Wing Span: The female-designed YCC from
Volvo gull wing doors, which allow for more entry space and needs a 2-ft
margin--less than a conventional door--on each side of the car.
Volvo had a hand recently in hushing a group of vocal Wellesley College women. A team of female engineers and designers from the Swedish car company were on campus as part of the tour of—Your Concept Car (YCC)—the female-designed concept vehicle making headlines recently. The Volvo team fielded questions from students concerned that some features—such as computerized assistance for parallel parking, a no-open hood, and a ponytail holder space in the driver's head rest—ultimately stereotype women as bad drivers, ignorant about car maintenance, and concerned more with their hair than with a car's driveability. Turns out there's logic behind it all. Computerized parallel parking assistance is a feature made for safety—Volvo's number one priority—and is showing up on other predominantly male-designed cars today as well. The no-open hood, which actually can be opened by a mechanic if necessary, is in response to the fact that drivers of new cars today, and conceptually in 10 years, don't need to look under the hood since most of the parts reliably run off electronics. Plus, the car battery is stored in the trunk and the windshield wiper fluid is accessed through capless tanks on the side of the car. And the headrest space for the ponytail holder? It's a safety feature. In a car accident, the first point of contact against the headrest for a man or woman with a ponytail is on the ponytail holder, which means too much energy concetrated on a small point. No doubt, that logic and attention to detail came as a disappointment to any students on the Wellesley campus who were eager for a women's lib argument.
"It's like the Macintosh of cars," says Lena Ekelund, deputy technical project manager of the YCC. "The less you have to tinker with, the more focused you'll be on driving." Check out other innovative features of the car at Volvo's concept lab website (http://rbi.ims.ca/3850-531).
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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.