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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.

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, | 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, | 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.


Ten tips for smart battery implementation

August 7, 2012 4:47 pm | by Adam Hickerson, Raveon Technologies, | Blogs | Comments

Smart battery design starts with knowing the details of the system that is using the battery power. A battery does not make a system battery-powered. For operational lifetimes measured in days, weeks or years, power must be a design consideration from the ground up.

Are "smart" pills the future of medication?

August 7, 2012 8:48 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Have trouble remembering to take your meds? Only about 50 percent of people take medication according to a doctor’s recommendation, according to the World Health Organization. Luckily, some companies are now developing “smart” meds to track your prescription habits.  

Not for green technology, but for country

August 3, 2012 3:16 pm | by Clara Ennist, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

When building better weapons, a focus on green technology is untenable; rather, weapons need to be accurate, cost effective, and pose the least harm to US soldiers. How “green” a weapon is can be an unintended, positive consequence. Enter the Navy’s Electromagnetic Rail Gun (EMRG) with guided munitions.

I found a bug

August 3, 2012 11:46 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Last week I was discussing a board I designed to do development (hardware and software) of the Atmel ATTiny10 microprocessor. I had gotten the board built and was ready to write some software in assembler (my favorite way of writing programs next to writing them in Forth). So I wrote a very simple program that just turned on the internal pull up resistors on three of the pins.

This helmet attachment could save lives

August 3, 2012 10:39 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

In 2007, 72.34 motorcycles per 100,000 registered ended up in a fatal crash, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For the sake of comparison, for cars the number for cars is 13.10 for each 100,000. In 2010, there were 3,615 motorcycle fatalities in the United States. That’s down from a high of 5,312 in 2008.

Cells: A philosophical excursion (Part 1)

August 1, 2012 12:54 pm | by Ralf Bendlin, Texas Instruments | Blogs | Comments

This is the first of a two-part excursion into the realm of philosophy as it relates to “cells.” Don’t worry, I’ll leave the important questions like “what is enlightenment?” to Emmanuel Kant and his successors. But since the evolution of LTE to LTE Advanced (LTE-A), it is worthwhile to ask: What is a cell?

New tech center has big plans for small devices

August 1, 2012 11:40 am | by Chris Warner | Blogs | Comments

This week I learned about an exciting new facility that promises to help microsystems vendors meet their manufacturing challenges head-on and get their devices to market faster. Lorain County Community College’s (LCCC) SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems

Enough with the Twitter Olympics

July 31, 2012 3:38 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s official, people: Twitter has taken over the Olympics. Yes, we all know about Ryan Loche and Michael Phelps. Even the Queen’s granddaughter (a silver medalist) is popping up in the Olympic news, but let’s focus on what’s important during this competition: Twitter. It seems for every story you read about the craziness of antiquated gymnastic rules and disappointing defeats, there is a story about Twitter.

Full steam ahead for the Navy’s controversial “Great Green Fleet”

July 30, 2012 4:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The Navy has embarked on an ambitious green energy program, which could cost upwards of $2 billion per year. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus must convince a skeptical Congress, Senate, and public that investing in pricey alternative fuels — in the midst of the worst recession in decades — will reap dividends. 

Gumball machines delivering digital treats

July 27, 2012 10:25 am | by Clara Ennist, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Razorfish has done it: created a machine that combines the technology that most fascinates ECN editors—vending machines—with the type of technology that receives the most frustration from the ECN editorial staff—nostalgic and useless. Using Near Field Communication (NFC), Razorfish has created a Gumball machine with a twist. Rather than dispensing a piece of gum that loses its flavor and elasticity in seconds, this Gumball machine gives users a tiny piece of digital technology.

Why YouTube should remain anonymous

July 27, 2012 9:45 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Anyone who has ever spent any time on YouTube reading the comments is familiar with—as Slate calls it-- the “abandon all hope ye who enter here” atmosphere of the community. When you dare scroll down past the episode of Hogan’s Heroes you’ve been watching, you’ll find all manner of misogynistic, racist, homophobic, anti-liberal, anti-conservative, anti-religion...

A tiny bit of work

July 27, 2012 9:29 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'm working on a project that is using the Atmel ATTiny10 microprocessor. The processor is a cute little device with 4 I/O pins, 1,000 bytes of flash and 32 bytes of RAM not counting processor registers some of which could be used as RAM in a pinch. In order to do the development I bought an AVRISP mkII programmer which comes with version 4 of the software development tools.

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