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Project Ara: Google Wants Your Phone to Go to Pieces

Google’s modular smartphone will let users swap parts like screens and cameras on the fly

8 min read
Project Ara: Google Wants Your Phone to Go to Pieces
Illustration: Matthew Hollister

The modern smartphone is a masterpiece of adaptability. It lets you talk, snap photos, and tote around sprawling media collections. Downloadable apps let you do lots of other things, too, like track your workouts, monitor your diet, or remix a song. There’s even an app that helps you find hidden treasure, thanks to software that turns your device into a metal detector using the magnetic-field sensors that make up your smartphone’s compass.

But don’t let this apparently awesome adaptability bamboozle you. For all its vaunted versatility, a smartphone is still only as good as its hardware. Though hundreds of new apps appear every day, your phone’s hardware is unchangeable beyond perhaps the option of swapping in a more spacious memory card.

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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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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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