Mechanical engineering professor Paul Wright says that new information technologies such as wearable computers—earrings that monitor body condition, for example—present a host of design problems along with engineering challenges. He is one of several University of California at Berkeley professors behind the University's Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). "I'm interested in working with artists to study the human environment in an ethnographic way and to bring that information into the design process," Wright says. CITRIS research will initially focus on the areas of energy efficiency, transportation, seismic safety, education, health care, and environmental monitoring. For more information, go to www.citris.berkeley.edu.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.