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Saturday, September 19, 2020

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Turn up the music, dim the lights, bump up the thermostat and scare off intruders — and do it all from a single easy-to-use interface. Do it from halfway across the country if you need to. Smart homes have turned that fantasy into a reality, and the wireless revolution has made installation affordable for many homeowners.

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Smart-home components communicate with a central interface, whether it's a smartphone, a dedicated controller or a computer screen. They allow you to automate home functions and control them remotely. Many, such as smart thermostats, learn about your preferences from repeated use and adjust without your having to formally program them. Most systems are modular, meaning you can add functions down the road after you install the central brain.

 

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Toilets in the developing world are most commonly located over pits. Septic trucks are hired to pump out the sewage and carry it away. Too often, the dumping site for the sewage is a river, stream, bay, ocean, etc., with no further treatment whatsoever. This creates a huge problem. The sewage contaminates the drinking water, causing people to get sick. When pit latrines fill up, people have no choice but to defecate in the open. This ends up running into open drinking water.

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The Janicki Bioenergy Omni Processor - Model S100 started as a proof-of-concept project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013. It was originally designed to take in sewer sludge and primarily output electrical power. During the development, it became clear that making clean drinking water made the processor more economically viable, and a water treatment system was added. 

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A sun-powered cooker, a printer that 3D prints "skin", a wheelchair that lets disabled people stand upright and a bee prober are among the latest winners of the James Dyson Awards. The inventions are among those picked to represent various nations in the engineering prize. Their makers were challenged to "design something that solves a problem" More than 600 entries from 18 countries were entered into this year's competition. It was open to university level students and recent graduates.

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James Dyson Awarding James Roberts

The contest is run by the James Dyson Foundation, a charity created by the vacuum cleaner creator to help young people develop engineering skills. "The James Dyson Award provides a platform to showcase some of the very best new innovations in science, engineering and technology," said Dr William Webb, deputy president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology adding that "while some of the entries might not make it beyond the prototype stage, the award provides a crucial role in encouraging new engineering talent, which the UK and other countries around the world so desperately need."

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The DARPA Robotics Challenge(DRC) is a prize competition funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  The competition involves robot systems and software teams vying to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. It was designed to be extremely difficult.

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Carnegie Mellon University: CHIMP

Participating teams, representing some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world, are collaborating and innovating on a very short timeline to develop the hardware, software, sensors, and human-machine control interfaces that will enable their robots to complete a series of challenge tasks selected by DARPA for their relevance to disaster response. The DRC Finals will take place from June 5-6, 2015 at Fairplex in Pomona, California.

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Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a robot that can fold itself up from a flat sheet into a beetle-like, four-legged walking form.  

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It's not the first folding robot: Some of the same engineers and mathematicians who collaborated on this one have built other origami robots, including robotic bees. This one, however, is the first to be able to fold itself rather than being folded by a person. The innovation raise the potential of robots that can be stacked compactly, like so many mouse pads, and then flown into hostile environments—either battlefields or other planets—where they then can be left to self-assemble.