Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Charge Your Devices With Knee Movements


Who needs chargers when human body can charge the device ? Confused ? Well, researchers at the Cranfield University and University of Liverpool of Salford have devised an innovative way to generate power to fuel small gadgets. This device is known as Pizzicato knee-joint energy harvester .
 This is the circular device that fits onto the outside of the knee and consists of an outer ring fitted with 72 plectra and a central hub with four protruding arms.

Every time your knee bends, the outer ring rotates, causing the plectra to pluck the arms. This makes the arm vibrate like a guitar ring, generating electrical energy. This electrical can be used to charge the devices.

According to the researchers, the device can currently harvest around 2 milliwatts of power but could exceed 30 milliwatts with a few improvements. This could enable a new generation of GPS tracking, more advanced signal processing, and more frequent and longer wireless transmission. The device could particularly useful for soldiers who currently have to carry up to 10kg of power equipment when on foot patrol.

Displays made from air and water


An International team of researchers led by Aalto University has come with an entirely new concept of writing and displaying informations on the surfaces using simply water .
 They have exploited a unique way a trapped layer of air behaves on a lotus-inspired, dual-structured, water- repelling surface immersed under water.

To achieve the extreme water-repellence of the lotus leaf, a surface needs to be superhydrophobic. It must have microscopic surface structures that prevent water from wetting the surface completely, leaving a thin layer of air between water and the surface. When such a surface immersed in water, a trapped air layer covers the entire surface.

The researchers have fabricated the structures with two size scales : microposts that have a size of ten micrometers and have tiny nanofilms that are grown on he posts. On such a two level surface the air layer can exist in two different shapes( wetting shapes) that can correspond to the two size scales. They have found that one can easily switch between the two states locally using a nozzle to create a over or under pressure in the water in order to change the air layer to another state.

The minimal energy to switch between two states means the system is bistable, which is essential property of memory devices. Combined with optical effect the system acts as as bistable reflective nature.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



Physicist from University of St. Andrews, Scotland, have created an optical invisibility cloak that you can turn on and off as you wish. They used the concept of electromagnetically induced transparency in which certain materials become transparent when zapped by light from two carefully turned lasers.

The cloaking device comprises a transparent mantel that encloses the objects to be hidden.The magnet refracts light around its hidden interior such that light exits as if it had traversed empty or uniform space,thus hiding the object and the act of hiding itself.

This works for material with atoms that can exists in three different electronic states - say a,b and the highest c. The idea here is that the first laser beam is absorbed by the material because it excites the electron from state a to state c. The second laser is also absorbed  because it excites the electrons from state b to state c. If the frequencies of the laser are closed together, they can be turned in a way that makes they interfere destructively. And when that happens, their ability to excite the electrons cancels out.

Monday, September 17, 2012

And Then, There is Embedded Vision !


Computer vision is the use of digital processing and intelligent algorithms to interpret meaning from images or video. Due to the emergence of very powerful, low-cost and energy-efficient processors, it has become possible to incorporate vision capabilities in a range of embedded systems. 

Last May, several leading technology firms got together in Oakland, USA, to form the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA). The initiative's motto: To enable "machines that see!" This concept generally refers to machines that understand their environment through visual means.

First, what is embedded vision ?
It is said to be merging of two technologies: embedded systems and computer vision (also sometimes referred to as machine vision). An embedded system is any  microprocessor-based system that isn’t a general-purpose computer. Embedded systems are ubiquitous: they’re found in automobiles, kitchen appliances, consumer electronics devices, medical equipment, and countless other places.

Computer vision is the use of digital processing and intelligent algorithms to interpret meaning from images or video. Computer vision has mainly been a field of academic research over the past several decades.

Today, however, a major transformation is underway. Due to the emergence of very powerful, low-cost, and energy-efficient processors, it has become possible to incorporate vision capabilities into a wide range of embedded systems.


1. A smart surveillance system that analyses the area in front of its cameras and captures footage only when particular situation arise, such as motion is detected. Such a system could also alert its owner to hte potential problem situation via e-mail, text message etc. One example could be a system that constantly monitors a swimming pool and sounds an alarm if it detects people struggling and in danger of droning.

