News

Sound-Off: How are Collaborative Robots Being Used Today?

Are you seeing collaborative robots being integrated into today's production and manufacturing environments? Tech Briefs invites you to "Sound Off" on the role of "cobots."

Posted in: News, Robotics
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What's New on Tech Briefs: Brickmaking on Mars a 'Smashing' Success

With support from Congress and the President, NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars by 2040. Establishing a human presence on the Red Planet, however, will require permanent shelters.

And lugging a pile of bricks on the nine-month, 35-million-mile trip is out of the question.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling
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Human-Robot Interaction: When Robotics Meets Philosophy

To support human-robot interaction, designers are taking a page from philosophy and studying how we work together with one another.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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A Shape-Changing Display – Made from Fog

Researchers from the University of Sussex are the first to combine two cutting-edge visualization technologies in one: a fog screen and a shape-shifting display. The “MistForm” system, according to one of its creators, enables interaction capabilities that improve upon today’s virtual- and augmented-reality offerings.

Posted in: News, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Imaging
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Tech Briefs Q&A: Photocatalyst Device Turns Pollution into Power

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven have built a proof-of-concept device that performs two noble functions simultaneously: purifying polluted air and generating power. Read the Tech Briefs Q&A with Professor Sammy Verbruggen.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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Infrared 3D Scanner Measures Like Human Vision

With the new infrared 3D scanner, people can be measured without disturbing projections. (© Photo Fraunhofer IOF)

A 3D scanner, with a resolution of one million pixels and real-time data processing, operates using measuring technology that works in a similar way to human vision. To detect an object, periodic patterns are projected onto the surface using a specially developed near-infrared projector. A sequence of different patterns is projected in rapid succession in order to record as many measurement points as possible by the two cameras.

Posted in: News, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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High-Efficiency Power Converter for the Internet of Things

Researchers from MIT’s Microsystems Technologies Laboratories (MTL) have designed a new power converter that maintains its efficiency at currents ranging from 100 picoamps to 1 milliamp.

Internet of Things sensors will have to operate at very low powers to extend battery life for months, or make do with energy harvested from the environment. But that means that they’ll need to draw a wide range of electrical currents. Researchers from MIT developed a new step-down power converter that features a variable clock that can run switch controllers at a wide range of rates.

Posted in: News, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy
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Self-Charging Battery Could Make Chargers Obsolete

New technology developed by Hydro-Québec and McGill University is capable of harvesting and storing energy using light – a self-charging battery. To create the light-charged batteries, a standard cathode from a lithium-ion battery can be “sensitized” to light by incorporating photo-harvesting dye molecules.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage
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New Device Harnesses Heat to Power Computers

The thermal diode may allow computers to use heat as an alternate energy source. (Karl Vogel/Engineering)

One of the biggest problems with computers is keeping them cool so they don’t overheat. University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineers developed an alternative energy source that would allow computing at ultra-high temperatures. The nano-thermal-mechanical device, or thermal diode, could be used in space exploration, for exploring the core of the earth, for oil drilling, or in applications requiring calculations and data processing in real time in places where computers have not been able to function.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Thermoelectrics
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Creating the Future: A Better Way to Map Terrain

Mark Skoog, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, led the development of new software that stores terrain data in a more efficient and accurate way. The achievement, Skoog says, opens the prospect of anyone – yes, anyone – being able to fly.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Imaging, Sensors
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