MIT 3D Printing Technology Could Build Homes on the Moon


via Geek : MIT 3D Printing Technology Could Build Homes on the Moon MIT researchers designed a system that can 3D print the basic structure of an entire building. Dwellings built with this technology could be produced faster and at lower cost than traditional construction methods, according to the university.  It also allows for complete internal and external customization, using different materials for optimum strength, insulation, and other properties. The ultimate goal, the researchers said, is to enable development of new types of buildings otherwise unfeasible via traditional approaches. As described in the journal Science Robotics, the free-moving system features a highly controllable robotic arm that can pour concrete, spray insulation, and complete other menial tasks to erect an “object of any size,” MIT reported. Eventually, the program will be self-sufficient; an autonomous robot that can prepare the building surface and acquire local materials—ideally in remote, developing regions or disaster relief areas. Lead researcher Steven Keating, a mechanical engineering graduate, hopes the MIT-branded system may one day visit “the moon or Mars or Antarctica, and it would just go out and make these buildings for years.” In the meantime, though, “we also wanted to show that we could build something tomorrow that could be used right away,” he said in a statement. “The construction industry is still mostly doing things the way it has for hundreds of years,” Keating continued. “With this process, we can replace one of the key parts of making a building, right now. It could be integrated… Read more

Welcome to the New Era of Voice Command Shopping


via SDC Executive : Welcome to the New Era of Voice Command Shopping Imagine you could snap your fingers and have your favorite pizza show up in front of you. With virtual assistants, consumers are making a big jump closer to that reality. In November, Amazon allowed online shopping from the Echo, which was a big win for customer convenience—but it fuels uncertainties about how e-commerce will change in the near future. Research shows that four out of five mobile users rely on their smartphones to shop. With more of these shoppers adopting voice search to complete online tasks, even those without home automation hubs like the Echo will likely make the transition to voice command shopping in the near future. And that’s going to have an effect on how we do business. But here’s what you need to know about the impending voice command revolution. Voice Command Represents a Massive Shift for E-Commerce On one hand, personal assistants open up new sales channels and the ability to capitalize on contextual commerce. With Amazon’s range of instant or near-instant delivery services, there’s no need to keep a sticky note on the fridge reminding you that you need paper towels. You just tell Alexa to order you some. But that change also means that there’s less opportunity for browsing and accidental discovery. How can customers find your product if they don’t even have to look? Both search engine optimization (SEO) and advertising campaigns will need to be adapted for the platform, with… Read more

5 Emerging Biomedical Engineering Trends to Watch


via HIT : 5 Emerging Biomedical Engineering Trends to Watch Biomedical engineering has long been a driver of advances in healthcare. From new technologies to diagnose and treat some of the most complex disease to advances that improve quality of life for everyone, the work taking place in labs around the world right now is likely to change the face of healthcare in both the short- and long-term future. Although there are literally thousands of different projects taking place at this very moment, there are some definite trends taking place in biomedical engineering. Trend #1: Improving Assistive Technologies Prosthetic technology has already made significant strides in recent decades. Thanks to advances in materials and development, prosthetics are not only lighter and easier to use, but more advanced than ever before. However, biomedical engineers are working on even more advanced prosthetics that can only be referred to as bionic. In fact, some predict that it won’t be too long before amputees will actually be able to control their prosthetics using their minds, just like a biological limb. Chip-enabled prosthetics are on the horizon, but so are limbs that have more mobility and flexibility, or even auxiliary motors that can help provide additional strength and power, making the limb easier to use. Moving beyond prosthetics, engineers are also working on additional robotic devices that will continue to blur the lines between therapeutic and assistive devices. For instance, researchers are developing robotic exoskeletons to assist people with muscle weakness and other mobility issues. Essentially,… Read more