2.  Automotive Driver Assisting system that, for example alerting an driver of impending collision with objects ahead or even automatically slam on the brakes. The system could also inform the driver about important warning or important signs of the roadway.

3. Facial recognition systems that automatically 'unlock' a smart phone and load particular account settings when they recognise the person in front of the camera lens.

4. Gesture interfaces like that in the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox360, which give a simpler and more intuitive interactive experience for users of a variety of equipment, not just gaming consoles.

5. Medical instrumentation that automatically senses and logs respiration rate, heart rate and other vital parameters, and also analyses X-ray and other images for anomalies, helping physicians in diagnosis of the disorders.

6. Manufacture of automated control and defect analysis equipment, formely implemented using dedicated high-end workstation computers and operating systems but now possible in much simpler, more rugged, compact and inexpensive forms.

Embedded vision finds applications in diverse fields including automotive safety, machine vision, military and aerospace, and so on. 


RFID - Radio Frequency Identification and Detection

RFID is a tracking technology used to identify and authenticate tags that are applied to any product, individual or animal. Radio frequency Identification and Detection is a general term used for technologies that make use of radio waves in order to identify objects and people.

Purpose of Radio frequency Identification and Detection system is to facilitate data transmission through the portable device known as tag that is read with the help of RFID reader; and process it as per the needs of an application. Information transmitted with the help of tag offers location or identification along with other specifics of product tagged – purchase date, color, and price. Typical RFID tag includes microchip with radio antenna, mounted on substrate.

The RFID tags are configured to respond and receive signals from an RFID transceiver. This allows tags to be read from a distance, unlike other forms of authentication technology. The RFID system has gained wide acceptance in businesses, and is gradually replacing the barcode system.

How RFID Works

Basic RFID consists of an antenna, transceiver and transponder. To understand the working of a typical RFID system, check the following animation.

Antenna emits the radio signals to activate tag and to read as well as write information to it. Reader emits the radio waves, ranging from one to 100 inches, on the basis of used radio frequency and power output. While passing through electronic magnetic zone, RFID tag detects activation signals of readers. Powered by its internal battery or by the reader signals, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader. Reader receives these waves and identifies the frequency to generate a unique ID. Reader then decodes data encoded in integrated circuit of tags and transmits it to the computers for use.
Just like you can tune a radio in various frequencies for listening to different channels, RFID readers and tags need to be tuned in to a same frequency for communication. RFID system uses various frequencies but most common and popularly used frequency is low, high and ultra high frequency. Low frequency is around 125 KHz, high is around 13.56 MHz and ultra high varies between 860-960 MHz. Some applications also make use of microwave frequency of 2.45 GHz. It is imperative to choose right frequency for an application as radio waves work different at various frequencies.

Types of RFID

Active and passive RFID are different technologies but are usually evaluated together. Even though both of them use the radio frequency for communication between tag and reader, means of providing power to tags is different. Active RFID makes use of battery within tag for providing continuous power to tag and radio frequency power circuitry. Passive RFID on the other hand, relies on energy of radio frequency transferred from reader to tag for powering it.

Passive RFID needs strong signals from reader but signal strength bounced from tag is at low levels. Active RFID receives low level signals by tag but it can create higher level signals to readers. This type of RFID is constantly powered, whether in or out of the reader’s field. Active tags consist of external sensors for checking humidity, temperature, motion as well as other conditions.

RFID Applications

The role of RFID is not just confined to Aircraft identification anymore; it is also lending a hand in various commercial uses. Asset tracking is one of the most popular uses of RFID. Companies are using RFID tags on the products that might get stolen or misplaced. Almost each type of Radio frequency Identification and Detection system can be used for the purpose of asset management.

Manufacturing plants have also been using RFID from a long time now. These systems are used for tracking parts and working in process for reduction of defects, managing production of various versions and increasing output. The technology has also been useful in the closed looped supply chains for years. More and more companies are turning to this technology for tracking shipments among the supply chain allies. Not just manufacturers but retailers also are using this RFID technology for proper placement of their products and improvements in the supply chain.

RFID also plays an important role in the access and security control. The newly introduced 13.56 MHz RFID systems provide long range readings to the users. The best part is that RFID is convenient to handle and requires low maintenance at the same time.

Current Scenario and future

Present trends point towards the fast growth of RFID in the next decade. With around 600 million RFID tags sold in the year 2005 alone, value of market including systems, services and hardware is likely to grow by factor of 10 between years 2006 -2016. It is expected that total number of RFID tags delivered in the year 2016 will be around 450 times as compared to the ones delivered in the year 2006.

Commercial applications using Radio Frequency Identification and Detection like logistics, transport, supply chain supervision, processing, manufacturing, medicine, access control are also likely to grow by leaps and bounds. But this smart technology will influence consumer sectors and government too. Barcodes and RFID will coexist for years to come, although the latter is expected to replace the former in many sectors.

Faster Photodetector


Researchers have developed a new type of hot electron bolometer that acts as sensitive detector of infra red light. It can be used in application ranging from detection of chemical and bio-chemical weapons from a distance to chemical analysis in the laboratory and studying the structure of the universe through improved telescopes. 
Fast photodetector
They have developed the bolometer using bilayer graphene - two atom-thick sheets of carbon. The bolometer is likely to be sensitive to a very broad range of light energies, ranging from terahertz frequencies or submillimeter waves through infra red to visible light.

Graphene, a single-atom-thick plane of graphite, has some unique properties. Due to band gap of exactly zero energy, it can absorb photons of any energy. This means graphene can even absorb very low energy photons which can pass through most of the semiconductors. Interestingly, it has another, attractive property as photon absorber..The electrons which absorbs the energy are able to retain it efficiently, rather than losing it to the vibrations of the atoms of the material. This property leads to extremely low resistance in graphene.

Researchers exploited these two unique properties of graphene to devise the hot-electrons bolometer. The bolometer works by measuring the change in the resistance that results from the heating of the electron as they absorb light.

Sixthsense Technology


The SixthSense prototype is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. The hardware components are coupled in a pendant like mobile wearable device. Both the projector and the camera are connected to the mobile computing device in the user’s pocket. 
Pranav Mistry with Sixthsense Prototype
The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and physical objects around us to be used as interfaces; while the camera recognizes and tracks user's hand gestures and physical objects using computer-vision based techniques. The software program processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of the colored markers (visual tracking fiducials) at the tip of the user’s fingers using simple computer-vision techniques. The movements and arrangements of these fiducials are interpreted into gestures that act as interaction instructions for the projected application interfaces. The maximum number of tracked fingers is only constrained by the number of unique fiducials, thus SixthSense also supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction.
Using Surface as an interface

The SixthSense prototype implements several applications that demonstrate the usefulness, viability and flexibility of the system. The map application lets the user navigate a map displayed on a nearby surface using hand gestures, similar to gestures supported by Multi-Touch based systems, letting the user zoom in, zoom out or pan using intuitive hand movements. The drawing application lets the user draw on any surface by tracking the fingertip movements of the user’s index finger. SixthSense also recognizes user’s freehand gestures (postures). For example, the SixthSense system implements a gestural camera that takes photos of the scene the user is looking at by detecting the ‘framing’ gesture. The user can stop by any surface or wall and flick through the photos he/she has taken. SixthSense also lets the user draw icons or symbols in the air using the movement of the index finger and recognizes those symbols as interaction instructions. For example, drawing a magnifying glass symbol takes the user to the map application or drawing an ‘@’ symbol lets the user check his mail. The SixthSense system also augments physical objects the user is interacting with by projecting more information about these objects projected on them. For example, a newspaper can show live video news or dynamic information can be provided on a regular piece of paper. The gesture of drawing a circle on the user’s wrist projects an analog watch.

Innovative User Interfaces


Design makers are focussing on making user interfaces easy, clean and intuitive. As more and more technology surrounds our life, it should blend with the environment, be less blatant and mingle naturally with users.

It is easier to interact with humans than with machines. The reason is simple, even if the person is at the other end speaks a different language, we will exercise our intelligence to understand what he is trying to say, just as he tries to put his point forth using his body language. So the communication effort is two way. However with the machines you have to communicate in a precise manner that they will understand. One wrong command can send things helter-shelter.

A lot of human machine interaction experts around the world are working on simplifying our interactions with 
Sixth Sense Technology
machines.  It is becoming possible to give instructions verbally to computers and mobile phones, express your instructions as simple gestures, or even make your machine understand what you are thinking. The medium of interface is one of the key trigger for innovation in the area of user-interface, there are other interesting motives as well. These include user-interface that consume and dissipate less energy, are smaller, lighter and less harmful to the environment, use more natural materials and meet the needs of special applications.

There is rising awareness about the importance of user interfaces and many related innovations such as Sixthsense, , LG Magic wand remote control,  Microsoft surface, Prezi, Air Glove, Samsung's smart TV range and Tan Le's EPOC headset.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Linux Based Surgical Robot


Researchers at the University of Washington, in Seattle, are about to release numerous robotic surgeons called 'RAVEN'. Raven is the first surgical robot to use open source software. With the help of Ravens, surgeons can make tiny incisions that cause less tissue damage, enabling the patient to recover fast .

The Linux based OS of the robot allow anyone to modify and improve the original code. The robots have wing-like arms, are light weight and compact.

American regulators have not approved RAVEN yet and present experiments are restricted to only animals and human cadavers. most robot assisted surgery today are performed using Da Vinci surgical system. Unlike RAVEN, Da Vinci system is immobile, weighs more than half a tonne. It uses proprietory software, which cannot be modified.

Low Temperature Electronics- For Space


What is the temperature on other planets ? -150˚C at the orbit of Jupiter, -230˚C at the orbit of Pluto and below -55˚C to -65˚C at Mon, Mars and asteroids. At such low temperatures, conventional temperature electronics is not of help.

So researchers are pioneering a technology called 'low temperature electronics' or 'cryoelectronics'. Cryoelectronic materials with high carrier mobility and reliability might provide a better solution for circuits to be used in low temperatures. 


'Cryo' is derived from Greek word which means 'Kryo' which means 'icy cold' or 'frost'/ Cryogenic temperature ranges from -150˚C to -273˚C. Cryoelectronics deals with production of low temperature electronic devices and utilisation of low-temperature phenomenon. Examples of these evices are CMOS diodes and FETs .


Electronics plays an important role in spacecrafts. It is used in sensors, cameras, wireless data transmission, etc. Conventional temperature electronics work between -55˚C/-65˚C and 125˚C. Low temperature electronics, on other hand, works at temperature ranging from -150˚C to -273˚C.

In military and scientific aircraft, many sensors such as X-ray detectors are used for astronomical observation or surveillance. These must operate at low temperature. Cosmic background explorer, infra red telescope in space and infra red space observatory are some of the devices which makes use of cryoelectronics-based electronic components.

Testing equipment for low temperature electronics
Conventional temperature electronics circuits require a thermal source for low temperature applications. In many situations, such techniques are undesirable or impractical. Passive techniques have limited lifespans. Active technologies, on the other hand require additional power and sub-systems. This makes electronic circuits bulky, heavy and complex.


NASA in using components such as semiconductors switching devices, magnetic capacitors, digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital convertors, DC-AC convertors, operational amplifiers, oscillators and power conversion and conditioning circuits based on cryoelectronics. Cryoelectronics is also used in driver circuitry of motors or actuators. Commercial high speed Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) chips have been characterised in terms of their performance in the range of 25˚C to -196˚C. Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) can be used to make MOS devices with gates as small as 40 nm.

Advantages of cryoelectronics for space technology are increased circuit sped, low power dissipation,  fast switching, high semiconductor and metal thermal conductivity, reduction in thermally induced failures of components and devices, increased integration density primarily because of reduced operating supply voltages and improved digital and analog circuit performance( in terms of speed, switching, noise margin and gain bandwidth) .

Disadvantages include novel fabrication technique required, low carrier mobility, high cost of circuit and high volume.

