When does a stuffed Pooh Bear become a sensory stimulation activity center? When seniors and graduate students at Duke use their ingenuity to fashion devices that will meet the needs of care givers and special-needs children. Every year, students form design teams, each working within a $500 budget, using money provided by the National Science Foundation and the Duke Kids Care Fund. The Pooh team students started with a run-of the-mill Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear. Then they installed two fans in its head and a circuit board within its tummy. Also in its head they built a chamber for an air freshener cartridge. And on the outside of its tummy they installed a control panel with red, blue, yellow and orange buttons and associated lights. Each time infants push an orange circular button, they see an orange light and hear an electronic rendition of the Winnie the Pooh song. A diamond-shaped yellow button illuminates a yellow light and makes the animal vibrate an arm. A blue, square button causes the blue light to come on as the bear blows a puff of air through its mouth. The red triangular button illuminates the red light and emits a pleasant scent along with a puff of air. Other projects on this year's program included: An improved submersible wheelchair design, with larger wheels, better safety latches, and colors that are easier to see underwater; a re-engineered electric-powered feeding device; and a ceiling mounted wheelchair transfer hoist; special computer games that let disabled children catch butterflies and drive around obstacles, with the goal teaching joysticks skills for controlling electrically powered wheelchairs; and a 'child friendly' adjustable timer to help a 2-year-old learn to feed himself. Students say they relish the chance to apply their knowledge to real world problems with humanitarian objectives. For more information, contact Monte Basgall at (919) 681-8057.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.