Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Facebook announced that it is grounding a solar-powered aircraft project it originally hoped would have used laser technology to help provide Internet access for underserved communities. In an effort to connect the nearly 4 billion people around the world who still do not have Internet access, the company has been working for several years from Bridgwater, UK on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila. Rather than continue to develop its own aircraft, however, Facebook has opted to partner with companies such as Airbus and close its facility in Bridgwater. Continue reading Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Intel’s Vaunt smart glasses look like ordinary eyeglasses. Unlike past smart glasses, with cameras, LCD screens and other paraphernalia that draw attention, Vaunt is designed to be incognito when the wearer is in public. The “smart” factor means that the user sees a stream of information projected onto her retina. The glasses, which come in several styles, also work with prescriptions. That fulfills the goal of the Intel Vaunt team, which aimed to create a pair of smart glasses comfortable enough to wear all day. Continue reading Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

New Projector Tech from Google Turns Any Walls into Screens

Google’s new projector technology is not the traditional blinding display that merely projects movies. It is designed to be more subtle to serve as a changing background to everyday life. The technology interacts with walls that are coated with photo-reactive paint. The projection system works similarly to e-ink technology, and an image would remain on the wall until a new image replaces it. The transparent photo-reactive paint can be used to turn any surface in a house or business into a screen. Continue reading New Projector Tech from Google Turns Any Walls into Screens

Facebook Hopes Drones Will Expand Global Internet Connectivity

Facebook has long expressed its goal to connect as many people as possible. The company already has a reported 1.4 billion users, but has plans to expand well beyond these numbers by launching drones that can provide high-speed connectivity to even the most remote areas of the world. The drones would resemble a Boeing 767 in width, weigh less than a small vehicle and help Facebook connect with the roughly 5 billion people that it does not already reach on a global scale.  Continue reading Facebook Hopes Drones Will Expand Global Internet Connectivity

HPA Tech Retreat: Execs Look at Innovating the Big Screen

The annual HPA Tech Retreat, presented by the Hollywood Post Alliance, kicked off in Indian Wells on Tuesday. The February 9-13 event will feature more than 45 sessions, 75 roundtables, 100 speakers and 30 new product demos. “The Big Screen” was the week’s first panel. It focused on projection tech, and the promise of HDR, with a look at the potential of Dolby Vision. Panelists included NATO’s John Fithian, Todd Hoddick of Barco, David Keighley of IMAX, and Curt Behlmer of Dolby. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Execs Look at Innovating the Big Screen

Panel Envisions the Future of Cinema at SMPTE Tech Summit

The through-line of Saturday’s “The Future of Cinema” panel at the SMPTE Technology Summit on Cinema at NAB was entertainment technology evolution and experimentation, for better or worse, in the service of story and the entertainment experience. Panel members from MKPE Consulting, Entertainment Technology Canada, Group 47, IMAX, Disney and Deluxe discussed a range of topics including projection systems, light sources, frame rates, dynamic range, color gamut and what moviegoers will be looking for in their theater experience. Continue reading Panel Envisions the Future of Cinema at SMPTE Tech Summit

Home Entertainment: Sony Demos 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector

At CES this week, Sony announced the development of a 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector that has the ability to cast a 4K Ultra HD image up to 147-inches diagonally. Housed in an attractive credenza with built-in speakers, no special wiring is required. The unit is simply placed against a bare wall and the image is then “thrown” directly above it, as opposed to across the room. Expected to launch in the U.S. by summer of 2014, a prototype was demonstrated at the Sony booth. Continue reading Home Entertainment: Sony Demos 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector

MIT Researchers Use Algorithm to Take Pictures in the Dark

Researchers have discovered the ability to create ultrasharp images from barely illuminated objects. This is done by mathematically stitching together information from particles of light. The development will likely be used to support studies of fragile biological materials such as the human eye, that could be damaged or destroyed by illumination. The development could also be used for military surveillance applications in locations with low light.  Continue reading MIT Researchers Use Algorithm to Take Pictures in the Dark

