Gadget

Cracked encryption? Back doors? Cellphone snooping may be easier than ever

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 31, 2013   View Article

How do you tap the cellphone of a German chancellor? While the particulars aren’t confirmed, experts think the allegations that National Security Agency spies have deployed clandestine antennas on the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Berlin and elsewhere around the world — capable of intercepting communications from virtually any cellphone, wireless network and satellite — are not only possible but pretty likely.

Noise-cancelling window sensor helps you enjoy this silence amid cacophony

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 14, 2013   View Article

The cacophony of any city’s hammering jack hammers, beeping buses, and relentlessly yacking citizens can make anyone long for an oasis of silence. Enter the Sono, a futuristic noise-canceling gadget that sticks on the window and turns even the noisiest of rooms into a chill place to think. The pebble-shaped device, a finalist in a prestigious design competition, serves as a reminder of the power of quiet.

“From time to time, I just want to escape the noisy world for a while to reset my mind,” Rudolf Stefanich, an industrial designer who created the Sono device while a graduate student at the University of Vienna in Austria, told NBC News in an email. The gadget was selected as a top-20 finalist for the annual James Dyson Award. The famous designer will hand pick and announce a winner on Nov. 7.

Hack a virus, win a prize: Scientist recognized for ‘useful’ germ modding

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 4, 2013   View Article

The inventor of a viral technology behind tomorrow’s electric car batteries, flexible touchscreen computers, and non-invasive cancer screening was awarded a $500,000 prize Tuesday.

Angela Belcher, a materials chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, alters the genetic code of viruses to build things that are useful to humans. The technique is already being harnessed to produce touchscreen gadgets and convert methane gas to gasoline, jet fuel, and plastics.

She received the 2013 Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors mid-career inventors who are dedicated to making the world a better place through technology.

Shoes could help charge artificial heart pumps

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 22, 2013   View Article

Cellphones, MP3 players and — one day — artificial heart pumps may get charged up as their owners walk or run around in a pair of electricity-generating shoes designed by college kids.

The shoes join a growing list of wearable energy-harvesting devices from a knee brace, and backpack to other shoes envisioned as a way to keep gadgets carried by everyone from soldiers in the field to kids on the go supplied with electricity.

Stretchable batteries are here! Power to the bendy electronics

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 26, 2013   View Article

The next frontier in electronics are the flexible, stretchable kind. Yes, that means a rubber, bouncy smartphone (eventually), but it also means heart monitors threaded into cardiac tissue. For devices like that to work, they require flexible, stretchable batteries. And such batteries are here, according to researchers who just published their work.

Coming soon: Atomic-scale, 2-D electronics

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 30, 2013   View Article

A world filled with teeny tiny two-dimensional electronic devices is a giant step closer thanks to a pioneering technique to make atom-thick patterns that combine a conductor and an insulator.

Conventional microelectronic devices have three basic parts; a metal to conduct electricity, semiconductor components and an insulator to protect the components from the free-flowing electricity.

Energy use plummets on Super Bowl Sunday, study finds

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 28, 2013   View Article

As millions of Americans huddle around TVs with friends and family this Sunday to watch the Super Bowl, they’ll neglect their laundry, skip vacuuming the carpet and abandon just about anything else that requires electricity, according to a new study. As a result, energy usage will plummet.

During the 2012 Super Bowl, which ranked as the most watched television broadcast in U.S. history with 111.3 million viewers, energy usage dropped 5 percent in the Western U.S. and 3.8 percent in the East, energy software company Opower reported.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach