Billy's Blog

On Billy's Blog, Billy Hurley, Digital Editorial Manager, writes stories about new and innovative achievements in design engineering, from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to 3D printers and see-through solar cells. Along with other Tech Briefs writers and editors, Billy shares his opinions, poses questions to readers, and finds the fun, interesting, and unexpected stories behind today's leading-edge inventions.

Were You at D&M Midwest?

I met a lot of people at last week’s Design & Manufacturing Midwest show, and I saw a lot of innovative new products. I’ve had the chance to share with you what I saw last week from the show floor, and this week as we do a final wrap-up. What about you? If you were at D&M Midwest – or any of the five...

Streamlining PC Board Production

Given increased time-to-market pressures, design engineers are caught in a never-ending quest to streamline design and production processes. The challenges are formidable: proprietary or incompatible software, poor design tools, incomplete parts documentation, equipment issues - all can slow down prototyping and...

More New D&M Midwest Products

Last week’s Design & Manufacturing Midwest event in Rosemont, IL, was a hotbed for new product introductions to the industrial, medical, automation, assembly, and design areas. Here are more new products you should know about in case you missed the show.

Optical Gaging Products introduced the Focus...

Post-Show Week Begins

As attendees and exhibitors get back to business following last week’s Design & Manufacturing Midwest event, there are still a lot of things to talk about in my post-show blog this week.

After sifting through stacks of new product sheets and press kits, I’ve found that one week was not enough to cover all...

Wrapping Up a Busy Week at D&M Midwest

It was a busy and invigorating week at Design & Manufacturing Midwest, with new product introductions, a surprising keynote address, and presentations highlighting innovative applications.

And speaking of applications, the show featured an Innovation Briefs Theater, which showcased presentations...

D&M Midwest Ending on a High Note

After yesterday’s inspirational keynote, I was determined to find more innovative new products on the show floor, and I found them. So, before Design & Manufacturing Midwest wraps up this afternoon, I wanted to let you know about a few of those new products.

Horner Advanced Products Group...

Inspiration and Innovation at D&M Midwest

This morning, I began the second day of Design & Manufacturing Midwest by attending an early keynote session, which was free. I expected to get what I paid for. Instead, I heard an inspiring entrepreneur who is passionate about how businesses, both large and small, can save the planet and be profitable...

Design & Manufacturing Midwest: It’s On!

Design & Manufacturing Midwest – and its five co-located shows – kicked off this morning with a number of exhibitors showing brand-new products for the first time. Attendees are crowding the aisles to see the latest in electronics, medical, design, materials, assembly, and automation products and...

Countdown to Design & Manufacturing Midwest

Tomorrow at 10 am Central time, the Design & Manufacturing Midwest expo opens its doors, giving you the opportunity to see the products and services on display by more than 400 exhibitors. I’ll be at the show – and covering the week’s five other co-located shows – reporting live each...

Pack Your Walking Shoes for D&M Midwest

As promised in my blog yesterday, I have a sneak peek at a couple of new products that will be on display next week at Design & Manufacturing Midwest, as well as a preview of some of the can’t-miss special features in the exhibit hall.

Celesco Transducer Products (Booth 646) will be showing its...

Live! From Design & Manufacturing Midwest

It’s mid-September, and that means it’s time for Design & Manufacturing Midwest (formerly National Manufacturing Week) and its five co-located shows, which kick off next Tuesday at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. A must-attend event for manufacturers, the show features the...

Recalling September 11, 2001

Today, September 11, 2009, marks the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Various events are being held in cities and towns all over the country to commemorate the event, many honoring the 3,000 people who died in the attacks. The day undoubtedly remains a difficult one...

App Art

As the editor of an engineering magazine, I get to see all of the latest cutting-edge technology the moment it hits the streets. On average we get anywhere from 20 – 30 new product announcements a day, all of which must be evaluated on their merits. Most of the products are designed to satisfy some need, solve some problem, or...

