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Should Electronic Devices Be Used During Takeoffs and Landings?

A government advisory panel urged the Federal Aviation Administration to ease the long-standing ban on using the devices during takeoffs and landings. Since the curbs were put in place, airliners have been made more resistant to electronic interference, and many have their own Wi-Fi systems on board, but some say more study is needed.

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Will 3D Printing Be a Feasible Way to Build Beyond Earth?

In an attempt to build dwellings on Mars, Russian architects, ZA, have proposed a series of robots that would identify weak areas in the Martian soil, carve them out, and then, using a process similar to that of structural 3D printing, create interior structures using the leftover soil on Mars. Similarly, the European Space Agency has studied the feasibility of bringing 3D printers to the Moon, where they could be used to print shelters for the first semi-permanent inhabitants.

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Will 'Bodies on a Chip' Improve Drug Testing in the near Future?

A new bioprinting project, backed by $24 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, will attempt to 3D-print miniature human organs. The 2-inch "body on a chip" will test how the human body reacts to diseases, chemical warfare agents, and new drugs intended to defend against biological or chemical attacks. Such technology could speed up drug development by replacing animal testing or the simpler testing done on human cells in petri dishes.

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Will Biometrics Become a Must-have for Consumers?

Apple Inc. added a fingerprint scanner to its latest version of the iPhone, offering biometric security possibilities for workplaces or mobile commerce. Some analysts say that Apple's embrace of fingerprint scanning could lead to wider adoption and mainstream usage. Many laptops, external hard-drives and electronic wallets contain fingerprint scanners, but the technology has not emerged yet due to cost and a lack of supporting infrastructure.

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Will Wearable Computing Become Mainstream?

Bluetooth HD earmuffs, made by activewear company 180s, will debut this fall. The Bluetooth product, which warms your ears while also hiding speakers and a microphone, is another example of wearable computing — a technology area that includes trendy devices like smartwatches and Google Glass. Many supporters appreciate the convenience and capabilities of these kinds of tools, while others consider the wearable computing technology to be too unsightly to put on, or too easy to forget before leaving the house.

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Are 'Virtual Receptionists' a Good Idea?

The London borough of Brent is using a virtual receptionist, or hologram, to greet visitors in its new civic center. The hologram responds to questions about locations in the building, such as where to register births or where to head to apply for a marriage certificate. The virtual employee will be presented on a screen, and visitors can type in the reason for their visit and be given information on where to go or what kind of paperwork they require.

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Is a Hyperloop on the Way?

Last week, entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled a transportation concept that he said could whisk passengers the nearly 400 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes. The theoretical Hyperloop would consist of carlike capsules traveling at more than 700 mph through enclosed tubes. The capsules, which would contain about 28 passengers each, would ride on pockets of air, propelled by a linear induction motor. Some experts, however, have concerns about development cost, energy requirements, and technical feasibility. A Hyperloop, for example, could also be a tough fit in a region with an already built-up infrastructure, because of the need to locate the tubes and pylons.

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