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Augmented Reality: More Real or Less?


Not confined to chunky headsets with thick cable tethers like its kissing cousin virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) uses a variety of everyday objects, devices and surfaces to project digital information into the physical world.
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Far from Dead, Print Resurges


I love my Nook Book e-reader, even with its annoying quirks. At any time that I am reading electronically stored material, I am also reading two other books in hard copy. Of those books, a recent paperback read had a very special characteristic: it cost me absolutely nothing. ...
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Big Data: The New Frontier


Big data is expanding on a scale that is difficult to reckon with. According to IBM, every single day 2.5 exabytes (2.5 x 1018) of data are generated. Since the early 2000s, considered "the beginning of the digital age," the percentage of global data stored digitally has grown ...

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Content Providers, Take Note


Question: Have I gotten too smug in my total acceptance of today's technology? I have been royally spoiled over the years, before the technology became a factor, but much of the spoiling came on so gradually that I really didn't notice until I did a little reminiscing on the Internet ...

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Fake Friends: Robots on the Move


Industrial robots are not new. Large companies, particularly major automakers, have been using robotics in manufacturing for years. What is new, however, is the reduction in size and cost that is making them more widely available. This is combined with efficient software and a connection ...

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What Ever Happened to Cubits?


As you travel the Interstates close to the Canadian and Mexican borders, you will see many highway signs that show distances in both kilometers and miles, and some only in kilometers. This is a serious reminder that the U.S. is incredibly isolated when it comes to using (or not using ...

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How Much Is Enough?


Sitting on my desk, next to my computer screen, is a 3 TB USB-3 external hard disk drive, purchased at Costco. It's been there for a couple of years, acting as a backup. Sitting on the floor behind the tower is a much smaller, 500 GB HDD. Hanging over the left side of the tower, plugged ...
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We Don't Make 'Em Like We Used To


The age of mass employment in manufacturing has passed, likely never to return. Often cited by political figures, the need to renew and create manufacturing jobs at home has been a sort of Holy Grail for policymakers in the U.S. This is not a uniquely American issue. Politicians in ...
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Hijacking on the Information Highway


Poorly-secured, Internet-enabled devices have become targets in the latest round of cyber attacks. The recent attack on Internet infrastructure company Dyn in late October, in which a huge number of IoT devices were used to obstruct access to sites including Twitter, Amazon, Netflix ...
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More Gigafactories Needed


Lithium. It's number 3 in the Periodic Table, it is the lightest of known metals, and was first used as early as the 2nd Century A.D. in ancient Greece by physician Soranus to control bipolar disorders. The Greek physician didn't know it was the lithium that was working the wonders ...
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Digital Forensics


Digital forensics is the star attraction in one of our front page stories this month, and it involves preserving and protecting historic software of all types: utilities, productivity and office software, games, and videos that have somehow survived all of the potential damage that ...

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Turnover in Washington: What's Next for U.S. Manufacturing?


As always, manufacturing is a hot topic in Washington, especially following a hotly-contested presidential election. First, it's important to recognize that the U.S. economy has moved massively away from manufacturing to become largely service-oriented. According to the International ...
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So It's Ugly, Big Deal


"Ugly as sin." That was my first impression of the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, also lovingly known as "Warthog" because it really is ugly and has a lot of metal "warts" on its skin. I first saw the Warthog in the boneyard at Tucson's Davis-Monthan AFB. In the boneyard ...
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Lessons from the Far East


Last year, China experienced its lowest percentage of growth in 25 years, dipping just below 7 percent. Since that figure was announced earlier this year, the government has set its target growth rate for 2016 even lower, sparking some concern that the economy is stalling. Does this ...
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Shenzhen and Chicago: Hi-Tech Hotbeds


Shenzhen, China, was at one time a small market town of 30,000 inhabitants; its meteoric growth began when the city was named China's first Special Economic Zone in 1980. Nestled in the Pearl River Delta region, the city has become a global center for manufacturing with a population ...
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The System is Broken


The title of a cover article in a recent issue of Consumer Reports reads, "I Kind of Ruined My Life by Going to College," this from a person with $152,000 in student loan debt and no job. The article goes on to say that 42 million people owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, and ...
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Is This My Next Car?


Fuel cells. I talk about them so much that my coworkers are getting a little sick of the subject. But I have a long history with these remarkable power sources. The very first fuel cell article I ever wrote appeared in Popular Electronics magazine in 1965. There were several ...
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Storage: Renewable Energy's Achilles Heel


The current global focus on generating renewable energy has continually focused a spotlight on the problem of storing it. Battery technology lags far behind semiconductor development, and in fact has not advanced significantly in decades. The potential benefits are many. According to ...
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Printing the Future from Scratch


Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has become a major component of every kind of manufacturing enterprise, be it electronics, medical, military, automotive, or aerospace. Starting from meager beginnings as a curiosity and then a way to make engineering prototypes, the technology ...
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Revisiting the Cloud's Dirty Little Secret


The other day, a new icon appeared on my smartphone's screen: a puffy white cloud on a red background. Like it or not, the cloud has become a part of my daily life, which had been true long before that new icon appeared on my phone. Selecting the icon takes me to Verizon's Cloud, where ...
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