This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology Articles

Hello all! My top engineering technology picks of the week include an innovative fan-like bridge, an air umbrella and a rapid-charging lithium-ion battery. Have a great weekend!

Tattoo Artist Magazine
Gadget Makes Music by Scanning an Arm Tattoo

Engineering, musician and artist. This is everything that Dmitry Morozov considers himself. A self-taught engineer and guitar player, Dmitry designed a device that scans a large barcode tattooed on his arm and is capable of playing music. Made from a combination of two black-line sensors, a stepper motor and a Nintendo Wii remote, the device is controlled by the length of each bar while moving his arm allows the Wii remote’s accelerometer to detect the shift and distorts the sound.

The fact that this self-taught engineer designed such as unique product is rather impressive. While nothing ground-breaking (I don’t expect to see artists playing this any time soon at concerts), this guitar-device is an innovative use of technology and combines three unique and creative fields.

A Steel Bridge That Swings Open Like a Japanese Fan

There are many innovative bridges around the world that span incredible distances and are engineering masterpieces. We’ve discussed the Taizhou Bridge in this blog before. However, the new Merchant Square Footbridge in London might be one of the most innovative and eye-catching bridges in the world. Designed with five counterweights, the bridge opens like a Japanese hand fan. Instead of creating a standard horizontal plane movement, the architects changed the movement into the vertical axis with five narrow fingers.

This amazing bridge design turns the square into an interesting discussion topic — that didn’t add any significant construction or upkeep costs while reducing the energy to lift each finger from a combination of hydraulic jacks and counterweights. As cities look to create more visually-appeasing concepts into the design, engineers and architects can use extensive engineering concepts to build these innovative designs.

Air Umbrella Holds off the Rain with a Force Field of Air

I’m guessing you have probably used an umbrella before. Maybe it was completely manual; maybe it folded into a tiny bag; maybe it even automatically opened and/or closed. What I’m saying is that there have never really been any great breakthroughs in umbrella design. However, a Kickstarter campaign is attempting to change that. This new umbrella keeps rain away with air. This innovative design pushes air at a rapid speed out from the top of the device, forcing rain away from you (creating an air-produced umbrella).

This evolution in umbrellas is made available by small electronics that allow engineers to create enough power from batteries that can blow even the heaviest rains away from you. You can still get the Kickstarter price and guarantee yourself one of these umbrellas around December 2015!


New Battery Said to Recharge in Minutes and Last 20 Years

As you read this, you probably are carrying a device with a rechargeable battery. I’m also guessing that you have probably run into issues with battery life or long recharge cycles. Scientists at Nanyang Technical University claim to have developed an advanced battery that overcomes these issues. The new lithium-ion battery can go from zero to a 70 percent charge in two minutes and is also designed to last for 10,000 recharge cycles — a lifespan estimated at two decades and more than 10 times longer than current batteries.

From an engineering standpoint, this ability to rapidly recharge devices and gain longer life from a battery could help electronics designers to give devices more power as it would be easy for users to recharge. This could also greatly help rapidly grow the electric vehicle market with these batteries.

IEEE Spectrum
Watch Tesla’s Robocar Achieve Warp Speed

Tesla is moving automobiles two-steps forward: one in electric vehicle design and one in autonomous driving. This video shows a test ride in a prototype that increases the power of the electric engine and incorporates self-driving capabilities. The 3.6 second zero-to-60 miles per hour time features the dual engine design that was announced last week. The self-driving capabilities maintain legal speeds, help the vehicle remain in the correct lane and determine when to come to a complete stop based on other traffic.

What is interesting to note is that Tesla is leading not only electric vehicle development, but is also one of the best vehicles every produced (as evidenced by Consumer Reports giving the Tesla Model S a 99/100, the highest rating for any car). With an advanced engine that allows for more speed, continued improvements in battery life and the introduction of the self-driving features in future models, Tesla could help catapult the automotive industry into a new age of design.

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