Cryoelectronics find application in outer space satellite eg in sensors for flow, temperature and pressure measurement; detectors of cosmic radiation such as infra red and ultra violet detectors; nuclear astronomy instruments; medical instruments; dynamic random access memories; highend computers and organic electronics

Nanorobotics - Medicine of future


Recent technological developments indicate that doctor might one day start prescribing nanorobotics as pills for serious ailments !

Researchers in Havard University have recently developed nanoscale robots using DNA, to seek and destroy cancer cells. These tiny clam-shaped bots hold a dose of medicine inside them. They probe a body for cancerous cells and release the medicine only at such locations, leaving healthy cells untouched. This way, the efficacy of the drug is very high, as the treatment is focussed on affected areas.
Cell targeting DNA nanorobot
Researchers call DNA Origami to build the nanorobot. In an experiment they released millions of nanorobots in to health and cancerous human blood cells. After a few days they found that around the half of the leukaemia cells had been destroyed leaving healthy cells untouched. By adding more drugs and locks, the nanorobots can be used to vanquish almost all leukaemia cells in a patient's body.

Elsewhere researchers are exploring how a combination of nanorobots and stem cells can be used to regenerate dead cells in brain, retina and other vial part of the body. Stem cells are basic building blocks that are capable of producing new cells to regenerate damaged organs or nerves. Simply injecting stem cells into the body does not help so much, as the efficacy of the treatment is low. So researchers are trying to attach stem cells to nanofibres or nanorobots and then inject the combination precisely at the damaged location.
Nanorobot attached to cell

The ability of nanorobots to interact with basic building blocks of our body is likely to transform the face of disease detection and drug delivery.In future, it is believed that powerful drugs will be combined with nanorobots and injected into the body or may be prescribed even as capsule, to identify affected areas and release medicine effectively.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maintaining Reliability Under Extreme Conditions in Space


The electronics on-board space exploration vehicles should be able to withstand  the extreme temperature of space. Operating it beyond the normal limits is an option worth considering.

Space exploration vehicles like satellites, probes, shuttles and spacecrafts all rely on electronics. These electronic devices have to withstand for their working not only the extreme (very low to very high) temperatures but also the radiation hazards prevailing in the space. In fact, very little of a space system falls within the conventional electronics ; temperature range. Its temperature in space depends on its proximity and orientation to other bodies, absorption and emission of energy, and internal heat generation. Therefore extreme-temperature electronics is a key technology for space exploration.


Conventional-temperature-range electronics can be used in space (an extreme-temperature environment) by means of insulation and heating (for low-temperature environments) or refrigeration (for high-temperature environments). This can be combined with thermal sinks or thermal sources. For example, the well-logging electronic devices may be placed in a dewar flask (vacuum-insulated vessel) to protect these from the hot environment.

In addition, a thermal sink thermally connected to the electronic devices will absorb a large amount of heat without a substantial increase in temperature. This is usually done by employing the material's phase change from solid to liquid, which absorbs a large amount of heat (the latent heat of fusion). For low temperatures, the opposite effect may be used to provide a thermal source. Thus the same material may serve both as a thermal sink for high temperatures and a thermal source for low temperatures. It might be as basic as ice/water or less familiar such as a bismuth alloy.

However, in many situations, the techniques described above would be undesirable or impractical due to various reasons. The passive techniques might have a limited lifetime that is insufficient for the application, while the active techniques require additional power and subsystems. Also, for some applications, active techniques might be too disturbing to the environment because of the additional heat that needs to be dumped. All such techniques add weight, bulk and some degree of complexity.

Operating electronics beyond the normal limits is thus an option worth considering. This special electronics will be able to withstand the extreme temperatures of space.


The term 'extreme-temperature electronics'(ETE) is used for electronics operating outside the traditional temperature range of -55/-65C to +125C. It covers both the very low temperatures-down to essentially absolute zero (0K or -273C)-and the high temperatures (+125C and above).

In low-temperature electronics (LTE), operation of semiconductor-based devices and circuits has often been reported down to temperatures as low as a few degrees above absolute zero. These devices are based on silicon (Si), germanium (Ge), gallium arsenide (GaAs) and other semiconductor materials. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that operation might not extend all the way down to absolute zero.

