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Next-Gen Sensors Make Golf Clubs, Tennis Rackets, and Baseball Bats Smarter Than Ever

Sensor fusion and integrated MEMS are essential tools for today’s athletes

10 min read
Hunter Mahon photo: Dylan Coulter; Data Graphics: John Le Pore
Hunter Mahon photo: Dylan Coulter; Data Graphics: John Le Pore

A golfer stands in the dreaded sand trap, carefully considering how to balance his weight as he eyes the ball. He takes a few practice swings. If he swings too deeply, he’ll hit the ground and lose another stroke. It’s a tough shot, but he swings without hesitation. Embedded in his club are microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices—tiny machines with elements about the thickness of a human hair. These devices aren’t going to swing the club for him, but he’s been using them to analyze his swing and practice this shot. Maybe this time he’ll make it.

The wild popularity of smartphones and wearables has been driving down the cost of MEMS devices, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and pressure sensors. These minuscule chips help to count steps, track calories burned, and monitor heart rate. Such data are useful, sure, but while these devices may nudge users to be more active, they don’t actually improve a swing, a punch, or a kick. To do so means moving sensors off the wrist and into sports gear—and that’s quickly happening. Indeed, you can now buy sensor-based equipment that can boost your performance, not only for golf but also for tennis, baseball, boxing, and soccer.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Get the Rohde & Schwarz EMI White Paper

Learn how to measure and reduce common mode electromagnetic interference (EMI) in electric drive installations

1 min read
Rohde & Schwarz

Nowadays, electric machines are often driven by power electronic converters. Even though the use of converters brings with it a variety of advantages, common mode (CM) signals are a frequent problem in many installations. Common mode voltages induced by the converter drive common mode currents damage the motor bearings over time and significantly reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Download this free whitepaper now!

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