Monday, March 18, 2013

Engineers day - In memory of a great Engineer

Engineers of India celebrate September 15 as 'Engineers Day' in memory of a great Engineer. Yes, it is none other than Sir Visvesvarayya, renowned engineer, scholar and statesman. The nation recognized his contributions by awarding the prestigious title  Bharatha Ratna. Campus Josh salutes this great personality on his 151st birthday for his great contribution in the construction process of new India.
Sir Visvesvarayya was borne as Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya in 1861 at Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura at Karnataka. He was instrumental in the construction of Krishna Raja Sagara dam on the Kaveri River near Mysore. His skills were used in the construction of several other dams in the Bombay presidency. His brilliance, skill, honesty and dedication in harnessing water resources along with other faculties were visible in those dams. The fact that they are still functioning properly for the routine life of current Maharashtra adds a great value to his abilities.

He was a notable statesman and served as the Dewan of Mysore State during the period of 1912 to 1919 when Krishna Deva Raja iv was in power. During the period of his reign as Dewan Sir MV designed and materialized the all-round development of the Karnataka region. When, the construction of K.R.Sagar dam, Brindavan Gardens, Bhadravati Iron and Steel Works, Mysore Sandalwood Oil Factory etc presented him a golden crown , the foundation of Bank of Mysore added a feather on his golden crown.
It's true that his contributions stand out, but we also need to acknowledge that there are other engineers who have done several contributions for the country. Then what makes the engineering community to observe Engineer’s day on M.S.V's birthday? The answer is “his life was his message”. To explain this, let’s have a quick visit on one of the incidents of his life where we can see MV’s generosity and his commitment to the nation.
The incident was during the period of MV’s service in Mysore as a Dewan. Overseeing the commitment and efficiency of the Dewan, Maharaja's secretary  recommended a salary hike to visvesvaraya . MV denied the proposal with an apology and contributed all his salary to establish Sri Jayachamaraja Polytechnic Institute of Bangalore. It was a like a dream come true for him.- ie to start an institute where boys can learn some profession." It is true that there are a lot of engineers who have made better technological contributions for the nation, whereas there is only one Visvesvarayya who could spend his entire salary for the future generations of engineers.

Sir M Visvesvarayya was instrumental in the Making of Modern Mysore. He worked towards the distribution of education to everyone irrespective of class, creed or caste. His aim was to prepare people to abandon blind beliefs. He envisioned a Mysore where science and technology bring revolutionary changes. He always tried to emphasize that the term modern did not require to give up our own culture. He made it clear that the country needs to adopt science and technology without leaving the grand tradition and culture of the nation.  He was the incarnation of discipline and hard work. He was never late by a minute and he never wasted a minute. He was also a man of spotless honesty.

Visvesvaraya was a genius, once he said, "The curse of our country is laziness. At first sight everyone seems to be working. But in fact, one man works and the others watch him. As someone said with contempt, 'it looks as if five men are working but really, only one-man works. One man will be doing nothing. One man will be resting. Another man will be watching them. Yet another man will be helping these three." His judgment about work was on the basis of the output produced. In 1955 Visvesvaraya was made a 'Bharata Ratna', the Gem of India for his unparalleled contributions.

FOLED: Flexible OLED

We always envisaged LED's for indicator lamps, though scientists extended the scope of LEDs for lighting with visible, ultraviolet and infrared waves of very high brightness. Many of us might not even imagined further reach of LED's till this day, when we heard about the introduction of an organic light emitting diode (OLED) which is an emissive electroluminescent layer, a film of organic compounds that emit light in response to an electric current. As the technology always kept us run with advanced models, almost all of us expected another excitement soon, and here we have a great news that may poke out all our imaginations along with usage- the introduction of new flexible organic light emitting diode (FOLED).
A flexible organic light emitting diode (FOLED) is an advanced OLED, which is being incorporated with a flexible plastic substrate on which the electroluminescent organic semiconductor is wedged to make the device able to be bent or rolled when still in operation. In effect, an FOLED is a "rollable display". As these devices are very durable and light weighted, they can be used in mobile phones and PDAs which can stand breakage, a major ground for return or repair. With the discovery of thinner and lighter FOLED, we can expect the introduction of lighter and smaller cell phones, portable computers, wall-mounted televisions and other such products. To add joy to those who like to be dressed well, these foldable OLED displays can be sewn into fabrics for "smart" clothing, such as outdoor survival clothing with an integrated computer chip, cell phone, GPS receiver and OLED display sewn into it.
As the product is still under research and development at  Universal Display Corporation, the FOLEDs are experimented to be manufactured on a variety of substrates. Flexible organic light emitting diodes built on optically-clear plastic films and thin bendable metallic foils are currently under development. These displays are made to bend, flex and adjust to many surfaces. This indicate on the possibility that FOLEDs may be found affixed to curved on surfaces such as helmet face shields, shirtsleeve cuffs and automotive instrument panels.
The flexibility of FOLEDs can be an added advantage for the much talked Universal Communication Device, which is  under development with Universal Display Corporation. Now, the devices under design with this technology are cell phones that conforms to the shape of our hand or a portable DVD player that has a curved surface to make better viewing experience. Cost-effective processing is another significant factor that makes the FOLED technology to have prospects for high-throughput. The anticipated roll-to-roll processing (R2R) of FOLEDs in the future provide the ground for their truly low-cost mass production.  

