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Flexible Silicone Sensors Enable Stepless Control Devices

Researchers have created flexible silicone sensors that make it easier to steplessly control devices such as a multifunction steering wheel that lets the driver control music, light, and ventilation at the touch of a finger. Multifunction steering wheels are standard in most automobiles today, and drivers can easily manipulate the cruise control and stereo without taking their hands of the wheel. However, the buttons are inflexible and the driver can often only switch something “on” and “off.”

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Beach Buoys Detect Water Contamination

Beachgoers may soon be able to know in a timely manner if the water is clean enough for swimming. The technology comes in the form of buoys that are deployed in the water near a beach. By combining statistical models with real-time data gathered by sensors embedded in the buoys, they provide quick and dependable information on water quality.

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Tactile Power Steering Senses Direction of Motorized Carts

Tactile handles forklifts, industrial trucks, and motorized carts are being developed that employ pressure sensors to detect the direction in which a user is pushing or pulling the cart. Workers can get a cart moving in the right direction with very little effort using the pressure sensors. Since the handles are equipped with sensors for both hands, a cart does more than just detect whether it is being pushed or pulled.

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Photonic Structures Act as Tiny Temperature and Humidity Sensors

Many machines such as turbines, oil drills, health monitors, and nuclear reactors require internal sensors to monitor physical states such as temperature. Researchers are developing compact silicon photonic sensors that can provide accurate readings without being damaged by the toxic, corrosive, or even explosive conditions within these machines.

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New Technique Could Improve Detection of Concealed Nuclear Materials

A low-energy nuclear reaction imaging technique designed to detect the presence of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in cargo containers arriving at U.S. ports was demonstrated. The method relies on a combination of neutrons and high-energy photons to detect shielded radioactive materials inside the containers.

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NASA Prepares Flight Tests of Unmanned Aircraft

NASA and its partners are validating and advancing technologies that will assist the FAA as they develop the regulations to allow integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. Test objectives will require 15 flights and more than 270 encounters. These encounters will consist of flying several piloted aircraft, referred to as intruders, into different positions near or around NASA’s Predator B remotely piloted aircraft, Ikhana.

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Sensors Teach Dogs New Tricks

A team from North Carolina State University has developed and customized a suite of technologies that allows a computer to train a dog autonomously. Sensors in the custom harness monitor a dog’s posture, and the computer effectively responds based on the animal’s body language.

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