Tattoo circuit boards

2014/08/08

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Tattoo circuit boards

2014/08/08

Source : www.ecouterre.com

Tattoo circuit boards are now one step closer to reality with the development of this stick-on, flexible circuit board. All the electronics are integrated into a stretchy and pliable base that can be stuck on to the skin anywhere and used to comfortably monitor health conditions wirelessly. Eventually, this wearable electronic board, developed by John A. Rogers, a University of Illinois professor, and Yonggang Huang, a Northwestern University professor, could be used to build incredibly cheap telephones and wearable technology. The stick-on circuit board was developed by a group of engineers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University and led by John A. Rogers, who is also the co-founder of MC10, a unique company leading the charge in advanced wearable technology. The group has already proven that wearable skin electronics are possible and eventually sees integrating telephone and mobile devices as the way of the future. This latest device though was built with health monitoring in mind to track heart rate, respiration and more. Made with flexible origami-shaped wires, off-the-shelf electronics components and a fluid-filled envelope, the electronic patch monitors your body and wirelessly reports that data back to your smart device. Flexible and comfortable, the patch can be worn 24/7 and with the help of wireless charging, doesn’t need to be taken off for more battery life. So far the engineers have used it to monitor EKG and EEG readings and compared to traditional wire-connected monitors, the device performed on par with them. Not only are the devices lower in cost, they are much more likely to be used by the patient, who doesn’t have to battle with bulky wires. “The application of stretchable electronics to medicine has a lot of potential,” partnering researcher Yonggang Huang said. “If we can continuously monitor our health with a comfortable, small device that attaches to our skin, it could be possible to catch health conditions before experiencing pain, discomfort and illness.”

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Your T-shirt’s ringing: telecommunications in the spaser age

2014/08/08

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Your T-shirt’s ringing: telecommunications in the spaser age

2014/08/08

Source : monash.edu

Rather than carry around your phone, you may soon wear it on your sleeve with nanolasers that are currently under development. A spaser, which is basically a laser on the nanoscale, could revolutionize cell phone technology by making it so small that phones could be printed on clothes. The spaser would replace traditional transistor-based devices like microprocessors, memory, and displays and would allow the technology to become miniature by comparison. Plus, these spasers would be made out of graphene and carbon nanotubes, which are more resource and eco-friendly than their current counterparts.

Researchers at Monash University have developed the world’s first spaser (surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) made out of carbon. The spaser is a nanolaser that emists a beam of light through the vibration of free electrons and is much smaller than regular lasers. Besides being much smaller, the spaser would also be made with carbon. “Other spasers designed to date are made of gold or silver nanoparticles and semiconductor quantum dots while our device would be composed of a graphene resonator and a carbon nanotube gain element,” PhD student and lead researcher Chanaka Rupasinghe said. “The use of carbon means our spaser would be more robust and flexible, would operate at high temperatures, and be eco-friendly.

Even better than it being more eco-friendly is that the miniature technology would be so thin that it could eventually be printed onto clothing rather than contained in a hand held device. The strong and lightweight graphene and carbon materials would allow for a wide range of applications, especially in the field of wearable technology. Rupasinghe explains, “Because of these properties, there is the possibility that in the future an extremely thin mobile phone could be printed on clothing.” Soon you won’t have to go searching for your phone, because it will be right there with you on your clothes.

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The “first man-made biological leaf” could enable humans to colonise space

2014/07/28

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The “first man-made biological leaf” could enable humans to colonise space

2014/07/28

Source : www.dezeen.com

RCA graduate Julian Melchiorri says the synthetic biological leaf he developed, which absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen just like a plant, could enable long-distance space travel.

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Pharmaceutical company novartis to commercialize google’s smart contact lens

2014/07/16

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Pharmaceutical company novartis to commercialize google’s smart contact lens

2014/07/16

Source : www.designboom.com

Novartis, the swiss pharmaceutical company has announced that its eye care division alcon has entered into an agreement with google to license its ‘smart lens’ technology for all commercial ocular medical uses.The collaboration will ultimately marry google’s expertise in miniaturized electronics, low power chip design and microfabrication with alcon’s expertise in physiology and visual performance of the eye, clinical development and evaluation with the potential to address ocular conditions.

The technology will help diabetic patients manage their disease by providing a continuous, minimally invasive measurement of the body’s glucose levels via the smart contact lens. The digital treatment is designed to measure tear fluid in the eye and connects wirelessly with a mobile device.

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Apple is reportedly close to buying Beats for $3.2 billion

2014/05/09

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Apple is reportedly close to buying Beats for $3.2 billion

2014/05/09

Source : www.engadget.com

The days of Apple limiting itself to (relativelysmall acquisitions may soon be over. TheFinancial Times hears from sources that the folks at 1 Infinite Loop are close to buying Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. It’s not clear exactly why the company would splurge on such a deal, although there are some strong incentives — Beats Music could provide Apple with a streaming music platform more advanced than iTunes Radio, while Beats’ audio hardwarecould complement existing iOS and Mac devices. Apple hasn’t commented on the rumor, but the rumored deal could be official as early as next week — we’ll know the truth soon enough.

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Arm band technology converts body heat to energy

2014/04/21

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Arm band technology converts body heat to energy

2014/04/21

Source : www.cnet.com.au

Researchers at South Korea’s KAIST university have developed a flexible thermoelectric generator that can convert body heat to power.

What if you never had to charge your wearable tech — because it was able to harvest your body heat to run? That could soon be possible, thanks to a device developed by researchers at KAIST, led by electrical engineering Professor Byung Jin Cho — and not just for wristbands, but for heart monitors, smart glasses and other wearable tech.

The device they have created is a thermoelectric (TE) generator embedded in glass fabric, which solves two problems with previously developed wearable TE generators: organic-based TE generators embedded in polymers are flexible, but with a low power output; inorganic-based TE generators produce high power, but are rigid and clunky.

The glass fabric created by Professor Cho’s team is so flexible it has a bending radius as low as 20 millimetres, but the generator maintains a high power output. The team created it by synthesising pastes of thermoelectric materials, bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) and antimony telluride (Sb2Te3). These pastes were then applied to the glass fabric using a screen printing technique. They permeated the mesh of the fabric and formed films of TE materials several hundred microns thick, evenly applied and carefully spaced.

This eliminates the need for thick external substrates such as ceramic or alumina, minimising thermal energy lost in the casing, while maximising power output. A generator sized 10 x 10 centimetres can produce around 40 milliwatts of power based on a skin temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.

“For our case, the glass fabric itself serves as the upper and lower substrates of a TE generator, keeping the inorganic TE materials in between. This is quite a revolutionary approach to design a generator. In so doing, we were able to significantly reduce the weight of our generator (~0.13g/cm2), which is an essential element for wearable electronics,” Professor Cho explained.

“Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator. We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted.”

