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Tech uses thermal imaging to scan for drunks

September 5, 2012 1:27 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

One of an editor's favorite pastimes — apart from regaling our readers with the latest products and technology — is imbibing a good adult beverage. But that could become more difficult: A new technology from the University of Patras in Greece uses thermal imaging to detect drunkenness and could prevent inebriated individuals from causing a public disturbance...

Reliable power could have prevented Fukushima disaster

September 4, 2012 2:27 pm | by Michael A. Stout, vice president of engineering for Falcon Electric | Blogs | Comments

Recently we witnessed the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that has devastated the Japanese economy. The loss of life, property and infrastructure was on such a large scale, it was incomprehensible. Yet Japan was more prepared for a large earthquake than any other country. The blow that was dealt to its power generation and distribution system has the potential to delay the country’s economic recovery...

A blow to wind energy

September 4, 2012 10:13 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

My local paper says that the wind energy business is likely to slow down in 2013. They explain that it will be bad for a local manufacturer that makes parts for the turbines and who also makes machines to make the parts. When you make 10 ton hubs for the turbines it is best to make them as close to the installation site as possible. Otherwise the shipping costs can ruin your profits.

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The Norton Report: Removal of conformal coating with small sandblasters

September 4, 2012 9:45 am | by Jim Norton, President, Custom Products & Services, Inc. | Blogs | Comments

The development of conformal coating technology was driven to a large degree by the military and aerospace industries. While conformal coatings are mostly used on populated, printed wiring boards (PWBs), they are also used to protect components such as transistors, diodes, rectifiers, resistors, integrated circuits (ICs) and hybrid circuits including multi-chip modules (MCMs) and chip on board (COB).

A guide to enjoying the (inevitable) robot takeover

August 30, 2012 11:02 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Let's face it: Robots are better than people.They’re more dependable than humans (i.e. no sick days), they’re usually cheaper, and they don’t complain. The downside is pretty obvious as well, at least with the primitive robots we have today:

Pieces from classic sci-fi dystopias are falling into place

August 29, 2012 12:52 pm | Articles | Comments

On June 5, the literary world lost a true legend with the passing of Ray Bradbury. His death – along with some recent events here in local news – got me thinking back to my teenage years where his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451 was required reading at my high school along with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (and I’d be remiss if I didn’t italicize titles of literary works when thinking about my high school English-Lit teacher).

I ran across a few things

August 29, 2012 11:37 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I have started a number of new projects. One of them is designing a simple Forth for the ARM processor. To do that I needed a simple guide to the ARM Assembly language. I like this one written by Peter Knaggs and Stephen Welsh. Peter is quite active in the Forth community, but that was just a coincidence (I'm a big Forth fan in case you didn't know).

The most overdesigned shower ever created

August 29, 2012 9:49 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

If you’ve been dying to run your business empire without ever leaving your shower, but hadn’t found a good way to do that, you should probably check out Fei Chung Billy Ho’s ‘Le Terme.’

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Iran bars women from engineering courses

August 27, 2012 10:32 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Iran hasn’t exactly acquitted itself as a champion of human rights, but this news is almost too hard to believe: 77 BA and BS courses across 36 different universities will be “single gender” in the upcoming school year. ECN doesn’t normally cover news like this, but the "single gender" disciplines include computer science, nuclear physics, and a number of engineering fields...

Ensuring safety through automobile electronics

August 27, 2012 10:31 am | by Anthony Le, Winbond Electronics, www.winbond.com | Blogs | Comments

How many of us have seen cars swerving on the road because the driver is on the phone or texting? The reality is that more drivers are using mobile devices in cars and more electronics are being designed into new cars, such as smart phones, infotainment systems with large tablet-like displays, and various inputs/warning systems resulting in information overload. These gadgets dramatically

Why Nikola Tesla deserves a museum

August 27, 2012 9:52 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Nikola Tesla is arguably one of the most underappreciated scientists in history. He was a very cool, brilliant guy, but money wasn’t really his strong suit. He built a laboratory called the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York, which he lost due to his financial problems. The tower that Wardenclyffe was named for was destroyed in 1917, 15 years after it was built.

The light bulb you can't live without

August 24, 2012 10:13 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’m inundated with thoughts about light bulbs. That is to say, I think about light bulbs an inordinate amount of time.When you work with emerging technology, light bulbs are kind of a big deal. Whether it’s LEDs versus incandescent bulbs, how different bulbs affect the environment, how expensive versus how efficient, the perfect wattage for my new lamp or the environmentalists versus the homeowners...

