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Utah researchers create ‘Spintronic’ LED, claim it’s ‘brighter, cheaper’ and eco-friendly

July 16th, 2012

Utah researchers create 'Spintronic' LED, claim it's 'brighter, cheaper' and eco-friendly

Spintronics? Not exactly a new term ’round these parts, but University of Utah physicists are applying it in a unique way that may eventually make TVs look even sharper than they do today. The entity is trumpeting a new “spintronic” organic light-emitting diode (that’s OLED, for short) that’s said to be “cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the kinds of LEDs now used in television and computer displays, lighting, traffic lights and numerous electronic devices.” Z. Valy Vardeny is even going so far as to call it a “completely different technology,” and better still, a prototype has already been made. The professor expects that the newfangled tech — which produces an orange glow today — will be able to product red, blue and white spin OLEDs within a few years.

SOURCE via University of Utah

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France’s ANDRA developing a million-year hard drive

July 16th, 2012

France's ANDRA developing a million-year hard drive

Us humans have been quick to embrace digital technology for preserving our memories, but we’ve forgotten that most of our storage won’t last for more than a few decades; when a hard drive loses its magnetism or an optical disc rots, it’s useless. French nuclear waste manager ANDRA wants to make sure that at least some information can survive even if humanity itself is gone — a million or more years, to be exact. By using two fused disk platters made from sapphire with data written in a microscope-readable platinum, the agency hopes to have drives that will keep humming along short of a catastrophe. The current technology wouldn’t hold reams of data — about 80,000 minuscule pages’ worth on two platters — but it could be vital for ANDRA, which wants to warn successive generations (and species) of radioactivity that might last for eons. Even if the institution mostly has that pragmatic purpose in mind, though, it’s acutely aware of the archeological role these €25,000 ($30,598) drives could serve once leaders settle on the final languages and below-ground locations at an unspecified point in the considerably nearer future. We’re just crossing our fingers that our archived internet rants can survive when the inevitable bloody war wipes out humanity and the apes take over.

SOURCE via ScienceMag

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WiFi Direct headed for a revamp: simpler integration, better support

July 16th, 2012

WiFi Direct headed for a revamp: simpler integration, better support

We love WiFi Direct, we do, but there’s no denying the standard has failed to take the world by storm. The WiFi Alliance is going back to the drawing board and looking to streamline its system of connecting devices. A new Wi-Fi Direct Services task group was formed last month, charged with building new tools for helping apps and devices work together. The plan is to have what amounts to a complete revamp of the WiFi Direct standard within 12 to 18 months. One of the keys will be exposing the feature more directly to end users. Often it hides in the background, but the alliance is working on a way for apps to advertise their capabilities to each other and consumers. Developers have also struggled with poorly defined hooks that often lead to incompatible products. Will 2013 finally be the year that WiFi Direct takes off? Who can say. Considering the break-neck pace our technological world moves at, something better may have come along by the time the WiFi Alliance gets its act together.

SOURCE via PC World

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MIT researchers develop chip that can harvest energy from multiple sources

July 11th, 2012

MIT researchers develop chip that can harvest energy from multiple sources

We’ve seen a number of different devices that can harvest energy from various sources, but none quite like this new chip developed by a team of MIT researchers. It’s able to harvest energy from three different sources simultaneously: light, heat and vibrations. The key to that is a sophisticated control system that’s able to rapidly switch between the three sources at all times to prevent any of that energy from going to waste (and not draw too much power itself), with energy from the secondary sources stored in capacitors to be picked up later — as opposed to existing systems that simply switch between sources based on what’s most plentiful. As doctoral student Saurav Bandyopadhyay explains, efficiently managing those disparate sources could be a “big advantage since many of these sources are intermittent and unpredictable,” and it could in turn lead to the chip being used in a range of different applications where batteries or existing energy harvesting methods just aren’t enough: everything from environmental sensors in remote locations to biomedical devices.

SOURCE via MIT

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4D technology coming to 200 US cinemas to help you feel and smell the action

July 11th, 2012

4D technology coming to 200 US cinemas to help you feel and smell the action

Booming 64-track soundtrack at the cinema making you yawn? Already jaded about 4K , 3D and high frame-rates? If so, a company called CJ Group out of Korea may be able to blast you from your stupor — it’s bringing so-called 4D to nearly 200 theaters stateside. That extra ‘D’ won’t let you warp spacetime, but instead will bring your other senses into play with seats that move and thump, smells from things like flowers or gunpowder, and artificial wind, rain and lightning. All that extra stimulation could bump the freight of a seat by around eight bucks, and movie house owners will need to shell out half of the $2 million cost to retrofit each salon. But CJ Group claims it’s been hugely popular in markets like Asia and Mexico, so theaters there have quickly recouped the cost. Of course, you wouldn’t want all that strang and durm on certain films, but lots of cinematic squealers could use a good dose of extra lipstick.

SOURCE via LA Times

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Sony patents vein reading system for high-tech toilets

July 5th, 2012

Sony patents vein reading system for high-tech toilets

In a sign of just how backed up our patent system is, Sony was finally awarded a series of claims for a vein-reading mouse it filed back in January of 2009. The idea is to use an image of the blood vessels in your index finger as an authentication system. But, instead of unlocking a PC, the identity would be associated with a set of preferences — automatically boosting contrast and text size on a screen for the elderly. While the patented claims apply exclusively to computer mice, Sony envisions vein readers everywhere, personalizing and simplifying life for the aging… even in the bathroom. Another embodiment of the system involves scanning a person’s finger as they turn the doorknob to the lavatory. Once authenticated, data is sent to the toilet which automatically lifts the seat, then adjusts the force and angle of the bidet based on your preferences. Once again, Japan proves why its winning the race in toilet technology.

SOURCE via USPTO

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Researchers create ‘rubber-band electronics’ material, capable of stretching up to 200 percent

July 4th, 2012

Researchers create 'rubber-band electronics' material, capable of stretching up to 200 percent

One of the major issues with embedded medical devices is the lack of flexibility in existing electronics. Fortunately, researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University have developed a new material that can create electronic components capable of stretching to 200 percent of their original size. One of the major obstacles was how stretchable electronics with solid metal parts suffered substantial drops in conductivity but this solution involves a pliable three-dimensional structure made from polymers with ‘pores’. These are then filled with liquid metal which can adjust to substantial size and shape changes, all while maintaining strong conductivity. We’ve embedded a very brief video of the new stretchable material going up against existing solutions after the break.

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Researchers partially automate CPU core design, aim to fast track new PC processor production

June 28th, 2012

Researchers partially automate CPU core design, aim to fast track new PC processor production

Tired of the year wait (or more) in between new silicon architecture offerings from Chipzilla and AMD? Well, if some Wolfpack researchers have anything to say about it, we’ll measure that wait in months thanks to a new CPU core design tool that automates part of the process. Creating a new CPU core is, on a high level, a two-step procedure.

First, the architectural specification is created, which sets the core’s dimensions and arranges its components. That requires some heavy intellectual lifting, and involves teams of engineers to complete. Previously, similar manpower was needed for the second step, where the architecture spec is translated into an implementation design that can be fabricated in a factory. No longer.

The aforementioned NC State boffins have come up with a tool that allows engineers to input their architecture specification, and it generates an implementation design that’s used to draw up manufacturing blueprints.

The result? Considerable time and manpower savings in creating newly designed CPU cores, which means that all those leaked roadmaps we’re so fond of could be in serious need of revision sometime soon.

SOURCE via IEEE Micro

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New wireless transmission tech hits 2.56Tbps, leaves WiFi feeling inadequate

June 28th, 2012

New wireless transmission tech hits 2.56Tbps, leaves WiFi feeling inadequate

Stoked about the gigabit speeds your new 802.11ac WiFi router is pumping out? One group of scientists hailing from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and universities in the US, Israel and China isn’t so impressed, having generated a wireless signal clocking in at 2.56Tbps. Proof of the feat was published in Nature Photonics, which details their use of orbital angular momentum (OAM) to make the magic happen.

Current wireless protocols alter the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves to hold info, and by combining both methods the team was able to pack eight data steams into a single signal, resulting in the mouth-watering number noted above. The best part is, applying different levels of OAM twist to SAM-based transmissions theoretically allows an infinite number of streams per signal, meaning seriously increased bandwidth without the need for additional frequency.

So far the wireless tests have only been conducted over a measly 1m, but the scientists reckon it’ll work at distances up to 1km and that the concept could also be used to boost speeds in existing fiber-optic cables. As with many scientific advances, it’s unlikely hardware capable of such speeds will be available any time soon, so 802.11ac will have to suffice… for now.

SOURCE via Nature

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Phase change memory breakthrough could lead to gigahertz-plus data transfers, make SSDs seem pokey

June 25th, 2012

Phase change memory breakthrough could lead to gigahertz-plus data transfers, make SSDs seem pokey

Often considered the eventual successor to flash, phase change memory has had a tough time getting to the point where it would truly take over; when it takes longer to write data than conventional RAM, there’s clearly a roadblock. The University of Cambridge has the potential cure through a constant-power trick that primes the needed hybrid of germanium, antimony and tellurium so that it crystalizes much faster, committing data to memory at an equally speedy rate. Sending a steady, weak electric field through the substance lets a write operation go through in just 500 picoseconds; that’s 10 times faster than an earlier development without the antimony or continuous power. Researchers think it could lead to permanent storage that runs at refresh rates of a gigahertz or more. In other words, the kinds of responsiveness that would make solid-state drives break out in a sweat. Any practical use is still some distance off, although avid phase change memory producers like Micron are no doubt champing at the bit for any upgrade they can get.

SOURCE via Science Mag

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