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Are We Moving Toward A More Natural Future With Technology?

Natural User Interfaces or NUI Trend watching has become a profession in recent years and there are sites dedicated to monitoring trends of all kinds. I spend a good deal of my time writing about trends in technology and observing a number of key trends that Microsoft is focused on. Individual trends such as Big … Continue reading

Tools vs. Toys: Why The Timeline Changes Nothing

In general I can see people using G+ while people simply play with Facebook Yesterday Erick and I had an interesting discussion about Facebook vs. Google+ and I came down on the side of G+. Why? Because tools are important, toys aren’t. Granted Facebook’s 500 million visitors a day proves me wrong in numeric terms, … Continue reading

Polyurethane composite could replace steel or aluminum in some applications

35% lighter than a standard metal unit, and is approximately 30% cheaper to produce A consortium of German research groups has created a new sandwich-type material that they claim offers strength similar to that of steel or aluminum, yet is significantly lighter and less expensive. It consists of a honeycomb-structured paper core, with glass fiber-reinforced … Continue reading

Petri dish gets 21st Century update

Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform When it comes to laboratory equipment, it doesn’t get much more basic than the humble petri dish. Aside from moving from glass to plastic and the addition of rings on their lids and bases that allows them to be stacked, the petri dish has … Continue reading

Whether Grasping Easter Eggs or Glass Bottles, This Robotic Hand Uses Tact

The robotic hand is thus powerful yet delicate It may be difficult to imagine, but pouring juice into a plastic cup can be a great challenge to a robot. While one hand holds the glass bottle firmly, the other one must gently grasp the cup. Researchers at Saarland University together with associates in Bologna and … Continue reading

Better Lithium-Ion Batteries Are On the Way

The new anodes are made from low-cost materials, Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, in smart phones, laptops, an array of other consumer electronics, and the newest electric cars. Good as they are, they could be much better, especially when it comes to lowering the cost and extending the range of electric cars. To do that, batteries … Continue reading

Nature Offers Key Lessons On Harvesting Solar Power

Clean solutions to human energy demands are essential to our future. While sunlight is the most abundant source of energy at our disposal, we have yet to learn how to capture, transfer and store solar energy efficiently. According to University of Toronto chemistry professor Greg Scholes, the answers can be found in the complex systems … Continue reading

Roboethics: Three Ways To Make Sure That Future Robots Have Morals

Robots might make us more human As robots get more autonomous and more powerful, we’re going to have to program them to not be evil. It’s no guarantee, but there are things we can do to make sure they remain our friends and not our overlords. As robots become increasingly intelligent and lifelike, it’s not … Continue reading

New cloaking device is no mirage – but it’s like one

You have no doubt seen mirages on the distant surfaces of hot highways before, looking like pools of water shimmering on the asphalt. Such illusions are caused by hot air above the road, which refracts light waves coming down into it from the cooler air above – in other words, the supposed “water” is actually … Continue reading

NSF Innovation Corps — What America Does Best

We ran the first National Science Foundation Innovation Corps class October to December 2011. 63 scientists and engineers in 21 teams made ~2,000 customer calls in 10 weeks, turning laboratory ideas into formidable startups. 19 of the 21 teams are moving forward in commercializing their technology. Watching the final presentations it was clear that the … Continue reading