engineering

This Flexible Skin Patch Could Use Friction To Power Your Wearables

The idea of capturing some energy from you constant writhing and wriggling ins’t new — but this small, flexible device certainly is. The postage stamp-sized circuitry, once attached to the skin, could generate electricity to power the gadgets secreted about your person.


Inflatable Stickies Make Building Robots As Easy As Arts And Crafts

In recent years, taking a simpler approach to science and engineering has paid off handsomely in certain fields. It’s part of the reason there are now rovers exploring Mars, and many feel it will be the easiest way to make robots more commonplace. After all, what could be a simpler way to build an automaton than with stickers and tape?


A Brief History Of The Rubber Band

Cheap, reliable, and strong, the rubber band is one of the world’s most ubiquitous products. It holds papers together, prevents long hair from falling in a face, acts as a reminder around a wrist, is a playful weapon in a pinch, and provides a way to easily castrating baby male livestock… While rubber itself has been around for centuries, rubber bands were only officially patented less than two centuries ago. Here now is a brief history of the humble, yet incredibly useful, rubber band.


4 Ideas To Fix Beijing's Smog Airpocalypse, And One That Will Work 

The worst smog of the year so far swept into Beijing this week, coating the city in a grainy, deep grey murk on par with what the city endured in 2013, pictured above (though you’ll see it’s popping up again today). China is trying, hard, to get its air quality problem under control, and is considering some seriously wacky ways to do it. Unfortunately, the only one that will work is also the most difficult.


These Silicon Strips Could Make Computers Way, Way Faster

It may not look much, but this tiny piece of etched silicon could make our computers way faster. Designed to split and direct light, it could allow computers to trade electrons for photons — and gain a jump in speed in the process.


This Maglev Gearbox Doesn't Need Teeth

The most inefficient part of a gearing system is also its most vital: the teeth. While they allow the systems to, y’know, work, they also introduce vast quantities of frictional losses and, in turn, mechanical wear — so this new system uses magnetic levitation to do away with them.


How Facebook Is Hacking Together A Better Data Centre 

Data centres are boring. They have to be; these are spaces of control, consistency, security. You wouldn’t expect to find much creativity inside the plain facades of these highly-regulated structures — much less hacked-together experiments involving robotic Blu-ray storage systems and thousands of Mac Minis.


Ultrasound Can Let You Touch And Feel 3D Shapes In Thin Air

Touch feedback has been advancing rapidly of recent time, and now we’ve gotten to the stage where ultrasound can be used to create entire 3D shapes to touch and feel in thin air.


This Is How Touchscreens Actually Work

Touchscreens are everywhere these days, and even though you’ve probably heard people mumble about the relative benefits of capacitive screens compared to resistive ones, you might not actually know how they work. This video explains.


A New Super-Thin Coating Could Cool Buildings Without AC

When it’s hot out, buildings have a hard time staying cool: bombarded with ambient heat and generating yet more inside, their air conditioning systems have to work hard to keep temperatures down. Now, a new super-thin coating developed at Stanford could be applied to buildings to help them cool themselves more effectively.