Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Miniature

The new RF circulator could revolutionize microminiature communications devices (Photo: Co...

In the world of electronic components, there are many devices out there that do their job well and reliably, but are almost never heard of – even though they may be vital to equipment that plays a role in our technology-driven lives. The radio frequency (RF) circulator is just such a device: it has simply done its job as a nondescript box of gubbins buried in radio communications systems, quietly directing radio frequency signals to the places they should go. Now researchers at the University of Texas have given the RF circulator a makeover. Not only is the new prototype smaller, lighter, and cheaper, it's also claimed to be easily adapted to different frequencies on the fly, which is something the old style circulator cannot do.  Read More

Researchers have created prototype ant-sized radio-on-a-chip devices powered by ambient ra...

A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, has created prototype radio-on-a-chip communications devices that are powered by ambient radio waves. Comprising receiving and transmitting antennas and a central processor, the completely self-contained ant-sized devices are very cheap to manufacture, don't require batteries to run and could give the "Internet of Things" (IoT) a serious kick start.  Read More

1.8 mm-wide windmill on a US Lincoln penny (Photo: U of Texas at Arlington)

Professor J.C. Chiao and his postdoc Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a MEMS-based nickel alloy windmill so small that 10 could be mounted on a single grain of rice. Aimed at very-small-scale energy harvesting applications, these windmills could recharge batteries for smartphones, and directly power ultra-low-power electronic devices.  Read More

The Charming Bird contains a tiny mechanical bird behind the crystal

The Swiss watchmaking firm Jaquet Droz has short-circuited the 18th and 21st centuries with the Charming Bird. It's a wristwatch that includes a tiny automaton bird inside the crystal, that sings and dances at the press of a button.  Read More

Pressing and holding the power button on the top brings the camera to life and it goes str...

After a fruitless search for a teeny key-chain digital camera with a fish-eye lens out front, Greg Dash decided to design and build his own. The subsequent prototype was just intended for his own use, but when more and more folks asked him where they could buy one when they spotted him snapping photos, he hatched a crowdfunding plan to bring his LoFi-Fisheye Digicam to market.  Read More

Otome 3D will open the world's first 3D printing photo booth in Japan from late November t...

Ever wanted a life-like miniature of yourself or loved ones? Now's your chance, thanks to Omote 3D, which will soon be opening what's described as the world's first 3D printing photo booth in Harajuku, Japan. There, visitors will have their bodies scanned into a computer, a process which takes about 15 minutes. Then the company prints your statuette on their 3D color printer in one of three sizes.  Read More

Szymon Klimek fabricates some of the most amazing miniature electromechanical artwork you ...

A hobby is what you do with the rest of your time. It tends to feed a deep-seated need of which you may not even be aware - to be your best self. Some people golf, some swim, some quilt, some travel, some climb mountains ... there's no end to the list. Then there's Szymon Klimek, who makes some of the most incredible miniature electromechanical sculptures imaginable.  Read More

The left-center of a PFCA  - note how each pixel has a unique set of optical gratings that...

It fits on the head of a pin, has no lens or moving parts, can be made for just a few cents, and yet it can take a photo of the Mona Lisa in which she’s actually sort of recognizable ... it’s called the Planar Fourier Capture Array (PFCA), and it’s a tiny camera developed at New York’s Cornell University. Although you might choose not to use it for photographing your child’s birthday party, it could come in quite handy in the fields of science and technology.  Read More

Toradex is getting ready to release a SODIMM-sized, 1GHz dual-core computer module that of...

If someone had suggested 20 years ago that a fully working computer with up to 1GHz of processing power would fit on a board the size of a SODIMM memory module (2.66 x 1.44 x 0.2 inches), some lighthearted mockery may have followed. Yet embedded hardware specialist Toradex is about to do just that with its new Tegra T20, a teeny computer module based on NVIDIA's latest Cortex A9 processor that offers full high definition video support, 256MB of onboard memory and a gigabyte of Flash storage.  Read More

The H-Cell 2.0 hydrogen fuel cell, installed in a chassis

If you’re into R/C vehicles, there’s just the slightest chance that you might be interested in a power train that runs three to four times longer than regular battery-only systems, and that requires nothing but sunlight and water to recharge. It also educates people on what will likely be the power system of choice for future real-size automobiles... and oh yes, it looks dead sexy, in a Doc-Brown’s-Delorean-flux-capacitor kinda way. Without any further ado, please open your wallets for H-Cell 2.0, the latest miniature hydrogen fuel cell hybrid drive train from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies.  Read More

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