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Agita over 3D printed guns is absurd

March 1, 2013 4:26 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

Hobbyists, tinkers, and DIYers are the unsung heroes of our industry — "hackers" in the original sense of the word. But conflating "hobbyists" with "guns" causes fits of hysteria. And it’s entirely unwarranted. The handwringing over the imagined capability to print 3D guns and the associated moral implications is absolutely absurd and betrays a basic misunderstanding of firearms and physics.

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Balancing reliability and availability

March 1, 2013 9:28 am | by Chris Hobbs, Senior Developer, Safe Systems, QNX Software Systems Limited | Comments

On 14 September 1993, Lufthansa Flight 2904 overran a runway in Warsaw because the reverse thrust deployment system operated exactly to specification. Unfortunately, the Airbus designers had not anticipated conditions during a cross-wind landing. In an analogous incident, on 11 July 2011, a Victoria underground train in London moved off with the doors open....

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Big Brother makes our rational choices less rational

February 28, 2013 3:13 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

While writing my February 2013 column about EDRs (event data recorders, AKA “black boxes”), I came across an article on the same topic (http://bit.ly/12YX4Fe) by one of my colleagues. She commented on the reservations I share with many others about the use of the data derived from the black boxes.

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Migrating legacy M2M systems to the cloud

February 27, 2013 4:51 pm | by Chris Downey, Laird Technologies | Comments

The rapid pace of technological change means that, even before a system has matured, it often is replaced or enhanced with new technologies.  Such is the case with machine-to-machine (M2M) applications and their migration to the cloud, or what sometimes is called the Internet of Things (IoT). 

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Broadening horizons in the alternative fuel vehicle market

February 26, 2013 11:38 am | by Anu Cherian, Energy & Environment senior industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan, www.frost.com | Comments

The automotive sector continues to research ways of saving on traditional fuel and expanding alternatives. However, this change has not really moved forward due to the cost-prohibitive nature of new technology. Some of the most commonly discussed alternatives are battery-powered cars, namely electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles.

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Do drone pilots deserve higher medal than combat vets?

February 20, 2013 3:32 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

Since when did waggling a joystick become more valorous than pulling a trigger? It hasn’t, you say? The newly-minted Distinguished Warfare Medal — created to honor cyberwarriors and drone pilots — would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and the military community is incensed.

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What role will sensors and controls play in emerging solid state lighting applications? (Part II)

February 15, 2013 2:41 pm | Comments

Q: What role will sensors and controls play in emerging solid state lighting applications? Solid-state lighting technology is a natural fit in our digital, wireless world. Adaptive control and wireless sensor networks are the key to ever more sophisticated LED lighting schemes including dimming,

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What role will sensors and controls play in emerging solid state lighting applications?

February 15, 2013 2:38 pm | Comments

Q: What role will sensors and controls play in emerging solid state lighting applications? Where will the Internet of Things make its big commercial debut? Probably a few feet above your head. Intelligent sensing systems — installed and configured in overhead lighting systems and combining motion, temperature and light sensors with microprocessors, imagers and LEDs

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What is the Real Smart Home?

February 15, 2013 12:17 pm | by Elly Schietse, General Manager, GreenPeak Belgium | Comments

You are ready and packed to leave on a holiday trip and for the first time, you agreed that your teenage son can stay home alone. The control freak in you is already making long lists of daily and weekly tasks and to-do’s to keep the pets and plants alive, and the calamity predictor in you wants to anticipate for flooded bathrooms and burning fryers.

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Large-scale free WiFi is still a dream worth pursuing

February 13, 2013 3:34 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

Sometimes, it seems our nation no longer aspires to great things. These days our astronauts hitch rides to the International Space Station on Soviet spacecraft, and just recently, the U.S. Postal Service — once the envy of the world — announced its intention to eliminate Saturday mail service.

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Rise of the machines

February 13, 2013 11:39 am | by Meaghan Ziemba, Editor, WDD | Comments

Robots are becoming more powerful and useful by the minute. On a daily basis, design engineers struggle to make each new design more autonomous, fluid, independent, and lifelike. Some are designed for manufacturing purposes, while others are designed to help the disabled (the applications are many).

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Mechatronics security by design

February 6, 2013 12:06 pm | by Peter Thorne, Managing Director, Cambashi Ltd. | Comments

Engineers responsible for mechatronics development have always known that it’s not just PCs that can suffer from malware. A study in 20111 used experiment rather than theory to identify vulnerabilities of in-vehicle automotive systems. Not only was this a strong reminder of the seriousness of the issue...

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Automobile EDR data collection by the Government must include safeguards

February 6, 2013 10:34 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

In December, The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a proposal that would require automakers to equip all light vehicles with event data recorders (EDRs) that capture information in the moments before and after a wreck similar to the way they are used to study airline crash.

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Telepresence robots: Always on call

February 6, 2013 9:26 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

These words from a medical-alert pendant commercial became a humorous catchphrase in pop culture during the 1990s, but Mrs. Fletcher’s plea carries a lot of weight to those who are worried about the elderly or others in need of medical care but without a means of communicating to medical professionals or caregivers.

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Connected devices keep the heart of industrial automation beating

February 4, 2013 9:02 am | by Srik Gurrapu, Business Manager for Industrial Automation, Texas Instruments | Texas Instruments | Comments

During an era when the population is increasing and there always seems to be a race against time, efficient industrial production is becoming more vital than ever.  Manufacturers feel the pressure of producing an increased number  of  products while still maintaining a high level of quality.

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