Question of the Week

Question of the Week: Photonics/Optics
Would You Use the 'LaserFactory?'

A technology from MIT known as the "LaserFactory" integrates 3D printers and laser cutters to fabricate wearables, robots, and electronics components like sensors and actuators.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Do You Like the Idea of Robots in the Hospital?

Our brand-new episode of Here’s an Idea highlighted a growing use of robots and robotic arms in the hospital. While technologies like “Tommy” and “Tiago” are helpful in completing tedious, repetitive tasks, the robots do lack a certain human touch, says our editor Sherrie Trigg.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will ‘Bubble Robots’ Catch On?

A group of researchers are using a surprising ingredient in their robot design: Bubbles. (Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.)

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Can 'Bluebots' Preserve Coral Reefs?

A team of Harvard researchers have developed fish-inspired robots that can synchronize their movements like a real school of fish, without any external control. (Watch the robots in action on Tech Briefs TV.)

Question of the Week: Test & Measurement
Will We Make Vibration-Free Helicopters?

A Tech Briefs TV video features a test technology from the Army that’s informally known as a “Shaker.” The Multi-Degree of Freedom (MDOF) system will study the causes of vibrations in a helicopter’s many components and subcomponents. The Army researchers hope to use the conclusions of their study...

Question of the Week: Automotive
Has the Vehicle Become Your “Second Space?”

"Honestly, the car has become an office for some people just so they can get away from the noise of their house," said Carla Bailo at CES 2021 last week. "The sound [in the car] is great, and you can connect from anywhere."

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Robotics and Automation Lead to a Greater Appreciation of Nature?

Our lead INSIDER story today focused on the environmental impacts of robotics and automation.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Would You Use a 'Twining' Robotic Gripper?

Our lead INSIDER story today focused on a twining robotic gripper that its inventor says is especially effective at grabbing thin objects like pencils, paintbrushes, and even a straightened paperclip.

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Could ‘Smellicopters’ Someday Support Search-and-Rescue?

Our second INSIDER story today highlights an innovative combination of autonomous drones and live moth antennae: The “Smellicopter.”

Question of the Week: Materials
Will RepelWrap Catch On?

A material called "RepelWrap" won this year's "Create the Future" Design Contest. The thin film, invented by researchers at McMaster University, instantly fends off viruses and bacteria when the material is placed on a surface, including a door handle or railing.

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Should We Use Chitin to Build on Mars?

In the latest episode of our Tech Briefs podcast series Here's an Idea™, researcher Javier Gomez Fernandez talks about his idea for making habitats on Mars. Fernandez envisions using chitin from insects – and combining the substance with the Martian soil – to create a kind of sustainable building...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will Indoor Light Someday Power Our Smart Devices?

Our lead INSIDER story today looks at “perovskite-inspired” materials that can absorb indoor light at higher efficiencies than ever before.

Question of the Week: Software
Would You Use 'Tsugite' Software for Woodworking?

A recent INSIDER story highlighted a new tool for architects, furniture-makers, and woodworking beginners. The interactive software from the University of Tokyo, known as "Tsugite," provides milling machine instructions and on-screen design guidance so that users can piece an object together...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will Paper-Based Keypads Catch On?

The “5 Ws” feature of our November issue of Tech Briefs highlights a paper-based keypad being developed at Purdue University.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Mobile Docking Stations Become an Essential Part of Underwater Exploration?

An INSIDER story this month highlighted an innovative way of supporting underwater robots: mobile docking stations.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Would You Use a ‘SwingBot?’

A “SwingBot” robotic arm from MIT can learn the physical features of a handheld object through tactile exploration. Instead of using cameras or vision methods, the robot’s grippers use GelSight tactile sensors that measure the pose and force distribution of the object. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.

Question of the Week: Electronics & Computers
Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

University of Michigan engineers reported that their new self-erasing chips could help stop counterfeit electronics or provide alerts if sensitive shipments are tampered with. The chips use a new material that temporarily stores energy, changing the color of the light it emits. The self-erase period takes seven...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Will We Someday 'Draw' Sensors On Our Skin?

A Tech Brief featured in our October issue showcases how University of Missouri researchers are creating pencil-drawn sensors. The engineers demonstrated that the simple combination of pencils and paper could be used to create personal, health-monitoring devices.

Question of the Week: Imaging
Will Flat Fisheye Lenses Play a Greater Role in Medical Imaging and Consumer Electronics?

A recent Tech Briefs TV video demonstrated an achievement from engineers at MIT and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The teams designed the first completely flat fisheye lens to produce crisp, 180-degree panoramic images. The lenses, according to...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Do Software Advancements Make You Feel Safe in an Autonomous Vehicle?

Our lead story today features self-driving car software that prevents accidents by understanding and anticipating safe traffic behaviors.

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Can Courtesy Be Programmed Into Self-Driving Cars?

During a recent webcast, a Tech Briefs reader raised an interesting question about self-driving cars:

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'Biomorphic' Batteries Support a Future of Tiny Robots?

A Tech Briefs TV video highlighted a rechargeable zinc battery from the University of Michigan that integrates into the structure of a robot to provide much more energy. The “biomorphic” battery, according to researchers, could provide 72x more energy for robots.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Are You OK With a Robot Taking Your Vitals?

The "Spot" robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from a distance of 2 meters.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Sound Support Valuable Robotics Tasks?

Our lead story today demonstrated how Carnegie Mellon researchers are building a dataset of sounds to help robots detect specific objects.

Question of the Week: Test & Measurement
Will Rovers Find Life Below the Surface of Mars?

Our lead story today highlighted a hypothesis from astrophysicist Dimitra Atri. Atri believes that the sub-surface conditions of Mars could be home to organic molecules.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will SpaceBok Someday Reach the Moon?

Our lead story today highlights the jumping space robot known as SpaceBok.

“We are at the stage where we want to go into more challenging environments: caves, craters, highlands, areas in which we would find water or other volatiles, or information about the geological history of a certain...

Question of the Week: Imaging
Do the Advantages of Tiny Cameras Outweigh Privacy Risks?

A recent Tech Briefs TV video showcased a wireless camera from the University of Washington – a device that is small enough to fit on an insect’s back, literally.

While the imaging advancement offers potential applications in biology and exploration, the UW team acknowledged...

Question of the Week: Propulsion
Will Electric Aircraft Take-Off in Everyday Aviation?

In May of 2020, the “eCaravan” aircraft, powered by a 750-horsepower electric motor and more than 2000 pounds of lithium-ion batteries, flew to a height of over 2500 feet, at over 100 miles per hour. The all-electric airplane was built by magniX, Seattle-based electric propulsion...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will ‘Roboats’ Catch On?

Our July issue of Tech Briefs highlighted a fleet of “roboats” that could someday transport people, collect trash, and self-assemble into floating structures.

The Roboat autonomous robotic boats — rectangular hulls equipped with sensors, thrusters, microcontrollers, GPS modules, cameras, and other...

Question of the Week
Would You Use the 'LaserFactory?'

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