The first commercial product in FOLED was launched by Sony in May 2010.  LG.Philips LCD declared the development of a 4-inch full-colour flexible active matrix (AM) OLED in the same month,  in cooperation with Universal Display Corporation (UDC), which holds the original patents for phosphorescent OLED (PH OLED) technology. The 4-inch full-color flexible AM OLED display of LG.Philips LCD characterises 320×240 QVGA resolution. It is waited to reproduce 16.77 million colours at a time. The world largest flexible Amoled with an WVGA 800x480 pixel resolution is showcased by Samsung.

Let’s think of robots who can cook even eggs now

Can you think of a machine, which can hold a fragile egg without breaking it? Even robots with sensory components were not expected to deal frail substances with delicacy, as they were lacking the quality which is referred as "thin-skinned". Technology is that extravaganza that says ‘yes’ to all those ‘no’s of the common world. In this instance, the miracle is initiated by the engineers at UC Berkeley who have formulated an electronic material from semiconductor nanowires which are pressure-sensitive and could be an answer for all the questions on the touching sense of robots.

Scientists were on a struggle to design robotic devices that are able to adjust the measure of power required to hold and function various objects. The newly discovered pressure-sensitive materials are projected to master that serious problem. The UC Berkeley engineers detected a mode to produce bantam "nanowires" from a silicon-germanium alloy. These nanowires are planned to be formed on the exterior of a cylindrical drum, which can then be rolled around a viscous film, to stick the wires in a consistent model.

The approximation of the entire discovery is evident in the words of Mr. Ali Javey, the head of the UC Berkeley’s artificial skin developing research team while he said "The idea is to have a material that functions like the human skin, which means incorporating the ability to feel and touch objects".  The research team refers the thin skin as “e-skin" and title it as the foremost material created out of inorganic single crystalline semiconductors. Apart from using it in Robotics technology, these nanowires are anticipated to restitute the sensory faculty of touch to patients of prosthetic limbs that needs substantial improvements in the consolidation of electronic sensors with the nervous system of human beings as well.
All the former efforts to produce an artificial skin with flexible organic materials failed because the poor semi conductivity of organic materials.  The electronic devices built out of organic materials would need high voltage electricity to function the circuitry, where as the inorganic materials like crystalline silicon, have splendid electrical dimensions and thus can work even in low power. Inorganic materials are chemically stable as well. The highly figured basic nature of inorganic materials is inflexibility and easiness to crack. The new discovery has proved that inorganic nanowires of very small size can be formed highly flexible.

To construct the e-skin, the engineers made the nanowires of size 18-by-19 pixel square matrix with a length of 7 centimeters on each of its sides. Each of these pixels comprised a transistor made of numerous semiconductor nanowires. These Nanowire transistors are then incorporated with a pressure sensitive rubber situated on top to furnish the sensing practicality. The UC Berkeley engineers employed a groundbreaking manufacturing technique that executes like a reverse lint roller where nanowire "hairs" are deposited in it, instead of picking up fibers in a lint roller. Now, the days are not very far where a robot could unload the dishes without breaking the wine glasses during the process.

Straddling Bus: Bus runs in between cars and flyover

Public transportation system is one of the rudimentary elements of necessitated infrastructure for the development of any great civilization. Buses and trains are the most popular forms of public traveling, however we mainly reckon on buses for both urban transportation and remote area transportation. The transportation of almost all the cities around the globe are enthralled with subways as well as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit).  The entire system seems to be messed up with traffic as BRT sorbs a plenty of road spaces and causes noise pollution whereas the construction of subway is a very expensive as well as tedious process.