Three Reasons to Believe in China’s Renewable Energy Boom


via National Geographic : Three Reasons to Believe in China’s Renewable Energy Boom HAINING, CHINA – The squares of silicon are hardly thicker than sheets of paper, each about six inches by six, with narrow stripes of silver. They come into the factory by the thousands, stacked in cardboard boxes, and within hours, they’ll be ready to leave again. The squares are solar cells, and in this plant two hours’ drive from Shanghai, workers in bright blue uniforms and white lab coats run the machines that assemble them, row by row, into more familiar-looking panels, ready to be installed on rooftops or in large arrays and begin turning sunlight into electricity. Chinese manufacturing has changed the economics of renewable power around the world, making solar generation cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels like natural gas and even coal. It has brought change closer to home too, as China rolls out the world’s biggest investment in clean energy—motivated in part by a desire to ease the atrocious air pollution that kills an estimated 1.1 million of its people every year. “The installation rates are absolutely mind-blowing,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, an energy and air pollution expert at Greenpeace in Beijing. China added 35 gigawatts of new solar generation in 2016 alone. “That’s almost equal to Germany’s total capacity, just in one year,” Myllyvirta says. Every hour, China erects another wind turbine and installs enough solar panels to cover a soccer field, according to Greenpeace estimates. Beyond Coal After years of ignoring the air… Read more

Portable Architecture You Can Roll, Wear, Tow, or Float


via Atlas Obscura : Portable Architecture You Can Roll, Wear, Tow, or Float Moveable houses, portable saunas, and wearable tents are the subjects—among some 250—of the new book Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move, by Rebecca Roke. It’s both a paean to traveling light and an eye-catching look at all the ways a dwelling can move. The designs range from the functional to the outlandish, and cover an array of forms of transport, from tugboats to tractors. Some of the examples are ideal for recreation, such as the compact-cute, California-made Golden Gate 2 camper, with a rounded timber frame, portholes, and a spot for a surfboard. For lovers of winter sports, the Nomad Sauna, which was built on a lake in Norway, includes an internal ice-hole for intensely refreshing breaks from the heat. It is not all fun and games—others are designed for important, practical use. It can also be used to provide shelter during a crisis, or for protection in extreme weather. The Rapid Deployment Module is a temporary dwelling that can be assembled in an hour to provide shelter during a crisis or disaster, while the DesertSeal is an inflatable, lightweight tent that can protect inhabitants from extreme heat. For portable architecture to actually move, it needs somehow to be stowed, carried, pushed, pulled, or towed, and this is the way that some of the portable shelters featured in the book get really get inventive. The Walking Shelter is like a tent on two legs (yours), and folds up neatly… Read more

Battery-Free Medical Implants Use Body’s Fluids As Fuel


via New Atlas : Battery-Free Medical Implants Use Body’s Fluids As Fuel Despite the continual evolution of medical implant technologies, such as making smaller and smaller pacemakers, we still power these devices with traditional batteries. Such batteries contain toxic chemicals that aren’t ideal to have inside the human body and also need to be periodically replaced, resulting in painful, and risky surgical procedures. A new energy storage system dubbed a “biological supercapacitor” could enable battery-free implantable devices that never need to be replaced. Over the years we have seen a variety of innovative alternatives for powering medical implants. A German research team developed a type of biological fuel cell that draws its power from a patient’s blood sugar; a Korean team looked into harnessing electricity from the body’s own muscles; and an electrical engineer from Stanford developed a technique that allowed devices to be wirelessly recharged by radio waves. Now a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Connecticut have designed a biofriendly supercapacitor system that charges up using electrolytes from biological fluids, such as blood serum and urine. It works in tandem with an energy harvester that can convert heat and motion into electricity that is stored in the supercapacitor. “Unlike batteries that use chemical reactions that involve toxic chemicals and electrolytes to store energy, this new class of biosupercapacitors stores energy by utilizing readily available ions, or charged molecules, from the blood serum,” explains Islam Mosa, graduate student and first author… Read more

Consortium Visualises Augmented Reality Future For Construction Industry


via Scottish Construction Now : Consortium Visualises Augmented Reality Future For Construction Industry The construction sector could be on the verge of a virtual revolution thanks to new augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) technology created by a cohort of organisations. The consortium, which includes the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) in Sheffield, has been working with Glasgow-based design visualisation company Soluis Group and modular building designer and manufacturer Carbon Dynamic to build a demonstrator for the use of AR and VR in the construction industry. The technology was first trialled on a 2.2-metre plasterboard wall which, when viewed with a Microsoft HoloLens, showed a 3D rendering of the plumbing and wiring behind the façade. The system can also be used to examine different wall parts to ensure there are no gaps in insulation before being sent to a construction site. This presents significant cost-cutting and time-saving opportunities, as well as the enhancement of quality assurance on modular construction projects. Speaking about the project, David Grant, partnership development leader at the AFRC, said: “This new technology has a role to play before, during and after construction of both domestic and commercial properties. “Prior to work commencing on site, those involved in a construction project will be able to accurately visualise and walk through a building before the foundations are even dug, this will help in identifying any potential issues before they occur. It could also help during a… Read more

