News

Would you like to have a voice-based personal assistant?

This week's Question: Google, Amazon, and Apple have developed — or are in the process of developing — voice-based personal assistants that "listen" and respond to verbal commands. The Amazon Echo, a 9-inch tall, voice-operated cylindrical speaker powered by an artificial-intelligence agent, was released last year; Google launched its Home speaker at the company's I/O event last month; and Apple is opening its Siri voice assistant to outside app developers. With the technologies, a user's verbal commands could soon initiate a variety of actions: controlling the lights in your home, turning on your car, playing video on your TV, or accessing the Internet, for example. The assistants could also provide increasingly personalized information based on one's specific commands and actions.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

'On the Fly' 3D Printer Adjusts to Design Changes

In conventional 3D printing, a nozzle scans across a stage: depositing drops of plastic, rising slightly after each pass, and building an object in a series of layers. A new "on-the-fly" prototyping system from Cornell University allows the designer to make refinements while printing is in progress.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

'Hourglass' Concept Improves Liquid Batteries

A flow battery can be recharged quickly by replacing its electrolyte liquid. Previous versions of liquid batteries, however, have relied on complex systems of tanks, valves, and pumps, adding to the cost and providing multiple opportunities for possible leaks and failures. A new liquid battery created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, substitutes a simple gravity feed for the pump system.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

How to predict thickness of bonbons, other shells

Since the 1600s, chocolatiers have been perfecting the art of the bonbon, passing down techniques for crafting a perfectly smooth, even chocolaty shell. Now a theory and a simple fabrication technique derived by MIT engineers may help chocolate artisans create uniformly smooth shells and precisely tailor their thickness. The research should also have uses far beyond the chocolate shop: By knowing just a few key variables, engineers could predict the mechanical response of many other types of shells, from small pharmaceutical capsules to large airplane and rocket bodies.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Spray-on formula could ice-proof airplanes, power lines, windshields

On your car windshield, ice is a nuisance. But on an airplane, wind turbine, oil rig, or power line, it can be downright dangerous. And removing it with the methods that are available today (usually chemical melting agents or labor-intensive scrapers and hammers) is difficult and expensive.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Would you ride in a Hyperloop?

This week's Question: MIT recently unveiled its prototype design for SpaceX founder Elon Musk's Hyperloop, a high-speed ground transport system that could theoretically send passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour. The university researchers will test their small prototype pod at SpaceX’s Hyperloop Test Track this summer. SpaceX initially envisioned using a cushion of air to transport the Hyperloop pod. MIT’s team, however, employs a magnetic levitation system, which incorporates two arrays of 20 neodymium magnets to keep the pod levitating at 15 mm. While MIT’s design is not big enough to fit a human body, the team told BBC News that scaling up the size would be straightforward once testing of the prototype pod is completed. The team still needs to address the development of turning and further test the braking system. What do you think? Would you ride in a Hyperloop?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

NASA and FAA Demonstrate Wireless Communication with Aircraft

For the first time ever, a team of engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center conveyed aviation data -- including route options and weather information -- to an airplane over a wireless communication system for aircraft on the ground. The demonstration, conducted with the Federal Aviation Administration demonstrated two technologies that could change airport operations worldwide.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.