The keyboard you can wash

August 23, 2012 11:48 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Keyboards are one of those objects that get incredibly dirty but are also really annoying/impossible to clean. So, whether it’s your kid’s sticky fingers or your mom’s habit of spilling tea (sorry, Mom), it might be time to check out the Logitech Washable Keyboard K310.

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New app detects malarkey in political ads

August 23, 2012 11:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Do politicians lie? Let me rephrase that. Would you like a reliable way to detect the bovine-related animal droppings wafting from political ads? The Super PAC App, from former students at MIT's Media Lab, purports to do just that. You may have noticed a glut of negative political attacks ads this election cycle — well, more so than usual.

A mentor's perspective: Project-based learning and student competitions

August 22, 2012 10:57 am | by Gen Sasaki, Principal Technical Consultant, MathWorks, www.mathworks.com | Blogs | Comments

I have experienced first hand the great learning opportunity such venues provide students to apply what they have learned in the classroom, and have fun (and a fair share of pain) doing it.  In addition, this hands-on learning brings greater understanding and gratification of the knowledge acquired in coursework.  In addition, a team competition

Would you eat printed meat?

August 21, 2012 1:56 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

3D printing is a hot topic issue in the tech world with everything from printed guns to printed arms making headlines around the world.The newest 3D item to hit the scene? Printed meat. Modern Meadows,a firm looking to develop “high value, food grade animal protein”

Reality strikes

August 20, 2012 9:43 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Life can be interesting - way more interesting than I like. I downloaded the driver for the Adafruit programmer I bought. I installed the driver required and I got stuck. My PC doesn't seem to recognize the programmer. Since the "power good light" is controlled by a pin on the programmer according to the schematic, I plugged in the board I wanted to program (MCU10 Developer)...

Why 4D technology ruins movies

August 16, 2012 2:42 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Designers are on the constant lookout for ways to enhance the movie-screening experience. It’s easily seen in the evolution from silent films to talkies to color to HD and 3D movies. Oftentimes, now that 3D has made a (dismal) debut in homes and a (really expensive) debut in theaters, 4D is being tossed around as “the next big thing.”

Flexible barriers: A $1 Billion opportunity by 2022

August 16, 2012 2:17 pm | by Dr Harry Zervos, Technology Analyst, IDTechEx | Blogs | Comments

As more and more flexible devices are becoming available, the need for better performing barriers and encapsulation materials at lower cost points intensifies. The stringent requirements make this a difficult task for some applications, although others, with less intensive demands are already appearing in the market.

Would you trust brakes that think for you?

August 14, 2012 11:34 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

In keeping with the vehicle safety theme I’ve self-cultivated with Signal and the inflatable seatbelt, let’s take a look at the world of brakes, specifically Automatic Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS). The idea behind AEBS is that in the event that you, the driver, are unable or incapable of braking in order to avoid a collision with a car, pedestrian, object, your garage door, etc. the car will take (complete or partial) control...

Internet sales tax could foster anti-business climate

August 14, 2012 10:44 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The prospect of an Internet sales tax has hung over the head of e-commerce like the Sword of Damocles. It’s the boogeyman that threatens to pull the World Wide Web into the stone age of brick-and-mortar. But the ugly rumors may finally be true. A bill under consideration in the Senate would impose an Internet sales tax and amend any “competitive” disparity. Prepare to spend a lot more for your online purchases.

A few delays

August 13, 2012 8:59 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Those of you who have been following along with my adventures with the Atmel ATtiny10 at A tiny bit of work and I found a bug, will know that I encountered some problems with the Atmel programmer I bought from Mouser. So I started in last week-end building the Adafruit programmer that I thought would solve my problems. But I ran into a snag.

Innovative technology meets a luxury brand: The Audi Pavilion

August 10, 2012 9:22 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Audi AG has been making luxury cars since 1932 when four car companies of the 19th and early 20th centuries—Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer—joined to form the company which exists today. The cars are known for their sleek lines, German engineering, high  performance and tech-savvy interior.

NI deploys LabVIEW and CompactRIO in wake of Fukushima nuclear disaster

August 8, 2012 10:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

One of the more unique applications of National Instruments’ LabVIEW design platform was its recent deployment during the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In conjunction with Kyoto University, NI created the Kyoto University RAdiation MApping (KURAMA) system, which measured gamma rays in the Fukushima Prefecture. At NI Week 2012, I learned more about this intriguing development.

Power considerations in advanced embedded systems

August 8, 2012 11:16 am | by Alix Paultre, Globtek, www.globtek.com | Blogs | Comments

The migration of smart subsystems into products at every level of operation represents a true fusion of the electronic and mechanical, representing the next, and possibly the culmination of, the industrial revolution. However, the integration of sense, motion, and logic into all portions of a system also brings with it new (or old in new clothing) challenges in power management.

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