Happy Friday, folks! This week’s top five engineering technology news articles look at ways that technology is making our lives easier. Learn how robots are helping make the wine you might drink at dinner tonight and how soon you can expect to see self-driving cars on the market, to name a few.
- Wearable Sensor System Automatically Maps Building While Wearer Is Moving
- Self-Driving Cars A Reality For ‘Ordinary People’ Within 5 Years, Says Google’s Sergey Brin
- Why CIOs Desperately Need a Technology Literate Society
- Tiny Medical Electronics That Dissolve Harmlessly Inside Your Body
- Robot Takes Care of Your Vino
It kind of looks like a backpack, mixed with suspenders with a car radio hanging from the front. Definitely not fashion runway material. But, this wearable sensor system could help emergency responders better coordinate disaster response efforts.
Supported by both the U.S. Air Force and the Office of Naval Research, MIT researchers sent a grad. student wearing the sensor system wandering through the halls of the campus while data was being transmitted to a laptop in a nearby conference room. Observers tracked the students progress on a map which was automatically generated as he moved!
Right now, the traditional way emergency responders report what they see on a site is by writing it down after the fact – “I went into this room on the left, saw this and then went into the next room,” etc. This new technology would automate this process and make it happen in real time.
Early prototypes of this new sensor system have a button that when pressed, indicates a “point of interest” which could eventually evolve into adding voice or text tags that say things like “structural damage” or “toxic spill.”
Just think of how this technology could’ve affected Hurricane Katrina/Issac or even 9/11 emergency response efforts.
If you’ve paid any bit of attention to the media recently, you’ve probably noticed some coverage on Google’s driverless car. Experts are saying that “everyday folk” will have access to cars that drive themselves within 5 years.
Google engineers are already testing these computer-driven cars that are supposed to be more safe than human-driven vehicles. We all know that people fall asleep at the wheel, occasionally drift off deep into thought and don’t remember actually driving to your destination, not to mention the other things people do while driving like texting, reading a book or newspaper and even driving under the influence.
With cameras on the roof, software in the trunk and lasers, radar and other sensor equipment all over, these vehicles will monitor road conditions and operate themselves, eliminating a lot of potential human-errors.
Check out this video posted by the NYTimes about Google’s self-driving cars for more info:
The Wall Street Journal – CIO Report
Why CIOs Desperately Need a Technology Literate Society
I feel like I’m having deja vu – I know I’ve blogged about this very specific topic before. This particular piece starts by setting an all-to-familiar stage – and it was written so clearly that I’m going to pull a direct quote:
“Despite the persistently high unemployment and underemployment rates in the U.S., employers are having trouble filling many positions that require technical skills. There is a serious skills gap in the country. Not enough students are majoring in STEM fields — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. They are not even taking STEM courses in school — be it high school, post-secondary education or college. As a result, their skills don’t match those needed for the jobs that are most in demand.”
Experts believe that STEM educators are not doing a good enough job explaining that things like quantitative reasoning, familiarity with sophisticated technology and dealing with complex systems, problems and decisions are important job skills that translate into many different fields outside of engineering! Just because you don’t fancy becoming a scientist or engineer doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the skills you develop by studying STEM subjects in school.
So why should everyone become STEM literate? To build a more educated society and so everyone can become a better decision maker.
Tiny Medical Electronics That Dissolve Harmlessly Inside Your Body
Yes, you heard me. We tweeted this article this morning and it was too interesting to pass up for the weekly roundup of interesting engineering technology news articles. A team of researchers from Tufts University and the University of Illinois created an electronic device that can be implanted in someone’s body and will dissolve on its own after a certain period of time.
Why? Because there are a lot of situations where constantly monitoring someone’s vitals would be useful. For example, a thermometer or blood sugar monitor could help make sure a post-operative patient is safe during the critical first week — but, the stress and cost of the implantation and removal operations sometimes can’t be justified. Unless, of course, the implant was inexpensive and made of nontoxic materials!
Made of silicon and silk, these new “transient electronics” steal energy from radio transmissions to operate and could also be safely introduced to natural environments.
Because they’re biodegradable, the need to recover the devices dropped off in nature is eliminated and so is the risk of the device polluting or harming local wildlife – I can see the value here as well!
Robot Takes Care of Your Vino
This little guy has four wheels and two mechanical arms that can prune vines and de-sucker grapes – lending a much needed helping hand to farmers who are working hard to make that glass of wine you might enjoy with dinner later tonight!
Invented by Guy Julien and Christophe Millot, Wall-Ye V.I.N. was designed to perform manual tasks that typically take lots of time and effort and collect and monitor information about the grape vines’ health.
As you might have expected, GPS, sensors, cameras and other mapping technology help the robot move through the rows of vines so it doesn’t get lost or ruin any of the crop.
Engineers and farmers alike are beginning to see the benefits of using robots for harvesting efforts as farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to find the workers they need.
Have a GREAT weekend and we’ll see you next week!