I hate to shop. I especially dislike it during the holidays. But if any store at the mall had a sale on these new e-textiles, I might consider going. This electronic cloth, interwoven with microelectronics, serves as a large detection array that pinpoints sources of faint sounds. Co-investigators Robert Parker and Mark Jones at the University of Southern California School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute in Los Angeles, CA, embedded arrays of small, standalone detectors into fabrics that communicate with each other by wires. Existing prototype fabrics have discrete electronics attached after the normal weaving process, says Parker. But the goal is to eventually produce individual yarns that provide an electronic function such as a battery power source or a transistor array; a sensor of environmental conditions such as temperature or airborne toxins; or an actuator such as a synthetic muscle. In the immediate future, Parker expects these fabrics to be sewn into parachutes or tents for the military where they could be used for surveillance missions or to detect distant vehicles moving on battlefields. "These yarns are conceived to be very thin and flexible and able to be woven into the cloth on a loom in a standard high-volume cloth manufacturing process," says Parker. The type of fabric chosen would be determined by its final use and could vary from cottons for shirts to heavy canvas or Kevlar for heavy-duty military applications. "Although early work focuses on acoustic sensing, think of future wearable fabrics with integrated cell phones, navigation systems, or personal warning systems," says Parker. "Think of your shirt or slacks 'interacting' with the environment as you pass through it. Think of walking into a mall and your shirt tells you where you can get that special gift item that has been on your 'must get' list for months." Now that may be enough to even get me into the malls! For more information, contact: Robert Parker by FAX at (703) 812-3712 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
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 discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.