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We must support efforts to defund the NSA’s spying programs

July 17, 2013 2:05 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Congressional Republican Justin Amash has a not-so-novel idea for quashing the NSA’s surveillance programs — defund them. Rep. Amash has introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would strangle federal spying programs by tying the purse strings. We must support Rep. Amash’s efforts.

“Smart Diapers” perform high-tech urinalysis

July 15, 2013 6:15 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Parents will try anything to ensure their baby’s health – even if that means scanning their infant’s backside with their smartphone. At least that’s the idea behind Pixie Scientific’s “Smart Diaper” concept, which transmits health data via QR codes.

The government has been helping itself to our personal data all along

July 11, 2013 5:03 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

In the last few months I’ve been writing about various efforts of the government – both on the local and federal level – to leverage our consumer technologies to learn about our driving habits, cellular records, and, in the event of cyber attack, access to email records. Taken in totality, one could be highly suspicious that virtually anything and everything about our lives is accessible....

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Karma’s a you-know-what: Feds disinvited to hacker conference

July 11, 2013 4:49 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The marriage of convenience (some might say a temporary truce) between Feds and hackers – organized at the annual DEF CON conference – simply couldn’t survive in our current geopolitical environment. And the hackers want a divorce – the Feds will not be at DEF CON this year.

Self-healing circuits: A living immune system for ICs

July 10, 2013 4:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

One of the challenges of working with integrated circuits is as designers try to make ICs faster, the transistors become smaller and can’t handle as much voltage and the amount of variation grows. Plus, a single fault in the IC could mean a useless chip, bringing projects and products to sudden jarring halt.

Princess or engineer: What will your daughter be?

July 10, 2013 11:41 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Though we might not agree on the reasons why there is such a discrepancy between the percentage of women in the population and the percent who become engineers, we can all agree it’s not a good thing. At the end of the day whether it’s an issue of nature, nurture or a combination of the two, that can’t be the end of the discussion. The conversation needs to evolve to a place focused on addressing the issue.

Does voice-activated technology betray our sense of safety while driving?

July 9, 2013 2:39 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

There’s no end in sight to the tug of war between proponents of the connected car and those who want to curtail use of electronic devices for fear of distracted driving. The latest salvo from the safety side came in from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which in June released a study....

No girls allowed: "Nerd” stereotype means fewer female engineers

July 8, 2013 9:29 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

The Big Bang Theory — a television show that features four male scientists and engineers and an attractive blond waitress — is one of the top shows on TV. But a recent study has raised an interesting question: Does this show’s — and others like it's — depiction of what scientists and engineers look like actively discourage women from pursuing STEM degrees? According to the study, it might.

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Big Brother is watching you ... and your car

July 2, 2013 12:13 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Do red-light traffic cameras reduce accidents? Save lives? Are they a boon to resource-strapped law enforcement agencies? A boondoggle? An invasion of privacy? With government surveillance – and the citizenry’s awareness thereof – at a fever pitch, this issue will only become more relevant ... and divisive.

The technology (and driver) inside a winning Indy 500 car

June 27, 2013 4:28 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

When it comes to the racing world, electronics suppliers and distributors are often behind the scenes—or under the hood, as it were—rock stars. Sure, they’re the reason the engine runs or making sure the driver and crew are safe, but they’re very rarely front and center in the racing world. Unless, of course, you’re talking about Mouser’s sponsorship of Indy car driver Tony Kanaan ... then it’s all about being in front (literally.)

This smoke-detecting phone dock could save your life

June 26, 2013 4:17 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

House fires are a serious, deadly problem. Death from fires and burns are the third leading cause of fatal home injury, according to the CDC. Every 169 minutes, someone dies in a fire and every 30 minutes, someone is injured. 

Would you help fund a space telescope?

June 21, 2013 1:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

For most people, thinking about space isn’t a daily activity. Sure, there are random bursts of excitement like the Mars Rover landing or Canadian superstar astronaut Chris Hadfield and of course there are people—both amateur and professional—who make space their life, but in general, it’s not something we think about too much.  

