LONDON--The same technology that exterminated the roller-ball computer mouse will claim another casualty soon: the four-way rocker switch that lets people point and click on countless mobile phones.
So asserts Jeff Raynor, principal technologist of ST Microelectronics' imaging division and a designer of the image sensors at the heart, or rather in the eyes, of optical mice. He spoke at the Image Sensors Europe conference here.
What will extinguish the rocker switch? What Raynor calls the "fingermouse"--a small, smooth pad you can sweep your finger over to direct a mouse pointer on a screen. Some newer BlackBerry phones sport the devices.
Fingermice use exactly the same image sensors as optical mice, but they're mounted upside-down, pointing upward toward a finger rather than downward toward a desk. The sensors take 400-pixel images, then recognize the movement of features in the photo sequence--desk irregularities or fingerprints, for example--to gauge motion.
Raynor's company makes silicon-chip image sensors for optical mice, so one shouldn't be surprised by his enthusiasm, but he is in a position to know what he's talking about.… Read more
LONDON--Every researcher from Isaac Newton on knows well the advantages of seeing farther by standing on the shoulders of giants. Some Swedish researchers, though, are seeing better by standing on the shoulders of tropical bees.
A Swedish start-up called NocturnalVision wants to help cameras see in the dark better. To do so, it took inspiration from Megalopta genalis, the bee, and other insects active at night, Henrik Malm, a professor at Sweden-based Lund University and co-founder of the start-up, said in a talk at the Image Sensors Europe conference here.
The researchers are working to address a common problem with … Read more
What a stressful society we live in. Besides creating a culture in which people thrive on pressure and anxiety, we now spend time and money measuring just how stressed out we feel. Enter the electronic stress assistant, which researchers at ETH Zurich's Electronics Laboratory believe could be the magic bullet to reducing stress.
But first, you need to be in a state of stress before it can tell you you're stressed. So it's a bit of a double-whammy, ain't it? That said, the researchers admit that while initial tests on 30 subjects have proved promising, with … Read more
People are flocking to a new generation of smartphones with rich applications, high-powered Web browsers, and large touch screens. What those products lack, though, is a camera that's equally transformative.
A start-up called InVisage expects to change that for consumers next year with a new approach to digital camera image sensors. Its technology, called QuantumFilm, is four times more efficient at capturing light than traditional silicon-based image sensor chips, meaning the company's sensors will offer either higher sensitivity in low light or more megapixels in resolution.
"With a tiny smartphone 3-megapixel sensor, we could make that a … Read more
An engineering professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia is developing an acoustic resonant sensor smaller than a human hair to test bodily fluids for a variety of diseases, including breast and prostate cancers.
The real-time sensor uses micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (M/NEMS) to detect diseases in bodily fluids, and can be integrated with small circuits instead of bulky data-reading and analyzing equipment.
"Many disease-related substances in liquids are … Read more
A new version of Bluetooth has been revealed by the industry group behind the wireless technology, which is targeting low-energy applications in the health care, fitness, and security markets.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced the adoption of Bluetooth Core Specification version 4.0 on Thursday. The new iteration follows the speed-centric version 3.0 of the Bluetooth specification by just 10 months, but the two versions are intended for different use cases.
"With today's announcement, the race is on for product designers to be the first to market," Bluetooth SIG chief Michael Foley said in a … Read more
If you're the type who mandates a unique password for every Web account, you've got a lot of memorizing to do. EgisTec, a data encryption and biometrics technology company, is manufacturing a fingerprint sensor that eliminates the need to type any password.
Although the Taipei, Taiwan-based company is predominantly known for its data-deletion software, Shredder, the present focus is on its fingerprint solution for cell phones, laptops, cars, and other devices that might benefit from increased personal security.
EgisTec's know-how of software and hardware production helps in the creation of technology that manufacturers can easily integrate into … Read more
In case you haven't noticed, "green" is big business. One way for HDTV makers to cash in on the public's craving for efficiency is to label a TV "eco-friendly." Sony's KDL-VE5 series does just that, but unlike a lot of so-called green electronics, this TV can actually save power in a new, potentially very effective way. That's because it incorporates a "presence sensor" that can automatically turn the picture off when it detects nobody's watching.
Amazingly, the feature worked pretty well in our tests, and we hope to see … Read more