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UCLA engineers develop a stretchable, foldable transparent electronic display

2014/04/02

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UCLA engineers develop a stretchable, foldable transparent electronic display

2014/04/02

Source : newsroom.ucla.edu

Imagine an electronic display nearly as clear as a window, or a curtain that illuminates a room, or a smartphone screen that doubles in size, stretching like rubber. Now imagine all of these being made from the same material.
Researchers from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a transparent, elastic organic light-emitting device, or OLED, that could one day make all these possible. The OLED can be repeatedly stretched, folded and twisted at room temperature while still remaining lit and retaining its original shape.
OLED technology is used today in screens for many smartphones and some televisions. The new ultra-stretchable OLED material developed at UCLA could lead to foldable and expandable screens for new classes of smartphones and other personal electronic devices; electronics-integrated clothing; wallpaper-like lighting; new minimally invasive medical tools; and many other applications.
“Our new material is the building block for fully stretchable electronics for consumer devices,” said Qibing Pei, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering and principal investigator on the research. “Along with the development of stretchable thin-film transistors, we believe that fully stretchable interactive OLED displays that are as thin as wallpaper will be achieved in the near future. And this will give creative electronics designers new dimensions to exploit.”
The research is published online in the peer-reviewed journal Nature PhotonicsThe lead author of the study is Jiajie Liang, a postdoctoral scholar in Pei’s Soft Materials Research Laboratory at UCLA.
The researchers stretched and restretched the OLED 1,000 times, extending it 30 percent beyond its original shape and size, and it still continued to work at a high efficiency. In another test to determine the material’s maximum stretch, the researchers found it could be stretched to more than twice its original size while still functioning. In addition, it can be folded 180 degrees and can be twisted in multiple directions. The material has a single layer of an electro-luminescent polymer blend sandwiched between a pair of new transparent elastic composite electrodes. These electrodes are made of a network of silver nanowires inlaid into a rubbery polymer, which allows the device to be used at room temperatures. All of these layers are fully stretchable, foldable and twistable. The new material can also be fabricated in a relatively simple all-solution–based process.
“The lack of suitable elastic transparent electrodes is one of the major obstacles to the fabrication of stretchable display,” Liang said. “Our new transparent, elastic composite electrode has high visual transparency, good surface electrical conductivity, high stretchability and high surface smoothness — all features essential to the fabrication of the stretchable OLED.”
The team also demonstrated this ultra-flexible OLED could contain multiple pixels, rather than just a solid block of light. This could pave the way for electronic displays comprising many thousands of pixels. They accomplished this by assembling the silver nanowire–based electrodes into a cross-hatched pattern, with one layer of columns and one layer of rows. “While we perceive a bright future where information and lighting are provided in various thin, stretchable or conformable form factors, or are invisible when not needed, there are still major technical challenges,” Pei said. “This includes how to seal these materials that are otherwise sensitive to air. Researchers around the world are racing the clock tackling the obstacles. We are confident that we will get there and introduce a number of cool products along the way.”
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Future smartphones could be charged by stroking them

2014/03/20

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Future smartphones could be charged by stroking them

2014/03/20

Source : www.dezeen.com

Researchers in America have developed a friction-based miniature generator that could enable mobile devices to be charged by typing or stroking the screen. The generator created by nanotechnology expert Zhong Lin Wang and his team at the Georgia Institute of Technology produces electricity when two sheets of a specially adapted polymer are rubbed or pushed together. Actions such as tapping, swiping, stroking or even the movement of a device incorporating the material in the user’s pocket could generate electricity, making external power sources redundant. The technology is based on a principle called triboelectricity, which produces a charge similar to static electricity when two materials touch or rub together.By adding microscopic patterns that increase the level of friction, the researchers have developed a triboelectric nanogenerator, or TENG, which is capable of producing a power output density of 300 Watts per square metre – enough to illuminate 1000 LED bulbs with the stamp of one foot. “The amount of charge transferred depends on surface properties,” said Wang. “Making patterns of nanomaterials on the polymer films’ surfaces increases the contact area between the sheets and can make a 1000-fold difference in the power generated.” The TENG technology can be applied to other materials, from paper to metal, plastics and cloth, and has already been incorporated into shoe insoles, whistles, floor mats, backpacks and ocean buoys to harness the power created by movement. The team presented the project earlier this week at a meeting of theAmerican Chemical Society in Dallas and is currently working on commercial applications including chargers for mobile devices. Wang believes the technology will be able to contribute significantly to global energy production within five years by using tiny generators to harness energy from ocean waves, rain drops or wind power.

dezeen_Future-smartphones-could-be-charged-by-stroking_2 dezeen_Future-smartphones-could-be-charged-by-stroking_2

Responsive hexi wall fluctuates based on nearby movements

2014/02/28

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Responsive hexi wall fluctuates based on nearby movements

2014/02/28

Source : DESIGNBOOM

Canada-based thibaut sld has designed the ‘hexi’ responsive wall, a series of 60, mounted panels, which react to the movements of nearby people. the graphic designer’s self-initiated project comes as a collision of interaction, geometry and art, as the complex mechanical installation induces an aesthetically engaging result. the hexagonal panels situated on the surface of the interior space use real-time data collected from motion-tracking technology to decode and interpret the gestures and actions of a person within close range. using this feedback, the kinetic wall behaves in sync with the proximate participant; walking passed, jumping near or waving a hand in the direction of the ‘hexi’ wall induces a undulating swell and surge of independent motion. like a vision out of a science fiction film, mesmerizing waves of kinetic flow materialize in a rippling unison, countering the gesture performed by man in close proximity to the installation.

http://vimeo.com/87477448

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Smartphone that creates 3D environments

2014/02/28

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Smartphone that creates 3D environments

2014/02/28

Source : https://www.google.com

Google introduces project tango, a smartphone that creates 3D mapped environments

‘as we walk through our daily lives, we use visual cues to navigate and understand the world around us. we observe the size and shape of objects and rooms, and we learn their position and layout almost effortlessly over time. this awareness of space and motion is fundamental to the way we interact with our environment and each other. we are physical beings that live in a 3D world. yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen.’ – johnny lee and the ATAP-project tango team.

The intelligent project tango platform is focused on the exploration of what might be possible in a mobile device;the current prototype features a 5 inch display containing customised hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the smartphone, while simultaneously creating a map of a users’ environment. the built-in sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million three-dimensional measurements every second, updating its position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D map of the space around you.

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Experimental bionic hand lets user feel touch

2014/02/18

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Experimental bionic hand lets user feel touch

2014/02/18

Source : cir.ca/news

An experimental new bionic hand uses an amputee’s nerves to provide detailed sensory feedback about objects they touch. “This is the first time in neuroprosthetics that sensory feedback has been restored and used by an amputee in real-time to control an artificial limb.”Dennis Aabo Sorensen, 36 of Denmark, is the first patient to try the hand, which used electrodes implanted into the nerves in his upper arm. During a 2013 clinical trial, which lasted 4 weeks, the hand let him distinguish the consistency and shape of objects, as well as how hard he was grasping them. “The sensory feedback was incredible. I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years.” During the trial, Sorenson was blindfolded and wore earplugs and tested on his ability to describe objects he handled. Scientists say it will take many more years until a “sensory-enhanced prosthetic” hand for commercial use will be available, but that research is going in the right direction.

