The future of user interfaces seems to be gesture-based, at least if one simply looks at where research dollars are flowing and what products--yes, like the Kinect--are coming to market. But the peripheral is not dead. Jinha Lee at the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab sees a different future, one that dispenses with gravity to create a much more tangible yet futuristic UI that lets users move and interact with floating, gravity-defying objects in 3-D space.
Half a century ago, vacuum tubes were very common in audio amplifiers. A small voltage applied to the grid of a vacuum tube controls a relatively large current that drives the electromagnet in a speaker, creating movement and thereby sound. Modern solid-state amps are superior in cost, size and reliability, but many people still prefer the warm sound and mesmerizing orange-yellow glow of a tube amp.
Call it another victory for German design. Researchers in Dresden have set a new world record for the strongest magnetic field ever manufactured at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory Dresden (HZDR). Using a two-layer, 440-pound copper coil the size of a water bucket, they managed to coax 91.4 teslas from their creation for just a few milliseconds, surpassing the previous record of 89 teslas.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.