Posts Tagged ‘E&T’

#AppleWatch launch may be delayed – manufacturing issues – an annotated infographic

October 7, 2014

So not everything goes Apple’s way. On a day when the world has been openly gawking with car-crash fascination at Samsung’s announcement of a projected 60 per cent collapse in its smartphone profits for Q3 this year, details have emerged of a fly in Apple’s Watch ointment that may delay production and launch.

GT Advanced Technologies, the makers of the watch’s toughened Sapphire Crystal screen, unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy. No screen: no Apple Watch. It’s a rum old business, really, as you’d think a company that had potentially secured a lucrative revenue stream with the world’s pre-eminent high-end gadget brand would be immune to such financial ruin.

More details will undoubtedly emerge over time (no Watch pun intended). Will Apple move to secure its own supply chain, instead of having to rely on third-party suppliers?

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Apple Watch: it's about time

Apple Watch: it’s about time

E&T news weekly #20 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

October 3, 2014

Friday October 3 2014

  Vitali Vitaliev Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
US Air Force seeks alternatives to Russian rocket engines

This made me think of other original Russian technologies the West may now have to find alternatives for. It should be possible – at least theoretically – for US engineers to replace or replicate such recent Russian inventions as the first mass-produced portable nuclear power station, the longest offshore pipeline, a space-based radiotelescope with the highest angular resolution, and the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge… But how about the good old AK-47 assault rifle in use with many a Western army? I foresee potential problems here.

Londoners would give up children to connect to Wi-Fi

This kind of behaviour, to my mind, can be explained by the Londoners’ reluctance to read the small print, or sheer laziness, rather than their cannibalistic child-hating attitudes.

Low-cost invisibility cloak developed by US researchers

How about a further scientific challenge of making the Rochester Cloak itself invisible? Or is it invisible already? If so, would you pay a thousand dollars for something you cannot see? Move over, JK Rowling!


  James Hayes James Hayes, technology features editor
Research to scrutinise cyber-risks to infrastructure

While this research project is welcome, the risks to CNI are already well known about; more efforts toward effective remediation are needed with immediate effect. A significant amount of the information and communications technology behind CNI – in both the UK and elsewhere – was not designed to be ‘cyber-secure’ and, as such, is innately vulnerable. Hackers have already turned their attention to industrial control systems and SCADA-based sub-systems, and the kudos from the Black Hat community for a hacker who manages to ‘bring down’ a power station would be considerable.


  dominic-lenton Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Londoners would give up children to connect to Wi-Fi

Several Londoners who took part in an Internet behaviour experiment designed to see how much attention they paid to small print unwittingly agreed to “render up their eldest child for the duration of eternity” in exchange for free Wi-Fi. Just bear that in mind next time you automatically click on an ‘Accept’ button.

Education Secretary calls for bully-reporting app for vulnerable kids

Digitising communications between school and parents has gone some way towards the eliminating the risk of important letters being left forgotten at the bottom of a student’s bag for weeks on end. Is it the right way to tackle bullying though? Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s speech suggesting some sort of smartphone reporting app could help was an interesting suggestion lost in the general hubbub of the Conservative Party Conference.


  Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
Low-cost invisibility cloak developed by US researchers

You only have to see the image accompanying this story to have your mind blown by the possibilities promised by this development. American researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a $1,000 invisibility cloak (dubbed the Rochester Cloak) based on off-the-shelf technology, which uses a set of lenses placed in front of an object to make it – temporarily at least – disappear.

Electronics giant Toshiba turns to vegetable production

Another great image with this news story, which begs the question: why is Toshiba diversifying in to salad? At the Yokosuka Clean Room Farm, Toshiba has fitted its vegetable farm with cutting-edge technology, including fluorescent lighting with an output wavelength optimised for vegetable growth, air-conditioning systems that maintain constant temperature and moisture level, remote monitoring systems to track growth and sterilisation systems for packing materials.


  Edd Gent Edd Gent, online news reporter
Good progress as Human Brain Project celebrates first birthday

The Human Brain Project is possibly the most daring IT project in recent times and to hear that good progress is being made is great. Criticism from neuroscientists who would prefer the money to be spent on direct research needs to be addressed, but this kind of ‘moonshot’ project will always have its unambitious detractors.


  Tereza Pultarova Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
Londoners would give up children to connect to Wi-Fi

Do you ever read terms and conditions before ticking the ‘accept’ box when connecting to a public WiFi network. Most of the time, I can’t be bothered. God knows what I may have agreed to in my life …..