Waiting in the heavy traffic during the office hours might have led you to the daydream of having a vehicle that can fly above all the cars and buses, and can stop just in front of your office. Can you believe?, your daydream come true with Straddling Bus. It is a more comfortable alternative and is an environmental-friendly public transportation developed by Chinese company Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd. The bus can cut down traffic jams by 20-30% is being introduced in the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo this year. When compare it with other conventional buses, it is faster, cheaper as well as greener. The bus is expected to be on the roads of Beijing’s Mentougou District soon. The exhibited model of straddling bus has similar features like a subway or light-rail train mounting up the road.

The straddling bus needs to have a separate path to travel. The bus and path are designed in the middle of the car’s path and the flyover above. You can see a straddling bus above the car and below the flyover and thus saving the road space. The bus has a height of 4-4.5 meters and has two levels. Passengers get on the topmost level when normal vehicles with a height lesser than 2 meters let the passengers to enter through the ground level. The model can carry an approximate number of 1200-1400 passengers at a time. It can speed up to 60 km/h without hindering the way of any other vehicles and is impelled by electricity and solar energy.

The exclusive path for the bus lets it to have a faster movement so that no other vehicles come along its route and hinder its speed. As it is really special as well as well-situated anyone can think of it having a very high price, don’t they? But, the cost of building the bus and 40-km-long path for it is 500 million yuan which is only 10% of building equivalent subway. The price and effort for a straddling bus is less than constructing underground trains as well. Unlike underground trains, the proposed path for straddling bus does not require any extra space. We can build it along with our current roads as it is built-in between the paths of cars and overpass. Lets hope for the light to come here in our cities also as the new invention is expected to bring easiness in Chinese roads.

SLM- New technology to construct Aircraft engine components

The most recent growth in technology had grown to a greater extend that aircraft components with a complex shape can have a quick manufacture with selective laser melting in a cost effective way. This is one of the latest discoveries known by the name FANTASIA project carried out by the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and is sponsored by the European Union. The introductory presentation of this new technology was being done on 5 to 7 May 2010 at International Laser Technology Congress AKL’10 in the German City of Aachen. The invention came like a gift for the Fraunhofer ILT, from the member researchers on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

Unlike in the case of engines of other vehicles both in land as well as water, the engineers who are engaged in the design and development of aircraft engines will have to face major challenges in each and every assignment they are into. The components of an aircraft engine must be very light in weight and should perform under extreme temperature as well as pressure conditions.  Sometimes they need to withstand temperatures such as 2000°C and also should perform a very fast rotation in each second such as 1000 times per second. These extreme conditions restrict the researchers to take enough freedom while they are in the process of design and development of aircraft engine components.

The new invention made by the researchers at the German based Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is on the basis of the method selective laser melting (SLM). This method keeps in line of the chassis of the aircraft engine components on a powder-based material platform that is constructed on a layer by layer structure. The technology used in this selective laser melting (SLM) is very similar to the technology we use in a computer printer. In it, the computer brings forth a design of the data for the planned part, and then metal powder is applied in those planned areas of the substrate. After applying the metal powder it is made to melt by using a high-power laser beam to constitute a permanent bond with the completed object components of the engine. This technology is proved to be grandeur as the quality of the aircrafts components manufactured with this method is greater than those made with conventional methods.

Apart from building new aircraft components, it also can be used to repair the damaged engine components .The newly invented technology can be utilized not only to construct a new set of components for an aircraft engine, but, it also can be employed to repair the damaged parts of the old aircraft engines. This three dimensional computer printing technology in aircraft engine manufacturing process is more easy when compare it to the conventional processes such as milling or casting. “This also permits the kinds of geometries and designs we once could only dream of.” commented Dr. Konrad Wissenbach of ILT. His words give a fairer picture of the potential of this latest technology. The time required to manufacture the engine components with this along with other laser technologies saved almost 40% lesser than the conventional methods. This will also bring through 50% material costs as well as 40% repair costs when compare it with the traditional ways of producing the aircraft engine components. 

