Archive for March, 2013

Write in the Air

It is great fun to write in the air with your fingers dancing around, but imagine if doing just that you could actually communicate with electronic devices? That is exactly what the scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are hoping to do when their science project ends.

What they call “air writing” will use a glove to record the movements made by the hand. This data will then be translated by the computer to which the glove communicates into legible text and symbols. The result will be a new interface type being produced in wearable computer applications allowing greater integration of computer in life.

The hands will become virtual keyboards that can write out instructions to computers and work with other technology driven gadgets. Not all the movements are interpreted as writing by the system which remains on in the background. During writing, the airwriting system decodes the letters by a pattern recognition method. It also takes into account individual differences in the writing style.

Soon it will be possible to write a text message on your smart phone without touching it, or even guide yourself using a GPS without fiddling with maps on the screen. The possibilities of the resulting gadgets from this science project are endless.


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Robotic Fish Navigate Better Now

Fish have a natural sense that allows them to navigate through currents of water and the turbulence that occurs in the water. However robotic fish have not been able to do so till the scientists in the European Union developed lateral line sensing in their science research project. The project which began more than four years ago has been investigating the locomotion of fish using lateral line sensing and then developing underwater robots using these principles found in their biological counterparts.
The results have been extremely encouraging. The new robotic fish enabled with lateral line sensing can orient themselves better in turbulent currents, and navigate to a predetermined destination by controlling their motion. Prof. Maarja Kruusmaa, the Scientific Coordinator of the FILOSE project said that so far flow in robotics was treated as a disturbance that drove the robots away from their planned course.

They have shown that flow is also a source of information that can be exploited to better control the vehicle. The robot fish have been able to save energy by navigating through the flow in regions where the currents are not as strong. The science project opens up a whole new avenue for future under water vehicles.

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A Transparent Cell Phone

There is no other electronic device which gets obsolete almost as fast as it is manufactured than the cell phone. With technological innovations coming up through repeated scientific experimentation in research and development there is a new version to each cell phone almost every six months.

So it should come as no surprise that there is yet another innovation in the works in Taiwan. They have been working on the prototype of a transparent cell phone. Nicknamed the ‘Switchable Glass’ technology, the phone has a conductive OLED screen that uses liquid crystal molecules to display text and images.

Electric current is used to align these molecules into images on  a transparent screen that can display clear colored images. It is likely that a finished product will be able to have touch screen activated on both sides of the phone. They are looking at ways to integrate hidden speakers and mics in the phone as well as developing a transparent battery.

Although it sounds really futuristic, the technology exits and a commercial product may be developed using the technology within a year. There are going to be a lot of engineers working on this science project in the current year.

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Sketch in Sight

Graphics can enhance the display board of any science fair project but creating them from raw data can be quite a chore for anyone. Not any more if software giant Microsoft has its way. The company is currently developing a prototype of a self sketching whiteboard. The touch screen innovation will allow you to use raw data to formulate tables and charts.

Bongshin Lee, the user interface expert designing the whiteboard, is to demonstrate how preloaded data can be used to to create interactive charts, maps or other diagrams. She hopes to show how the interactive display technology will make it easier to make sense of all the data that is fed into the computer system.

The experimental prototype of the self sketching whiteboard is called SketchInsight. The digital canvas is being used to make sense of the growing amounts of information that is being generated daily in research studies. Once the tool is perfected and developed for commercial use it will beat the current Microsoft Powerpoint application hollow.

As you try and make the display board for your science fair project you will wish that this self sketching whiteboard was already available. It would make the task so much easier.


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What’s that Space Rock called?

Are you confused about what to call a space rock? After reading this you will not be.

Comet is a chunk of ice and rock which comes from outside our solar system. It usually has a tail which contains water vapor and dust particles that are formed as the ice surrounding the rock melts when the comet approaches the sun.

Asteroids are chunky pieces of rock which are in orbit around the sun in between the planets Mars and Jupiter. They are believed to be the remnants of a planet that exploded. Sometimes an asteroid may bounce off another asteroid and head towards Earth.

Meteoroid is a rock in space which is larger than a grain of dust and smaller in size than an asteroid. In case it falls through the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up due to the friction it is called a Meteor. Meteors are also called falling stars due to the streak of light that they cause in the night sky.

Meteorite is a large sized meteor which does not burn up completely in the Earth’s atmosphere but retains enough mass to actually strike the Earth. These space rocks are used by scientists for science experiments to study composition and learn more about the solar system. Sometimes they contain valuable minerals in concentrated form.

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