Electronics giant Toshiba turns to vegetable production

One seriously wouldn’t expect a world leading engineering company to start producing vegetables. But Toshiba has no prejudice against agriculture and has assumed the task in its very own high tech way. Its Yokosuka Clean Room Farm features cutting edge technology to optimise the growth of vegetables by using artificial lighting, precise air-conditioning and watering management. As the plants grow indoors in special clean rooms, they are safe from germs and insects and can be grown without pesticides. The whole thing reminded me about my discussions with space gardening researcher Lucie Poulet about growing vegetables on Mars during our stay at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

#ParisMotorShow 2014 – new star cars on display, #JaguarXE – two annotated infographics

October 1, 2014

The world’s pre-eminent petrolheads will shortly be gathering and munching on fresh croissant as the Paris Motor Show opens for business.

One of the glitziest events on the automotive calendar, this year’s show will see the debuts of Europe’s best new cars for the coming year, both the concepts and the production models. Stars at the City of Light will include Ferrari’s 458 Speciale A, the Jaguar XE, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUV and Audi TT Roadster.

Of particular interest is Jaguar’s new XE sports saloon, as the British legend goes bumper to bumper with its German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in an assault on the lucrative junior executive car market. The XE features light-weight aluminium construction and new fuel efficient turbo-charged engines to cut emissions and boost economy.

Click on either graphic for an expanded view.

Paris Motor Show 2014

Paris Motor Show 2014


Jaguar XE sports saloon

Jaguar XE sports saloon

#Stonehenge redux: new secrets revealed about the Neolithic landscape surrounding those famous stones

October 1, 2014

Stonehenge: a national monument, an internationally recognised British icon. For centuries, people have wondered, theorised, intrigued and argued about who, or what, might have put an isolated collection of huge standing stones in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside somewhere between five and six thousand years ago – and for what purpose.

Now, new research conducted by archaeologists and scientists from Birmingham University and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Vienna has revealed that Stonehenge did not sit alone within its Neolithic landscape.

The research has revealed that the area around Stonehenge was heavy with additional monuments, chapels and burial chambers, which until now have remained hidden underground or inside known earthworks.

Using motorised magnetometer systems, ground-penetrating radar arrays and electromagnetic induction sensors, the researchers surveyed six square miles around Stonehenge over a four-year period, beginning in July 2010. The technology allowed them to investigate as deep as seven metres below the ground without the need for intrusive and time-consuming digging.

Read E&T‘s exclusive feature on how the ancient secrets of Stonehenge were revealed through the archaeological use of a variety of investigative technologies.

Stonehenge: under investigation

Stonehenge: under investigation

Malaysia Airlines flight #MH370 – search site reveals underwater volcanoes, deep trenches – an annotated infographic

September 30, 2014

As if the search teams hunting for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 didn’t have enough problems already, an analysis of the area of current focus has revealed a forbidding seabed terrain of previously unmapped deep-sea trenches, mountains and extinct volcanoes.

The dramatic terrain has naturally compounded the difficulties of the search team in locating any trace of the plane.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

MH370 sea bed survey

MH370 sea bed survey

The weekly best of E&T: 3D printer in space, remote control of rats and the parcelcopter

September 26, 2014

Friday September 26 2014

James HayesJames Hayes, technology features editor
Computer modelling to cut carbon footprint of air travel

Computer modelling and simulation is transforming aerospace development by enabling designers and engineers to ‘build’ software-based prototypes that can be tested against highly accurate ranges of variables – such as operational pressures and tensions, and new kinds of materials and payloads. Aircraft encounter continually-changing environmental stresses during the course of a flight, and the fine-tuning of these can help determine potential ways of improving fuel efficiency – see also  ‘Green skies ahead: charting a course to sustainable aviation’

Dickon RossDickon Ross, editor in chief
First 3D printer and 20 mice launched to space

Now here’s a really useful place to put a 3D printer…

ARM unveils new Internet of Things chip

Hardware is only a part of the Internet of Things jigsaw puzzle but it is an important part.

Hospital deaths fall with use of new software

Smart charts have already cut death rates in hospital wards, says this study.

Tereza PultarovaTereza Pultarova – online news reporter
India conquers Mars with maiden spacecraft triumph

If there were any astronomers on Mars, they would have been perplexed by the sudden invasion of strange winged, metallic, box-like objects to their planet. They would have gotten used to odd things being dumped on their heads every now and then in the past decades but two in just one week? That’s certainly a bad omen. Is it the Martian apocalypse looming?