Even though SLM seems to have a superior approach, it does not suit with all the materials of turbine construction. It gives a top performance with Inconel 718, a nickel-based super alloy, as well as titanium alloys. The researchers hope to make it compactable with other fissure-prone materials. They expect to find methods to reseal the cracks in the engine during use by using melting or molding. To make it done these researchers are making several experiments by using different parameters. They try it with varying laser output power, beam geometry and the structure strategy. The product quality is expected to be improved by the effects brought out through the preheating of construction-platform. Along with the product quality, the productivity of the method also needs to be taken care of so that larger components can be manufactured faster than they are now. The comment of Mr. Wissenbach shows the expectation of the team of researchers. He said, “This is an area where we can combine a larger beam diameter for large surfaces with a smaller diameter for the contours,” “By doing this, we want to increase our speeds by a factor of ten.”

InstaLoad: A complete answer for your battery related issues.

Your mouse ceased working during an important online test? To restitute, you should replace the battery. The process by following the subprograms of +
or - direction demands a large chunk of your time. Microsoft understands such situations and introduces InstaLoad™, a new technology for people like you.

An InstaLoad™ technology, designed batteries in a way that they can be positioned inside the device in direction irrespective of +ve or –ve sides. This technology will bring you into more convenience when you use an instrument that has multiple batteries or, your device calls for frequent switching of batteries. InstaLoad™ is very much relevant with machines, that get damaged with an wrong insertion of batteries. This technology is a better sales tool for battery controlled device manufacturers, as it extends an efficient customer experience. You can use InstaLoad™ technology with almost all types of batteries such as AA, AAA, C and D and other cylindrical form factor batteries either disposable or rechargeable, irrespective of its size.

Rather than having a complicated electronics, InstaLoad™ uses a mechanical contact design, with a positive and negative contacts at both the ends whereas other popular batteries engage a design with a single and opposing contact at each ends. The InstaLoad™ batteries can be an added benefit for products such as Portable lighting, flashlights, battery chargers, toys, consumer electronics, mice and keyboards, and all other battery operated devices.

If you want to have access to the use of the made out patent and patent applications and a detailed technical guide on the InstaLoad battery installation technology you can get it. Microsoft offers sensible licensing terms for this really valuable product. Once a company gets the Microsoft commercial license for the InstaLoad, it can use the InstaLoad Logo on the packaging and marketing materials of these batteries. 

Can you think of an Internet with100 fold speed?

Internet has simplified life by facilitating the world to become a small village, where we can have access to the life of from any part of the globe. What if this ‘accessing power’ becomes 1000 fold than it is today? Yes, life is easier now with the invention of a new network topology by a group of MIT researchers.
The new topology is proved to be delivering the Internet with a 100 or 1,000 times ‘accessing speed’. The core technology of internet lies in the span of high capacity optical fibers across the globe. The controlling routers cannot process optical signals of varying wavelength that come from different direction simultaneously, so they store these signals by converting them into electrical signals and vice versa after processing- a time consuming process.
 “Flow switching” the concept of MIT professor Vincent Chan found solution to save both time and energy. Chan’s technology emphasizes the idea of converting these fibers into unidirectional pathways. That means a single fiber will be carrying the signals of same wavelength and from the same direction, avoiding the queue of data from different direction. So, there may not be much traffic as well as saving of data and substantial saving of both time and energy.
The MIT has invested around 20 years for this invention. To implement the plan, it needs to replace large numbers of routers with new, optical-only models, which can prove to be very pricey. But it can be an addition for bandwidth-intensive applications.

Mozilla introduces Firefox 3.6.4 with Craft Protection

Mozilla Corporation, the producer of Mozilla Firefox, the free and open source browser announced the release of Firefox 3.6.4, the most novel edition of the popular web browser. Even though the company kept the entire world waiting it for quite a long time, the final product came out with a very big addition in the security part. The new version protects the browser from crashing due to third-party plugins, particularly Adobe Flash.

The modified version of the browser, that is available with dozens of glitch fixes and stability upgrades is again free and can be downloaded from the website of Mozilla. Firefox crash protection is the most attractive factor that will entice an average user of the browser. This crash protection is an outstanding characteristic of Google Chrome as well.

This innovative engineering of crash protection employs out-of-process plugins technology to execute third-party add-ins such as Flash, QuickTime, and Silver light in a freestanding process. Till the previous version of Firefox, a plugin crash could let down the total browser software, where as now, with the addition of crash protection, the browser will keep executing till disabling the plugins and the websites controlling it. After providing the complete protection, the browser will only demand you to restart or refresh the plugins.

The most flexible browser with a crash protection is available only for Windows, and Linux operating systems users. Mac OSX users should wait for a little bit longer to have access to this crash protection. The Mozilla Corporation promises it to be accessible for Mac users in Firefox 4, which is expected to have a debut by the end of the year. The company states that the Firefox program necessitates major alterations, to make it suitable to work in the Mac OSX. This can be a preparing period for apple software.


