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Ford opening Silicon Valley research lab in 2012

Ford silicon valley

Living in the northwest, the weather can make of break your day. From sun, to snow, to rain, it can all be seen in one day, depending on the season. So as any Northwesty, I'm constantly checking my iPhone for updated weather conditions. But alas, no two weather apps, let alone forecasters, can agree on Seattle weather.

Ford has announced that they will be neighboring next to Intel, Google, and other Silicon Valley giants. Other automotive giants such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have already moved into the Valley, and Ford will be moving its Research and Innovations (R&I) Unit into the neighborhood. The question you might be asking is, "what does Ford and Northwest weather have to do with each other?" The answer is real-time data. Ford is aiming to utilize the sensors in its vehicles to transfer data to the client services we use.

Put it this way, when you're driving down the highway and it begins to rain, the sensors on the wipers transmit a signal to a client service; say a weather app you might use on your phone. The more vehicles equipped with this technology, the more accurate our weather forecasting becomes. Furthermore, I can see this technology also providing real-time traffic congestion info. In conjunction with a solid GPS, your commuting time could be reduced.

Read More | Autoblog

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Stanford researchers create artificial skin that can feel pressure

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Science

Prosthetics have come a long way since the days of wooden legs. Now a team of Stanford researchers says it's taken a big step towards developing an artificial skin that can actually "feel" pressure and could someday help amputees and burn victims.

Spray-on carbon nanotubes and deformable silicone storing an electrical charge form the stretchy, sensitive material that's being billed as a synthetic skin prototype by the team of Stanford researchers led by associate professor of chemical engineering Zhenan Bao that developed it. The flexible, skin-like sensor can be stretched in any direction without tearing, losing its shape, or wrinkling and it's sensitive enough to detect a wide range of pressure.

"This sensor can register pressure ranging from a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger to twice the pressure exerted by an elephant standing on one foot," Darren Lipomi, a Stanford post-doctoral researcher who helped develop the artificial skin sensor, told PopSci.com.

Click to continue reading Stanford researchers create artificial skin that can feel pressure


Real time Collaborative Browsing

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Internet, Science

RCBCollege of William and Mary researchers are working on RCB (real-time collaborative browsing) to make things easier for those who want to surf together, such as businesses with customer support or distance online education. The first person installs a Firefox browser extension that can generate a session URL to send to others. When up to 10 others click on it, they are sent to a page that connects to the first browser. Not yet available for the masses, the team is hoping that browser companies will adopt the technology.

Read More | Technology Review

Under Armour Suit Eases Pain

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Wearables, Science

Under Armor

The Baltimore-based company Under Armour was founded by Kevin Plank, a former football player who wanted a better T-shirt. His apparel is warn by many athletes and will now include “recharge,” a 2 piece body suit that pushes excess water from muscles to the bloodstream and relieves aches and pains. Based on research from the Univ. of Connecticut and Under Armour, the suit could be available by July for ~$200.00 for both pieces. We hope it will soon be there for the rest of us that could use some comfort after an extreme workout.

Read More | Baltimore Sun

Researchers Use Ionic Cooling for Laptops

Ionic CoolerAlthough Sharper Image and its Ionic Breeze purifier went belly up, Tessera and researchers from the University of Washington have teamed to adapt ionic cooling in a smaller form for laptops and other electronics. Supposedly the technology can extract about 30% more heat than a traditional fan at about half the power. Washington U’s Alexander Mamishev originally conducted research in 2006 before Tessera licensed it. And while the lifespan is not yet up to the 30,000 hours of life target, we may see it come to market next year.

Read More | MIT Technology Review

Polystyrene Increases Power in Biodiesal Fuel

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Science, Transportation

Packing PeanutsTwo researchers from Iowa State University figured out how to get rid of some of the excess styrofoam. Najeeb Kuzhiyil and Song-Charng Kong placed different amounts of polystyrene packing peanuts into biodiesel and found that it dissolved almost immediately. They also found that the power out increased up to 5%. Before you get too excited, the two scientists also noted that it increases the fuel’s emissions of carbon monoxide, soot, and nitrous oxides. They will continue to work on the problem, but we are thinking that the best way to get rid of the awful stuff is to not use/buy it anymore.

Read More | Physorg

Study shows Night Owls Have More Stamina

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Science

Night OwlTake that, early birds. We admit it. Some of us here at Live Gear are at our best in the p.m. We were pleased to learn that a new study shows that night owls have more stamina. Researchers at the Université de Liège in Belgium used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor brains from both groups in a sleep clinic. They then gave them a task to do after 1 ½ hrs. of waking and 10 ½ hrs. after. While the attentive levels were the same, the night folks were found to be more focused. The study is detailed in the April 24 issue of the journal Science, if you can stay awake long enough to read through it.

Read More | Live Science

VR Cocoon Simulates 5 Senses

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Science

VR CocoonScientists from the Universities of York and Warwick feel that they have found a way to make a virtual reality device that can simulate all five senses. The NAU VR Cocoon is composed of a headset with electronics and computer capability more realistic than any made so far. While most of them that have been made concentrate only on sight and sound, this one adds the other three senses as well.

Professor David Howard said, “Smell will be generated electronically via a new technique being pioneered by a team at Warwick which will deliver a pre-determined smell recipe on-demand. Taste and smell are closely linked but we intend to provide a texture sensation relating to something being in the mouth. Tactile devices will provide touch.”

Having been exposed to Smellavision and simulators that make you feel like you are in space, we are not sure we are ready to take that next step as we find that too much virtual reality can make us nauseous.

Read More | i-Cocoon via Tech Radar


Social Networking Damaging to Kids’ Brains?

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Cell Phones, Internet, Science

Text MessagingBaroness Susan Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist, claims that social network sites may be creating a self-centered generation with a short attention span. She also says that they may be damaging to teens’ brains.

She said, “As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilized, characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity.”

However, one study claims that using text abbreviations could boost literacy skills since kids between the ages of 10 to 12 who texted were found to be the best readers. We wonder how many of those kids use the same language in their book reports.

Read More | Daily Mail

Smartphone Users Spend Big Bucks on Applications

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Handhelds, Internet, Video Games

Apps

ABI Research surveyed 235 smartphone users in the U.S. who installed applications in 2008. Their result was that 16.5% spent between $100.00 and $499.00. That’s a lot of apps considering that many of them are free or less than $25.00. Analyst Jeff Orr sees this as the reason, “Apple is seen by some as hurting the market with its iPhone App Store. It drives the price of content down to $1-2, using a model similar to its successful iTunes music store. If you exclude Apple from the mix, applications for other platforms cost about $7-25 each.”

He went on to say that Apple’s marketing did a lot to get others to work on their own. Look for application storefronts from Nokia, Palm, RIM and Samsung to come this year.

 

Read More | Smart Brief

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