DHL launches Europe’s first UAV parcel delivery

The postman always rings twice but what about the parcelcopter? In fact, it’s about high time for the delivery companies to update their procedures as our wheelchair-bound neighbour would testify after a delivery guy dumped his parcel at our second-floor apartment. (We didn’t know the neighbour and were quite surprised that no one came to pick up the parcel for nearly two weeks).

Edd GentEdd Gent, online news reporter

Remote-control rats developed to study spinal injury rehab

While the fact that the researchers had to deliberately paralyse the rats in question, raises certain ethical questions, the ability to remotely control a complicated process like walking could have huge implications for medical rehabilitation technology.

dominic-lentonDominic Lenton, managing editor
New testing site to improve building materials of the future

Surprising to learn that innovative building materials like hemp are usually tested in a laboratory. This ‘plug and play’ facility will let construction companies see how new designs stand up to real weather conditions (in Swindon, at least).

FTSE 100 social star Burberry trials Twitter’s Buy button

A new hazard for anyone who’s received an unexpected and unwanted parcel in the wake of a late-night eBay session, perhaps after a drink or two. Twitter users will be able to purchase fashion and luxury goods from British label Burberry straight from the retailer’s timeline at the click of a ‘Buy’ button. The company says it’s a way of “taking the conversations that are already happening between brands, retailers and consumers and turning them into transactional relationships.”

E&T news weekly #18 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

September 19, 2014

Friday September 19 2014

  James Hayes James Hayes, technology features editor
Hacking behind third of London’s car theft

Hacking NFC-enabled car door locks is a growing problem, but is just one aspect of growing automotive cyber-security concerns. The connected road vehicle is going to become increasingly targeted by hackers – for a variety of motives ranging from sniggering mischievousness as they cause in-car infotainment systems to suddenly switch on at full volume, to bloody assassination following an immobilisation attack on a VIP’s limousine.

  Vitali Vitaliev Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
First woman elected president of Royal Academy of Engineering

I was thrilled to learn that Ann Dowling was elected President of the Royal Academy of Engineering – the first woman ever to occupy this post. I remember hearing Ms Dowling interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s “Life Scientific” one morning and being so impressed with her personality and intellect that I commissioned Amy Spurling, one of the E&T magazine regular contributors, to interview her asap. It took Amy some months to arrange the interview with Professor Dowling, as she is an extremely busy lady, but it finally appeared in the magazine in February 2013.

Tube goes contactless

I am happy to report that I tested this new technology yesterday when at meetings in London and can confirm that it works. London Tube is getting increasingly ‘contactless’, and the meaning of this word is much broader than just the technology. True, Londoners seldom talk on the Tube and rarely make eye or other contacts with each other. During my very first months in London many years ago, I even tended to believe that the frequently heard “Mind the gap!” announcement was not a warning to watch the distance between the train and the platform, but a reminder to the passengers not to stand too close to each other in a crowded train carriage.

  Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
SpaceX and Boeing to carry astronauts to space

Nasa has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build commercial space taxis to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station. The decision seemingly eliminated Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser concept from Nasa’s future plans, but space transportation is an expensive business and now that the responsibility for trucking astronauts and cargo has been completely handed over to third-party suppliers, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine someone needing an interplanetary lift from Dream Chaser one day.

Flying robot technicians gearing up for dangerous work

A self-organised fleet of autonomous robots could soon replace human fire-fighters, rescuers or construction workers in tasks that could put human lives at risk. The flying robots, equipped with multi-joint manipulator arms, are being developed as part of an EU-funded project. The cooperating robots can grasp objects, transport and deposit material, including industrial parts, debris or pieces of space stations. They could clean up after nuclear accidents, erect antennas on mountain tops, speed up construction work or examine piping systems. If it’s not too much trouble, perhaps they could also help me get my Frisbee off the roof.

  Dickon Ross Dickon Ross, editor in chief
First woman elected president of Royal Academy of Engineering

A real boost for women in engineering.

New digital cameras to crack down on London’s speeders

The surprise in this story is that they are not digital already.

  dominic-lenton Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Microsoft to buy Minecraft maker

Anyone whose children have spent hours immersed in the world of Minecraft will see what a canny investment Microsoft’s £1.5bn acquisition of its developer Mojang could turn out to be. The sight of a young person ‘playing’ online, working collaboratively with a group of friends to build things rather than shoot them up, probably gives a taste of what the workplace of the future will be like.

Smartwatches increase risk of car accidents

Distraction from mobile phones has been a factor in too many road accidents and the fact a device is on your wrist doesn’t mean that using it is just like glancing at your watch. Apple’s wearable technology isn’t the first of its kind, but it’s put the hazards of smartwatches in the spotlight. Good to see that the Department for Transport is going to police their use rigorously, with penalty points just for using one while driving.

