When BMX racing makes its Olympic debut at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the riders will kick off each race on a new pneumatic starting gate that features advanced electronic controls. ProStuff LLC builds this eight-rider gate, as well as a line of smaller practice models, mostly from a collection of standard Parker Hannifin components. What's most interesting about the gate isn't so much the componentry as ProStuff's design philosophy. ProStuff's founder, Pierce Barker III, has a day job as vice-president of Barker Rockford, a systems integrator that been building industrial machines for about 50 years. "We approached BMX gates the same way we would approach any machine-building project–with a focus on safety, performance, and reliability," he says. And that machine-builder's mentality has resulted in BMX gate designs that are arguably the most advanced in the world. Read the full story here.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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