From face recognition on our phones to Alexa virtual assistants — our lives are being fundamentally revolutionised by waves of new tech. We are developing smart cities, littering roads and traffic systems with sensors to monitor carbon monoxide levels and push traffic along, and our vehicles are soon to be autonomous. In the business world, new innovations are automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks, creating efficiencies and enhanced productivity never previously imagined.
But whilst hyper-connectivity and the Internet of Things produce a myriad of benefits, they also leave us more vulnerable to an increasingly sophisticated cyber-threat landscape.
The Internet is one of the most revolutionary technologies ever developed, producing a level of hyper-connectivity that has fundamentally changed the way we behave. Unfortunately, this connectivity is also the Internet’s greatest weakness. Trishank Karthik Kuppusamy, Chief Security Solutions Engineer at Datadog, Inc. talks us through the security landscape and outlines how new software developments can help to keep drivers safe on the roads.
Kodama is a new platform launching today (6th June) on Kickstarter that allows people to intuitively express their imagination in 3D environments. The first commercial use of the technology, Kodama3DGo, will allow kids – or adults with a taste for imagination – to create in three dimensions by moving the 3DGo controller with their hands.
We sat down with Charles Leclercq, Founder and Director at Kodama, to learn more about where the technology started.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of a festival crowd, dancing away to the most dynamic names in music. 50-foot fireballs are exploding into the air, audience members are being abducted by acrobatic performers and luminescent creatures are swooping from the sky. Oh, and imagine that you’re looking up at a 50-tonne mechanical spider.
Arcadia is a performance art collective renowned for engineering mechanical monsters that they use as large-scale performance spaces. Perhaps the most recognisable of these is The Spider, a 360-degree structure built from recycled materials. Created by sculptors, engineers, painters and pyrotechnicians, the arachnid is an experiential dance stage for festival attendees.
We are pleased to introduce a new judge to the QEPrize judging panel: Jinghai Li. Professor Li established the Energy-Minimization Multi-Scale (EMMS) model for gas-solid systems. Currently, he works to promote the concept of mesoscience based on the EMMS principle of compromise in competition as an interdisciplinary science. We spoke to Professor Li to find out more about him.
What do you consider to be the most important innovation of the last 100 years?
I think the most important innovation has been information technology, which has lead significant changes in social life and human behaviours, such as in communication and computation.
Why is it so important that we attract young people into the field of engineering? What motivates you to be an advocate for young engineers?
At the moment, research paradigm in science and engineering is changing very quickly, calling for new knowledge and new conceptual input. We need young engineers because they are more open to be involved in this change.
The evolution of music creation has always been rife with controversy and resistance. Take the words of early 20th century classical guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia.
“Electric guitars are an abomination, whoever heard of an electric violin? An electric cello? Or for that matter an electric singer?”
But as Segovia probably knew; breaking barriers and ruffling feathers is the backbone of art and music. As with evolution of technology in any industry, the sea of change pays no respect to protests from the old guard. These days, electric violins, cellos and even singers are commonplace. As for electric guitars? Last year over one million electric guitars were sold in the US.
Electronically displayed information is everywhere; smartphones, laptops, TV, advertising billboards, wearables… the list of devices we use goes on and on. These displays are mostly based on either liquid crystal (LCD) or organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology. These are great technologies, but they are not without limitations. We have all experienced the poor readability of a phone screen in sunlight and short battery life, largely due to the high power consumption of the display. Recent research has also shown that evening use of these light-emitting devices can negatively affect sleep and next-morning alertness.
So how can we design the next generation of displays to address these issues? A promising approach is to develop displays which can reflect natural ambient light or room lights to illuminate the screen, rather than using the powerful backlighting used in LCDs. Deployed in eReader devices, reflective displays provide vastly improved power consumption and outdoor readability. But this current form of reflective display technology cannot render good colour, nor deliver video rate refresh rates – a major limiting factor to wider application.
Immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality are currently taking the world by storm. Over the past three years, we’ve seen a huge interest in immersive technologies from the likes of advertising agencies, games developers, construction companies and more…
Immersive technology is not a new concept. Experimentation with virtual and augmented reality has been taking place since the 1960s, hidden inside research facilities across the world. The Sword of Damocles is considered by most to be one of the first virtual reality headsets. Built by Ivan Southerland and Bob Sproull in a laboratory at MIT, it was a large and somewhat dystopian looking device. The device was so heavy that it had to mounted to a mechanical arm attached to the ceiling when in use.