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Reach Out and Touch Somebody--by Laser

A laser-based haptics system lets you feel distant objects

3 min read

11 March 2009—A few years from now, young Jane, returning home from a school trip to the Smithsonian, might excitedly tell her mom, ”Guess what? I touched the Hope Diamond today,” while brother John shouts, ”That’s nothing! I touched a Neanderthal skull.” These are the kind of scenarios Hiroaki Yano, associate professor in the department of intelligent interaction technologies at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, is working to realize.

Yano, 39, has spent the past 15 years (including obtaining his Ph.D. in engineering) working in the field of haptics, the study of sensing and manipulation of objects through touch. For the past year he has led a research group developing a handheld haptic device for sensing unreachable or untouchable objects and is due to report details of the device next week at the IEEE-sponsored 2009 World Haptics Conference in Salt Lake City.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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