|Nasa hails space taxis|
Thursday, 04 February 2010 02:00
Nasa hails space taxis
As part of Nasa`s new roadmap, the space agency has awarded a collective $50 million in contracts to aerospace companies to help design and build what the agency calls space taxis, according to Computerworld.
"The work has already started and we advance it one more step today," said Nasa administrator Charles Bolden, speaking to the National Press Club in Washington, DC. "We ask [the partners] for their boldest ideas and concepts to make a commercial crew a reality. They`ve given us some great proposals. It`s by no means an end. It`s a fantastic start."
President Barack Obama`s proposed 2011 budget plan calls for Nasa to sign contracts with commercial businesses to create what are essentially space taxis designed to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and eventually, further into space.
Thin film takes touchscreen everywhere
Portugal-based Displax promises to turn any surface – flat or curved – into a touch-sensitive display, reports Gadget Lab. The company has created a thinner-than-paper polymer film that can be stuck on glass, plastic, or wood to turn it into an interactive input device.
“It is extremely powerful, precise and versatile,” says Miguel Fonseca, chief business officer at Displax. “You can use our film on top of anything including E-Ink, OLED and LCD displays.”
Human-computer interaction that goes beyond a keyboard and mouse has become a hot new area of emerging technology. Since Apple popularised the swipe and pinch gestures with the iPhone, touch has become a new frontier in the way people interact with their devices.
MEMS microphones on the rise
Market research firm iSuppli has raised its global micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) microphone forecast, citing the emergence of active noise cancellation (ANC) technology through the introductions of Google`s Nexus One and Motorola`s Droid smartphones, says EETimes.
Because at least two microphones are required to implement ANC, iSuppli said it now expects MEMS microphone shipments to grow to about 1.2 billion in 2013, from about 367.5 million in 2009. The firm forecast last September that MEMS microphone shipments would rise to 1.1 billion in 2013.
ANC can improve the quality of mobile calls in noisy environments by suppressing background noise, intermittent sounds, and echoes, iSuppli said. The technology can also automatically adjust voice volume and equalisation during calls to adapt to local noise interference, the company said.
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