In high-temperature electronics (HTE), laboratory operation of discrete semiconductor devices has been reported at temperatures as high as +700C (for a diamond Schottky diode) and 650C (for a silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET). Integrated circuits (ICs) based on Si and GaAs have operated at 400500C. Si ICs have been reported to operate at +300C for a thousand hours or longer. Covering both extremes, there are reports of the same transistor working at about -270C to +400C temperature range. Also, many passive components are usable to the lowest temperatures or up to several hundred degrees Celsius.

However, operation at extreme temperatures is not true for every semiconductor device or passive component; it depends on a number of material and design factors. Practical operation of devices and circuits is reasonably achievable to as low temperature as desired, provided materials and designs appropriate to the temperature are used. However, the various characteristics of the device might improve or degrade. In particular, below about 40K (-230C), Si devices often exhibit significant changes in characteristics.

High-temperature electronics presents more difficulty. The practical upper temperature limit is determined by many factors and the inherent temperature limit is often not reflected for semiconductor devices. The limit is frequently determined by the interconnections and packaging-both for active devices and passive components. As an indication of the practical upper limit, circuits have been offered commercially for operation at up to +300C.

Parts availability is a major obstacle to practical ETE. There are few components specified for either low- or high-temperature use. To construct ETE hardware, often the conventional-temperature- range components are selected and adapted. Custom fabrication is done if resources and time permit.


Reliability of components: Space agencies place reliability at the top of their priorities since the failure of just one component can lead to the loss of a multi-million dollar mission. A clear counter trend is the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. While these parts are generally more advanced in terms of processor performance and logic or memory density than those designed specifically for use in military or space borne systems, COTS devices do not have the background of design and extensive testing that ensures reliability.

Radiation effect: When a spacebound electronic component passes its test, there remains one big problem- radiation. Radiation is one of the main characterstics of space weather. Radiations of galactic and solar origin determine radiation hazards for people and technology, computer and memory upsets and failures, solar cell damage, radio wave propagation disturbances, and failures in communication and navigation systems.

The effect of ionising radiation on hard-wired logic circuits is less pronounced. These errors are typically transient and often non-destructive. A review conducted by NASA in 1996 of a hundred failures and problems on its spacecraft found that one third of the failures were caused by ionising radiation leading to single event upsets (state changes in logic or memory) or permanent degradation in the performance of on-board electronic devices. Sometimes these single event upsets are even capable of destroying computer memories on the earth. But obviously with a much larger probability in spacecraft systems during periods of large energetic particle fluxes, it is advisable to switch off some part of the electronics to protect computer memories.

High-energy particles ionise the medium through which these pass, leaving behind a wake of electron-hole pairs. These pairs can change the state of a memory cell or a logic flip-flop. As a result, a radiation strike might change not just the state of a memory cell but also the design of the circuit it controls, potentially leading to catastrophic failure.


A five-year project led by the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a novel approach to space electronics that could change the way space vehicles and instruments are designed. The new capabilities are based on silicon-germanium (SiGe) technology, which can produce electronics that is highly resistant to both wide temperature variations and space radiation.

The team's overall task was to develop a tested infrastructure that included everything needed to design and build extreme-environment electronics for space missions. The result is a robust material that offers important gains in toughness, speed and flexibility. The robustness is crucial for SiGe's ability to function in space without bulky radiation shields or large power-hungry temperature control devices. Compared to conventional approaches, SiGe electronics can provide major reductions in weight, size, complexity, power and cost, as well as increased reliability and adaptability.

The Radiation Hardened Electronics for Space Environments (RHESE) project endeavours to expand the radiation-hardened electronics by developing high-performance devices robust enough to withstand the extreme radiation and temperature levels of the space environment. The project is a part of the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP), which funds an entire suite of technologies needed for accomplishing the goals of the vision for space exploration.

Silicon Germanium chip
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) manages the RHESE project. RHESE's investment areas include novel materials, design processes to implement radiation hardening, reconfigurable hardware techniques, software development tools, and radiation environment modeling tools.