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Microbes are “the factories of the future”

2014/02/18

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Microbes are “the factories of the future”

2014/02/18

Source : www.dezeen.com

Suzanne Lee of BioCouture explains how she makes clothes that are “grown using bacteria” in this movie filmed at the Wearable Futures conference in London in December. “There’s a whole spectrum of organisms that can grow material,” says Lee, who founded BioCouture to explore how organisms like bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae could be harnessed to produce fabrics. Lee showed the Wearable Futures audience a range of jackets and shoes made from bio-materials produced by bacteria in a vat of liquid to produce bacterial cellulose – a material that has similar properties to leather. “The recipe that I’ve been exploring to grow a piece of clothing is using a symbiotic mix of yeast and bacteria,” she said. “It’s a fermentation method that grows you bacterial cellulose. It’s kind of like a vegetable leather if you like.” She adds: “What attracts me to it is that it’s compostable. It’s not just biodegradable, it’s compostable. So you could throw it away like you would your vegetable peelings.”  BioCouture is a London-based design consultancy that is pioneering the use of bio-materials for the fashion, sportswear and luxury sectors. Lee is a former senior research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, and author of the 2007 book Fashioning The Future: tomorrow’s wardrobe, which was the first publication to explore how technology could transform fashion. “Through an engagement with biology I’m really excited about how we can think about organisms like microbes as the factories of the future,” says Lee. “What most people know BioCouture for is a series of garments that were grown using bacteria. So the fibres, the material itself and the formation of the garment has been done by a microbe rather than a plant.”  In future, Lee believes that clothing materials themselves could be living organisms that could work symbiotically with the body to nourish it and even monitor it for signs of disease. “What we have right now are living organisms making us materials, but then the organism is killed and the material just exists like any other,” she says. “But I can imagine that we will eventually move towards the material itself being living while it’s on you, and having a direct relationship to your whole body in this happy micro-biome environment and perhaps diagnosing and treating, nourishing in some way the body surface so becoming part of your wellbeing.”

http://vimeo.com/86436024

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Tesla CEO Reportedly Met With Apple’s Top Deals Exec

2014/02/18

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Tesla CEO Reportedly Met With Apple’s Top Deals Exec

2014/02/18

Source : mashable.com

Last year, multiple analysts recommended that Apple buy Tesla to make a bold push into the auto industry. As it turns out, the Cupertino, Calif. may have given that idea a little more thought than some assumed. Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk by Apple’s Cupertino headquarters last spring, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, citing an anonymous source. The newspaper also reported that Musk likely met with Apple CEO Tim Cook at that time. It’s unclear whether Apple’s team talked to Musk about a possible acquisition, a partnership or the lovely California weather. Apple and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Smart bra to combat emotional eating

2013/12/09

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Smart bra to combat emotional eating

2013/12/09

Source :

Microsoft researchers have developed a bra-mounted sensor system that measures boob sweat and heart activity in order to detect emotional triggers for overeating.The research is based on the idea that people eat not just when they are hungry but also for a host of emotional and habitual reasons. The goal was to provide a system that could intervene before the person turns to food for emotional support. Microsoft researchers teamed up with colleagues from the University of Rochester and the University of Southampton to develop a range of interventions that go a step further than activity trackers such as FitBit and Nike’s Fuelband. In their paper, the researchers mention other systems that have been developed that include heart rate monitors, earpieces to track chewing and swallowing, and augmented reality glasses to capture the food consumed.

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sony patents smart wig: wearable computing device

2013/12/09

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sony patents smart wig: wearable computing device

2013/12/09

Source :

forget smart watches and smart glasses, it seems sony has different plans for the future of wearable technology. the japanese electronics manufacturer has just been approved for a wearable computing patent in the form of a wig from 2012. the talking toupee would cover at least a part of a users head interfacing with hidden embedded processing units and sensors such as GPS, ultrasound transducers and would integrate Wi-Fi connectivity. within the patent, sony has also proposed to incorporate a built-in communication system within the wig that features a miniature video camera capable of taking photos, with a small speaker and microphone.
the patent describes the interface as follows:   ‘wearable computing device, comprising a wig that is adapted to cover at least a part of a head of a user, at least one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit that is coupled to the at least one sensor for processing said input data, and a communication interface that is coupled to the processing unit for communicating with a second computing device. the at least one sensor, the processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig in order to be visually hidden during use.’

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4D Printing Self-Assembled Shapes

2013/11/28

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4D Printing Self-Assembled Shapes

2013/11/28

Source :

Last spring we told you about MIT’s Skylar Tibbits, whose TED talk made the idea of 4D printing famous. The process self-assembles a 3D-printed object underwater using Stratasys’s materials and its Objet Connex 500 Multi Materialsinkjet 3D printer. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have combined 3D printing on the Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer with making shape-memory composites, calling that process 4D printing. By incorporating shape memory polymer fibers into a matrix of the 3D printer’s composite multi-materials, an object can be printed in one shape and change its shape later, such as self-assembling into a cube. The team, led by associate professor of mechanical engineering H. Jerry Qi, detail their work in an open-access article published in Applied Physics Letters. Other authors are postdoctoral research associate Qi Kevin Ge, and Martin L. Dunn, a professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. In the article, the team describes how they designed and printed flat laminate materials that can be thermomechanically programmed to form a variety of complex, three-dimensional shapes, such as twisted, coiled, and bent strips of material, or sheets that fold themselves into cubes or various curves. When the material is heated again, these assembled shapes can then be returned to flat sheets. The team calls its new materials design printed active composites. The specific shapes and their behavior, such as folding, curling, twisting, and stretching, are determined by the architecture of the fibers and how they are designed, such as their shape, size, location, and orientation in the matrix. This architecture is specified within a CAD file and the composite is 3D printed directly from that file.

The researchers emphasizes that their materials are different from Tibbits’ in part because theirs are soft: the glassy polymer fibers are embedded in an elastomeric matrix. But they also say that “one can extend the concept to general spatial variations of materials properties and use computational design tool such as shape and topology optimization to design the layout of the materials in the composite, as well as exploit instabilities to create large configurational changes.” An example application for the technology includes a flat solar panel that could change itself into a more compact shape for shipping, and then revert back after it’s received. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation provided funding for the research.

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3D printing lithium-ion batteries

2013/11/27

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3D printing lithium-ion batteries

2013/11/27

Source :


A team of scientists at harvard university and the university of illinois have developed an electrochemically active ink and custom-made syringe nozzle tips for 3D printing lithium-ion microbatteries, which measure less than the width of a human hair.
 printed in the form interlaced stacks of tiny electrodes, the microbatteries have the capability to supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications. unlike the ink in an office inkjet printer – which comes out as droplets of liquid that wet the page – it has been developed for extrusion-based 3D printing. in the future, the technology will assist in the advancement of miniaturized medical implants, compact electronics and even small-scale robots. The inks solidify to create the battery’s anode and cathode, layer by layer: a case then encloses the electrodes and the electrolyte solution is added to create a working microbattery.  ‘not only did we demonstrate for the first time that we can 3D-print a battery; we demonstrated it in the most rigorous way,’ says jennifer a. lewis, a material scientist at harvard. ‘the electrochemical performance is comparable to commercial batteries in terms of charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities. we’re just able to achieve this on a much smaller scale,’ adds assistant professor shen dillon.

