The best of 2014

Temperature

The IR-Blue is a thermal imaging module for iOS and Android devices

Wondering if that electrical wall outlet is properly insulated? Want to see if there’s a person standing in that dark alley? Well, perhaps what you need is a thermal imaging system for your smartphone. Soon, you may be able to buy one, in the form of the IR-Blue.  Read More

Taking a child's temperature could be as easy as scanning a barcode (baby: Shutterstock, p...

Is smartphone evolution at a standstill? Today's batch of phones have ultra-sharp displays, zippy performance, and great cameras. What's left? One man hopes that the next big thing will be infrared sensors.  Read More

Sony received a patent recently for a PS3 Move controller that changes temperature between...

Video game developers are always looking for new ways to give players a more immersive experience. But with several motion-controlled systems widely available and a viable virtual reality headset in the works, what else could be done to make games seem more realistic? Sony may have an unexpected answer with a recent patent that describes a controller that changes temperature between hot and cold to match in-game actions. With the controller giving "temperature feedback," the idea is that players would be able to more closely feel what their character feels, from getting hit with a fireball to traveling through a blizzard.  Read More

A PNIPAM mat, shown on the right, keeps a model house cooler than a mat made from conventi...

We're used to the thought of humans sweating to cool down, but what about buildings? Researchers at ETH Zurich have applied the biological cooling mechanism to the task of keeping a building cool, and in the process have hit upon a novel and inexpensive method of cooling houses which could prove useful for homes in both developed and emerging nations.  Read More

Violent bubbling in boiling water may just be a thing of the past (Image: Northwestern Uni...

You know that thing that water does when it boils? The thing with the bubbles? Turns out, it doesn't really need to do that at all, with scientists finding a way to make boiling water a completely bubble-free zone. Researchers from Northwestern University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne University in Australia teamed up to prevent water from bubbling when it boils by using tiny spheres coated with a hydrophobic material.  Read More

Netatmo's Urban Weather Station consists of Wi-Fi-connected indoor and outdoor modules

There is no shortage of smartphone apps that compile information from official weather monitoring sources, but if you’re looking to get some info on conditions closer to home – or inside it – then the Urban Weather Station from Netatmo could fit the bill. Designed specifically for iOS devices, (but also supporting Android devices), the cylindrical units monitor a range of environmental elements inside and out. Netatmo also hopes to use the Wi-Fi-connected devices to create “the largest weather and air quality monitoring network ever established.”  Read More

Lapka is  sensor that works with an iPhone app to present data on various environmental fa...

Have you ever sat and wondered what the radiation level is in your house? Or whether that food you're about to greedily tuck into is organic or not? Then Lapka may have been conceived with you in mind. The people behind Lapka – a set of sensors and accompanying app for the Apple iPhone – claim their product can do all of the above and more besides.  Read More

Dr Craig Hollabaugh has created a system that keeps the roots of his plants warm and cozy ...

After a somewhat unsuccessful and rather expensive attempt at warming a greenhouse, electrical engineer Dr Craig Hollabaugh rigged up a system that keeps the winter chill away by warming the roots of his plants. The WarmDirt system has already helped his plants survive the coldest of Colorado's cold months, and is now getting ready to provide warmth to seedlings during the expected April freeze. This past season's survivors were all flowers but next winter, the setup will be used for growing veggies.  Read More

The Cryoscope brings a haptic element to tomorrow's forecast by letting users feel tomorro...

Given that touch is generally the best way to determine how hot or cold something is - as long as it's not too hot or cold - Rob Godshaw has come up with a device that could provide a more immediately understandable representation of tomorrow's weather than the traditional abstract number coupled with simplified symbols seen on the nightly news. His invention is an aluminum cube called the Cryoscope that adds some haptic feedback to the daily weather forecast by letting users physically feel tomorrow's temperature - at least in their fingertips.  Read More

The Artguardian system monitors environmental conditions in galleries, to make sure that a...

While great works of art should be exhibited so the public can enjoy them, putting those pieces on display also puts them at risk. If environmental factors such as lighting intensity, temperature or humidity aren’t in the optimal range, for instance, works can prematurely deteriorate as a result. In order to minimize the risks, three of Germany’s Fraunhofer research institutes have collaborated to develop Artguardian, a system that monitors the conditions under which artworks are displayed.  Read More

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