Anyone who has been to Festo's stand at the Hannover Fair in Hannover, Germany knows to expect an amazing, technological "wow factor" combined with a certain, well, silliness. From pneumatic-powered "moon boots" to a bionic hand with realistic, articulating fingers that you can shake (watch the grip!) to a series of automated mops sweeping furiously like something out of Disney's Fantasia, the show that Festo engineers put on is always entertaining. The company's recent press conference was no exception either. It was the venue for the reprise of the "Airfish," a helium-filled, remote-controlled, dirigible-like flying machine that Festo first introduced a few years ago. Designed by the firm Effekt-Technik, the unmanned, 7.5m-long airfish employs a series of remote-controlled fans that can be oriented accordingly for lift, pitch, yaw, and roll control. In this way, inventor (and engineer) Rainer Mugrauer could control what is essentially a helium-filled balloon with at least a modicum of precision. For effect (or maybe by accident, who could tell?), he sent the airfish into a Kamikaze-like dive onto the stage, prompting Dr. Eberhard Veit, director of product and technology management, to recoil in mock horror at the attack. Festo engineers promise more merriment—and some pretty cool serious stuff as well—at their stand at this year's Hannover Fair (April 11-15, 2005). Check out the show details at www.hannovermesse.de.
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.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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