Lucas123 writes: Boeing announced that it has installed a first-of-its-kind 50MW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system on a naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif. The fuel cell system, which can scale to 400KW, is unique in that it uses solar power to generate hydrogen gas from seawater, which it then stores until power and it releases the gas into a fuel cell stack to produce electricity, heat and water. Because the system can both store energy and produce electricity, Boeing is calling the fuel cell system "reversible." The Navy's Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center is testing the fuel cell system on a microgrid to determine its viability for use at both remote bases and during overseas military missions.
Lucas123 writes: The world's largest solar power plant is now live and will eventually provide 1.1 million people in Morocco with power and cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year. Phase 1 of the Noor concentrated solar power (CSP) plant went live last week, providing 140 megawatts (MW) of power to Morocco. Phases 2 and 3 will be completed by 2018 when the plant is expected to generate more than 500MW of power. The Noor plant, located in south-central Morocco, will cover 6,178 acres and produce so much energy, that Morocco may eventually start exporting the clean energy to the European market.
Lucas123 writes: With the introduction of 3D or stacked NAND flash memory, non-volatile memory has for the first time surpassed the hard disk drives in density. This year, Micron revealed it had demonstrated areal densities in its laboratories of up to 2.77 terabits per square inch (Tbpsi) for its 3D NAND. That compares with the densest HDDs of about 1.3Tbpsi. While NAND flash may have surpassed hard drives in density, it doesn't mean the medium has reached price parity with HDDs — nor will it anytime soon. One roadblock to price parity is the cost of revamping existing or building new 3D NAND fabrication plant, which far exceeds that of hard drive manufacturing facilities, according to market research firm Coughlin Associates. HDD makers are also preparing to launch even denser products using technologies such as heat assisted magnetic recording.
Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.
Lucas123 writes: A start-up financial services company called Someone With Group has just completed a pilot of a crowdfunding service that allows hospitals to set up campaigns to help patients pay their medical expenses. The website, which is HIPAA compliant in terms of privacy and security, allows patients facing medical debts to inform family, friends and even strangers of their need for funds versus flowers or cards. The crowdfunding service also addresses a systemic debt issue in the healthcare industry. Each year, the U.S. healthcare industry writes off $40 billion in bad debt from unpaid medical bills. "Then you consider that $6 billion is spent on cards and flowers for patients every year. Why can't we redirect that money and put it into a debit instrument restricted to medical spending only?" said Jagemann-Bane, CEO of Someone With Group. One hospital group, Pinnacle Health Systems in Harrisburg, Penn., routinely writes off $40 million to $50 million a year in unpaid medical bills from patients. The hospital set up a crowdfunding site via Someone With Group and so far has seen a couple dozen patients use it. Bill Pugh, CFO of Pinnacle, said the crowdfunding service is a compassionate way to help patients deal with the burden of debt and it allows family and friends to offer something more than the typical thoughtful gesture for a patient. After a one-year pilot of the crowdfunding service, patients who've used it on average have raised $2,315.
Lucas123 writes: Health insurer Centene Corp. revealed that it is looking for six HDDs with information on 950,000 customers that went missing during a data project that was using laboratory results to improve the health outcomes of patients. The drives not only contain sensitive personal identification information, such as addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers, but they also contain health information. "While we don't believe this information has been used inappropriately," said Michael Neidorff, CEO of Centene.
Lucas123 writes: A new survey from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that 59% percent of Americans, if they were to buy a new handgun, are willing to purchase a smart gun. More surprisingly, the web-based survey of almost 4,000 people found that four in 10 gun owners and 56% of political conservatives would buy a smart gun. "The results of this study show that there is potentially a large commercial market for smart gun technology," said Julia Wolfson, a Ph.D candidate in Johns Hopkins Department of Health Policy and Management. "This has been one of the biggest arguments against smart guns, that people just don't want them. This research shows otherwise."
Lucas123 writes: A federal judge has denied a motion by Shutterfly to dismiss a civil case against it claiming it violated privacy laws by collecting and scanning face geometries from uploaded images without consent. The plaintiff in the case, Brian Norberg, alleges he was never a member of Shutterfly and that other people uploaded photos that included his image. Facebook faces a similar lawsuit for its photo "tag suggestions" feature, but there has as yet been no judgement in the case. In his Shutterfly case ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Norgle rejected the website's argument that only in-person scans of people's faces are covered under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, which states that no private entity may collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person's or a customer's biometric identifier or biometric information with out their consent.
