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Engineers and analysts are paid to think

January 29, 2013 10:04 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

There is a message that I have tried many times to convey to colleagues, associates, peers, friends, and employers. It’s challenging because it is such a large and broad idea that it’s difficult to simplify into a platitude or simple fable. I’ll start by explaining that one of the greatest failures of many improvement efforts is also the greatest failure of many failed product designs and struggling or failed businesses.

These shoes will tell you when it’s time for a new pair

January 28, 2013 3:14 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Apple has a lot of great products: iPhones, iPads, computers, laptops, Apple TV and the potential for many more. (Note the lack of iPad mini on this list because it is a dumb product, but I digress.) It seems the company might be expanding into shoe wear with a sensor that will track your steps and tell you when it’s time for a new pair of kicks.

What’s mine should be mine: Ruling makes it illegal to unlock your phone

January 25, 2013 2:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Think you own your wireless handset, inside and out? Think you can do whatever you wish with your own property? Think again. Beginning Saturday, it will become illegal to unlock a phone without the express permission of the carrier who locked it.

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Speaking of speakers

January 25, 2013 9:14 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) has been in the news at ECN, but boy was I surprised when my home town paper featured a CES story on its front page this past week. The story was mainly about Prescient Audio, a local company that has designed a new type of bass driver that will reduce the volume such drivers take up in cars.

Will a high-velocity, DNA-tagging police pellet gun deter protesters?

January 24, 2013 3:43 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Gun control is a hot button issue, so it makes sense that police and security firms would look towards expanding effective methods of nonviolent interaction. This becomes particularly important during riot situations with a lot of people and confusion, where police are often outnumbered and overwhelmed.

Obsolete industries won’t drive economic growth

January 24, 2013 12:09 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

An article in the Associated Press, "Big Data and cloud computing empower smart machines to do human work, take human jobs," bemoans the loss of jobs to technology – a highly dubious assertion that crops up every generation like a broken record. And like the damaged piece of vinyl, this argument is immune to logic and reason.

"Bring your own device" trend gaining speed -- benefits, risks and solutions

January 23, 2013 9:28 am | by Dean Wiech, Managing Director, Tools4ever | Blogs | Comments

A new trend gaining speed in many industries is the concept of “bring your own device” (BYOD). Plainly put, BYOD is when employees have the ability to bring their own technical devices—like smart phones, tablets and laptops -- and use the company’s network instead of a company-provided device. BYOD has many benefits and risks, though....

Vibrating steering wheel might prevent car accidents

January 23, 2013 9:12 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’ve talked a lot about intelligent systems in cars that are steering the industry towards a safer overall product by allow computers to take over where human error would mean an accident.There has been talk of new seatbelts, new braking system, and sensors that communicate with traffic lights and other cars,

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“Smart pills” could save firefighters from injury or death

January 22, 2013 11:27 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

While the idea of “Smart Medication”  didn’t go over very well with the ECN crowd, there is a group to which it could be the difference between life and death.Firefighters often battle in extreme environmental conditions that can be pretty tough on the body’s vitals.

Would you like some iPhone with your ramen noodles?

January 22, 2013 9:43 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes, an innovative product changes the landscape of the tech world. It illuminates the masses, electrifies the blogosphere, and raises the overall standard of living. And then there’s this – the Anti-loneliness bowl, a ramen soup receptacle that doubles as an iPhone dock.

Would you steal energy?

January 18, 2013 2:14 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

While stealing is generally frowned upon in most societies, there is a new type of thieving that might just change that.Dennis Siegel, a Digital Media student from the University of the Arts in Germany has designed a harvester that takes advantage of unused energy in electromagnetic fields.

U.S. energy usage and Jevons' paradox

January 18, 2013 11:21 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

ECN recently published a piece slamming Texas for passing a law that "allows Texans to make and sell the old-fashioned inefficient kind of bulbs". The author further states that the goal of the national law Texas is opposing "was to lower U. S. energy usage." It will do no such thing. It will increase electrical usage. We have known this since Economist William Jevons discovered the principle in 1865.

Is Apple changing its mind on touch panel structures?

January 18, 2013 9:33 am | by Calvin, Senior Analyst at DisplaySearch | Display Search | Blogs | Comments

Recently, the supply chain has been buzzing about potential changes in the touch technologies used for future iPhones and iPads, in particular involving LCD suppliers rather than touch panel makers. First came a report that Innolux had delivered TOD (touch on display) samples for the iPhone....

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Would these “smart” ice cubes change how you drink?

January 17, 2013 2:24 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes great technology comes out of bad life experiences. Like the time Dhairya Dand from MIT Media Lab was so intoxicated he blacked out, and came up with an idea for a technology that would prevent people from drinking too much.By placing a smart LED inside molds of waterproof, edible jelly...

CES 2013 a meager showcase for consumer electronics

January 17, 2013 2:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Microsoft Corp. | Articles | Comments

CES has never been more irrelevant. I wrote those words last year when Microsoft pulled out of CES and the industry was in the thralls of its 3D hysteria, pushing a technological gimmick that no one wanted. Since then, the industry has found a new rallying cry – 4K (or Ultra-HD) – and largely abandoned hopes of shoving stereoscopy down our throats, but the pizzazz is still missing.

Texas’ light bulb law: Not the brightest bulb on the tree

January 17, 2013 12:13 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Each January brings with it a slew of laws scheduled to take effect on the first of the year, and 2013 is no exception. As of Jan. 1, for example, it is now illegal to make or sell new 100-watt and 75-watt light bulbs that do not meet the efficiency standards of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act (nicknamed ERISA).

New Jersey’s power and fuel infrastructure was no match for Sandy

January 16, 2013 12:14 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

The love-hate relationship we have with "the grid" was inescapable during Superstorm Sandy. We don’t think about it much when our homes are lit and appliances are humming – we have the freedom to do anything we want. But when there’s an interruption, there’s that nagging wish to be free from the grip of our local utility....

Are we running out of wind?

January 15, 2013 8:53 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The first mate gave me a heads-up about about the state of wind energy locally. Gamesa USA is pulling out of a proposed wind farm development in Ogle County, Illinois. saukvalley.com reports....

4k2k: Are we underestimating its value?

January 14, 2013 11:31 am | by Paul Gray, Director of European TV Research, DisplaySearch | Display Search | Blogs | Comments

With the predictable run of 4k2k announcements this CES, most comments have sensibly focused on content availability. This was undoubtedly the single greatest factor in the failure of 3D to create a revival in the TV market.

Delving into superconductors

January 14, 2013 8:29 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Ever since Polywell Fusion caught my attention, superconducting magnets have been a large side interest of mine. I keep track of papers published in the field through IOP Science - Superconductor Science and Technology. They post a list of papers every month which are freely available for personal use for the first month after publication.

Could this circuit board prevent 2,000 infant deaths per year?

January 11, 2013 9:23 am | by Editor | Blogs | Comments

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants between the ages of one month to one year. The most recent statistics put the number of deaths at about 2,226 per year, nearly seven infants per day.In hopes of lowering the number of infants who succumb to SIDS,

This flashlight can operate on any battery

January 10, 2013 9:23 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture this: You’re sitting in front of the television one night watching Ax Men when suddenly the power goes out. Stumbling over to the hall closet, you rummage around on the shelves for a flashlight. Finally, after nearly strangling yourself with a scarf, you locate the light only to discover it needs batteries.

It's BAAACK: Ready or not, here comes RoHS 2

January 3, 2013 10:42 am | by Ken Manchen, Director of Safety & Environmental Affairs, Newark element14 | Newark | Blogs | Comments

Every North American electronics company that trades in the EU should make at least one New Year’s Resolution: to learn how RoHS 2 will impact them, because ready or not, this regulation takes effect January 2, 2013.

Semiconductor testing: Going back to the future

January 2, 2013 10:19 am | by Dirk de Vries, co-founder of Qualtera | Blogs | Comments

The integrated circuit semiconductor testing process produces oceans of data. This data is used to control product quality, performance and yield, and to resolve issues in those areas. Paradoxically, while the semiconductor industry has been one of the key enablers in the development of the technology responsible for dramatically changing our daily lives, it is conservative in its ways of working.

What is wrong with programming?

January 2, 2013 8:32 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Poul-Henning Kamp, "one of the primary developers of the FreeBSD operating system", has written a long screed about the current state of programming. He discusses Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Eric chimes in with a comment) and has this critique of the Bazaar....

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