News

Optical Generation of Ultrasound Via Photoacoustic Effect

Limitations of the piezoelectric array technologies conventionally used for ultrasonics inspired a group of University College London researchers to explore an alternative mechanism for generating ultrasound via light, also known as the photoacoustic effect. Coupling this with 3-D printing, the group was able to generate sound fields with specific shapes for potential use in biological cell manipulation and drug delivery.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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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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Researchers Find 'Golden' Idea for New Wearables

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a way to “grow” thin layers of gold on single crystal wafers of silicon, remove the gold foils, and use them as substrates on which to grow other electronic materials. The discovery could lead to new wearable developments, including a smartphone that conforms entirely to one's wrist.

Posted in: News, Materials
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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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NASA Satellite Data Supports Global Maps of Volcanic Emissions

Volcanoes around the world continuously exhale ash and water vapor laced with heavy metals, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide. Researchers from Michigan Technological University created the first, truly global inventory for volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions.

Posted in: News, Imaging
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Advanced Sensor Enables Ultrafast Camera for Self-Driving Vehicles and Drones

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed an ultrafast high-contrast camera that could help self-driving cars and drones see better in extreme road conditions and in bad weather. Unlike typical optical cameras, which can be blinded by bright light and unable to make out details in the dark, NTU’s new smart camera can record the slightest movements and objects in real time.

Posted in: News, Cameras
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Low-Cost Device uses Light to Detect Oil Spills

Researchers have developed a simple device that can detect an oil spill in water and then pinpoint the type of oil present on the surface. The device is designed to float on the water, where it could remotely monitor a small area susceptible to pollution or track the evolution of contamination at a particular location.

Posted in: News, Test & Measurement
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Algorithm Improves Robots' Ability to Fetch Objects

An algorithm developed at Brown University will improve robots' ability to ask clarifying questions and more effectively retrieve objects, an important task for future robotic assistants.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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Will robotic voice assistants improve children's ability to learn?

This week's Question: Toymaker Mattel recently announced the introduction of a smart baby monitor; The voice-controlled "Aristotle" uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate functions like changing lights, playing lullabies, or triggering white noise. With an estimated 25 million voice assistants expected to sell this year — like Amazon's Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft's Cortana — some researchers believe that the technology will impact its young users. Supporters of voice assistants say children have always used mainstream technology as learning tools. Opponents, however, suggest that the gadgets are another device that de-emphasizes the importance of interpersonal skills. What do you think? Will robotic voice assistants improve children's ability to learn?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Data Acquisition, Sensors
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Can augmented reality reduce "road rage?"

This week’s Question: A new "CarNote" app from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands aims to use augmented reality to improve the driving experience and reduce "road rage." CarNote's driver-facing periscope lens and transparent display projects information from a smartphone, allowing users behind the wheel to communicate and signal intentions. For example, a driver in a rush to a hospital could notify those in nearby vehicles, potentially reducing aggressive behavior like confrontations or honking the horn. The technology even has a "like" system that allows drivers to register or rate fellow travelers on the road. What do you think? Can augmented reality reduce "road rage?"

Posted in: Question of the Week, Simulation Software, Automotive
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