Features

LED Illumination in Simulation and Training

Since its inception, projection has been the dominant technology for displaying large, high-resolution images. Over the years, projectors have evolved to keep pace with advances in computer graphics and video sources, following the trends toward ever higher resolutions and ever larger screens.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

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Collaborative Platforms Aid Emergency Decision-Making

Real-time data from NASA satellites enables public agencies to better prepare for natural and manmade disasters. NASA runs and partners in many missions dedicated to monitoring the Earth, and the tools used in these missions continuously return data on everything from shifts in temperature, to cloud formation, to pollution levels over highways. The data are of great scientific value, but they also provide information that can play a critical role in decision-making during times of crisis. Real-time developments in weather, wind, ocean currents, and numerous other conditions can have a significant impact on the way disasters unfold.

Posted in: Articles

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Industry Roundtable: Design and PLM Software

As traditional Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software expands with more simulation capabilities and wider enterprise data management, software vendors are meeting customers’ demands with solutions that encompass the entire product development process, from initial design through end of life. In our annual poll of executives at leading CAD software companies, we learned how CAD continues to evolve, and what some of the important trends are for 2014.

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Moving Magnet Voice Coil Actuators Offer Controllable Movement for High-Duty-Cycle Applications

There are two types of voice coil actuators: moving coil and moving magnet. The materials of construction are similar, since they both use rare earth magnets, steel, copper wire, and basic insulation materials. There is a tendency to want to say one type is better suited for certain applications; however, there are many different sizes and shapes of voice coil actuators, making it difficult to make blanket statements about which type of actuator works better, and where.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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Testing Today’s Most Complex Consumer Device: The Ubiquitous Smartphone

We’ve come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell’s famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here” were spoken and the telephone was born. The simplicity of use of today’s smartphones, tablets, and similar smart devices belies the underlying complexity of creating a device that can connect virtually anywhere, at anytime. While there are other consumer electronic devices that have increased in complexity and capability, the majority of the smartphone’s complex structure is completely hidden from the user. At the same time, “when can I upgrade” is a common mantra of users. The fast-paced and high-volume production required in this environment continues to add complexity to mobile device testing, and has necessitated the rethinking of traditional test methods.

Posted in: Articles

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Camera Systems Rapidly Scan Large Structures

Thermography designed to protect aircraft from effects of aging finds use in power stations, manufacturing plants, and ships. Aging aircraft are an increasing concern. Commercial and government vehicles are being flown past their originally intended service life in order to save money. The answer, however, isn’t merely to build more aircraft. NASA’s Aircraft Aging and Durability (AAD) Project is taking a proactive approach to extending the life of aircraft even before age is a concern. The project targets young aircraft, and develops technologies and materials to mitigate the effects of aging as early — and for as long — as possible.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff

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Speed2Design: A Chance of a Lifetime

I recently had the chance to spend a day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with the ten winners of the Speed2Design contest sponsored by Littelfuse, a Chicago-based circuit protection company. The prize was a behind-the-scenes tour of the center, including technical conversations with the engineers working on robotics and rovers, astronaut training, and International Space Station (ISS) research. Having been to NASA facilities multiple times, I had a “been there, done that” attitude at first, but was quickly as amazed and awed as the winners by the technologies and facilities at NASA Johnson.

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