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Smart Self-Service Scales 279

Roland Piquepaille writes "German researchers have developed intelligent self-service scales for supermarkets, able to recognize fruit or vegetables placed on them (photo). The scales automatically recognize the item being weighed and ask the customer to choose between only those icons that are relevant, such as various kinds of tomatoes. The scales are equipped with a camera and an image evaluation algorithm that compares the image of the item on the scale with images stored in its database. Store managers can add items to the database. The scales are now being tested in about 300 supermarkets across Europe."

The First Paper-Based Transistors 177

Roland Piquepaille found news of research out of Portugal that has resulted in the first paper-based transistors (the original article is less informative than Roland's blog). More precisely, they've made the first field effect transistors (FET) with a paper interstrate layer. According to the research team, such transistors offer the same level of performance as 'state-of-the-art, oxide-based thin film transistors produced on glass or crystalline silicon substrates.' Possible applications include disposable electronics devices, such as paper displays, smart labels, bio-applications or RFID tags. The research will be published in IEEE Electron Device Letters in September.

Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power 432

Roland Piquepaille writes "UK researchers have developed a prototype of a future giant rubber tube which could catch energy from sea waves. The device, dubbed Anaconda, uses 'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.' So far, the experiments have been done with tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 meters. But if the experiments are successful, future full-scale Anaconda devices would be 200 meters long and 7 meters in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 meters. An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."

New Sensor Finds Leaks in Spacecraft 115

Roland Piquepaille writes "With financial support from NASA, Iowa State University (ISU) engineers have developed a sensor to quickly find leaks in a spacecraft. This sensor locates an air leak by listening to the noise generated by the air rushing out of the leak and includes an array of 64 elements that detects vibrations as they radiate along the spacecraft. Because astronauts cannot hear the noise caused by escaping air, NASA needed to design a system to help them. As one ISU researcher said, 'NASA wants to be able to find these leaks. Fixing them is easy. But the question is, "Where is the leak?"' Now that this sensor has successfully been tested on the ground, NASA is evaluating a proposal to build a prototype of the leak detection system for future missions.

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