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Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

This week's Question: Last week's TechBriefs.com story from the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference in Anaheim revealed new ways of detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines. Panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hosting them, can improve the detection of hazardous gas leakage. What do you think? Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Aerospace, Aviation, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics, Data Acquisition, Sensors

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Will shape memory polymers play a prominent role in non-aerospace applications?

This week's Question: A featured Tech Brief in today's INSIDER highlighted a shape memory polymer from Langley Research Center. Designed initially for morphing spacecraft, the material changes shape when temperature shifts; the thermosetting polymer than returns to its original form once normal conditions are reached. The technology may also have applications in self-deployable structures, smart armors, intelligent medical devices, and other various morphing structures. What do you think? Will shape memory polymers play a prominent role in non-aerospace applications?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Materials

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Will 3D printing of tissue revolutionize healthcare?

This week’s Question: Our lead stories today featured interviews with Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer, and industry expert Terry Wohlers. Though the medical applications for additive manufacturing are still in their early stages, organizations around the world have printed both hard and soft tissue. "The idea is that if you lose a finger, or have a damaged liver or heart, living cells are taken from you and used to produce the replacement," said Wohlers in the Tech Briefs Q&A. "I think someday, perhaps in our lifetime, we’ll be able to benefit from a more fully developed version of this technology." What do you think? Will 3D printing of tissue revolutionize healthcare?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Custom & Contract Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Implants & Prosthetics

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Can hybrid systems become a mainstream trucking technology?

This week's Question: A lead INSIDER story today focused on an add-on system from Hyliion, based in Pittsburgh, PA, that will help truck fleets to reduce gas emissions and fuel costs. Can hybrid systems become a mainstream trucking technology?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Automotive, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy

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Should Pluto be restored as a planet?

This week’s Question: Last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Johns Hopkins University's Kirby Runyon reignited an often fierce debate within the scientific community: Pluto’s planetary status.

Posted in: Question of the Week, Physical Sciences

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In five years, will light-enabled Wi-Fi "find a home?"

This week’s Question: A PhD student at Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a way of using infrared rays to carry wireless data to a laptop or smartphone. The wireless data comes from central "light antennas" that could, for example, be mounted on a ceiling to direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fiber. With no moving parts, the system requires no power. Project head Tom Koonen estimates that the technology could be installed in homes and stores in five years. What do you think? In five years, will light-enabled Wi-Fi "find a home?"

Posted in: Question of the Week, Communications, Wireless

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Is 3D printing the future of construction?

This week's Question: San Francisco-based startup Apis Cor recently used its giant 3D printer to build a small home — in under 24 hours, according to the company. The mobile technology printed out the house's walls, partitions, and building envelope; then, a group of contractors installed insulation, windows, appliances, and a roof. Apis Cor says the homes can be built for a cost of approximately $10,000. What do you think? Is 3D printing the future of construction?

Posted in: Question of the Week

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