailbots" are expected to have applications in areas ranging from search and rescue to surveillance and environmental monitoring.  Read More

The Text Anywhere works on the Iridium satellite network to provide global text messaging ...

Touted as a simpler, subscription-free alternative to the Delorme inReach, the Text Anywhere is a portable, satellite-powered hot spot that adds virtually unlimited text-messaging range to your phone. If your work or play takes you to remote regions of the world out of mobile phone range, this device can keep you in touch with the folks back in civilization.  Read More

Two ambient backscatter test devices are able to communicate, despite having no batteries ...

In order for the Internet of Things to become a reality, devices will need to be able to communicate with the internet and with one another. If they have to be powered up in order to so, however, a lot of electricity is going to be wasted. That’s where a new technology known as “ambient backscatter” comes into the picture. Developed by engineers at the University of Washington, it uses ever-present existing TV and cellular signals to provide the power and medium for battery-less communications.  Read More

ScanEagles can provide real time telemetry for prolonged periods (Image: Boeing)

Radio has come a long way since Marconi bashed a telegraph key and radar is a miracle compared to when it was just a squiggle on a cathode tube, but despite a century of advances, they’re still prone to the same problems as the first pioneers encountered. For five days in July, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Research Vessel (R/V) Knorr made a survey in the waters off Virginia Beach, Virginia using ScanEagle UAVs to study the effect of oceanic and atmospheric changes on radar and radio waves with the aim of producing more secure military communications and improve the ability of radar to detect hostile craft.  Read More

Artist's concept of the LADEE spacecraft (Image: NASA)

Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It’s a mature, reliable technology, but it’s reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter.  Read More

Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in Frenc...

Europe's largest telecommunications satellite has gone into orbit following a successful launch from French Guiana on Thursday. At 8:38 p.m. GMT, Alphasat (all 6.6 tonnes of it) was picked up at Inmarsat's Beijing ground station, confirming that the satellite was operating as expected.  Read More

Graphene continues to strengthen its reputation as a wonder material, this time in the fie...

Researchers from the Universities of Bath and Exeter have shown that a few layers of graphene stacked on top of each other could act as a formidable material for optical switches, delivering speeds up to 100 times faster than current telecommunications technology.  Read More

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