"Cybernetic immortality": How to live forever as a robot

June 20, 2013 3:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Could humanity achieve immortality this century? A Russian multimillionaire thinks so and is pouring a fortune into his ambitious plan “to eliminate aging and even death and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.”

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How I learned to stop worrying and love “killer robots”

June 20, 2013 1:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Unmanned weapons systems (aka, "killer robots") have the power to reduce collateral damage and save lives, and we should support and encourage their development, not preemptively ban them and set disproportionately high ethical standards as a function of their deployment.

This "watch" could change the world of at-home medicine

June 19, 2013 3:21 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

I have one family member in nursing school and one in medical school, which means I sometimes find myself on the cold end of a stethoscope while they check my radial pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and whatever else they need to practice. (I draw the line at anything involving needles.)

COB-based solid-state lamps present cooling tradeoffs

June 11, 2013 2:33 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

Solid-state lighting has taken its place in the mainstream of illumination, finding uses in a diverse range of industrial and consumer applications. Solid state lamps have shed the initial skepticisms about quality, and although the upfront costs are high, these costs are coming down.

Is this the connected home’s wave of the future?

June 10, 2013 12:44 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s some news that will make couch potatoes everywhere rejoice: Computer scientists at the University of Washington have come up with a sensorless and cameraless way to detect human movements, allowing for gesture control of their electronics and household appliances.

Top 10 must-read posts from May

June 4, 2013 12:04 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

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. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com....

“Cloud” signals dark days for software buyers

May 23, 2013 4:06 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

The software industry is now making its predictable push toward fully cloud-based business models and leaving customer preference in the dustbin. Earlier this month, Adobe decided it will discontinue its Creative Suite product line and replace it with its Adobe Creative Cloud, which is

The future of food: NASA's printed pizza

May 22, 2013 1:50 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

In the great world of 3D printing, nothing is more fascinating to me than the idea of printed food.  There has been some rumblings about printed meat, but it’s been mostly outliers in the industry. However, NASA just made it a little more legitimate with by offering a $125,000 grant to Systems and Materials Research Corp to develop a 3D printed version of an American (and worldwide) favorite: Pizza.

Charge your phone in 20 seconds

May 20, 2013 4:19 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

What’s the key to charging your phone (and other small electronics) in the blink of an eye? Invent a better supercapacitor, according to Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old, from California who was just awarded Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and $50,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her project...

This is what a 1950s robot looks like

May 20, 2013 10:11 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

It’s pretty crazy when you think about how far technology has come in the past five years, let alone the past 50 years. Recently, we talked about different humanoid robots, including DARPA’s PETMAN and the Alphadog Proto, a humanoid robot used to test protective clothing and a 4-legged battlefield companion, respectively.

What are the biggest LED challenges, according to engineers

May 17, 2013 10:06 am | by Editor | Blogs | Comments

With Lightfair in the rearview mirror and being dominated by LEDs, lighting has become an intense debate in the industry. What we want to know is what you think about the future of LEDs. We know our readers have varied opinions and valuable experiences – now here’s a great opportunity to showcase them. Send us an answer to the question below and if we think yours is great...

The future of Google Glass

May 16, 2013 3:49 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 There has been a lot of talk about Google Glass lately, mostly due to the prototype debut, but one interesting aspect of that public viewing is that developers –outside of GoogleLand—can take a crack at coming up with interesting uses for the technology. By allowing new voices into the conversation, the world is seeing even more possibilities for Google Glass. 

To break down the digital divide, target relevance and affordability

May 6, 2013 1:23 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s hard to believe some 20 years after Internet became available to most Americans that many of our neighbors are still not only offline but computer illiterate as well. I was reminded of that fact in March when the Governor of New Jersey proposed that the unemployed in the state, as a condition to receive their benefits, use the state’s jobs listing web site each week.

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