A future covered with data-beaming sensors just got a little closer. Stanford engineers say they have produced miniscule chips that cost just pennies to make. These silicon-based components can process and relay commands, making them ant-sized controllers that can send and receive information wirelessly. Developers say the chips bridge the communication gap between sensors, machines and computers and will let them communicate back and forth.
Electrical engineer Amin Arbabian says the devices he has created are powered by the radio signals they are tuned to receive, so they don’t need any external power sources.
"The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the web," said Arbabian. "How do you put a bi-directional wireless control system on every lightbulb? By putting all the essential elements of a radio on a single chip that costs pennies to make."
"We’re ultimately talking about connecting trillions of devices."
This week on Txchnologist, we reported live from the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum in the royal city of Copenhagen. Scientists from around Europe and the world gathered to discuss the future of science and technology. The opening remarks of the week-long event invoked the Higgs boson discovery, the importance of gender equality in science and the need for science to help solve society’s problems.
Next, a group of the world’s leading physicists discussed the ground-breaking Higgs boson discovery of 2012-2013. This subatomic particle actually led to many more questions than it answered but, scientists say, we are one step closer to understanding our universe.
Then we ventured into questions about alternative energy sources and their popularity across the globe. A growing problem is that countries are finding it difficult to procure critical minerals needed to build some of the necessary technology. Many of these rare minerals are concentrated in certain areas of the globe like China, which is limiting supply as part of its trade and geopolitical objectives. Such constrictions require sophisticated trade agreements to acquire the resources and push costs up to premium levels. At the same time, some adventure-minded engineers and companies are advocating the mining of the moon as an alternative to the growing rare earth metal shortage to avert a crisis.
Back at the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum, an exciting and cute new robot could change the way we explore shipwrecks. The small U-CAT, or Underwater Curious Archaeology Turtle, uses its flippers to explore sites. Equipped with a camera and sonar, the little robot can get into hard-to-reach crevices easily.
A European Commission-funded project is making concrete come alive. The so-called Digistone will be embedded into roadways and sidewalks to display important signs for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Food fraud is a major problem in the era of a globalized supply chain. Bordeaux wine may not actually be from the idyllic French province, for example. Scientists and members of the European Commission have reignited the international discussion to eliminate food fraud using novel technological methods.
Graphene is known to be a wonder material for everything from medication transport to computer hardware. Now, researchers are even more optimistic about using a mix of graphene and plastic for 3-D printed electronics. Graphene + 3-D printing equals a truly 21st century way to build new devices.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.