science + technology news

‘Smart sand’ can self-assemble to duplicate parts or create new tools

April 3, 2012

To attach to each other, to communicate and to share power, the cubes use 'electropermanent magnets,' materials whose magnetism can be switched on and off with jolts of electricity. Each cube has magnets — recognizable by the reddish wires wrapped around them — on four of its six faces (credit: M. Scott Brauer)

New algorithms could enable heaps of “smart sand” that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of… read more

‘Smart’ Silicon Dust Could Help Screen for Chemical Weapons

September 13, 2002

Scientists report the development of dust-size “smart” silicon crystals that could be used to detect chemical and biological agents from a distance, using a laser light source.

Smart skin patch releases blood thinners in closed-loop control system

Prevents both thrombosis and spontaneous hemorrhaging; no need for patients to test blood on a regular basis
November 30, 2016

The thrombin-responsive microneedle patch is made of heparin-modified hyaluronic acid. (credit: Yuqi Zhang)

North Carolina researchers have developed a smart skin patch designed to monitor a patient’s blood and release a blood-thinning drug, as needed, to prevent thrombosis (dangerous blood clots).

Thrombosis — one of the leading causes of cardiovascular mortalities and morbidities worldwide — occurs when blood clots disrupt the normal flow of blood in the body, which can cause severe health problems such as pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.… read more

Smart Software Gives Surveillance Eyes a ‘Brain’

February 13, 2004

University of Rochester researchers have developed “smart camera” software that monitors security cameras for such things as a gun in an airport or the absence of a piece of equipment in a lab.

University of Rochester press release

Smart software helps robots dodge collisions

November 4, 2003

The Inevitable Collision System (ICS) aims to make it impossible for robots to bump into objects, including people.

It works by continuously calculating an exclusion zone (for possible collisions) around the robot based on its motion and that of the objects around it.

To date there has only been one recorded roboticide. In 1981, Japanese factory worker Kenji Urada was killed by a robot in a manufacturing plant… read more

‘Smart’ spacecraft makes its own decisions

July 7, 2006

AI will increasingly give spacecraft the ability to think for themselves.

The AI group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote the software that manages the schedule of Earth Observing-1, a satellite that looks for natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, wildfires and floods. It reprograms itself to image these targets and provide rapid response imagery of breaking science events.

Similar programming can be used for future planetary missions, perhaps… read more

Smart swarms of bacteria inspire robot design

November 21, 2011

Simulated interacting agents collectively navigate towards a target (credit: American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU))

Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a computational model that better explains how bacteria move in a swarm and that can be applied to computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

Studying the principles of bacteria navigation will allow researchers to design a new generation of smart robots that can form intelligent swarms, aid in the development of medical microrobots used to diagnose or distribute medications in… read more

Smart TVs: the next tech war is in the living room

January 13, 2012

ces2012tv

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s top television manufacturers are proposing a whole new approach to television:

  • Samsung is working on integrating voice and motion control into its new TV sets, enabling users to speak commands to their TVs or change channels and other settings with just a wave.
  • Vizio has joined with cloud-service company OnLive to put streaming games on its Google

read more

Smart Walker Strolls Ahead

July 5, 2001

A smart walker that will guide users, providing assistance with steering and braking, has been developed by a research team at the University of Virginia’s Medical Automation Research Center.

The prototype uses a laser scanner to sense the environment, detecting a user’s intentions primarily via pressure monitors in the handles. If a person loses footing, the walker will detect the high force and burst of speed, then hit the… read more

Smart watches to provide faster access to smartphone information

September 16, 2011
Meta Watch

Meta Watch Ltd. has announced it has acquired the Meta Watch branded connected watch business from Fossil, Inc. It plans to release wrist-based devices later this month for about $200 in the U.S. and Europe.

The announcement is evidence of the mounting interest in connected or smart watches. Early adopters of smart watches comment on how surprisingly useful they can be. A smart… read more

Smartcams Take Aim at Terrorists

June 5, 2003

Distributed digital video arrays, or DIVAs — collections of smart cameras able to detect and identify an individual in a crowded train station and track him wherever he goes — are being developed by researchers at the University of California at San Diego under a Department of Defense contract.

The systems also notify authorities when they “think” an individual engages in suspicious activity or meets with questionable cohorts.

Smarter bomb bot

July 14, 2001
Police robot carries a mock suitcase<br />
bomb down a hallway

A wheeled police robot that makes many tactical decisions on its own during potentially dangerous bomb-disablement or other law enforcement missions has been unveiled by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.

The Wolverine robot hardware was developed at Northrop Grumman’s REMOTEC unit; Sandia Labs added software.

The Wolverine now incorporates some of the most challenging and commonly needed robotic tools and behaviors in police work, such… read more

Smarter energy storage for solar and wind power

November 27, 2007

Development of the first hybrid battery suitable for storing electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind is now a step clo

CSIRO and Cleantech Ventures have invested in technology start-up Smart Storage Pty Ltd . The Smart Storage battery technology aims to deliver a low cost, high performance, high power stationary energy storage solution suitable for grid-connected and remote applications.

Smarter robots of tomorrow

March 8, 2005

NASA Ames scientists are advancing the technology of remote exploration.

The K9 rover is a robot similar to the Mars rovers, but that can perform tasks 10 times faster and can figure out how to do some tasks. Snakebot, which mimics the movements of a snake, would be able to probe even crevices and small caves on another planet.

Smarter, cheaper technologies for improved point-of-care medicine in remote areas

May 8, 2015

cell phone test for E.coli

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have developed new paper and flexible polymer substrates with special sensing devices for rapid and accurate detection of pathogens such as HIV, various bacteria, and CD4+ T lymphocytes.

These novel technologies offer the type of robust, simple, and inexpensive biosensing systems required to provide point-of-care health care in remote areas, where there is minimal diagnostic infrastructure or equipment and a lack of trained… read more

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