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The robot says you flunked: Algorithms vs. judgment

July 25, 2014 11:29 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Comments

Harvard and MIT have teamed to develop an artificial-intelligence system that grades essay questions on exams. The way it works is this. First, a human grader manually grades a hundred essays, and feeds the essays and the grades to the computer. Then the computer allegedly learns to imitate the grader....

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This Army helicopter can fit in your pocket

July 25, 2014 8:36 am | by Jason Lomberg, Digital Editor | Comments

It weighs 16 g, can fly for up to 20 minutes, and fits in the palm of your hand. It’s the Prox Dynamics PD-100 Black Hornet, a mini helicopter which uses embedded cameras and a digital data link to provide real-time video for ground troops. Information is king on the battlefield....

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Thread paves the way for IEEE 802.15.4 and IPv6

July 24, 2014 3:28 pm | by Cees Links, CEO and Founder of GreenPeak Technologies | Comments

Recently, Google/Nest, together with Samsung, ARM, Yale Security and others, announced a new standard “Thread”. Sort of. Thread is not really a new standard, but more of an education and certification program that combines a set of existing standards into a “single” package....

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Design to a standard

July 24, 2014 11:57 am | by Jonathan Seckler, PoE Subcommittee Marketing Chair, Ethernet Alliance; Product Marketing Director, Dell | Comments

More and more often these days, developers have to design their solutions with communications in mind. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an expansion of the network concept — adding machine-to-machine communications to the network and broadening the possibilities for many consumer and enterprise applications....

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Efficiently Power that Op Amp

July 24, 2014 9:43 am | by Chris Glazer, Texas Instruments, www.ti.com | Texas Instruments | Comments

In many applications, such as temperature sensing, two supply voltages are needed to power an op amp in the system—one positive and one negative. This dual supply is needed by the amplifier in order to properly measure signals very close to or even below ground. If the negative supply input of the op amp was just grounded and a single, positive supply voltage used, these signals would not be processed properly.

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This is what a fireball in space looks like

July 23, 2014 9:22 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

This mission on the International Space Station has been full of social media adventures, including the very first Space Vine! (Full disclosue: I coined the term Space Vine! and you probably won't see it anywhere else.)  Reid Wiseman is an American astronaut and naval aviator currently serving on Expedition 41 in the ISS....

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Please don't 3D print me when I'm dead

July 23, 2014 8:49 am | by David Mantey, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

When I die, please don’t grow pieces of me. Whether the practice is in the name of science, art, or engineering, after I’ve been harvested of all viable organs in my remaining vessel, do not reconstruct and 3D print any body part to be kept alive inside a case of "nourishing liquid"....

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National High Voltage AC month

July 22, 2014 12:53 pm | by Screaming Circuits | Comments

In honor of Nikola Tesla, hero to engineers', birthday (July 10, 1856), Screaming Circuits has declared this to be National High Voltage AC Month. For those of you who don't know Nikola Tesla... Never mind. If you don't know who...

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Business at the expense of all else

July 22, 2014 12:38 pm | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Comments

I would never want to believe that a business, operated by intelligent and moral people, could sacrifice quality, and even ethics, to produce a product and complete a sale. Yet recently, I witnessed a business that was so desperate to make a few deadlines, it bypassed due diligence to get a product delivered....

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Why this remote-controlled birth control will be the next big thing

July 22, 2014 9:49 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

In the midst of the Hobby Lobby court case decision and other conversations about birth control, there has been an announcement about an advancement in contraceptive technology. This is a pretty unique technology that would allow the woman to turn the device on or off, depending on if she was looking to have a child or not....

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Could robots reduce human rights violations?

July 22, 2014 9:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Digital Editor | Comments

Could automation actually help reduce reputed human rights violations? If Foxconn — one of the most infamous manufacturers of consumer electronics — succeeds in deploying its “Foxbots”, one of the biggest controversies in the tech world could disappear overnight....

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What Would You Print?

July 18, 2014 11:45 am | by Chris Fox, Editor | Comments

We have all come to the understanding that as 3D printing is becoming more prevalent in the mainstream consumer market, it is becoming even more ubiquitous in the engineering office (if it wasn’t already necessary). Even with this insight ...

How to drive LEDs with power factor correction in a single stage

July 16, 2014 1:47 pm | by Brian King, Texas Instruments, www.ti.com | Texas Instruments | Comments

A PFC-SEPIC converter can be controlled using a traditional PFC-boost controller. An important characteristic of the SEPIC is the lack of isolation.  This limits the use of this topology to applications that don’t require safety isolation.  Think about applications that are completely sealed with no user-accessible energized parts, like street lights and high-bay lighting.

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RocketSkates travel 12 mph, weigh 7 lbs.

July 15, 2014 8:42 am | by Melissa Fassbender, Managing Editor, PD&D, @melfass | Comments

As a startup, ACTON encourages a community of innovators and thinkers to become a part of their projects, which is why the company has turned to Kickstarter to launch their latest product, the RocketSkates – and they’ve already raised more than $200,000....

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Why contraception by remote control is a troubling idea

July 14, 2014 4:08 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

Forget about remembering to take a contraceptive pill. In just a few years, keeping track of your remote control may be as essential to family planning as it is to watching TV. MicroCHIPS, a small, Massachusetts company with backing from Bill Gates plans to bring an implantable contraceptive chip that can be turned on or off via remote control to market as early as...

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