Don’t Daze Me, Bro

DazerLaser Energetics has developed a crime-fighting device designed to “save lives, one daze at a time.” The company says its Dazer Laser shoots a beam of light so debilitating and disorienting it can cause momentary nausea.

The Dazer has military applications, as well. General Dynamics this summer announced it landed a $2.6 million contract to produce the new non-lethal device.

The Dazer Laser’s continuous wave and modulating green laser beam temporarily impair a threat’s vision and awareness. The products operate on standard batteries, are lightweight and ergonomically comfortable. Effective range, about to 1.5 miles – quite a bit longer than a Taser.


Check Mate

chessboardStudent engineers from Texas Tech designed the world’s smallest chessboard, capturing this year’s design contest held at Sandia Labs for novel and educational microelectromechanical systems.

Just how small is it? The playing surface is 435 micrometers by 435 micrometers – with space left along the side for captured chess pieces, of course. Each chess piece is approximately 50 micrometers, or half the width of a human hair.

Each piece is fitted with teeny tiny stubs that allow a micro-robotic arm to move it from square to square.

The contest, open to institutional members of the Sandia-led MEMS University Alliance program, provides an arena for the nation’s student engineers to hone their skills in design using micro-devices. Such devices are used to probe biological cells, arrange and operate components of telecommunications and high-tech machinery among other things.


Smarty Pants

UnderwearA new study has shown that printed sensors on the elastic band of your underpants could monitor biomarkers in your sweat and tears (Tears? We’ve heard of teardrops on our pillow but …), make autonomous diagnoses and even administer life-saving drugs.

Engineers at the University of California’s San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering found that after stretching, folding and pulling, the chemical sensors printed on the elastic still retained their sensing powers.

Some day smarty pants will be capable of diagnosing changes in a patient’s health status or a soldier’s battlefield injury and automatically trigger the release of drugs to begin treatment before help arrives. The sensors also could be used to detect a driver’s alcohol consumption or measure stress and performance levels of athletes.


Saved by the Hose

Radar_FlexRight on DiffuserDon’t get it wrong when it comes to ducts – get FlexRight, the “smart flow elbow” from inventor Dale Crook.

Made from 100 percent recycled materials, the FlexRight is a radius forming brace engineered to shape flexible duct into energy efficient 90° elbows.

Crook says it improves airflow and saves energy in HVAC systems by eliminating kinks and restrictions common to flexible duct installations.

Restricted airflow causes HVAC equipment to run longer cycles wasting energy. According to the Department of Energy, HVAC systems account for up to 60 percent of the energy used in U.S. commercial buildings. Improving HVAC system efficiency, Crooks says, is a cost-effective method to save energy.


Editor’s note: These items appear in the September 2010 print edition.

Not a subscriber!? Click here now!