Question of the Week

Question of the Week : Materials
Will Comfort-Adjusting Clothing Catch On?

Researchers from the University of Maryland have created a fabric that automatically regulates the amount of heat passing through. The engineered yarn expands and collapses based on temperature and humidity, cooling and warming a wearer as needed. What do you think?

Question of the Week : Energy
Do You See Potential with Electrokinetic Power?

Scientists from Caltech and Northwestern University have found a way to generate electricity by combining saltwater with one of life's more undesirable compounds: rust.

Question of the Week : AR/AI
Have You Used Machine Learning in Your Design Efforts?

A team from the University of Pittsburgh recently used machine-learning to create a butterfly-inspired, self-healing glass. Models from the San Francisco-based software company SigOpt helped engineers determine ideal characteristics for the material.

Question of the Week : Aerospace
Did You Watch the Moon Landing?

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans ever to land on the Moon. Fifty years later, we celebrate their achievement, and we want to hear from you.

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will ‘4D Knitting’ Lead to Better Robots and Wearables?

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have demonstrated "4D knitting. The computationally-controlled machines are being used to make a variety of soft textile objects.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Microbots Like HAMR-E Improve Search and Rescue?

Researchers from Harvard University's Wyss Institute created a 1.5-gram microbot called HAMR-E.

Question of the Week : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Would You Use a Device That Bonds Metal and Plastic in Seconds?

The connection of plastics and metals poses a challenge due to the different physical properties of the two materials. A joining gun from Fraunhofer Institute bonds metal and plastic in seconds.

Question of the Week : Test & Measurement
Will 5G Impact How You Test and Design?

We see a huge ‘Fear of Missing Out’ as companies, or even nations, become the first to release new 5G technologies and products,” said National Instruments’ Charles Schroeder during last month’s NIWeek event.

Question of the Week : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Would You Use a Wearable That Detects Hand Activity?

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University turned a standard smartwatch into a detector of specific hand activities, from playing the piano to scrolling through the phone. Read the Tech Briefs Q&A.

Question of the Week : Aerospace
Can a Spray-On Coating ‘Ice-Proof’ Airplanes?

University of Michigan researchers have developed a coating that they believe could lead to the achievement of a long-time goal: Ice-proofing airplanes.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Hummingbird Robots Help with Search-and-Rescue?

Purdue University researchers have created small flying robots that act like hummingbirds. Artificial intelligence, combined with flexible flapping wings, allows the robo-bird to teach itself new tricks.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Would You Use a Robot to Help with Household Tasks?

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have built Blue, a low-cost robot that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep reinforcement learning to master human tasks like folding laundry or making coffee.

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
For Prototyping, Do You Prefer 3D Printing or CNC Machining?

During a live presentation this month, a Tech Briefs reader had a question for Proto Labs machining pro Gus Breiland:

“When can 3D printing be a viable alternative to CNC machining?”

Question of the Week : Transportation
Will Flying Cars Support 'Sustainable Mobility?'

This week on Tech Briefs TV: A study published in Nature Communications found that flying cars could play a role in sustainable mobility for longer trips. See what the University of Michigan authors had to say. See what the University of Michigan authors had to say.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Would You Want to Work Alongside a 'Handle' Robot?

Another video featured on Tech Briefs TV this week demonstrated a robot from Boston Dynamics called "Handle." The bipedal wheeled robot takes on material handling tasks like pallet building and truck unloading for warehouse logistics. Take a look for yourself.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Have You Used Collaborative Robots?

Last week, a Tech Briefs reader asked our expert: "Can collaborative robots help manufacturers looking to scale their business?"

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
What's the most interesting or spontaneous prototype you've ever made?

It took two and a half years, 60 prototypes, and even some of his children's craft foam, but former designer and sensor pro Curtis Ray found a way to stop his snoring. He built a "smart" sleep mask equipped with an accelerometer, a microprocessor, a Bluetooth connection, a...

Question of the Week : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Have You Used Sleep Tech Products?

This month’s Here’s an Idea podcast featured a variety of Sleep Tech products, including the Hupnos snore-preventing sleep mask, the temperature-controlled Ooler mattress, and the brain-activity-monitoring Dreem headband. Listen to our episode to learn more about each of the inventions.

Question of the Week : Transportation
Will Carbon Fibers Find a New Place in Vehicles?

In a Tech Briefs article last week, Virginia Tech professor Greg Liu spoke about his team’s newly developed porous carbon fibers, and how the material may someday change how vehicles are built and powered.

Question of the Week : Electronics & Computers
Will ‘Structural Batteries’ Replace Conventional Ones?

Structural batteries are built into the actual configuration of battery-powered products – think the wing of a drone or the bumper of an electric vehicle. These batteries could reduce weight and extend range of a vehicle, but they're usually heavy, unsafe, or short-lived.

Question of the Week : Automotive
Will ‘Developable Mechanisms’ Solve Complex Tasks?

Brigham Young University engineers have created "developable mechanisms" that they hope to use in components like surgical instruments, adjustable airplane wings, robotic arms, or vehicle cylinders. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV, to see how the flat shapes can be converted into 3D...

Question of the Week : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Would You Use Wearables to Monitor Your UV Exposure?

Our February issue of Tech Briefs highlights a technology called My Skin Track UV. The 12 x 6 mm wearable sensor can be attached to clothing or accessories to detect sunburn and overexposure to ultraviolet light.

Question of the Week : Materials
Where Do You See Self-Healing Rubber Being Used?

In our lead INSIDER story today, USC Professor Qiming Wang said he hopes to see his team’s self-repairing rubber supporting everything from shoes to battle armor and airplane wings.

Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Conducted an FMEA?

With design, it pays to anticipate problems — and solve them — during product development.

Question of the Week : Electronics & Computers
Will ‘Embodied Logic’ Support New Monitoring Applications?

In today’s lead INSIDER story, Professor Jordan Raney said that the most interesting feature of his embodied-logic system is its ability to monitor an environment for a very long period of time, without needing a continued input of energy.

Question of the Week : Automotive
Do You Feel Safe Behind the Wheel of a Connected Car?

Our Here's an Idea podcast episode led the INSIDER today, and explored how today's auto manufacturers are working to protect connected cars from a range of threats, including ransomware and a remote takeover of the vehicle's controls.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Can AI Prevent Famine?

Today's INSIDER story demonstrated how artificial intelligence models are being used to mark areas most in need of famine relief and funding. Ed Hsu from the World Bank spoke at CES last week about his collaboration with AI heavyweights Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Question of the Week : Communications
Do You Expect Successful Cyberattacks on Today’s Connected Cars?

In today’s lead story, Stacy Janes showed optimism regarding the security of connected cars.

Question of the Week : Aerospace
Will Urban Air Mobility ‘Take Off?'

A Tech Briefs TV video demonstrates NASA’s rotary-wing “air taxi” concept. The vehicles, in theory, have the capacity for vertical take-off and landing, eliminating the need for long runways.

Question of the Week : Aerospace
How Strong is the ‘Ionic Wind?’

MIT has built the first-ever plane with no moving parts. Instead of turbine blades, propellers, and fans, the aircraft relies on an “ionic wind” — a silent but strong flow of ions, produced onboard, which generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight.