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Machine Chameleon

A sneak peek inside the handheld of the future

12 min read
Illustration: Richard Tuschman
Illustration: Richard Tuschman

SPECIAL REPORT:
DO-IT-ALL DEVICES

Like the idea of a handheld device that can be any of 10 different gizmos, depending on your mood? You could soon have it if the ideas described in this two-part report become reality. In this article, Diederik Verkest of the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center in Leuven, Belgium, describes the chameleon-like handheld his lab has been working on.

By year-end 2005, U.S. consumers will have trashed some 130 million cellphones and another mountain of old PDAs, MP3 players, and game consoles. We could, of course, build bigger landfills to accommodate the billions of obsolete gizmos we throw away each year. But here's a much better idea: building a wireless multimedia device whose hardware and software can be easily altered or upgraded so it never becomes obsolete. When a new communications standard or multimedia format comes along, the device could be made to conform to it simply by downloading circuit and software modifications.

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This Idea Wasn't All Wet: The Sensing Water-Saving Shower Head Debuts

An engineer’s dinner-table invention is finally a consumer product

4 min read
A mounted and running showerhead that says oasense and has a blue light on it.
Oasense

For Evan Schneider, the family dinner table is a good place for invention. “I’m always, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this or that,’” he says, “and people would humor me.”

In 2012, with California in the midst of a severe drought, Schneider, then a mechanical engineering graduate student at Stanford University, once again tossed out a “cool idea.” He imagined a shower head that would sense when the person showering moved out from under the stream of water. The shower head would then automatically turn the water off, turning it back on again when the person moved back into range. With such a device, he thought, people could enjoy a long shower without wasting water.

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Can AI’s Recommendations Be Less Insidious?

Artificial intelligence has us where it wants us

5 min read
illustration of hand holding megaphone with different bubbles of computer widgets
iStock

Many of the things we watch, read, and buy enter our awareness through recommender systems on sites including YouTube, Twitter, and Amazon. Algorithms personalize their suggestions, aiming for ad views or clicks or buys. Sometime their offerings frustrate us; it seems like they don’t know us at all—or know us too well, predicting what will get us to waste time or go down rabbit holes of anxiety and misinformation. But a more insidious dynamic may also be at play. Recommender systems might not only tailor to our most regrettable preferences, but actually shape what we like, making preferences even more regrettable. New research suggests a way to measure—and reduce—such manipulation.

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Modeling Thermal Management Systems for Electronics

Learn how to model conjugate heat transfer in electronic devices with COMSOL Multiphysics

1 min read
Comsol

The ability to dissipate heat is one of the most important features of modern electronic devices and is usually a limiting factor in the miniaturization of these devices.

COMSOL Multiphysics includes functionality for heat transfer through conduction, convection, and radiation. Its ability to treat conjugate heat transfer, including laminar and turbulent flow as well as surface-to-surface radiation, has proven to be of great importance for the design and optimization of thermal management systems in electronics. Its multiphysics modeling capabilities also enable the study of thermoelectric effects as well as thermal–structural effects, such as thermal expansion.

In this webinar, we will demonstrate how to create models and apps for conjugate heat transfer in electronic devices. We will also give a general overview of the software’s capabilities for multiphysics modeling, including heat transfer as one of the modeled phenomena.

Register now for this free webinar!

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