Archive for March 24th, 2017
Poking a golden tortoise beetle (“goldbug”) triggers the insect’s color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News : “In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find….” The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip. In fact, the transistors and the pixel are made from the same material; the transistors also change color slightly when the crossbars stretch. The effect is more dramatic in the pixel, however, because the transistors amplify the electrical signal from the crossbar. Demonstrating working transistors was essential, Sundaram says, because large, dense sensor arrays require some capacity for onboard signal processing. To build the device, the researchers used the MultiFab, a custom 3-D printer developed by (professor Wojciech) Matusik group. The MultiFab already included two different “print heads,” one for emitting hot materials and one for cool, and an array of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes. Using ultraviolet radiation to “cure” fluids deposited by the print heads produces the device’s substrate.
When a startup is in the ascendancy, there’s a near-endless line of investors ready to back it in the hope of future returns. When that road to success gets riskier, the investors dry up and the business has to run to the bank because it’s the only place to get more cash. Apropos of nothing, BusinessInsider is reporting that SoundCloud has secured itself a $70 million loan from a group of financial institutions. The “debt funding, ” as it’s called, has been supplied by Kreos Capital, Davidson Technology and Ares Capital and was reportedly secured on March 10th. SoundCloud says that it will use the cash to hire staff, build technology and grow itself to be more than twice its current size by the end of 2017. It’s hoped that the moves will enable the company to become “financially sustainable” for “years to come.” SoundCloud has had a problem with money for a while, admitting in 2015 that it would need to raise cash or risk going under. It managed to score $70 million from Twitter and then spent the bulk of 2016 hinting that it would like to be bought, thank you very much. Spotify spent a while thinking about it before deciding that it was better off steering clear . Unfortunately, SoundCloud doesn’t necessarily look like a great investment at this point, given its numerous issues. For a start, its SoundCloud Go subscription service was reviewed poorly when it launched, with a meager library and poor design. Then there’s the fact that the majority of the tracks it hosts are user-generated content, remixes and other things you may not expect people to pay for. Between that, and the often onerous terms that come with debt financing, and it’s… it’s not looking great . Via: TechCrunch Source: BusinessInsider