Tech Briefs

Sensors & Test

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Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on sensors and test, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Latest Tech Briefs

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Briefs: AR/AI
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed electronic “stickers” that measure the force exerted by one object upon another. The force stickers are wireless, run without batteries and fit in tight spaces. That makes them versatile for a wide range of applications.
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A research team has successfully overcome the limitations of soft strain sensors by integrating computer vision technology into optical sensors. The team developed a sensor technology known as computer vision-based optical strain (CVOS) during its study. Unlike conventional sensors reliant on electrical signals, CVOS sensors employ computer vision and optical sensors to analyze microscale optical patterns, extracting data regarding changes.
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Briefs: Medical
Researchers at The Ohio State University have fabricated the first wearable sensor designed to detect and monitor muscle atrophy. This new study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering suggests that an electromagnetic sensor made out of conductive “e-threads” could be used as an alternative to frequent monitoring using MRI.
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Briefs: Medical
A first-of-its-kind robotic glove is lending a “hand” and providing hope to piano players who have suffered a disabling stroke. Developed by researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, the soft robotic hand exoskeleton uses artificial intelligence to improve hand dexterity.
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Briefs: Lighting
The optical concentration sensor has been demonstrated to effectively measure pretreat concentrations in both still and flowing liquid conditions and is resistant to contamination issues as necessitated by the UWMS.
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A Molecular-Sized, More Efficient Electronic Sensor
Australian researchers have developed a molecular-sized, more efficient version of a widely used electronic sensor, in a breakthrough that could bring widespread benefits.
Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Scientists from the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, working together with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), have found an inexpensive method that enables accurate earthquake measurements even on the ocean floor and in less developed countries.
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Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Photoelectric (PE) sensors represent a discrete sensor technology widely used throughout industry. They use the presence or absence of light to provide an on/off output to supervisory automation and monitoring systems, and are often the better choice for sensing manufacturing products.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Macquarie University engineers have developed a new technique to make the manufacturing of nanosensors far less carbon-intensive, much cheaper, more efficient, and more versatile — substantially improving a key process in this trillion-dollar global industry.
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Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Using a new type of dual-polymer material capable of responding dynamically to its environment, researchers have developed a set of modular hydrogel components that could be useful in a variety of soft robotic and biomedical applications.
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Briefs: Energy
A research team has developed a robotic system that can be unobtrusively built into the frame of a standard honeybee hive. Composed of an array of thermal sensors and actuators, the system measures and modulates honeybee behavior through localized temperature variations.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A team at ETH Zurich has developed an ultrasonically actuated glass needle that can be attached to a robotic arm. This lets them pump and mix minuscule amounts of liquid and trap particles.
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Briefs: Photonics/Optics
MIT researchers have developed a camera-based touch sensor that is long, curved, and shaped like a human finger. Their device provides high-resolution tactile sensing over a large area. The sensor, called the GelSight Svelte, uses two mirrors to reflect and refract light.
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Briefs: AR/AI
A new soft sensor developed by UBC and Honda researchers opens the door to a wide range of applications in robotics and prosthetics. When applied to the surface of a prosthetic arm or a robotic limb, the sensor skin provides touch sensitivity and dexterity, enabling tasks that can be difficult for machines such as picking up a piece of soft fruit.
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Briefs: Test & Measurement
When multiple drones are working together in the same airspace, perhaps spraying pesticide over a field of corn, there’s a risk they might crash into each other. To help avoid these costly crashes, MIT researchers developed a system called MADER in 2020.
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Briefs: Test & Measurement
Researcher are finding ways to estimate a target location when light gets deflected by a disordered structure.
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Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Processes and structures within the body that are normally hidden from the eye can be made visible through medical imaging. Scientists use imaging to...

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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Study shows improvements to chemical sensing chip that aims to quickly and accurately identify drugs and other trace chemicals.
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Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Research reveals that expertly timed lasers shined at an approaching LIDAR system can create a blind spot in front of the vehicle.
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Briefs: Medical
Engineers have demonstrated an ingestible sensor whose location can be monitored as it moves through the digestive tract, an advance that could help doctors more easily diagnose gastrointestinal motility disorders such as constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastroparesis.
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Briefs: Test & Measurement
NASA Ames has developed a new state-of-the-art method for measuring fluctuating aerodynamic-induced pressures on wind tunnel models using unsteady Pressure Sensitive Paint (uPSP).
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Researchers were able to successfully isolate bacteria from various fluids with a microparticle-based matrix filter. The filter trapped particles in small voids in the device, providing a larger concentration of bacteria for analysis.
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Briefs: Medical
Enhancing At-Home COVID Tests with Glow-in-The-Dark Materials
Researchers at the University of Houston are using glow-in-the-dark materials to enhance and improve rapid COVID-19 home tests.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Prompted by conversations regarding soft robotics, a research group has developed a design for a new sensor using 3D electrodes inspired by the folding patterns used in origami, able to measure a strain range of up to three times higher than a typical sensor.
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Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Sensor Enhances Robots’ Tactile Capabilities
Achieving human-level dexterity during manipulation and grasping has been a long-standing goal in robotics. To accomplish this, having a reliable sense of tactile information and force is essential for robots.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
In people with epilepsy, seizure-alert dogs can smell small changes in body chemistry and warn of an impending seizure an hour or more before it occurs. Inspired by this feat of nature, a team of researchers has developed a way to replicate that ability with technology.
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Briefs: AR/AI
Praneeth Namburi is a research scientist at the MIT.nano Immersion Lab. One project that bridges the physical and digital worlds uses VR simulations to train people to fabricate computer chips and semiconductors.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
The vibrating device uses bone-conducted sounds to achieve better results.
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Briefs: Test & Measurement
Researchers from Northwestern University have collaborated on the implementation of an accurate, low-cost, and easy-to-use test for detecting toxic levels of fluoride in water. The new biosensor device has been field tested in Kenya.
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