Special Coverage


3D Audio Research Helps Make Cockpit Safer

Imagine yourself in a cockpit, flying a mission, listening to a multitude of critical voices delivering vital messages, all at the same time and from the same direction. Now imagine the same environment, except that the voices are now distinct and separate. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has developed 3D sound technology that creates a sound environment that mimics the way the human body receives aural cues, much like 3D movies create the perception that the viewer is part of the movie.

Posted in: Communications, Aerospace, Aviation, RF & Microwave Electronics, News


NASA Tests Revolutionary Shape-Changing Aircraft Flap

NASA's green aviation project is one step closer to developing technology that could make future airliners quieter and more fuel‑efficient with the successful flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight. Researchers replaced an airplane’s conventional aluminum flaps with advanced, shape‑changing assemblies that form seamless bendable and twistable surfaces. Flight testing will determine whether flexible trailing‑edge wing flaps are a viable approach to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce noise generated during takeoffs and landings.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Aerospace, Aviation, News


Supersonic Laser-Propelled Rockets Could Help Aircraft Exceed Mach 10

A new method for improving the thrust generated by laser-propulsion systems may bring them one step closer to practical use. The method, developed by physicists Yuri Rezunkov of the Institute of Optoelectronic Instrument Engineering, Russia, and Alexander Schmidt of the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia, integrates a laser‑ablation propulsion system with the gas‑blasting nozzles of a spacecraft. Combining the two systems can increase the speed of the gas flow out of the system to supersonic speeds, while reducing the amount of burned fuel.

Posted in: Photonics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Aerospace, Aviation, News


Will comet missions yield valuable information about the origin of the solar system?

This week's Question: The Philae spacecraft successfully landed on a moving comet last week. Scientists hope to be able to study the material beneath the surface of the solar body, which is traveling through space at 41,000 mph, hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth. Probing the comet’s dust could help researchers determine the origins of life on Earth, and whether comets provided the water that exists in oceans today. Since the material has remained almost unchanged for 4.5 billion years, it is considered by some researchers to be a "cosmic time capsule" that may contain the building blocks of life. What do you think? Will comet missions yield valuable information about the origin of the solar system?

Posted in: Question of the Week


Moving Cameras Track Objects Automatically

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences. The cameras first identify a person in a video frame, then follow that same person across multiple camera views.“Tracking humans automatically across cameras in a three-dimensional space is new,” said lead researcher Jenq-Neng Hwang, a UW professor of electrical engineering. “As the cameras talk to each other, we are able to describe the real world in a more dynamic sense.”Imagine a typical GPS display that maps the streets, buildings and signs in a neighborhood as your car moves forward, then add humans to the picture. With the new technology, a car with a mounted camera could take video of the scene, then identify and track humans and overlay them into the virtual 3-D map on your GPS screen. The UW researchers are developing this to work in real time, which could help pick out people crossing in busy intersections, or track a specific person who is dodging the police.“Our idea is to enable the dynamic visualization of the realistic situation of humans walking on the road and sidewalks, so eventually people can see the animated version of the real-time dynamics of city streets on a platform like Google Earth,” Hwang said.SourceAlso: Learn about Machine Vision for High-Precision Volume Measurement.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Cameras, Video, Visualization Software, Imaging, News


Virtual Prototyping: Visualizing the Next Generation of Products

The Department of Defense defines a virtual prototype as “A computer-based simulation of a system or subsystem with a degree of functional realism comparable to a physical prototype.” A virtual prototype is built from CAD drawings of separate assemblies that are gradually placed into the whole. Since the drawings of each subassembly are detailed and accurate, you can accurately assess their form (overall shape), fit (ease of as- sembly), and function (making sure it performs as specified). In addition to these traditional three Fs, the virtual prototype can be used for motion studies and studying interactions be- tween the machine and the humans who will use it. Once the design is complete, you can use the digital model to see whether parts interfere as you move them through their com- plete range of motion. In the past, design and analysis have been separate tasks, performed by different teams. With virtual prototyping, these functions are completely entwined.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, White Papers


Conformal Coatings Improve Reliability for Innovative Technologies

For decades, the medical, electronics, military, automotive and aerospace industries have used conformal coatings for a variety of reasons, including to protect components from their environment, enhance lubricity, provide thermal and electrical insulation, stabilize delicate structures, and function as an interface that is biocompatible. As advances in technology demand devices and components become smaller in size, more complex in nature and face increasingly harsh environments, newer designs present challenges for many conformal coatings. Poly(para-xylylene), known as Parylene, is an ultra-thin, pinhole-free, inert, transparent conformal coating that meets these challenges. With a successful track record spanning more than 40 years, Parylene coatings have enhanced the reliability of numerous devices and components such as circuit boards, MEMS, LEDs, stents, pacemakers, electrosurgical tools, sensors, and elastomeric components, to name only a few.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars