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Watch our new missile defense system destroy a fighter jet

November 22, 2013 3:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

While it may seem like most countries around the world are focused on the Patriot Missile Interceptors, the United States is already looking to its next missile defense system. In fact, the military has moved on from looking at systems to testing them.

Will pills become the new standard of online security?

November 22, 2013 1:03 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

It’s no secret that the internet is a minefield. There are hackers and thieves at every turn waiting to steal your personal information and everything else you love. And now the NSA has front-row seats to watch it all happen. This is all pretty scary, so we tend to cling to anything that offers us a semblance of security and safety, even if it means swallowing another pill with our multivitamin every day.

The first robot suicide

November 21, 2013 2:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At least that’s what hysterical media reports would have you believe. The standard account goes something like this – tired of doing its master’s bidding (er, cleaning), an iRobot Roomba 760 made history by committing the first robot suicide. The poor guy chose an especially gruesome way to kick the bucket, committing self-immolation by driving itself onto a kitchen hotplate....

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PhoneBloks are Legos for adults

November 21, 2013 1:20 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Finally, adults don’t have to relinquish the joy of playing with blocks! Most of the fun in Legos lies with the customizable nature of the toy and the ability to stray from the image on the box to create something truly unique. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens channeled this childhood pastime into a new kind of functional and distinctive smartphone design called PhoneBloks

Fiber-to-the-Antenna systems bundle up for the elements

November 21, 2013 10:12 am | by Chris Warner, ECN Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

You can’t drive very far without seeing a cellular tower. As more Americans curtail or ditch their landlines in favor of mobile phones, and increasingly smartphones that require high-speed internet, network operators must keep pace with the incredible amount of data traveling through their infrastructures.

Where are all the girl engineers?

November 20, 2013 11:04 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

I recently went to a “Pumpkin Sling” (aka Punkin’ Chunkin’) where participants designed trebuchets to see who could get theirs to throw a pumpkin the farthest. A lot of the teams were made up of kids, who all did an incredible job building the machines. I was particularly inspired by a young man from a Cub Scout troop who very clearly outlined how the machine worked and how they had built it.

This NASA-inspired shower could lessen the global water crisis

November 14, 2013 12:28 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Growing up in a rural area I learned to expect cries of “Turn that shower off, you’ll run the well dry!” while getting cleaned up for school. Having a well was the price you’d pay for living in the middle of nowhere, away from a reservoir-supplied water source. But apart from my teenage battles, a real problem lurks, one of global proportions.

The largest, most ambitious challenge to Net Neutrality

November 13, 2013 8:42 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

This summer, I learned one of the few cable TV channels I sometimes watch is no longer available to me without upgrading to another “tier” of channels. None of those other channels appeal to me, so I simply decided I would do without the channel. My decision was pretty sound, but I believe my choice was not a choice at all.

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3D-printed metal guns are nothing to worry about

November 11, 2013 4:24 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Well, it was bound to happen. A company has finally succeeded in fabricating a wholesale 3D-printed metal gun. But this should cause considerably less hand-wringing than the “Liberator” and its follow-up, the “Grizzly”. To quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide, don’t panic.

Should we use drones to prevent animal abuse?

November 11, 2013 11:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Hunters beware: PETA may be watching you – or rather, its “customers” will if they purchase a specially modified Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to “spy on hunters and catch them in the act as they terrorize animals and break game laws.” The animal-rights organization introduced the “Air Angels” drone on its site in an effort to cut down on “illegal” hunting activities or anything it deems immoral....

This rock-climbing robot will haunt your dreams

November 8, 2013 9:27 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 Every so often, you see a robot on the internet that is so macabre-looking it belongs in a horror film. There is a quality about these robots that’s not quite robot, but not quite human. Generally, in the technology community, nine out of ten of these robots come out of the Department of Defense sponsored Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (a.k.a DARPA). (If you need proof, check out DARPA’s PETMAN)

Just like on TV: Ocean exploration for the masses

November 7, 2013 3:34 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Imagine upwards of eight tons pressing down on your body as you make the descent into the icy waters of the deepest parts of the ocean. The human body isn’t meant to withstand that sort of pressure, so we must utilize devices like the OpenROV to get our exploration fix if we don’t happen to have millions of dollars on hand for more sophisticated equipment.