NASA Sets Data Transmission Record Between Earth and Moon

NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) uses a pulsed laser beam to transmit data from Earth to the moon. The record-setting laser recently made history by sending data 239,000 miles at a download speed of 622 megabits per second (Mbps). Radio frequency has been the main method of communication, but does not have the data capacity and speed of laser. If the laser program is successful, NASA plans to use it on future missions. Continue reading NASA Sets Data Transmission Record Between Earth and Moon

ShowEast: Digital Cinema Turns to Laser Projection Tech

To address complaints that theater screens are too dark, especially when showing 3D films, the digital cinema industry is experimenting with laser technology. Advocates of laser-illuminated projection assert that benefits include lower operating costs, reduced power consumption and increased system lifespans. However, others are concerned that the cost may be too exorbitant and fear the involvement of the FDA, since it monitors the use of lasers. Continue reading ShowEast: Digital Cinema Turns to Laser Projection Tech

First Commercial Installation of Laser Projector Scheduled

The first commercial installation of a laser movie projector is scheduled for early next year at Seattle Cinerama, a theater owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The theater will be the first to acquire Christie Digital’s laser projector, as the technology has just been approved by the FDA. While laser projectors are more expensive than current systems, they are expected to improve 3D projection and eliminate the need to replace bulbs and cool projection booths. Continue reading First Commercial Installation of Laser Projector Scheduled

CineEurope 2013: NEC Demonstrates New Laser Projector

At this week’s CineEurope exhibitor conference in Barcelona, Spain, NEC announced its new $170,000 laser projector will be available this fall, perhaps beating other manufacturers in the race to deliver the market’s first laser illuminated projection system. Installations of the NC1040L are slated to first appear at Japanese auto manufacturers. The company says it has also fielded interest from cinema exhibitors in European cities. Continue reading CineEurope 2013: NEC Demonstrates New Laser Projector

Xerox PARC Tests Silicon Chiplets for Micro Manufacturing

The team at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) recently demonstrated a concept in which slivers of silicon, or electronic circuits called “chiplets,” dance around under a microscope until commanded to settle accurately on a pattern of circuit wires — each settling at an exact point of contact. These chiplets are part of a new system Xerox envisions for making electronics that take advantage of the laser printer. Continue reading Xerox PARC Tests Silicon Chiplets for Micro Manufacturing

British Engineers Build and Fly First Printed Aircraft

  • Engineers in the UK have designed, built and flown a model aircraft, the entire structure of which has been printed (including its two-meter wings, control surfaces and access hatches).
  • The Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft unmanned air vehicle (UAV) was printed layer by layer on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine.
  • The electric vehicle, the first of its kind to be completely printed, is capable of a top speed of nearly 100 miles per hour.
  • “The flexibility of the laser sintering process allows the design team to re-visit historical techniques and ideas that would have been prohibitively expensive using conventional manufacturing,” says University of Southampton professor Jim Scanlon. “This type of structure was initially developed by Barnes Wallis and famously used on the Vickers Wellington bomber which first flew in 1936. This form of structure is very stiff and lightweight, but very complex. If it was manufactured conventionally it would require a large number of individually tailored parts that would have to be bonded or fastened at great expense.”
  • “This is a great example of what 3D printers are making possible,” comments ETCentric staffer George Gerba.

British Investigators to Use 3D Laser Technology at Crash Sites

  • BBC News reports that police in the UK are planning to use new laser scanners at the location of serious motor vehicle accidents to create 3D images of the sites and, in turn, clear the roads more quickly for other motorists.
  • It is expected that the technology will save the time required to “painstakingly log everything at the scene” and will save the economy hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.
  • The 3D laser technology uses a special tripod-mounted scanner that records a 360-degree image of the crash site down to a resolution of less than one millimeter. Each sweep takes about four minutes.
  • ETCentric contributor Phil Lelyveld comments: “This technology could be useful for location scouting for 3D shoots, as well as recording positions for later reshoots.”