Electrical/Electronics

Quasi-Static Electric Field Generator

This generator is an essential component for human-safe electric field imaging for military and civilian security applications. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation is an electric field “illumination” system that is a companion component to the e-Sensor. This generator, when combined with the e-Sensor, enables a new, nondestructive inspection technology called electric field imaging (EFI) by producing spatially uniform, large-magnitude, quasi-static electric fields with human-safe currents (supporting only microampere currents) over large areas or large distances. These fields “illuminate” the objects to be inspected, and enable the EFI method to quantify the distortion of the applied electric field of the invention to detect, locate, and characterize materials present (liquid, solid, insulating, semiconducting, conducting, metallic, non-metallic, polymer, ceramic, composite, etc.), material variations, material damage, material age, and to identify hidden structures.

Posted in: Briefs

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Harness-Mounted Computer Improves Communication Between Dogs and Humans

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a suite of technologies that can be used to enhance communication between dogs and humans. The communication tool enables applications in search-and-rescue operations and pet training. “We’ve developed a platform for computer-mediated communication between humans and dogs that opens the door to new avenues for interpreting dogs’ behavioral signals and sending them clear and unambiguous cues in return,” says Dr. David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-lead author of a paper on the work. “We have a fully functional prototype, but we’ll be refining the design as we explore more and more applications for the platform.”The platform itself is a harness that fits comfortably onto the dog, and which is equipped with a variety of technologies.“Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and one of our challenges was to develop sensors that tell us about their behavior by observing their posture remotely,” Roberts says. “So we can determine when they’re sitting, standing, running, etc., even when they’re out of sight." A harness-mounted computer transmits data wirelessly. The technology also includes physiological sensors that monitor things like heart rate and body temperature. The sensors not only track a dog’s physical well-being, but can offer information on a dog’s emotional state, such as whether it is excited or stressed.SourceAlso: Learn about a Communication Monitoring System for Enhanced Situational Awareness.

Posted in: News, Wireless, Sensors, Monitoring

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Thirsty? There’s an App for That

Clean, potable water is one thing the world universally cannot live without. It hydrates. It cleans. It keeps us alive and well. That makes water very valuable to soldiers. However, as many mission planners know, water planning can be a nightmare. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, perhaps forcing some soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When soldiers don't have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses. To help solve this logistical problem, researchers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine’s (USARIEM) Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory worked to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration. The app is designed to satisfy the military’s desire for paperless guidance that is simple, accurate, mission-specific and available in real time.

Posted in: News, PCs/Portable Computers

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New System Could Prolong Power in Mobile Devices

Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use. The technology taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, PCs/Portable Computers, Power Management

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Improved Fuel Cells Could Replace Phone and Laptop Batteries

Fuel cells could replace batteries in mobile phones and laptop computers, and the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country is looking at ways of enhancing their efficiency. Researchers are designing new ways of obtaining energy in a cleaner, safer, and more affordable way. Fuel cells are totally appropriate systems for substituting the batteries of such devices. They turn the energy resulting from the combining of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical power, with water vapor being the only waste product.

Posted in: News, Power Management, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage

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Ultra-Thin 3D Display Promises Greater Energy Efficiency

An ultra-thin LCD screen, developed by a group of researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, holds three-dimensional images without a power source, making the display technology a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.In a traditional LCD, liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between polarized glass plates. Electrodes pass current through the apparatus, influencing the orientation of the liquid crystals inside and manipulating the way they interact with the polarized light. The new displays ditch the electrodes, simultaneously making the screen thinner and decreasing its energy requirements. Once an image is uploaded to the screen via a flash of light, no power is required to keep it there. Because these so-called bi-stable displays draw power only when the image is changed, they are particularly advantageous in applications where a screen displays a static image for most of the time, such as e-book readers or battery status monitors for electronic devices. “Because the proposed LCD does not have any driving electronics, the fabrication is extremely simple. The bi-stable feature provides a low power consumption display that can store an image for several years,” said researcher Abhishek Srivastava.The researchers, however, went further than creating a simple LCD display; they engineered their screen to display images in 3D. SourceAlso: Learn about a Rapid Prototyping Lab (RPL) Generic Display Engine.

Posted in: News, Energy Efficiency, Displays/Monitors/HMIs

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New Computer Codes Enable Design of Greener, Leaner Aircraft

A computer model that accurately predicts how composite materials behave when damaged will make it easier to design lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Innovative computer codes form the basis of a computer model that shows in unprecedented detail how an aircraft's composite wing, for instance, would behave if it suffered small-scale damage, such as a bird strike. Any tiny cracks that spread through the composite material can be predicted using this model. 

Posted in: News, Aviation, Greenhouse Gases, Composites

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