  Tereza Pultarova Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
Smart system increases electric vehicle range by third

I’d say I know many drivers who would be less than happy to be told what to do by an overly smart computer. However, the integrated system developed as part of the EU-funded OpEneR project promises to cut electric vehicle energy consumption by a third by simply telling drivers when to brake and when to change the route based on traffic or inclination of slopes. The team has also advanced energy recovery technology and optimised the electrical power train. Will it help sway the public more in favour of the quiet, non-polluting electric vehicles?

SpaceX and Boeing to carry astronauts to space

The eagerly awaited decision on which company will help Nasa regain the ability to launch astronauts to space aboard US-made vehicles from US soil was finally announced. Ditching the bit more sophisticated space shuttle inspired Dream Chaser concept, the American space agency opted for Boeing’s and SpaceX’s capsules. With the deteriorating relations between the US and Russia, from whom Nasa has been purchasing space rides for some $70m per astronaut (what a bargain!), all parties involved will likely be eager to meet the 2017 deadline.

If #ScotlandDecides YES, what might the Union Jack flag look like in the future – an annotated infographic

September 18, 2014

The current Union Jack flag is a composite of the flags of England and Scotland, plus Ireland’s cross of St Patrick, adopted prior to Irish Home Rule. If Scotland were to vote yes today in the majority for breaking away from the Union, what will become of the Union Jack flag?

The flag’s backstory: in 1603 King James VI of Scotland inherited the crown of England and became King James I of England. At this point, although both kingdoms had the same king, they remained separate sovereign states with their own parliaments, judiciary and laws.

In 1606, the King ordered a Union Flag to combine the Scottish Cross of St Andrew (also known as the Saltire, the term being a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross) with England’s Cross of St George. According to the Flag Institute, over the following years the Union Flag became known colloquially as “the Jack” or the “King’s Jack”, the term jack being a diminutive derived from the term for a small flag flown from the bow of a vessel to indicate its nationality. By 1674 the flag was officially recognised by the term Union Jack.

In 1707, the two parliaments were united to form the Parliament of Great Britain, based at the Palace of Westminster in London. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain united with the neighbouring Kingdom of Ireland. That particular decision has provoked lively debate, shall we say, over the years.

It seems likely that today’s decision will prove equally contentious, with reverberations set to echo from Land’s End to John O’Groats for years to come.

If you are interested in the referendum decision from an engineer’s point of view, you genuinely could do a lot worse than consult our last magazine issue, the Scottish referendum special.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

"United we stand, divided we're lumbered"

“United we stand, divided we’re lumbered”

New issue of E&T magazine now available online – the Back to School issue

September 17, 2014

The new issue of E&T magazine is available online now: the Back to School issue.

Yes, it’s that time again for back to school: the three little words every child dreads, but which are as inevitable as the autumn leaves falling. We look at ICT in the classroom and how the new curriculum is a welcome change. It takes the students more ‘under the hood’, from computer architectures to coding. It was a lack of computing graduates that inspired Cambridge technologists to come up with the Raspberry Pi. The new curriculum now allows teachers to use the miniature computer in ICT lessons.

We also look at how more students are taking STEM A-levels and choosing maths over English, with more children also taking engineering GCSEs – just as the courses are about to be phased out. The engineering skills shortage may be worse in the UK than elsewhere but it’s not alone. We look at who is doing what in schools and colleges around the world. Who gets the best education in engineering? Who gets ‘Well Done’ and who ‘Must Try Harder’?

Check out the new issue of E&T magazine online.

E&T: old school

E&T: old school

#Rosetta comet landing site identified – J marks the spot – an annotated infographic

September 16, 2014

Scientists have selected a landing site on the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for the first-ever comet landing attempt in November.

Dubbed ‘Site J’, the spot where the Philae lander carried by the Rosetta spacecraft will attempt to touch down lies on the head of the comet. The location was chosen from five candidate sites as part of a complicated evaluation process, which forced the engineers to many trade-offs.

“As we have seen from recent close-up images, the comet is a beautiful but dramatic world – it is scientifically exciting, but its shape makes it operationally challenging,” said Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

“None of the candidate landing sites met all of the operational criteria at the 100 per cent level, but Site J is clearly the best solution.”

Read the E&T news story about the Rosetta comet landing site in full online.

Click on either graphic for an expanded view.

Rosetta, coming to a comet near you

Rosetta, coming to a comet near you


All about Rosetta

All about Rosetta


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