Tesla’s Rechargeable Battery Can Power Your Home With Solar Energy — Here’s How It Works


via Business Insider : Tesla’s Rechargeable Battery Can Power Your Home With Solar Energy — Here’s How It Works  Tesla is diving deeper into the solar business.  The electric car maker set its solar roof website live Wednesday, allowing consumers to order two of its four solar roof shingle options. (The other two will be available in 2018.) At $21.85 per square foot, it’s more expensive than your common asphalt roof. But as Tesla wrote in a blog post Wednesday, the real savings will be seen on the electric bill: “Solar Roof is more affordable than conventional roofs because in most cases, it ultimately pays for itself by reducing or eliminating a home’s electricity bill.” To actually experience those savings, however, customers will need to pay for an at-home battery. Otherwise, there’s no way to store and use the electricity generated by the panels. Naturally, Tesla isn’t the only company that sells at-home batteries. But interested solar roof buyers may want to opt for Tesla’s version for a more seamless experience. Tesla’s Powerwall 2 is a lithium-ion battery that can be mounted on the wall or floor of your home. Panasonic makes the cells for the Powerwall, while Tesla builds the battery module and pack. The Powerwall can store electricity that is generated by solar panels (or Tesla’s new solar roof!) during the day to use later in the evening. It can also serve as a backup power supply in case there’s an outage. Above you see Tesla’s solar roof, which… Read more

This Robot Explains Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Artificial Intelligence


via MarketWatch : This Robot Explains Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Artificial Intelligence If you’re freaked out a bit by artificial intelligence, here’s a robot with a potentially reassuring message. Ai Artificial Intelligence A service robot called REEM can tackle the question: “Should I worry about AI?” (Recent concerns along these lines have touched on everything from killer robots to job-destroying automatons.) “The short answer is you do not need to worry about artificial intelligence for many years,” the robot says. “Artificial intelligence requires a body to interact with the world. And we are very far from creating an artificial body with a brain that is smarter than a very basic animal.” In other words, there is not yet a sufficiently powerful combination of robot brains and brawn, according to this view. REEM is offering this take at London’s Science Museum as part of the British attraction’s “Robots” exhibition, which covers 500 years of history and runs until Sept. 3. Another section in the exhibition highlights a related challenge for the bots — communicating well. “For robots to be the companions and helpers of our dreams, they would need to use and understand the same social cues that we do,” a poster reads. “This remains a huge challenge, as human facial expression and body language are often subtle.” Getting back to REEM, it’s a “full-size humanoid service robot” produced by PAL Robotics, a Spanish company. It’s previously worked in a Mideast shopping mall, talking with customers and promoting a treasure hunt… Read more

Skills to Imagine, Design and Develop the Cars of the Future


via The Engineer : Skills to Imagine, Design and Develop the Cars of the Future Anthony Baxendale, head of Emerging Transport Technologies, Research & Innovation at HORIBA MIRA, looks at what skills will be needed to produce a new generation of cars. The rapid development of technologies in cars is becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation in my circle of family and friends. Why is this? Certainly part of this is because of my job at HORIBA MIRA but I’m convinced this is only a small part of the reason and that I am only providing a conduit for them to express and explore an increasing fascination with the subject. Future cars My 94 year old uncle who has now stopped driving is particularly interested in developments in driverless cars and what they will mean for helping keep older people mobile in the future. In the meantime he is getting to grips with apps for public transport and booking taxis (unfortunately uber do not yet cover his village though). For those still driving there is the fascination with increasing connectivity and improving navigation services as well as advances with driver assistance features. For those currently too young to drive there is the fascination with how cars are changing in to robots and what terms like “artificial intelligence” mean and whether “you can do this at university.” It was this last point that gave me the idea of doing a blog on what these changes in the car will mean for… Read more