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Light

Liquid crystal video projectors could be getting smaller, more energy-efficient, and less expensive. Currently, such devices require polarized light for the projection of images. Unfortunately, conventional LEDs only produce unpolarized light. While an optical filter is typically used to polarize it, the polarization process wastes over 50 percent of the original light, converting it into heat instead of allowing it to pass through. That heat, in turn, must be dissipated using a noisy, power-consuming fan. Now, however, researchers have created a new polarizing system that allows almost 90 percent of the LED light to be converted to usable, polarized light. Read More
We’ve seen a number of next-generation display technologies emerge in recent years, such as Sony’s “Crystal LED,” Uni-Pixel’s time-multiplexed optical shutter (TMOS) technology, and quantum dot LED (QLED) display technology from LG and QD Vision, and now there’s another one to add to the mix. While displays based on the new “spintronic” OLED technology invented by physicists at the University of Utah are still some years off, the researchers say they should be brighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the LEDs found in the current crop of TVs, computer displays, traffic lights and other electronic devices. Read More
Spectators turned out in the hundreds to witness the light show that marked the climax of the inauguration of Europe's tallest building, the 309.6-m (1016-ft) Shard in London. A dozen emerald-green laser beams emanated from the Shard to pick out iconic landmarks including the London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge. The tower's 95 floors were lit up with color-changing lighting, and 30 search lights flared outwards and upwards from surrounding buildings. Read More
With many of us spending more and more time indoors, it can be a struggle to get the amount of sunlight our bodies crave. Modern heat-insulating, sun-protection glazing doesn’t help, as it reflects a noticeable percentage of the incident sunlight in the part of the spectrum that governs our hormonal balance. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) have developed a coating for windows that lets in more light, in particular those wavelengths of light that have a beneficial effect on our sense of well-being. Read More
Thankfully, data transmission speeds have come a long way since the days of dial-up when users would have plenty of time to twiddle their thumbs as they waited for an image or MP3 to make its way to their hard drive. These days, broadband cable currently supports speeds of around 30 megabits per second, which is a hell of an improvement. Now researchers have outdone that by a factor of around 85,000 by using twisted beams of light to transmit data at up to 2.56 terabits per second. Read More
If you're anything like us, you probably spent many an hour in your younger days bouncing up and down on a seesaw (or teeter-totter or teeter board, depending on where you grew up. And, even now, you might fight the desire to relive your childhood and jump on one as you walk past a playground. But Melbourne-based design group ENESS has created a seesaw, which comes complete with hundreds of LEDs and a physics engine to explore the forces at work on the familiar playground staple, that might just prove too difficult to resist. Read More
We know there’s an ongoing quest to build a better mousetrap, but what about a better insect trap? That’s just what Acase, working with design house inadays, believes it has done with the creation of the InaTrap. With an appearance not dissimilar to a designer lamp, the InaTrap attracts, traps and kills insects so you can ditch the swatter and insect spray. Read More
Streetlamps burn all night long, 365 nights a year, yet they also spend all day soaking up the Sun’s rays. This combination of regular usage alternating with sunlight exposure would seem to make them ideal candidates for the solar-power treatment. Indeed, companies such as Sharp and several others currently offer solar-powered streetlamps. Spain’s University of Seville, however, has developed a streetlamp that harnesses the power not only of sunlight, but also of wind. Read More

The Bang! lamp, a "whimsical and interactive objet d'art" from Bitplay, is a novelty lamp that lets you shoot the lights on and off with a gun-shaped remote control. It's as useful as The Clapper, but much cooler and more fun. Read More

When we think of invisibility cloaks, probably the first things that come to mind are Harry Potter-like contraptions that allow people or large objects to instantly disappear. Scientists from the University of Maryland and nearby Towson University, however, today announced their development of something a little different – little being the key word. They have crammed 25,000 tiny “invisibility cloaks” onto a gold sheet, which itself only measures 25 millimeters per side. While the resulting biochip array may not allow any young wizards to vanish from sight, it could allow them to identify biological materials. Read More
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