science + technology news

A look inside Leap Motion, the 3D gesture control that’s like Kinect on steroids

June 27, 2012


Leap Motion‘s motion-tracking system is more powerful, more accurate, smaller, cheaper, and just more impressive than Kinect.

The Leap uses a number of camera sensors to map out a workspace of sorts — it’s a 3D space in which you operate as you normally would, with almost none of the Kinect’s angle and distance restrictions.

Currently the Leap uses VGA camera sensors, and the workspace… read more

A look to the future

September 24, 2008

Regenstrief Institute investigators have demonstrated how health information exchange technologies developed and tested regionally can be used to securely share patient information across the nation during an emergency, using the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

A lost interview with ENIAC co-inventor J. Presper Eckert

February 17, 2006

The ENIAC, the first practical, all-electronic computer, unveiled on Feb. 14, 1946, was the watershed project that showed electronic computing was possible, using 18,000 vacuum tubes and programmed by plugging wires in from place to place.

Its first use was by Edward Teller in doing calculations for the hydrogen bomb.

A low-cost ‘electronic nose’ spectrometer for home health diagnosis

June 16, 2016

Current experimental design of transmitter radio-frequency front end for a rotational spectrometer. Using integrated circuits (such as the one below “CHIP1”) in an electronic nose will make the device more affordable. (credit: UT Dallas)

UT Dallas researchers have designed an affordable “electronic nose” radio-frequency front end for a rotational spectrometer — used for detecting chemical molecules in human breath for health diagnosis.

Current breath-analysis devices are bulky and too costly for commercial use, said Kenneth O, PhD, a principal investigator of the effort and director of Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE). Instead, the researchers used CMOS integrated circuits… read more

A Low-Cost Multitouch Screen

May 30, 2008

Microsoft introduced a new multitouch platform, called LaserTouch, which includes hardware that’s cheap enough to retrofit any display into a touch screen.

LaserTouch is a system built on the cheap: the hardware only costs a couple hundred dollars, excluding the display–which can be a plasma television or overhead projector, for instance–and the computer that runs the software. Unlike Surface, which uses a camera within the table to… read more

A low-cost sonification system to assist the blind

January 15, 2014


An improved assistive technology system for the blind that uses sonification (visualization using sounds) has been developed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researchers, with the goal of replacing costly, bulky current systems.

How it works

Called Assistive Technology for Autonomous Displacement (ATAD), the system includes a stereo vision processor measures the difference of images captured by two cameras that are placed slightly apart (for… read more

A low-cost ‘super-resolution’ microscopic optical device

June 22, 2014

Microsphere-based image of a nanoscale object. The scale bar is 20 microns. (Credit: Leonid A. Krivitsky et al./Scientific Reports)

A simple, low-cost “super-resolution” optical device using a microsphere capable of imaging surfaces 75 nanometers wide has been developed by researchers at A*STAR Data Storage Institute in Singapore.

Optical-microscope resolution is limited to half the wavelength of light (due to the diffraction limit), so optical microscopes can’t normally resolve structures smaller than a few hundred nanometers.

A*STAR’s Boris Luk’yanchuk and his colleagues previously showed… read more

A low-cost water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

Could allow for true zero-emissions fuel-cell vehicles and save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs
August 22, 2014

Stanford scientists have developed a low-cost device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas. Gas bubbles are produced by electrodes made of inexpensive nickel and iron.

A cheap, emissions-free device that uses a 1.5-volt AAA battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis has been developed by scientists at Stanford University.

Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive, abundant nickel and iron.

“This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage… read more

A low-cost, implantable electronic biosensor

June 12, 2013

Design of chip with protective coaiting. A sensing channel connects the source (S) and drain (D) with a reference electrode (RE). When a target protein binds to the receptor, it induces charges in the substrate, causing a change in the current flow between the source and drain. Inset: typical structure of a MOS capacitor used in this study (Credit: A. Ramesh et al.)

Ohio State University engineers are developing low-cost electronic devices that work in direct contact with living tissue inside the body.

The initial objective is to develop an in vivo biosensor to detect the presence of proteins that mark the first signs of organ rejection in the body. Such biosensors could also be used for detecting glucose, pH, and diseases such as cancer.

Doctors would… read more

A low-cost, low-power DIY cellular data network

August 29, 2011

Mobile Network

Professor Kurtis Heimerl of the University of California, Berkeley has created a do-it-yourself GSM (global system for mobile communications, a worldwide cell-phone standard) cellular data network for areas (such as remote villages) with limited power and network resources, reports Shareable.

The network can be deployed off-the-grid because only low power is required, using solar or wind, and no connection to a cell-phone company is required.

What if devices… read more

A Lunar Nuclear Reactor

August 18, 2009

A “safe, reliable, and efficient” nuclear fission reactor that could power a human outpost on the moon or Mars by 2020 has been tested by researchers at NASA and the Department of Energy.

A Machine That Speeds Up Evolution

March 17, 2009
(George Church)

George Church and his colleagues have developed a new technology that can make 50 changes to a bacterial genome nearly simultaneously–an advance that could be used to greatly speed the creation of bacteria that are better at producing drugs, nutrients, or biofuels.

A machine that trains you to feel affection

May 27, 2014

Distributed voxel patterns that best distinguished between tenderness/affection vs. pride within the neurofeedback group, measured across all fMRI sessions. The color range shows voxels present in at least 40% (blue) or above 66% (red-yellow) of the subjects. (Credit: Jorge Moll et al./PLOS ONE)

It’s possible to create brain patterns associated with affection or tenderness toward loved ones, using neurofeedback while being scanned in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine, researchers at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) in Brazil have shown.

The finding, described in PLOS ONE (open access), could open up new possibilities for treatment of conditions such as antisocial personality disorder, the researchers suggest.

An empathyread more

A machine-learning system that trains itself by surfing the web

And so it begins ...
December 8, 2016


MIT researchers have designed a new machine-learning system that can learn by itself to extract text information for statistical analysis when available data is scarce.

This new “information extraction” system turns machine learning on its head. It works like humans do. When we run out of data in a study (say, differentiating between fake and real news), we simply search the Internet for more data, and then… read more

A magazine is an iPad that does not work

October 16, 2011


“For my 1 year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS.”

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