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World Record Solar Cell with 44.7% Efficiency

2013/09/27

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World Record Solar Cell with 44.7% Efficiency

2013/09/27

Source :

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced today having achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum’s energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap.
Back in May 2013, the German-French team of Fraunhofer ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin had already announced a solar cell with 43.6% efficiency. Building on this result, further intensive research work and optimization steps led to the present efficiency of 44.7%. These solar cells are used in concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), a technology which achieves more than twice the efficiency of conventional PV power plants in sun-rich locations. The terrestrial use of so-called III-V multi-junction solar cells, which originally came from space technology, has prevailed to realize highest efficiencies for the conversion of sunlight to electricity. In this multi-junction solar cell, several cells made out of different III-V semiconductor materials are stacked on top of each other. The single subcells absorb different wavelength ranges of the solar spectrum.

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Gel-based audio speaker

2013/09/09

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Gel-based audio speaker

2013/09/09

Source :

Gel-based audio speaker demonstrates capabilities of ionic conductors, long thought limited in application

Cambridge, Mass. – August 29, 2013 – In a materials science laboratory at Harvard University, a transparent disk connected to a laptop fills the room with music—it’s the “Morning” prelude from Peer Gynt, played on an ionic speaker.

No ordinary speaker, it consists of a thin sheet of rubber sandwiched between two layers of a saltwater gel, and it’s as clear as a window. A high-voltage signal that runs across the surfaces and through the layers forces the rubber to rapidly contract and vibrate, producing sounds that span the entire audible spectrum, 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz (see video below).

But this is not an electronic device, nor has it ever been seen before. Published in the August 30 issue of Science, it represents the first demonstration that electrical charges carried by ions, rather than electrons, can be put to meaningful use in fast-moving, high-voltage devices.

“Ionic conductors could replace certain electronic systems; they even offer several advantages,” says co-lead author Jeong-Yun Sun, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

For example, ionic conductors can be stretched to many times their normal area without an increase in resistivity—a problem common in stretchable electronic devices. Secondly, they can be transparent, making them well suited for optical applications. Thirdly, the gels used as electrolytes are biocompatible, so it would be relatively easy to incorporate ionic devices—such as artificial muscles or skin—into biological systems.

After all, signals carried by charged ions are the electricity of the human body, allowing neurons to share knowledge and spurring the heart to beat. Bioengineers would dearly love to mesh artificial organs and limbs with that system.

“The big vision is soft machines,” says co-lead author Christoph Keplinger, who worked on the project as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard SEAS and in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. “Engineered ionic systems can achieve a lot of functions that our body has: they can sense, they can conduct a signal, and they can actuate movement. We’re really approaching the type of soft machine that biology has to offer.”

The audio speaker represents a robust proof of concept for ionic conductors because producing sounds across the entire audible spectrum requires both high voltage (to squeeze hard on the rubber layer) and high-speed actuation (to vibrate quickly)—two criteria which are important for applications but which would have ruled out the use of ionic conductors in the past.

 

To make the speaker, a membrane of transparent, insulating rubber is sandwiched between two layers of transparent, conductive gel. The electrical connection to the power source is established outside of the active region of the device, where it does not need to be transparent. (Image courtesy of Christoph Keplinger, Jeong-Yun Sun, and Science/AAAS.)


 

The traditional constraints are well known: high voltages can set off electrochemical reactions in ionic materials, producing gases and burning up the materials. Ions are also much larger and heavier than electrons, so physically moving them through a circuit is typically slow. The system invented at Harvard overcomes both of these problems, opening up a vast number of potential applications including not just biomedical devices, but also fast-moving robotics and adaptive optics.

“It must seem counterintuitive to many people, that ionic conductors could be used in a system that requires very fast actuation, like our speaker,” says Sun. “Yet by exploiting the rubber layer as an insulator, we’re able to control the voltage at the interfaces where the gel connects to the electrodes, so we don’t have to worry about unwanted chemical reactions. The input signal is an alternating current (AC), and we use the rubber sheet as a capacitor, which blocks the flow of charge carriers through the circuit. As a result, we don’t have to continuously move the ions in one direction, which would be slow; we simply redistribute them, which we can do thousands of times per second.”

Sun works in a research group led by Zhigang Suo, the Allen E. and Marilyn M. Puckett Professor of Mechanics and Materials at Harvard SEAS. An expert in the mechanical behaviors of materials, Suo is also a Kavli Scholar at the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology, which is based at SEAS.

Suo teamed up with George M. Whitesides, a prominent chemist who specializes in soft machines, among many other topics. Whitesides is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, co-director of the Kavli Institute at Harvard, and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

“We’d like to change people’s attitudes about where ionics can be used,” says Keplinger, who now works in Whitesides’ research group. “Our system doesn’t need a lot of power, and you can integrate it anywhere you would need a soft, transparent layer that deforms in response to electrical stimuli—for example, on the screen of a TV, laptop, or smartphone to generate sound or provide localized haptic feedback—and people are even thinking about smart windows. You could potentially place this speaker on a window and achieve active noise cancellation, with complete silence inside.” As Jeong-Yun Sun and Christoph Keplinger demonstrate here, two major advantages of ionic conductors are that they can be very stretchy and completely transparent, two properties difficult to achieve with electronics. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications.)

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World’s thinnest keyboard unveiled by Cambridge tech firm

2013/09/04

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World’s thinnest keyboard unveiled by Cambridge tech firm

2013/09/04

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Makers of popular Beats headphones and Nike Running gadgets aims for world-beating lightweight add-on for tablets or phones.

The company behind the wireless Beats headphones and Nike Running gadget has unveiled the world’s thinnest keyboard, with a flexible, wireless touchscreen just half a millimetre thick.

Cambridge-based CSR, which specialises in wireless technology, showcased a prototype of the product at the IFA consumer electronics event in Berlin, but it will be 12 months before it will be available to buy.

Paul Williamson, CSR’s director of low power wireless products, said the final form factor depended on how manufacturers bring the keyboard to market, although its primary use is likely to be as a lightweight, complementary external keyboard for tablet devices. “This is a working prototype and a glimpse forward rather than something people will be buying this year,” he said.

“We might see lots of shapes and sizes, some as small as iPad Mini or a larger, more rigid form for a desktop PC, which could be curved, in any colour way, transparent or fitted with a leather folio.”

Developed in partnership with Cambridge Inkjet Technology, the interface for the product is printed out and can be customised. That could mean printing bespoke keyboards in different languages with ease, or customised keyboards for functions such as video editing and for customers who would like personalised patterns or messages on their own keyboard.

The keyboard’s touchscreen could also be used under a piece of paper to transcribe notes made with a pen and sync them to a computer.

CSR’s research has led to wireless products that enable music streaming in the popular Beats headphones, the performance-tracking tool the Nike+ SportWatch and the Jambox speaker.