3D printers: A cheap solution for amputees and those with genetic defects

November 6, 2013 2:24 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

“Not to worry, I’ll just print another hand.” This statement would belong in a work of fiction a few years ago, but today, it is reality for those missing fingers or limbs. Prosthetics have come a long way from the archaic image of a pirate hobbling around his ship on a wooden peg leg.

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We finally have drones with "frickin’ laser beams"

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Dr. Evil would be proud. Lasers have always been the next frontier (some would say pipe dream) of weapons development. But recent developments have brought Sci-Fi closer to reality. And now this — the Pentagon has awarded a total of $26 million to defense contractors to develop a laser countermeasures system for manned and unmanned aircraft.

This hypersonic Blackbird can launch weapons from space

November 4, 2013 3:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In aviation, it doesn’t get more chic than the SR-71 Blackbird, the Rolls Royce of the sky. From 1964 till its retirement in 1998, this supersonic, Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft played a crucial role in the Cold War (and afterward) for over three decades. But ever since the Blackbird went to the Boca Raton of the skies, aviation buffs have been pining for a successor. And now they have one. And it’s glorious.

Why you shouldn’t implant computer chips in your arm

November 1, 2013 3:31 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

In general, medical implants and their components are strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and for good reason. You can’t just stick anything under your skin without extreme consequences including things like major infections, pretty gnarly scaring, and potentially deadly health complications.

F-35 successfully targets aerial drone (is still a moneypit)

November 1, 2013 11:28 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

The F-35 Lightning II program, which surpassed 10,000 flight hours in September, has another reason to celebrate today. On October 31, the F-35A, a 5th generation fighter, successfully launched an AIM-120 radar-seeking missile from the internal weapons bay. 

Should the government regulate Google Glass?

October 31, 2013 4:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Every new technology or consumer widget must inevitably run headfirst into the regulatory powers of government — often in conjunction with automotive safety. So this was no surprise: San Diego police have pulled over a motorist and ticketed her for wearing Google Glass, touching off the latest battle between federal legislators and the private sector.

This wallet will take your money and run

October 31, 2013 10:33 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

There’s chasing money and then there’s chasing money. According to Japan’s RocketNews24, one company has come up with a wallet that runs away before you run out of cash. (OK, it actually rolls away.) Not only does the “Living Wallet” sense its owner’s hand reaching for it and try to sneak off, it also, when caught, can scream....

When online marketers target mobile device users, nothing’s out of bounds

October 28, 2013 2:54 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

Online ad companies are scaling down their use of cookies, particularly on mobile devices, to track consumers. Until recently, these companies had no way of determining if someone viewed an ad on one device, say a smart phone, and then went to the advertiser’s web site....

Growing sensors: Agriculture meets technology

October 28, 2013 11:50 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Agriculture is arguably one of the most important industries in the world. After all, with an estimated population of over 7 billion people, there are a lot of mouths to feed. Unfortunately, agriculture is also one of the most unpredictable industries. Crops are subject to the whims of nature with droughts, fire, rain, sun, and hail.

WWII vet screws with the TSA

October 25, 2013 4:49 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

If you haven’t met the TSA – meaning you somehow haven’t flown anywhere in the last 12 years – know that they’re the crotch-grabbing, nude-scanning, senior-citizen harassing government agency in charge of airport security. And they really hate shoes. But the mighty TSA has apparently met its match in an 87-year-old, half-deaf World War II vet.

Iran’s newest “drone” held together with duct tape

October 24, 2013 4:20 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

A recently released video of Iran’s new “suicide remotely piloted vehicle” called the Ra’ad 85—aka Thunder 85—reveals it might be less impressive than originally announced. A few weeks ago, Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force, announced the Ra’ad 85 would be a game-changer for Iran’s military.

Board game indoctrinates kids on global warming

October 24, 2013 10:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’m torn here. As a child’s toy, MELTDOWN – the “first board game that melts” – is extremely clever. I probably would’ve loved playing with the cute little polar bears and fake ice floes. But I can’t ignore the transparent attempt to indoctrinate children on the theory – yes, the theory – of global warming.

Reconfigurable heterogeneous architectures deliver flexibility and performance for complex applications

October 23, 2013 4:47 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

Embedded systems designers, more than ever, are seeking flexibility in how they work with processing elements to help keep risks low, speed time to market and control cost. Traditional embedded systems often rely on general-purpose processors and microcontrollers or multicore processors.

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