Near-term emphasis within the multiple RHESE tasks is on hardening field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for use in reconfigurable architectures and developing electronic components using semiconductor processes and materials (such as SiGe) to enhance the tolerance of a device to radiation events and low-temperature environments.

As these technologies mature, the project will shift its focus to developing low-power, high-efficiency total- processor hardening techniques and hardening of volatile and non-volatile memories. This phased approach to distributing emphasis between technology developments allows RHESE to provide hardened FPGA devices and environmentally-hardened electronic units for mission infusion into early constellation projects.

Once these technologies begin the infusion process, the RHESE project will shift its technology development focus to hardened high-speed processors with associated memory elements and high-density storage for longer-duration missions, such as the Lunar Lander, Lunar Outpost, and eventual mars exploration missions occurring later in the Constellation schedule.The individual tasks of RHESE are diverse, yet united in the common endeavour to develop electronics capable of operating within the harsh environment of space. Specifically, the RHESE tasks include SiGe integrated electronics for extreme environments, modeling of radiation effects on electronics, single-event-effects- immune reconfigurable FPGA, radiation-hardened high-performance processors and reconfigurable computing.Though the tasks are diverse in their specific key performance parameters, these target to accomplish specific goals-improved total ionisation dose tolerance, reduced single event upset rates, increased threshold for single-event latch-up, increased sustained processor performance, increased processor efficiency, increased speed of dynamic reconfigurability, reduced lower bound of the operating temperature range, increased available levels of redundancy and reconfigurability, and increased reliability and accuracy of radiation effects modeling.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gigapixel Camera


What is the highest resolution  that avid photographers have ever dreamt of ? A resolution that would highlight the smallest detail in the picture like a sky shot that capture a man walking way beneath, or a tear drop waiting to hit the ground !

Gigapixel camera by Duke University
Researchers at Duke University are developing wide-field, video-rate, gigapixels camera in small, low cost form factors. They are using multiscale designs that combine a mono electric objective lens with the arrays of secondary microcameras. Following the multiscale design methodology, the Field Of View (FOV) is increased by arraying microcameras along the focal surface of the objective. Each microcameras operates independently, offering much more flexibility in image capture, exposure and focus parameters.

Currently a two gigapixel prototype camera has been built. This system is capable of a 120 degree circular FOV with 226 microcameras, 38 microradian FOV for a single pixel,  and an effective f - number of 2.17. Each microcamera operates at 10 fpts at full resolution.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Can Computers Decode Your Thoughts ???


Yes its true that computers can decode our thoughts. University of California researchers have decoded electrical activity in the brain's temporal lobe - the seat of the auditory system - as a person listens to normal conversation. Based on the correlation between sound and brain activity, they were able to predict the words the person heard.

Researchers determined the location of intractable seizures in fifteen people undergoing brain surgery so that the area could be removed in a second surgery. Neurosurgeons cut a hole in the skull and placed the electrodes on the brain surface or cortex - in this case, up to 256 electrodes covering the temporal lobe - to record the activity over a period of a week to pinpoint the seizures. The brain activity detected by the electrodes as patients heard five-ten minutes of conversation was recorded. The data was used to reconstruct and playback the sounds the patients heard.

Two different computational models were tested to match spoken sounds to the pattern of activity in the electrodes. The patients ten heard a single word, and the models were used to predict the word based on electrode recordings.

Microchips To Replace Humans In Drug Testing


There have been debates about testing drugs on animals or any other living creature. Well, here comes a solution that will put the problem to an end. Scientists from Havard University and Defence Advanced Researh Projects Agency (DARPA) of USA have developed a microchip that can now be used for such tests. 

This microchip is small translucent device, which can be used as a human organ for testing drugs.

According to reports, this single device can bring together ten organchips in order to enable study of the effect of a particular drug on the whole body.Every organ on this microchip is made using clear flexible polymer. It also consists of hollow microfluid channels that are lined by living human cells. It is these human cells that allow scientists to study the impact of any drug on human organs. Since the device is translucent, it allows researchers to easily view the response of the organs to a drug.

Harvard University has successfully designed microchips that mimic lung, heart and intestine.