Founded in 1999, CSR is one of a cluster of successful, research-focused tech companies clustered around Cambridge and “Silicon Fen” who have recently discussed introducing a “Made in Cambridge” badge to promote their products.

“The audio experience you’re getting from Beats headphones exists because we developed it, put it out there and now it is used on a global scale,” said Williamson.

“People don’t recognise that that kind of innovation is developed by a small number of very bright people here, and the pool of engineering talent and expertise here deserves a bit more credit than the app economy drive in the periphery of London.”

World's thinnest keyboard World's thinnest keyboard

Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Devices Unit

2013/09/04

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Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Devices Unit

2013/09/04

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Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is spending 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion) to buy Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s handset unit so it can gain ground on Apple Inc. and Google (GOOG) Inc. in a smartphone market it let get away — gaining a possible new chief executive officer in the process.

Nokia’s devices and services unit, which accounted for half of the company’s 2012 revenue, along with 32,000 employees, will transfer to Microsoft, the companies said. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, 49, will return to Microsoft after a three-year stint running the Finnish manufacturer. The move stoked speculation he may be a successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, who said last month he’d retire within 12 months.

Microsoft is deepening a push into hardware as dwindling computer sales sap demand for the programs that made it the world’s largest software maker. Nokia shares jumped as much as 48 percent in Helsinki as the sale removes a money-losing handset business and lets it focus on higher-margin networking gear. Even combined, the companies have less than 4 percent of the smartphone market, leaving them far behind Apple and Google.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-03/microsoft-to-buy-nokia-s-devices-business-for-5-44-billion-euros.html

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World’s Thinnest Circuits

2013/08/30

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World’s Thinnest Circuits

2013/08/30

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With aging populations all over the world, its no surprise that healthcare and health monitoring devices have become big business. Japan in particular boasts one of the lowest birth rates in the world and thusly one of the largest elderly populations. It is against this backdrop that the University of Tokyo’s Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) research group led by Professor Takao Someya and Associate Professor Tsuyoshi Sekitani, in collaboration with Johannes Keplar University in Linz, Austria, have developed the world’s lightest and thinnest circuit. In contrast to similar circuitry designed to come into direct contact with skin (the lick and stick circuits from UIUC come to mind), the ultra-thin electronics from U of Tokyo are incredibly robust for their discreet profile. Professor Takao Someya commented on the design of the circuitry as having great potential in a number of different arenas. The new flexible touch sensor is the world’s thinnest, lightest and people cannot feel the existence of this device. I believe this development will open up a wide range of new applications, from health monitoring systems, wearable medical instruments, and even robotic skins in the future.

 

The prototypes of the feather-light circuits exist as a 12×12 array created by two thin layers, one a integrated circuit and the other a tactile sensor. Additionally, they boast a fairly incredible bend radius of 5 microns, ability to endure 233% tensile strain—impressive for electronics that are just one-fifth the thickness of your average saran wrap. While all of this may sound fine and dandy, its pretty incredible when compared to traditional IT device manufacturing that typically employs rigid silicon.The circuit, as a shiny new technology, offers a wealth of possibility within the realm of wearables electronics. The most obvious approach (and intended purpose) in health monitoring is great, but as purely a thought experiment, I would love to see how they might be used in other designed objects or even in an artistic capacity. With the leap from the original arduino board to the Lilypads, Unos and Megas of today—maybe there will eventually be an open hardware future for the super-lightweight circuits? It’s still a ways off, but a girl can dream…http://youtu.be/ybM6lL16nFg

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Touchscreen interface for seamless data transfer

2013/08/22

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Touchscreen interface for seamless data transfer

2013/08/22

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Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a next generation user interface which can accurately detect the users finger and what it is touching, creating an interactive touchscreen-like system, using objects in the real word.

“We think paper and many other objects could be manipulated by touching them, as with a touchscreen. This system doesn’t use any special hardware; it consists of just a device like an ordinary webcam, plus a commercial projector. Its capabilities are achieved by image processing technology.”

Using this technology, information can be imported from a document as data, by selecting the necessary parts with your finger.

This technology measures the shape of real-world objects, and automatically adjusts the coordinate systems for the camera, projector, and real world. In this way, it can coordinate the display with touching, not only for flat surfaces like tables and paper, but also for the curved surfaces of objects such as books.

“Until now, gesturing has often been used to operate PCs and other devices. But with this interface, we’re not operating a PC, but touching actual objects directly, and combining them with ICT equipment.”

“The system is designed not to react when you make ordinary motions on a table. It can be operated when you point with one finger. What this means is, the system serves as an interface combining analog operations and digital devices.”

To detect touch accurately, the system needs to detect fingertip height accurately. In particular, with the low-resolution camera used here (320 x 180), if fingertip detection is off by a single pixel, the height changes by 1 cm. So, the system requires technology for recognizing fingertips with high precision.

“Using a low-res webcam gives a fuzzy picture, but the system calculates 3D positions with high precision, by compensating through image processing.”

This system also includes technology for controlling color and brightness, in line with the ambient light, and correcting for individual differences in hand color. In this way, it can identify fingertips consistently, with little influence from the environment or individual differences.

Also, in situations that don’t use touch, the system can be operated by gesturing. In this demo, when you move your fist, you can manipulate the viewpoint for 3D CAD data. So, there could be applications for this touch system by combining it with current gesture systems.

“For example, we think this system could be used to show detailed information at a travel agent’s counter, or when you need to fill in forms at City Hall.”

“We aim to develop a commercial version of this system by fiscal 2014. It’s still at the demonstration level, so it’s not been used in actual settings. Next, we’d like to get people to use it for actual tasks, see what issues arise, and evaluate usability. We want to reflect such feedback in this system.”

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Gravitistic Magnetic Watch

2013/06/28

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Gravitistic Magnetic Watch

2013/06/28

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When examining the significance of time, what is truly important is not to know the moment of the day it is but to recognize the
invaluable significance of each passing moment. ‘Gravitistic’ by designer jaemin jaeminlee is a magnetic watch that expresses the
concentration of the hour. the units point towards a minute hand, arranged as if they are being pulled by gravity. By utilizing
the force of a magnet, the device relies solely on the laws of physics to deliver an accurate reminder of time.

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Knitic’s Brainwave Wearables

2013/06/28

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Knitic’s Brainwave Wearables

2013/06/28

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Although “design thinking” might be a term that has just about reached saturation point for most students and professionals, the recent influx of literal interest in brainwave and thought related design projects is undeniable. A few weeks ago we profiled the Melon Headbandand app for tracking brain activity and focus and now we flip over to the other end of the spectrum with the Knitic NeuroKnitting machine.

Knitic is the collaborative project of artistic duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet, a pair who have existed in the fine line between art and tech since 2009. Their Arduino-hacked knitting machine records brain states via an EEG headset to be converted into a knitting pattern for a scarf. The wearer’s activity measurements of level of relaxation, excitement and cognitive load while listening to Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” The resulting data yields a stiching pattern, which—in addition to being a great garment for chillier climates—also captures visually the unique act of listening. The team chose to bypass the electronic control of the Brother brand 930 knitting machine models opting for real-time control and modification of patterns by putting in their own arduino control system.

A novel idea for sure, we are excited to see further developments in the realm of digital fabrication for textiles. Knitic is on the right track with a merger of traditional textile fabrication with a digital twist, especially in a sea of 3D printing and CNC technologies.

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Adidas Springblade

2013/06/28

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Adidas Springblade

2013/06/28

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Adidas unveiled ‘springblade’ the first running shoe with individually tuned blades engineered to propel runners forward with one of the most effective energy returns in the industry. Unlike standard EVA midsoles that deliver energy return in a vertical direction, springblade features 16 forward angled blades made out of a high-tech polymer. The highly elastic blades instantaneously react to any environment, compressing and releasing energy to create an efficient push-off that feels like you have springs under your feet. Each blade is precisely tuned in geometry, thickness and position for each phase of a runner’s stride to provide support and a full range of movement. Additionally, springblade’s flexible construction was designed to hug the top of a runner’s foot, locking it in to harness the energy returned from the springs on the outsole.Springblade’s progressive look and blade technology are radically different than any running shoe ever created. at the same time, adidas’ goal is to create a beautiful performance shoe designed to be simple and intuitive. Every aspect of springblade is engineered to reflect extensive athlete insights to help make them better. For design inspiration, we drew upon everyday objects that deliver explosive energy return – everything from springboards to pole vaults and motorcycle suspensions.’ – james carnes, global creative director of performance at adidas. Adidas is continuing to develop new innovations based on what athletes not only need but demand. We know we have something special with boost cushioning introduced earlier this year and we’re confident springblade will set us apart from the competition once again. Six years in the making, springblade provides one of the highest energy returns in the industry.’ – Mikal Peveto, director of running at adidas america

 

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Apple CEO Calls Wearable Technology ‘Incredibly Interesting’

2013/05/29

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Apple CEO Calls Wearable Technology ‘Incredibly Interesting’

2013/05/29

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Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his vision for the company Tuesday, saying Apple still has big ideas ahead of it, despite its flagging stock price and recent criticism over tax practices.In an interview with journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at the start of AllThingsD’s D11 conference, Cook hinted about the company’s plan to focus on items such as “wearable” technology — think watches or glasses — that could provide Apple with new hits.

“I think wearables is incredibly interesting,” he said, according to AllThingsD’s live blog. “It could be a profound area.”

Apple is widely considered to be developing a “smartwatch,” with analysts speculating that it could have a 1.5- to 2-inch display, with technology similar to the iPod Nano, on sale in 2014.Cook downplayed Google’s foray into the wearable computing realm, saying Google Glass eyewear would not likely find broad appeal with consumers.

“I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people who wear them because they don’t have to,” he said. “I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural.”

He refused to answer specific questions about new products. But he played up designer Jony Ive’s involvement in the company’s new operating system for the iPhone and iPads, scheduled to be released at its developer’s conference next month. He also said he has a “grand vision” for television, but declined to get into details.

APL news APL news

E INK SPECTRA IMAGING FILM

2013/05/28

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E INK SPECTRA IMAGING FILM

2013/05/28

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E Ink introduces a new color display for retail and electronic shelf tag labels. Spectra displays offer black and white + 1 color, enabling retail signage the ability to highlight promotions or logos with a pop of color.

E Ink Spectra is the first three pigment electronic ink offered in mass production. EPDs using Spectra offer the same high-contrast, sunlight readable, low-power performance attributes of our other display types – now with a pop of color. The first generation of Spectra will feature black, white and red pigments, and we expect to release additional colors in the future.Spectra works similiarly to our other inks, in that we apply a charge to our pigments, and to a top and bottom electrode to facilitate movement. However, Spectra is utilizing a microcup ink structure, rather than the microcapsules we are known for.

By using electronic shelf labels (ESL) with E Ink’s technology, retailers have the ability to change pricing strategies as needed in real time, allowing them to stay one step ahead of competitors while attracting consumers based on changing market conditions. Spectra allows retailers to elevate the impact of their ESLs, by adding color to logos and quickly directing consumers’ attention to important information, such as product sales and promotions.

 

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Conran bluetooth centered-viewfinder camera

2013/04/11

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Conran bluetooth centered-viewfinder camera

2013/04/11

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The conran camera transmits images via bluetooth with the touch of a button, recapturing the delight of  photography by not looking.
From a control perspective, the device combines instant-on, automatic shooting with a full set of manual controls. instead of being
buried in compicated, screen-based menus, all of the controls are physical: grooves, knurls and ridges allow the user to change settings
without looking.

The camera sensors surround the central aperture in an array, allowing the camera to resolve images with incredible clarity –
and a ring flash allows even lighting of close up subjects. ‘we love the idea of not viewing your images right away. it brings back some of
the excitement of taking your film to the lab, and having to wait to find out what’s on it’, says jared mankelow, senior product designer.

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Touch Bionics Unveils i-limb ultra revolution Prosthetic Hand With iOS Control App

2013/04/11

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Touch Bionics Unveils i-limb ultra revolution Prosthetic Hand With iOS Control App

2013/04/11

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Touch Bionics is introducing a new smart prosthetic hand based on its i-limb technology that allows individual fingers to be moved independently. The new i-limb ultra revolution prosthesis features a powered rotating thumb that allows for greater ability to do everyday tasks and comes with an iOS app that offers the option to control grip patterns using a phone.

The new limb also includes a fresh set of electrodes that promise greater sensitivity to user commands and better dexterity.

Features of the biosim iOS app:

  • 24 Quick Grips – Instant access to grip patterns with a single screen tap greatly expands prosthesis control.
  • Favorites – Editable collections of grips customized for daily needs. For example, wearers can select the ‘work’ favorite, which triggers the i-limb into preferred grips such as typing, holding papers, or using a mouse.
  • Hand Health Check – Activates prosthesis diagnostic to ensure the i-limb is functioning properly.
  • Training – Access training modes to help the wearer learn how to access all of the functionality available.
  • Compatibility – Available for download on Apple App Store and compatible with several Apple devices.
i-limb-ultra-revolution i-limb-ultra-revolution

ross lovegrove: twin’z concept car for renault

2013/04/08

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ross lovegrove: twin’z concept car for renault

2013/04/08

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Collaborating alongside industrial designer ross lovegroverenault has unveiled their plans to release a concept car that will
explore and determine the company’s future strategic direction at the triennale of milan from april 9-14, 2013. by examining nature,
the systems and energy transactions of project intend to bring awareness and understanding of the phenomena and the current
environmental impacts within a transportation context. working with contemporary computational design methods, the venture
will reveal nature’s underlying blueprints – transferring them into new sustainable automotive form languages. the methods
are process driven and aim to explore performative surfaces, lightweight structures and new material behaviors – rather than
the literal translation of appearances found in nature into visual design.