Robonaut is a project intentional to create a humanoid robot which can function as an equivalent to humans during extra-vehicular activity in space such as ‘space walks’. When social experts are exploring the question of ethics and behavior of Robots, the science move further to develop robots as a good companion for human beings, who can help us in dangerous tasks.  Encyclopedia Britannica defines a robot as "any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner". The developments in the robotic science made physically anthropomorphic robots. We expected them to do, and so programmed them to do all those hazardous jobs which are dangerous for human life and health. So the frequency of ‘robots in action’ was very high in fields such as medical and automotive.  They are found to be very much useful in Space explorations also.
The current space faring robots are mainly programmed to move large objects, like a crane. But the recent innovations of scientists in NASA are giving more concentration on the formulation of robots that are more flexible and can involve skillful physical movements especially with the hands. The scientists expect them to work along-side astronauts, rather than just obeying their instructions. The appointed robonaut project has been launched by NASA in its Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA, along with many partners that include DARPA, gave life to the first series of Robonauts (R1A and R1B). Since 2007, NASA is working together with General Motors, for the next series of Robonauts- R2A and R2B.
R2 or Robonaut2, currently a prototype will be getting in its full-fledged form to be tested "in-doors" on STS-133 targeted for launch 16 September 2010 to the ISS, international space station. R2 will be the first human-like robot to space and will be a permanent resident of the International Space Station .The previous series of Robonaut was to be work as an end-effector for the robotic arm on the International Space Station. R1 was a substitute to human extravehicular activity such as external maintenance on the station. The leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies are expected to help the future robots to assist astronauts to undertake hazardous space missions. The new prototype R2 is adequate to move its arms up to 2 m/s and holds a 40 lb payload capacity. Each hands of R2 have a grasping force of around 5 lbs per finger. More than 350 numbers of sensors are used to create R2.

R2 will get provided with important intermediate environment, during its testing inside the destiny laboratory of International Space Station. The Robonaut will be subjected to undergo tests with microgravity and station's radiation and electromagnetic interference environments. The operations within the station will make R2 to perform better as a Robot who can work side-by-side with astronauts. The astronauts will be provided with enough tools to upgrade the R2 with both hardware and software while it is in the station operations. So, new tasks and new needs will become familiar for R2 with the help of astronauts. Currently R2 is going through extensive testing to make it prepare for the flight. The tests of Vibration, vacuum and radiation testing along with other procedures are also being conducted on it to make it suitable for both earth and space operations. General Motors prepares itself to use the technologies from R2 in future advanced vehicle safety systems and manufacturing plant applications.

The current prototype has a weight of 300-pounds and comprises of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands. R2 will be tested for its operations in weightlessness, once aboard the station by the astronauts. The Robonaut is confined to operate within the Destiny laboratory of the ISS. When launched, R2 will be enclosed within the station; it will get allocated with the work outside the station with future enhancements and modifications. R2 is a dream come true for science and a beginning of the future generation of robots, both in space and on earth. General Motors is planning to use R2 to build safer cars and plants. Both in earth and space, R2 will undertake roles as companions of human beings, unlike the previous robotic role as ‘replacements’. Once installed in its proper way R2 will take in charge of key supporting roles within the station.
General Motors also aims a lot on the research going on to create R2. Their expectation on R2 was evident in the words of Alan Taub, vice president of GM's global research and development, when he said "The extreme levels of testing R2 has undergone as it prepares to venture to the International Space Station are on par with the validation our vehicles and components go through on the path to production,".  "The work done by GM and NASA engineers also will help us validate manufacturing technologies that will improve the health and safety of our GM team members at our manufacturing plants throughout the world. Partnerships between organizations such as GM and NASA help ensure space exploration, road travel and manufacturing can become even safer in the future”, he added.

The comments on the project by the leaders of the company itself are witnessing the effectiveness of R2.  John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office said today that “This project exemplifies the promise that a future generation of robots can have both in space and on Earth, not as replacements for humans but as companions that can carry out key supporting roles. The combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect example of the sum equaling more than the parts. It will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today.”  Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate commented that
"This cutting-edge robotics technology holds great promise, not only for NASA, but also for the nation,"  As NASA and General Motors are pursuing it, let’s wait and see what miracle an R2 brings into the future of the mankind.