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University of Washington

Is it supposed to look like that? In this case, yes (Photo:  Steve Jurvetson)

The terms "auger in" and "lawndart" refer to rather exciting and decidedly dangerous methods of recovering a rocket, during which the screaming rocket buries its pointy end deep in the ground. Such over-enthusiastic landings provided a group of research students from the University of Washington (UWash) the inspiration for a new approach to collecting samples from hostile environments, such as the crater of an erupting volcano or a melting nuclear reactor.  Read More

A sampling spacecraft launching a penetrator missile (Image: NASA)

In what at first glance seems like a terrible sense of direction, in March students from the University of Washington fired rockets from kites and balloons at an altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m) straight into the ground at Black Rock, Nevada: a dry lake bed in the desert 100 mi (160 km) north of Reno. This may seem like the ultimate in larking about, but it's actually a serious effort to develop new ways of collecting samples from asteroids.  Read More

Google's uProxy is a P2P virtual private network that will help make Internet connections ...

At its Ideas Summit in New York, Google has announced that it is working on developing a browser extension that will act as an easy-to-use way to bypass country-specific Internet censorship and make connections safer and more private.  Read More

The Eyes-Free Yoga software relies on the Kinect's skeletal tracking capabilities to provi...

Conventional yoga classes with an instructor up front demonstrating positions to the class aren't generally a viable option for the visually impaired, but a team of computer scientists from the University of Washington (UW) is set to open this healthy activity up to such users with the help of a Microsoft's Kinect.  Read More

Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)

Brain-to-brain interfacing – it’s previously been accomplished between two rats, but now it’s been achieved between two humans. Rajesh Rao, who studies computational neuroscience at the University of Washington, has successfully used his mind to control the hand of his colleague, Andrea Stucco. The two were linked via a Skype connection.  Read More

The Cyclops research/commercial manned submersible

In three years, if you happen to be 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) beneath the surface of the ocean, keep an eye out for the Cyclops. No, not the hairy giant, but the 5-passenger submersible. Once it’s commercially available in 2016, it should be “the only privately owned deep-water manned submersible available for contracts.” As for why it’s called the Cyclops, just check out its one-big-eye-like 180-degree borosilicate glass observation dome.  Read More

Two ambient backscatter test devices are able to communicate, despite having no batteries ...

In order for the Internet of Things to become a reality, devices will need to be able to communicate with the internet and with one another. If they have to be powered up in order to so, however, a lot of electricity is going to be wasted. That’s where a new technology known as “ambient backscatter” comes into the picture. Developed by engineers at the University of Washington, it uses ever-present existing TV and cellular signals to provide the power and medium for battery-less communications.  Read More

LumiSands founders Chang-Ching Tu (left) and Ji Hoo, demonstrating the warmer hue of an LE...

LED light bulbs may be more energy-efficient and longer-lived than their incandescent equivalents, but they’re also considerably more expensive to purchase. This is largely because rare earth elements (REEs) are used in their phosphors. There are hazards involved in the mining and processing of REEs, plus China is responsible for almost the entire world’s supply, so they’re becoming increasingly pricey. Now, however, scientists have come up with a plentiful alternative material that they say is much more environmentally friendly, and that should drive down the price of LEDs.  Read More

A WiSee user could control their TV using gestures, even if a wall separated them and the ...

By now, even if they’ve never used one themselves, most people are pretty familiar with the idea behind gesture control systems such as the Kinect – the user makes a movement, the device “sees” that movement, and interprets it. However, what would happen if the user was in another room, blocked from the device’s cameras and depth sensors? Well, as long as there was a Wi-Fi signal available, it wouldn’t be a problem ... at least, not if the WiSee system was being used.  Read More

A collagen 'wall' (blue, at left) built up around an implanted material vs. more evenly-di...

No matter what sort of wondrous implantable medical devices are created, they’re not going to do anyone much good if the recipient's body simply rejects them. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a synthetic biomaterial that they claim is “exceptional” at keeping implanted materials from being attacked by the immune system.  Read More

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