As the ‘play’ petal of renault design’s life-cycle ‘flower’, twin’z is the latest concept car in the program which sets out to illustrate the
company’s new design strategy through parallels with threshold phases of human existence. twin’z is a fun, modern, artistic take on the
city-car which plays on emotions and excites the senses. it draws influence from the heritage of some of the brand’s most emblematic models,
such as the renault 5 and renault twingo. the twin’z is an all-electric car with rear-wheeldrive and a rear-mounted motor.

 

 

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BMW Concept X4

2013/04/06

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BMW Concept X4

2013/04/06

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The new BMW Concept X4 offers a preview of the future of the BMW X family. The Sports Activity Coupe concept is poised to continue the success story of the BMW X6 in a new vehicle class. Eye-catching proportions, tight contours and numerous high-quality details produce an unrivalled product character brimming with emotional appeal, dynamism and sturdiness.

The front-end styling of the BMW Concept X4 exudes hallmark BMW dynamics and the rugged purpose and presence of a BMW X model in equal measure. Classical BMW features such as the kidney grille and stylised twin circular headlights give the front end a clear identity and ensure it shines out as a BMW the first time you set eyes on it. The BMW Concept X4 lavishes both these front-end design icons with meticulous detail and three-dimensional depth. The large kidney grille stretches out within a solid-looking surround. The high-gloss frame is open to the sides and at its lower extreme, lending it an almost “floating” appearance in the centre of the front end. The grille features prominently sculptured bars with ultra-stylish detailing. The hollowed out, high-gloss black bars have a milled lower third with a matt finishing, which lends the kidney structure extra visual depth. And the grille also comprises additional air apertures to ensure an increased supply of cooling air to the engine.

The kidney grille is flanked by dynamically contoured full-LED headlights. Inside the light units, a flowing, hexagonal interpretation of the familiar BMW twin circular appearance points to an unwavering focus on the road ahead. The horizontal continuation of the inner light elements creates a visual connection with the grille, accentuating once again the width of the front end.

BMW Coupe tradition, the side air intakes are larger than the inner units and make a visual feature of the increased cooling air requirement – while satisfying that need. Together with the car’s wide track and low centre of gravity, the intakes represent a promise of exceptional performance capability. The side air intakes pick up on a stylistic theme from the kidney grille; their black horizontal bars are, like the grille’s, partly milled out but boast gleaming chrome edges.

In hallmark BMW style, a longer wheelbase, relatively long bonnet, short overhangs and a set-back greenhouse lend the car an undeniable dynamism even when standing still. The striking interplay of surfaces creates a vibrant contrast of light and shadow that exudes a feeling of agility and power. Prominently rising lines mould the flanks into a wedge shape and give the car as a whole a forward-surging momentum.

The coupe-style roofline sweeps elegantly downwards and makes the car appear longer. Below, the windows extend well to the rear, where they are bordered by a dynamic interpretation of BMW’s signature Hofmeister kink. The stretched and shallow band of glass creates a persuasively dynamic link between the greenhouse and vehicle body, the slim glass surface giving the body an impressively powerful appearance. At the same time the visual centre of gravity is lowered, underlining the sporting mission statement summed up by the car’s flanks.

The BMW Concept X4’s contours include a new interpretation of the familiar BMW swage line, a pair of dynamic lines defining the eye-catching impact of the side view. A concave area under each swage line lends the flanks an almost sculptural expression – at once robust and dynamic. The surface volumes and definition of the contours deepen as they extend towards the tail and imbue the rear end with added stature. Here, the powerfully flared wheel arches team up with the concave surface below the rear swage line to visualise the power rippling through the rear wheels. The radiant exterior paint shade Long Beach Blue is a perfect match for the elaborately structured volumes and contours, and brings particular depth to the expressive design language.

Expressive 21-inch bi-colour light-alloy wheels round off the car’s appearance when viewed from the side. Intricate, high-gloss polished spokes provide visual allure, while behind them dark-coloured flame surfaces contribute an impressive feeling of depth.

The rear of the BMW Concept X4 takes the sporting, width-accentuating elements of the front-end design and reproduces them with an emphatically horizontal flavour. The body’s lines and the slim LED tail lights positioned at the outer edges of the rear emphasise the muscular wheel arches and wide track. Below, horizontal lines split the rear visually into sections, while light surfaces reduce the car’s visual height and underline its width.

The shallow rear window gives the vehicle body an even more powerful impression and its broad shoulders a show-stealing presence. Looking further down, the L-shaped rear lights of the BMW Concept X4 underscore its consummate stance on the road. A full-sized inner element in the tail lights, meanwhile, replicates the signature BMW “L” shape in three-dimensional form and with impressive depth.

The most striking element at the back of the car is the rear apron, which provides a wide, full-length interpretation of the front apron’s large outer air intakes. The apron’s cut-out picks up the two exhaust tailpipes in a dynamic sweep before diverting the gaze to the wheels. Body-colour elements reaching well down towards the road surface provide a high-quality border for the rear end and re-emphasize the road-focused proposition of the BMW Concept X4.

The underride protection acts as the body’s lowest edge. Matt black surfaces lower the car’s perceived height and accentuate the robust BMW X character of the rear. As at the front of the car, three milled elements in gleaming chrome add a sophisticated touch to the underride protection.

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Where on the body is wearable technology going plus a stylus that stows on your wrist

2013/04/05

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Where on the body is wearable technology going plus a stylus that stows on your wrist

2013/04/05

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At a press event yesterday, I was given press materials on the rubber USB bracelet that’s becoming de rigueur. Apple’s supposedly coming out with an iWatch. And a Hong-Kong-based company called Aeglo has designed a stylus that turns into a slap bracelet (see below). The wrist, it seems, is becoming the Manhattan real estate of tech devices.

It’s easy to see why: The wrist is easily accessible and has long been the prime body location to wear technology, as pioneered by the wristwatch in the 1920s. In more recent decades headphones, earbuds and bluetooth earpieces have moved tech onto our domes, and if Google Glass goes mainstream, wearable tech will make the leap to our faces. If throat mics catch on, necks will be covered too.

While we’ve seen concepts for technology-embedded clothing, we’re not confident that catch-all solution is going to catch on, outside of a few niche markets like iPod-controlling snowboard jackets. No, we suspect the wearable technology market will rise in fragments: An iWatch on your wrist, Google Glasses on your face, a Bluetooth bud in your ear, a throat mic on your neck. (While there are arm-mounted bands to hold iPod Nanos for runners, we can’t see that one going mainstream either, as the bands are meant to be worn on bare arms or skintight athletic gear.)

At one point in time, humans had to grind their own coffee beans, boil water, combine the ingredients and filter out the grounds in order to get a cup of joe. Our limited imaginations of the time assumed that one day a robot, like The Jetsons’ Rosie the Robot, would do all of that stuff for us in the future. Instead manufacturers developed a bunch of discrete objects: Coffee grinding machines, coffeemakers, packages of disposable paper filters we’d buy by the hundred. In this analogy we think the idea of computer-embedded clothing is the Rosie the Robot fantasy, and that things like the iWatch and bluetooth headsets are the separate objects that we’ll still buy piecemeal and coordinate with each other.

