science + technology news

A Flashy Web Communication Tool

July 21, 2002

The new Flash Communication Server MX allows Flash developers to create multimedia Web applications that let users talk and stream video, collaborate on documents in real time, chat, and send instant multimedia messages.

A flexible, transparent gesture sensor

February 22, 2013

A comparison between the image being focused on the sensor surface and the reconstructed image (inset) (credit: Oliver Bimber, Johannes Kepler/ University Linz)

A new method of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet has been developed by a team of researchers at Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria.

The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet.

With no electronics or internal components,… read more

A flexible, transparent pressure sensor

A more sensitive way for doctors (or robots) to palpate tumors
January 26, 2016

The pressure sensors wrap around and conform to the shape of the fingers while still accurately measuring pressure distribution. (credit: 2016 Someya Laboratory)

Doctors may one day be able to physically screen for breast cancer using pressure-sensitive rubber gloves to detect tumors, thanks to a transparent, bendable, and sensitive pressure sensor newly developed by Japanese and American teams.

Conventional pressure sensors can’t measure pressure changes accurately once they are twisted or wrinkled, making them unsuitable for use on complex and moving surfaces, and they can’t be miniaturized below 100 micrometers (0.1 millimeters)… read more

A fluorescent test for antioxidant drugs

November 25, 2011


A study by UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Australia, to visualize accumulation of oxidized LDL in genetically modified zebrafish could lead to a rapid test for the potential effectiveness of new antioxidant and dietary therapies for human atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a process of lipid deposition and inflammation in the artery walls. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that carries “bad” cholesterol in blood is easily oxidized, and… read more

A Flute Made on a 3D Printer, and the Possibilities to Come

January 5, 2011


MIT Media Lab researcher Amit Zoran has printed a playable flute, using a 3D printer that is capable of on-the-fly use of multiple materials, in 15 hours.

The instrument is playable, but Zoran plans additional iteration and improvement.

The 3D printer could represent new potential for instrumental research. It’s too difficult now to prototype ideas. Being able to rapidly prototype a lot of variations inexpensively could mean… read more

A fly-inspired miniature microphone

Hypersensitive 2-millimeter-wide device could lead to a new generation of miniaturized low-power hearing aids
July 25, 2014

This is a photograph of the biologically-inspired microphone taken under a microscope, providing a top-side view. The tiny structure rotates and flaps about the pivots (labeled), producing an electric potential across the electrodes (labeled). (Credit: N. Hall/UT Austin)

University of Texas Austin researchers have developed a tiny prototype microphone device that mimics the Ormia ochraceafly’s hearing mechanism. The design may be useful for a new generation of hypersensitive, millimeter-sized, low-power hearing aids.

The yellow-colored Ormia ochracea fly, the inspiration for the design, can pinpoint the location of a chirping cricket with remarkable accuracy because of its freakishly acute hearing, which relies upon a sophisticated sound processing… read more

A flying jellyfish-like machine

A replacement for Amazon's octocopters?
December 3, 2013

Flying jellyfish (credit: L. Ristroph/NYU)

New York University researchers have built a small vehicle whose flying motion resembles the movements of a jellyfish or moth — a new method of flight that could enable miniaturized future robots for surveillance, search-and-rescue, and monitoring of the atmosphere and traffic.

Many approaches to building small aerial robots try to mimic the flight of insects such as fruit flies. The problem, says Leif Ristroph of NYU, is that… read more

A ‘fountain of youth’ for stem cells?

December 29, 2009

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and MIT are exploring ways to successfully keep stem cells “forever young” during implantation by slowing their growth, differentiation and proliferation.

A fourth branch of cellular organisms?

March 28, 2011

Researchers using DNA analysis have shown that there may be at least one hidden domain of life, a fourth branch of cellular organisms, says Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis, and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed metagenomic data and used them to search the Global Ocean Sampling (GOS) Expedition dataset for novel lineages in three gene families commonly used in phylogenetic studies: trees that use small subunit… read more

A free database of the entire Web may spawn the next Google

January 24, 2013


A nonprofit called Common Crawl is now using its own Web crawler and making a giant copy of the Web that it makes accessible to anyone.

The organization offers up over five billion Web pages, available for free so that researchers and entrepreneurs can try things otherwise possible only for those with access to resources on the scale of Google’s, MIT Technology Review reports.… read more

A Free Mesh Network for San Francisco

August 17, 2007

Meraki Networks, a wireless mesh-network company is bypassing San Francisco city hall, giving away some 200 wireless routers to city residents in the past couple of months.

The routers have been accessed by more than 6,000 city residents who can pick up the Wi-Fi signal. Meraki is now offering to expand the program to give away a few thousand routers, thereby building a free Wi-Fi mesh-network system from the… read more

A French autonomous car

January 13, 2012

Stahle robot driver

French researchers have developed a self-driving vehicle, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

IFSTTAR, a French R&D organization, and the Embedded Electronic Systems Research Institute at ESIGELEC, an engineering school in Rouen, are developing autonomous vehicle technologies to help test automotive safety systems.

The researchers modified a Renault Grand Espace by adding a “robot driver” to  control the exact trajectory, speed, and behavior of the vehicle and compare… read more

A frog-like robot that crawls inside your abdomen

April 22, 2013

intra-abdominal robot on steel plate-1

Researchers at the University of Leeds are using the feet of tree frogs as a model for a tiny robot designed to crawl inside patients’ bodies during keyhole surgery.

It is designed to move across the internal abdominal wall of a patient, allowing surgeons to see what they are doing on a real-time video feed.

The tree frog’s feet provide a solution to the… read more

A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

A Full-Color Screen That Bends

June 8, 2009
(Mark Martinez)

Bendy organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays employing amorphous silicon processes and tools (used to make today’s flat-panel LCD screens) have been developed by Arizona State University researchers.

The development brings bendable color video displays closer to being commercial products.

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