Question of the Week

Question of the Week: Photonics/Optics
Will UAVs improve how we monitor the environment?

This week's Question: Last week's TechBriefs.com story from the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference in Anaheim revealed new ways of detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines. Panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will shape memory polymers play a prominent role in non-aerospace applications?

This week's Question: A featured Tech Brief in today's INSIDER highlighted a shape memory polymer from Langley Research Center. Designed initially for morphing spacecraft, the material changes shape when temperature shifts; the thermosetting polymer than returns to...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will 3D printing of tissue revolutionize healthcare?

This week’s Question: Our lead stories today featured interviews with Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer, and industry expert Terry Wohlers. Though the medical applications for...

This week's Question: A lead INSIDER story today focused on an add-on system from Hyliion, based in Pittsburgh, PA, that will help truck fleets to reduce gas emissions and...

Question of the Week: Physical Sciences
Should Pluto be restored as a planet?

This week’s Question: Last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Johns Hopkins University's Kirby Runyon reignited an often fierce debate within the scientific community:...

Question of the Week: Communications
In five years, will light-enabled Wi-Fi "find a home?"

This week’s Question: A PhD student at Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a way of using infrared rays to carry wireless data to a laptop or smartphone. The wireless data comes from central "light antennas" that could, for example, be mounted on a ceiling to direct the rays...

This week's Question: San Francisco-based startup Apis Cor recently used its giant 3D printer to build a small home — in under 24 hours, according to the company. The mobile technology printed out...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Will robotic voice assistants improve children's ability to learn?

This week's Question: Toymaker Mattel recently announced the introduction of a smart baby monitor; The voice-controlled "Aristotle" uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate functions like changing lights, playing lullabies, or triggering white noise. With an estimated 25...

Question of the Week: Software
Can augmented reality reduce "road rage?"

This week’s Question: A new "CarNote" app from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands aims to use augmented reality to improve the driving experience and reduce "road rage." CarNote's driver-facing periscope lens and transparent display projects information from a smartphone,...

This week's Question: Amazon recently filed a patent for parachute-aided delivery of packages. The proposed idea imagines drones releasing parcels from the sky, deploying parachutes to...

Question of the Week: Energy
Will "$100-per-killowatt-hours" batteries boost wind and solar energy efforts?

This week’s Question: The Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal of building a battery that stores energy for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, making stored wind and solar energy competitive with energy produced from traditional power plants. Today’s lead...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will telepresence drones take off?

This week’s Question: According to a recent application made public last week, Google is hoping to patent a "mobile telepresence system." The proposed drone is designed for collaboration with colleagues from remote locations. The technology will fly indoors and move from room to room, adjusting to...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will metallic hydrogen improve transportation?

This week's Question: Today's lead INSIDER story featured the development of metallic hydrogen, a technology that has a range of potential applications, from advanced rocket propellants to room-temperature superconductors. According to the Harvard University researchers, the material could support...

Question of the Week: Automotive
Will touchscreens take over the dashboard?

This week's Question: With backup cameras now mandatory in today's vehicles, screens in cars are increasingly becoming a standard feature. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month,...

Question of the Week: Communications
Would you use a flexible phone?

This week's Question: The Korea Herald reported last week that Samsung is developing a "fold-in" phone. The device's flexible display folds open into a 7-inch tablet. According to the article, the team is expected to ship more than 100,000 units during the third quarter of 2017. The paper reported that the...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Will the voice become a mainstream way to control our devices?

This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas showcased many new consumer products featuring voice control. LG, for example, introduced a smart refrigerator equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice service. Other CES technologies with voice-recognition capabilities included...

Question of the Week: Electronics & Computers
Is nine hours a day too much "screen time?"

This week's Question: A recent study from Common Sense Media found that parents spend more than nine hours (9:22) a day with screen media, with the vast majority of that time being spent with personal screen media (7:43) and only a little more than 90 minutes devoted to work screen media. Most parents...

Question of the Week: Aerospace
Will we be a “multi-planetary” species?

This week's Question: In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into space ventures. SpaceX, an advanced spacecraft manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, has completed more than 30 successful launches since 2006, delivered cargo to the International Space Station, and secured...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Are you optimistic about AI possibilities?

This week's Question: Today's featured INSIDER story demonstrated a new achievement in artificial intelligence. According to a recently released Stanford University report developed by a standing group of AI scientists, the ability for robots to be self-determined and concerned with their own longevity...

Question of the Week: Automotive
Will you use "car concierge" services?

This week's Question: Automaker Volvo is inviting 300 owners of XC90 SUVs and S90 sedans to try out a new app that connects car owners with convenience services. Through the pilot program, users can receive remote fuel delivery, valet car cleaning, and maintenance from their phones. Authorized providers of...

Question of the Week: Imaging
Will virtual reality increase empathy?

This week's Question: According to a recent article in The Washington Post, a growing number of filmmakers, policymakers, researchers, human rights workers, and law enforcement officials are using virtual reality technology to make people feel as if they have experienced an event firsthand. Advocates say...

Question of the Week: Aerospace
Would you use drones for home security?

This week's Question: A new home security technology called the Sunflower Home Awareness System deploys a drone to patrol one’s property. The combination of intelligent outdoor sensors and an aerial drone-based camera detects motion, vibration, and sound, and provides users with a view of the home’s...

Question of the Week: Aerospace
Will we see a flying car transportation service?

This week’s Question: Ride-hailing company Uber recently released a white paper outlining its new transport service: the flying car. The company envisions a “network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically.” The proposal aims to use airspace to relieve transportation...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will artificial intelligence do more good than bad for humanity?

This week's Question: World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.” Hawking noted the risks of creating superintelligence with a will of its...

Question of the Week: Software
Can algorithms create a pop-music hit?

This week's Question: Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) in Paris is developing a system of algorithms which can create songs that cater to the user's taste, based on styles adapted from existing music. Starting with a sheet-music database of more than 13,000 existing songs, users choose several titles...

Question of the Week
Will selfies become the primary mode of authentication?

This week's Question: MasterCard has tested facial biometrics for payment authentication and has now begun rolling out its MasterCard Identity Check, or "selfie pay," to a greater number of users. The biometric authentication app is available throughout Europe, including Austria, Belgium,...

Question of the Week
Will solar road panels catch on?

This week's Question: Solar Roadways — a startup developing solar powered road panels — will soon install the first solar road tiles in Sandpoint, Idaho. The transparent solar road panels contain colorful LEDs, which can be controlled by a computer to create the impression of signs and lines, without the need...

Question of the Week
Will ground-based delivery robots catch on?

This week's Question: This fall, Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based startup created by two Skype co-founders, will begin testing its autonomous delivery robot in Washington, D.C. Washington is the first U.S. municipality to approve ground-based robots to traverse city sidewalks. Starship aims to...

Question of the Week
Will you watch drone racing?

This week's Question: The Drone Racing League announced on Wednesday that it had signed deals to broadcast a 10-episode season on ESPN and ESPN2, along with the European stations Sky Sports Mix and 7Sports. According to league officials, stationary pilots will use headsets and joysticks to steer the drones through...

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