Our question to you guys is, where else on the body do you see wearable technology migrating to, in a mainstream way? And which body part, if any, do you think various manufacturers will most compete for space on?

In any case, here’s the video for the Flaxus, the aforementioned slap-bracelet stylus. It might sound silly in a text description, but the video makes a compelling case for its utility. It also seems a good application for those who need to interact with their devices while working outside with gloves on.

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LEVITATING WIRELESS MOUSE COULD HELP PREVENT CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

2013/03/08

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LEVITATING WIRELESS MOUSE COULD HELP PREVENT CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

2013/03/08

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Vadim Kibardin of Kibardin Design designed this levitating wireless computer mousethat would help prevent and treat the contemporary disease Carpal Tunnel syndrome. For people who spend a lot of time on a computer (like me!), Carpal Tunnel syndrome is always a risk.

The mouse consists of a mouse pad base and floating mouse with magnet ring.

He is still in the research and testing phase of this design so it is not yet available for sale. I’m interested to see what he discovers.

levitating-computer-mouse-carpal-tunnel levitating-computer-mouse-carpal-tunnel

3D Printed Paper Solar Cells Make Powerful Paper Planes

2012/11/16

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3D Printed Paper Solar Cells Make Powerful Paper Planes

2012/11/16

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As much as we’d like to see solar panels everywhere and on everything, they have always been somewhat costly, bulky and uncompromising. A team of engineers at MIT is developing solar cells that can be printed onto a piece of paper with a technique similar to 3D printing. The five layers of material are laid on the paper one at a time in a vacuum chamber, using a method similar to the one used for lining potato chip bags with foil. The manufacturing method is significantly less involved than the one needed for traditional rigid solar cells, but the big advantage of this new breakthrough is that the cells can be folded over and over without losing functionality.

The photovoltaic cells work just as well when printed on thin plastic as they do when printed on paper. The MIT team went so far as to fold one of the paper cells into a paper airplane and, one of the plastic cells was folded over a thousand times. Both cells still functioned normally. Although they are incredibly robust, they aren’t quite miracle power producers just yet: their initial efficiency is a sad one percent. But if the team can improve the efficiency of the lightweight cells, they could revolutionize consumer electronics batteries and make electricity plentiful in developing countries.

foldable-solar-cells foldable-solar-cells

LG Chem develops very flexible cable batteries, may leave mobile devices tied up in knots

2012/09/02

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LG Chem develops very flexible cable batteries, may leave mobile devices tied up in knots

2012/09/02

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The world is no stranger to flexible batteries, but they’ve almost always had to be made in thin sheets — that doesn’t amount to a long running time if you’re powering anything more than a watch.

LG Chem has developed a flexible lithium-ion battery that’s not just better-suited to our bigger gadgets but could out-do previous bendable energy packs. Researchers found that coating copper wires with nickel-tin and coiling them briefly around a rod results in a hollow anode that behaves like a very strong spring; mating that anode with a lithium-ion cell leads to a battery that works even when it’s twisted up in knots.

Join multiple packs together, and devices could have lithium-ion batteries that fit many shapes without compromising on their maximum deliverable power.

Some hurdles remain to creating a production-grade battery, such as a tendency for the pack to shed a small amount of capacity whenever it’s put under enough stress. LG Chem is fully set on turning these cable batteries into shippable technology, however, and could ultimately produce mobile devices and wearables that really do bend to their owners’ every whim.

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FLEXIBLE BATTERIES MEAN TABLETS COULD ONE DAY BE FOLDABLE

2012/08/07

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FLEXIBLE BATTERIES MEAN TABLETS COULD ONE DAY BE FOLDABLE

2012/08/07

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The development opens a ream of possibilities for future consumer electronics design. While foldable e-reader screens already exist, rigid batteries have been the stumbling block of creating fully-flexible electronics. Lee’s innovation means that any number of devices could become foldable and paper-thin. The shift in how designers approach these devices – as wearable, more portable, more fluid objects – will yield many once impossible designs.

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Flexible lithium-ion battery technology is on the march

2012/08/02

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Flexible lithium-ion battery technology is on the march

2012/08/02

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Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a promising solid state, thin-film lithium-ion battery that claims the highest energy density ever achieved for a flexible battery. The new design, which showed for the first time that high-performance thin films can be used for flexible batteries, may be commercialized as early as next year.

Lithium-ion batteries are a strong candidate for powering the flexible electronics of the future. A high-performance lithium-ion flexible batterywould be a giant step toward fully-fledged flexible electronics systems and would open the door to flexible e-paper, wearable devices, and better piezoelectric systems that harvest energy from mechanical forces.

Research is progressing, but seems to have hit an invisible – though very real – performance wall. This is because most designs employ either low-performance flexible organic materials, or polymer binders that take up too much space and decrease the battery’s power density. In addition, the cathodes have to be treated at high temperatures to improve performance, but this can’t be done effectively on substrates made of flexible polymers.

The new approach developed at KAIST uses high energy density inorganic thin films that can be treated at high temperatures, resulting in the highest-performance flexible lithium-ion batteries yet. “There is no performance difference in energy density, capacity, and cycle life between our flexible battery and bulk batteries,” Prof. Keon Jae Lee, who led the research efforts, told Gizmag. “On the contrary, performance is improved by about 10 percent because of the stress release effect.”

The batteries are built by sequentially depositing several layers – a current collector, a cathode, an electrolyte, an anode, and a protective layer – on a brittle substrate made of mica. Then, the mica is manually delaminated using adhesive tape, and the battery is enclosed between two polymer sheets to improve mechanical resistance.

Bending the battery affects performance, but not to disastrous levels. With the battery constantly bent at a radius of sixteen millimeters (about the same curvature of a fifty-cent coin) the discharge capacity drops by about seven percent after 100 charge-discharge cycles, compared to a three percent drop when the battery is not bent. Voltage was shown to remain almost constant, dropping by a very modest 0.02 V after the battery was bent and released 20,000 times.

“The technology for commercializing this battery could come in a relatively short time, about a year,” says Prof. Lee. But first, the researchers need to find a better, automated way to delaminate the mica substrate – the manual method, involving adhesive tape, is very unpractical and can take up to ten minutes per battery.

“We are investigating a laser lift-off [delamination] process to facilitate mass production of large area flexible lithium-ion batteriesr” says Lee. “Its feasibility is already proven and will be reported in a later paper.”

The team is also interested in stacking the structures on top of each other to improve charge density.

A paper describing the battery was recently published on the journal Nano Letters. The video below illustrates the voltage performance of the batteries under mechanical stress.

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RUBBER BAND ELECTRONICS CAN STRETCH TO THREE TIMES THEIR SIZE

2012/07/05

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RUBBER BAND ELECTRONICS CAN STRETCH TO THREE TIMES THEIR SIZE

2012/07/05

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Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University have created a new material that can stretch up to three times its original size. The material is able to efficiently conduct electricity and can be used as electrical components that require the flexibility.

The rubber band-like electric component can help medical researchers develop devices that could be integrated into the human body. The stretchable material is made by “combining a liquid metal in a porous polymer” to achieve its 200 percent elasticity.

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