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Mars or bust

February 5, 2013 9:10 am | by David Mantey, Executive Editor, PD&D | Blogs | Comments

Could you go to Mars? Sacrifice everything; friends, family, and (possibly) future in order to be one of the first colonists on the red planet? Maybe if you were the first to plant a boot print in the dusty red sand, you would have some sort of historical notoriety....

Wireless networking in 2013

February 4, 2013 4:57 pm | by Jack Shandle, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

The outlook for wireless networking keeps getting brighter as more devices — some as large as automobiles — become connected. Megatrends also drive wireless growth with the single most important being the conversion of electricity grids into Smart Grids, which in turn creates markets for smart meters and smart homes.

Top 10 posts for January

February 1, 2013 12:41 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

We had a record-breaking January here at ECN online with our most trafficked month in the history of the website. So, without further delay, here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments.


Enfeebled F-35 could impede military readiness

January 31, 2013 3:15 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture a Swiss Army Knife with a blunted knife, rusty screwdriver, and a broken can opener. That’s what the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has become — a jack of all trades and master of none. The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has — over the course of a highly tumultuous development period that personifies the phrase "requirements creep" — become the poster child for bloated government programs.

Boeing’s 787 battery eggs: All in one lithium basket

January 31, 2013 11:13 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Excuse the tortured metaphor, but the old advice about not putting all your eggs in one basket applies to engineering as well as to other fields.  The implication is that if the basket with all your eggs slips and falls, you’ve lost everything.  Boeing hasn’t lost everything, but the battery troubles besetting its new 787 Dreamliner could not have come at a worse time.

Not so very cool

January 31, 2013 10:31 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

A recent press release at ECN, NTU research embraces laser and sparks cool affair, prompted me to go looking for the source of the report, which was an article in Nature Magazine. The article explains a lot of things. One of those things is that the cooler is not the panacea described in the press release.

Did the Justice Department cause Aaron Swartz’s suicide?

January 31, 2013 9:00 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Aaron Swartz was a 26-year-old computer programmer and online activist who died of apparent suicide on January 11, ahead of a scheduled trial where he was charged with 13 felonies.  Swartz, founder of Demand Progress, an online group actively working against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)...

A disturbance in the Force: The smartphone market is changing

January 30, 2013 2:45 pm | by Andrew Berg, Senior Editor, Wireless Week | Blogs | Comments

Can you hear it? That's the sound of the device market changing. It sounds a little like the whispers that RIM just might have something with BlackBerry 10. It also sounds a little like rumors that Amazon has the right kind of content ecosystem to launch a smartphone of its own.


Sensor pad analyzes impacts in football helmets

January 29, 2013 4:27 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Texas Instruments | Articles | Comments

One of the highlights of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was a low-power wireless system that could revolutionize the game of pigskin. The Riddell InSite Impact Response System utilizes a five-point sensor pad lined in the player’s helmet to quantify an impact and, if it passes a predetermined threshold, notifies the sideline.

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.

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,

“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....

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).

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