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— Electronics

Hand-held "sound camera" shows you the source of noises

If you work with machinery, engines or appliances of any type, then you’ve likely experienced the frustration of hearing a troublesome noise coming from somewhere, but not being able to pinpoint where. If only you could just grab a camera, and take a picture that showed you the noise’s location. Well, soon you should be able to do so, as that’s just what the SeeSV-S205 sound camera does. Read More
— Architecture

Sisma Calce seismic fabric helps hold buildings together during earthquakes

Changing building codes to ensure that new structures are less vulnerable to earthquakes is all well and good, but what about older buildings? If someone told you that the answer was wallpaper, you’d think they were crazy, but a team from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany has developed a fabric to reinforce older walls. Marketed as “Sisma Calce,” the low-cost seismic fabric is designed to be plastered on walls to reduce earthquake damage or to at least give survivors a better chance of escape from falling debris. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Microsoft Surface tablet gets torn apart, deemed difficult to self repair

There was a time not so long ago when updating, upgrading, repairing or otherwise tweaking your computer system was relatively tinkerer-friendly. Those halcyon days that helped fuel my drive toward a career as a computer engineer are now all-but over, and getting to the heart of today's ultra-thin notebooks and tablets calls for equal measures of cerebral athletics, manual dexterity and plain old luck. Happily, the folks over at iFixit are demystifying much of today's consumer electronic gadgets by ripping them apart, showing exactly what they're made of, and rating them for user repairability. Microsoft's new Surface tablet was recently given the teardown treatment and found to be quite a tough nut to crack ... but not quite as challenging as the iPad. Read More
— Good Thinking

Students design goop-filled bags to fill potholes

Have you ever mixed corn starch with water? If you have, you probably noticed how it oozed like a liquid when flowing across a surface, yet hardened like a solid if you suddenly struck it. That’s because the corn starch/water mixture is what’s known as a non-Newtonian fluid – the particles it’s composed of slide past one another easily when moving slowly, but jam against each other when forced to move quickly. Recently, a group of students from Cleveland’s Case Western University encased such a fluid within sturdy bags, to create a simple product that could be used to temporarily fill potholes in roads. Read More
— Urban Transport

Python 5000 patches potholes in minutes

Nobody likes potholes, but it often seems that they’re one of those hardships we just have to put up with until they get almost impassable ... after all, it’s a big deal to send out a road crew who will have to block one or two lanes of traffic for half an hour or more, while they risk being struck by inattentive drivers. Apparently, however, pothole-filling needn’t be such an involved process. Cities now have the option of using the Python 5000, which is a vehicle that is operated by one person from inside its cab, and that can patch a two-foot (0.6-meter) pothole in about two minutes. Read More
— Bicycles

Bike mechanic pedals his workshop to clients' homes

For many people, commuting by bicycle is a fun, economical and healthy way of getting around. When their bike breaks down, they throw it in their car, drive it to the shop, then drive for several days until it’s fixed. Some bicycle commuters, however, don’t own cars. These people can’t drive their bike to the shop, and have no independent means of transportation as long as their two-wheeler is gone. It is for people like these – and others – that Wyse Cycles exists. As far as its owner Ben Wyse knows, it’s America’s only self-propelled mobile bicycle repair service. Read More
— Telecommunications

AR system lets engineers show remote technicians what they're talking about

It can be very frustrating trying to fix something, when the person instructing you isn’t there in person, but is instead communicating with you over a phone line – “Whaddaya mean, ‘The silver cap’? Which silver cap?!” This is why engineers sometimes need to be flown in to factories or other places that use complex machines, to make repairs that simply can’t be explained verbally. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, however, have developed an augmented reality system that lets those engineers provide real-time visual instructions to distant on-site technicians ... and it can be done without internet access. Read More
— Bicycles

Bike Fixtation self-service bike repair kiosk opens for business

Last year, Bicycling Magazine said that Minneapolis was the number one biking city in the U.S., and the city's Bike Walk Twin Cities program says that four years of bicycle counts throughout the city show a 33 percent increase in the use of two-wheelers by its citizens. Anyone in need of emergency repair while on the heavily-used Midtown Greenway bicycle route can now pop into the Uptown Transit Station and take advantage of a new extended-hours, self-service bike kiosk. Users can pump some free air into tires, use the tethered tools to make repairs, or head for the vending machine to buy basic bike parts. Read More