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Fingertip sensor gives robot unprecedented dexterity

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:22
Researchers have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port.

Soft robotics 'toolkit' features everything a robot-maker needs

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:21
A new resource provides both experienced and aspiring researchers with the intellectual raw materials needed to design, build, and operate robots made from soft, flexible materials. With the advent of low-cost 3-D printing, laser cutters, and other advances in manufacturing technology, soft robotics is emerging as an increasingly important field.

Reflected smartphone transmissions enable gesture control

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:21
Engineers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that lets users "train" their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone.

Computers 1,000 times faster? Quick-change materials break silicon speed limit for computers

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 15:06
Faster, smaller, greener computers, capable of processing information up to 1,000 times faster than currently available models, could be made possible by replacing silicon with materials that can switch back and forth between different electrical states.

Toward optical chips: Promising light source for optoelectronic chips can be tuned to different frequencies

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 13:32
Chips that use light, rather than electricity, to move data would consume much less power -- and energy efficiency is a growing concern as chips' transistor counts rise. Scientists have developed a new technique for building MoS2 light emitters tuned to different frequencies, an essential requirement for optoelectronic chips. Since thin films of material can also be patterned onto sheets of plastic, the same work could point toward thin, flexible, bright, color displays.

Using underwater robots for a better understanding of the underwater world

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:38
It is where we all came from and it is vital to our future, but Earth’s oceans, seas and waterways remain a mystery to us – a final frontier. A new project is at the forefront of a revolution in communications, creating an underwater ‘internet of things’, that will mobilize robots to work in groups, interacting together and passing back information to us on life underwater.

Video games could dramatically streamline educational research

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 01:01
Scientists have figured out a dramatically easier and more cost-effective way to do research on science curriculum in the classroom -- and it could include playing video games. Called 'computational modeling,' it involves a computer 'learning' student behavior and then 'thinking' as students would. It could revolutionize the way educational research is done.

World population to keep growing this century, hit 11 billion by 2100

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:14
The chance that world population in 2100 will be between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion people is 80 percent, according to the first such United Nations forecast to incorporate modern statistical tools.

New insights into the world of quantum materials

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:12
A team of physicists has experimentally observed how the anisotropic properties of particles deform the Fermi surface in a quantum gas. The work provides the basis for future studies on how the geometry of particle interactions may influence the properties of a quantum system.

Toward quantum computing, spintronic memory, better displays: Nuclear spins control current in plastic LED

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:11
Physicists read “spins” in hydrogen nuclei and used the data to control current in a cheap, plastic LED – at room temperature and without strong magnetic fields. The study brings physics a step closer to practical "spintronic" devices: superfast computers, more compact data storage and plastic or organic LEDs, more efficient than those used today in display screens for cell phones, computers and televisions.

Smartphone app reveals users' mental health, performance, behavior

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 16:14
Researchers have built the first smartphone app that automatically reveals college students' mental health, academic performance and behavioral trends. In other words, your smartphone knows your state of mind -- even if you don't -- and how that affects you. The StudentLife app, which compares students' happiness, stress, depression and loneliness to their academic performance, also may be used in the general population -- for example, to monitor mental health, trigger intervention and improve productivity in workplace employees.

Germanium tin could mean better and cheaper infrared cameras in smartphones, and faster computer chips

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 16:13
Researchers have fabricated a new semiconductor material that can be used to build better and less expensive infrared cameras for smartphone and automobiles.

'Honeybee' robots replicate swarm behavior

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:11
Computer scientists have created a low-cost, autonomous micro-robot which in large numbers can replicate the behavior of swarming honeybees.

Crowdsourcing could lead to better water in rural India

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:07
A novel environmental crowdsourcing technique for assessing water quality in India is being evaluated by a three-continent research consortium. The technique relies on 53-cent test kits and the nation’s ubiquitous mobile phone service.

Oxides could advance memory devices

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:18
The quest for the ultimate memory device for computing may have just taken an encouraging step forward. Researchers have discovered new complex oxides that exhibit both magnetic and ferroelectric properties.

Math model designed to replace invasive kidney biopsy for lupus patients

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:16
Mathematics might be able to reduce the need for invasive biopsies in patients suffering kidney damage related to the autoimmune disease lupus. The model could also be used to monitor the effectiveness of experimental treatments for inflammation and fibrosis, researchers say.

Physicists heat freestanding graphene to control curvature of ripples

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:16
Physicists have discovered that heating can be used to control the curvature of ripples in freestanding graphene. The finding provides fundamental insight into understanding the influence temperature exerts on the dynamics of freestanding graphene. This may drive future applications of the flexible circuits of consumer devices such as cell phones and digital cameras.

'Smart material' chin strap harvests energy from chewing

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:32
A chin strap that can harvest energy from jaw movements has been created by a group of researchers in Canada. It is hoped that the device can generate electricity from eating, chewing and talking, and power a number of small-scale implantable or wearable electronic devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, electronic hearing protectors and communication devices.

Flying robots will go where humans can't

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:31
There are many situations where it’s impossible, complicated or too time-consuming for humans to enter and carry out operations. Think of contaminated areas following a nuclear accident, or the need to erect structures such as antennae on mountain tops. These are examples of where flying robots could be used.

Computerized emotion detector

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:15
Face recognition software measures various parameters in a mug shot, such as the distance between the person's eyes, the height from lip to top of their nose and various other metrics and then compares it with photos of people in the database that have been tagged with a given name. Now, new research looks to take that one step further in recognizing the emotion portrayed by a face.