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Shape Memory Alloys

— Good Thinking

"Smart" facade keeps offices from overheating, without using any electricity

Office buildings with plate glass windows may provide a nice view for workers, but they're certainly not ideal when it comes to energy-efficiency. Among other things, the sunlight that pours through them can raise the temperature in the office, causing the air conditioning to come on. Now, however, researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology have created a light-blocking facade for such windows that only kicks in when exposed to strong sunlight – and it's powered by that sunlight, too. Read More
— Science

Shape-memory wire simulates muscle in high-precision artificial hand

Whether they're on robots or amputees, artificial hands tend to be rather complex mechanisms, incorporating numerous motor-driven cables. Engineers from Germany's Saarland University, however, have taken a different approach with their hand. It moves its fingers via shape-memory nickel-titanium alloy wires, bundled together to perform intricate tasks by working like natural muscle fibers. Read More
— Science

Scientists develop "heart pump" for pee-powered robots

It's strange to wrap one's mind around the idea of human pee powered robots, but that's exactly what a group of UK researchers are attempting to create. Mimicking the human heart, their latest innovation is a heart pump with artificial muscles that aims to deliver human urine to their latest generation of Ecobots – a self-sustaining robot that runs on all manner of waste matter collected from its environment. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Researchers propose new shape resolution metric for shape-shifting mobile devices

There may soon be another technical specification to consider when buying a mobile device. Researchers from the University of Bristol and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI Saarbrücken) have coined the term “shape resolution” to indicate the self-actuated shape-shifting abilities they believe will be featured in the next generation of mobile devices. To demonstrate this new metric, the researchers have developed a number of prototype shape-shifting devices they have dubbed “Morphees,” which have the potential to change their shape on demand, depending on the desired use. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

IUDs to get some competition - meet the IUB

If a woman wishes to avoid pregnancy for the time being, but thinks she might want to get pregnant at some point in the future, then using an intrauterine device (IUD) is often a good course of action – the simple devices are now the world’s most common form of birth control, as used by women. However, while IUDs are generally fairly safe and reliable, complications can occur. Now, Israel’s OCON Medical has announced the forthcoming availability of something that it claims is considerably safer and more effective – the Intra Uterine Ball, or IUB. Read More
— Robotics

Ocean-powered robotic jellyfish could theoretically run forever

Researchers have created a silicone submarinal robot that gets about by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish. The robot is powered by heat-producing reactions catalyzed by its surface, and using hydrogen and oxygen present in the water as fuel. It's claimed that that the Robojelly, so named by its Virginia Tech creators, could run indefinitely, effectively drawing energy from the water in which it swims. Read More