Lucas123 writes: Smart gun developers have faced pushback from opponents who fear adoption will lead to mandates, but this week Pres. Obama embraced the technology creating the biggest customer of them all for the technology: the federal government. Obama directed the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology. He also instructed the departments to "review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety." Joel Moshbacher, a Rabbi from Mahwah, N.J. and national co-chair of Do Not Stand Idly By, a gun safety advocacy group that lobbied the president to invest $20 million in federal funding in smart gun tech, said the move this week is "a game changer." Moshbacher said smart gun developers he's spoken with need only a few million to move their prototypes to market, so $20 million would be a windfall for several developers. Donald Sebastian, senior vice president for research and development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), said federal dollars are the only way to advance the technology because of pushback by opposition groups. For example, when Armatix, a German startup, tried to introduce a smart handgun in the U.S. two years ago, it was met with vehement protests, including threats to burn down a Maryland store that was going to sell it. A second store in California that was carrying it also pulled it from its shelves citing pressure from those opposed to the tech.
Lucas123 writes: Indiegogo announced at CES today that is now has a crowdfunding site exclusively for big businesses, which often have hundreds of internal R&D projects or ideas that never see the light of day and could benefit from getting public exposure online. Companies such as Google, Anheuser-Busch, GE and Hasbro have already run crowdsourcing campaigns on a pilot of the new site in order to raise money for projects, garner customer ideas, or validate pre-retail products. In July, GE ran a campaign to prove market demand for a countertop nugget ice-making machine for the home. GE offered the Opal icemaker for $399 to early buyers on Indiegogo, with a future retail price of $499. GE's Opal icemaker project raised $2.64 million total from 6,177 contributions by the end of the 30-day Indiegogo campaign. The campaign also garnered 510,000 page views and 15,000 Facebook shares. Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, head of R&D for GE Appliances, said crowdsourcing allows development and marketing to be conducted at a fraction of the cost of a traditional R&D project. "If it flops, no worries. Upfront costs were some 20 times less than a traditional product rollout, which can cost tens of millions of dollars," Venkatakrishnan said. "If we're going to fail, we want to fail fast."
Lucas123 writes: Carmakers and their tier 1 parts suppliers at this year's CES in January are expected launch an unprecedented number of software advances centered around cloud services and over-the-air updates as the number of in-vehicle processors grow and consumers have come to expect their car to mimic smartphone functionality. As hardware becomes more of a commodity, increasingly cars will be defined by software. There will be about 464 automotive electronics exhibitors at this year's CES — a record number, according to IHS Automotive. Machine-human interface (HMI) will be a core technology at the show and augmented reality and virtual reality in the form of gesture recognition and heads up displays is expected to be among the most cutting-edge features on display. Cloud-based speech recognition technology that uses machine learning skills to identify speech patterns more quickly will also be more commonplace. One development the analysts said they're "crossing their fingers" to see at the show is Modular Infotainment Platforms, which allow carmakers to offer the latest electronic systems prior to a model launch. Today, car models are often launched with years-old electronics. Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto are also increasingly undermining the native [IVI] system makers business. Analyst believe all carmakers will eventually offer both APIs in future car models.
Lucas123 writes: Samsung has become the latest electronics company to create a division specifically for manufacturing parts for the automotive industry. South Korea's largest smartphone maker said it will begin manufacturing electronics with a specific focus on autonomous vehicles and infotainment systems. In October, General Motors announced a strategic partnership with South Korea's LG Electronics for it to produce a majority of the key components for GM's upcoming electric vehicle (EV), the Chevrolet Bolt. Having formerly balked at the automotive electronics market as too small, consumer computer chipmakers are now entering the space with fervor.
Dutch semiconductor maker NXP is closing an $11.8 billion deal to buy Austin-based Freescale, which makes automotive microprocessors. The combined companies would displace Japan's Renesas as the world's largest vehicle chipmaker. German semiconductor maker Infineon Technology has reportedly begun talks to buy a stake in Renesas. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said the industry is entering the age of "software-defined vehicles." There are easily 80 to 100 processors in a vehicle depending on their sophistication," Koslowski said. "Automotive software and hardware capabilities will become one of most sophisticated device platforms out there."
Lucas123 writes: A legacy of lackluster electronic security in healthcare and an increase in the amount of online patient data will lead to an increase in the number of consumers who will have their healthcare records compromised by cyberattacks in 2016, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights. The report, which includes 10 future predictions about the healthcare industry, also predicted that by 2018, cognitive computing would play an increasingly important role in helping physicians to identify the most effective treatment for 50% of patients resulting in a 10% reduction in mortality and a 10% cut in costs. Also by 2018, 30% of worldwide healthcare systems will employ real-time cognitive analysis to provide personalized care leveraging patient's clinical data, directly supported by clinical outcomes and "real world evidence" data — information pulled from patient studies and treatment results. That same year, IDC expects virtual healthcare and computer-assisted surgery to be the norm. Surgeons will use computer-assisted or robotic surgery techniques to assist in planning, simulating, and performing 50% of the most complex surgeries. Conversely, patients will be communicating with physicians via messaging, email and video chat sessions far more often, which will reduce costs and increase convenience.