The Rights of Airline Passengers

Flight delays are nothing new to airline travelers. Congested runways, inclement weather, aircraft problems - all of these factors can trigger delays that could easily run into hours. But after several recent incidents where airline passengers were stranded for six hours, the call to legislate a "passenger bill...

Who Benefits From "Cash for Clunkers"?

The U.S. Senate is now deciding on whether to approve an additional $2 billion in funding for the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program. Should the Senate approve, President Obama is certain to approve extending the program, designed to replace old gas-guzzling vehicles with more fuel-efficient ones, by...

Re-Inventing the Number

I had the opportunity to meet with an old friend of NASA Tech Briefs last week. Allen Razdow, who many design engineers may know as the inventor of Mathcad and the co-founder of MathSoft, was in town to talk to me about his new company and his new venture, a sort of “Wikipedia for numbers.”

The company, True...

Computer Program Warns Weary Drivers

Although less publicized than alcohol, driver fatigue is a major contributor to auto accidents in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 56,000 sleep-related road crashes occur annually in the U.S., resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. According to the...

Good News, Bad News

You know that old adage, "I've got some good news and I've got some bad news"? Well, that pretty much sums up this year's Semicon West, which was held last week at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Semiconductor West is the semiconductor manufacturing industry's annual trade show and technical conference. As such, it's a...

Walter Cronkite, Friend of Space Travel

Walter Cronkite, arguably the best-known and respected television news anchor of the past half century, died last Friday at 92. Cronkite left an indelible mark on the face on television news journalism, covering many of the main events and interviewing many of the world’s key leaders shaping the 20th...

Faking a Moon Landing

July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first space mission to land on the Moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s words - “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – arguably depict one of the finest moments in U.S. history. The landing was the culmination of a massive collective effort by the U.S....

Green Living, Amish Style

I spent part of the recent Fourth of July weekend in central Pennsylvania, with one of the stops being Lancaster, home of one of the largest concentrations of Amish people in the U.S. The Amish are well known for eschewing modern technology as they shun the use of electricity, private automobiles, and many of the...

Brain Wave Wheelchair Control

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of cars and light trucks, Toyota, is making inroads into the area of brain machine interface (BMI) technology. Toyota has developed a brain wave control that analyzes the brain waves of a wheelchair driver in as little as 125 milliseconds, as opposed to several seconds with...

Make Mine Water

When the time comes to kick back and relax, my wife and I enjoy vacationing in Aruba. Located in the southern Caribbean about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, this tiny (75 square miles) desert island has a lot going for it, starting with the climate. Being situated outside of the Caribbean’s notorious hurricane belt, the...

Sensors Connect the World

Connectivity is the order of the day in today’s shrinking world, and the world of sensors is no exception. At the just-completed Sensors Expo in Rosemont, IL, there was no shortage of sensor products touting advances in miniaturization and performance. But more important, sensors are taking on the role of being key...

Sensors, Robots In Rosemont

The Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, will be buzzing next week with Sensors Expo and Conference, the key industry event focusing on sensors and sensor integrated systems. Being held June 8 through 10, the show will highlight the key advances in sensor technology that are finding their way into...

Paint That Roof White!

There’s no shortage of solutions proposed to solve the problem of global warming, some devised after long, painstaking, and expensive hours of research. But President Obama’s key energy expert has come up with what appears to be a low-cost no-brainer - paint the roofs of all buildings white.

According to U.S....

Tasty Urine

Much of the attention during the current space shuttle mission has focused on making long-awaited repairs to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. But there are other matters to attend to as well. Such as tasting water recycled from urine.

On Wednesday, astronauts aboard the International Space Station conducted the first taste...

Godspeed Atlantis

Earlier this week the space shuttle Atlantis took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the fifth – and what is said to be final – repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched in April 1990, Hubble has produced some spectacular images over the years, greatly expanding our knowledge of the universe well beyond...

Traveling at Warp Speed

Star Trek aficionados will once again get to see their beloved Starship Enterprise traveling at warp speed – the speed of light - when the latest Star Trek movie opens in theatres today. While 'warp speed' has long been associated with the long-running science fiction entertainment series, the concept remains a pipe...