science + technology news

Smart Fabrics Make for Enhanced Living

October 26, 2004

Imagine a handbag that warns you if you are about to forget your umbrella or wallet, and which you can later turn into a scarf that displays today’s pollution levels.

A variety of information-providing or environment-sensing objects like these could be possible using a system of computerized fabric patches developed by MIT engineers.

Each patch contains a functional unit of the system — a microprocessor and memory plus… read more

Smart Foam

January 8, 2008
(Northwestern University)

Researchers have made a lighter and potentially cheaper kind of shape-memory alloy.

The porous foam, made from a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy, stretches slightly when exposed to a magnetic field. It retains its new form when the field is turned off, but it goes back to its original shape when the field is rotated 90 degrees.

It responds faster than most shape-memory alloys (which react to temperature) and… read more

Smart glasses detect eye contact

May 20, 2004

Sunglasses that can detect when someone is making eye contact with the wearer could be used to tell when someone might be too busy to receive a phone call and for automatically detecting and recording interactions and conversations with other people.

Light emitting diodes positioned around the lenses emit infrared light to locate any eyes in the scene. The system then looks for the glint created by the light… read more

Smart grid could reduce emissions by 12 percent

February 1, 2010

A smart electrical power grid could decrease annual electric energy use and utility-sector carbon emissions at least 12 percent by 2030, according to a new report from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Smart grid will wed modern computing with nanotechnology

September 22, 2003

The smart grid of the future will require far more advanced breakthroughs such as smart power controllers and new lightweight quantum wires made of carbon nanotube fibers to revolutionize the capacity of the transmission wires, according to Nobel laureate Rick Smalley and other experts.

Smart headlight system sees through rain and snow

Dancing in the rain ...
July 10, 2012


A new “smart headlight“¬†system¬†invented by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute can improve visibility when driving at night in a rainstorm or snowstorm.

By constantly redirecting light to shine between particles of precipitation, the system prevents the distracting and sometimes dangerous glare that occurs when headlight beams are reflected by precipitation back toward the driver.

“If you’re driving in a thunderstorm,… read more

Smart implants may alleviate neurological conditions

September 14, 2009


Medtronics and Neuropace have developed neurostimulators that monitor electrical activity via electrodes implanted deep in the brain so the devices can deliver the electrical stimulation needed to suppresses seizures (as opposed to stimulation on a fixed schedule).

Human trials are years away.

Smart Insulin

October 31, 2008

SmartCells has developed an injectable drug called SmartInsulin that senses high glucose levels and automatically dispenses insulin on demand.

As glucose levels drop off, the drug stabilizes, trapping insulin until the next glucose spike. Such a drug may cut down the number of insulin injections required to once a day and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), a potential hazard associated with current diabetic therapies.

Smart ‘Lego’ blocks take touch screens into 3D

October 6, 2009

“Luminos” developed by University of Potsdam researchers can be stacked to form complicated structures on top of a Microsoft Surface screen, and the computer can map the building as it grows.

Each Lumino block has a pattern on its base that identifies its 3D shape, and the Surface table can read them using its four internal cameras that peer up at the acrylic top. That means the computer can… read more

Smart ‘Lego’ conjures up virtual 3D twin

February 1, 2008

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed “Posey,” a new hands-on way of interacting with computers.

When Posey’s plastic pieces are snapped together, an exact copy of the construction appears on a computer screen. Every twist of, say, a stick figure’s arm, is mirrored in 3D modeling software.

Smart microbes: bacteria anticipate changing environments

May 12, 2008

Princeton University researchers have found that bacteria can evolve to predict upcoming events based on environmental cues.

When E. coli enters the body, it experiences warmth (in the mouth) and then low oxygen (in the gut). The researchers found that warm temperatures alone triggered the E. coli to switch to a less-efficient, low-oxygen mode. When they grew the bacteria in controlled conditions that divorced the rise in temperature from… read more

Smart mud could be the new plastic

January 21, 2010

A mixture of clay and 98 per cent water forms thin sheets of a strong hydrogel that is transparent, elastic, and self-healing, researchers at the University of Tokyo have found.

Smart nanoparticles target cancer cells

March 24, 2004

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for Biologic Nanotechnology are developing “smart” drug delivery devices to knock out cancer cells with lethal doses, leaving normal cells unharmed, and even reporting back on their success.

The U-M group is using lab-made spherical nanoparticles called dendrimers as the backbones of their delivery system. These spheres have loose ends where you can attach a targeting agent that can recognize a cancer… read more

‘Smart’ nanoprobes light up disease

August 2, 2005

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) researchers have developed a quantum dot that is programmed to light up only when activated by specific proteases.

Altered expression of particular proteases is a common hallmark of cancer, atherosclerosis, and many other diseases.

The probe’s design makes use of a technique called “quenching” that involves tethering a gold nanoparticle to the quantum dot to inhibit luminescence. The tether,… read more

Smart People to Blame for Central Planning

September 7, 2009

Central planning didn’t work in Russia or China — or in the 2007-2008 financial blow-up — but today, in China, the government boosts production, and in America, the central planners are trying to boost consumption, says investment author Bill Bonner.

“In short, the fixers are still fixing. And soon, the world will be in an even worse fix than it is now.”

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