“A mile of road will take you exactly one mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere.”
1. Brain-Computer Interface
Turns out, the best controller for a robot arm just might be between our ears. “Researchers at Hebei University of Technology and other institutes in China have developed an innovative system for controlling robotic arms that is based on augmented reality (AR) and a brain-computer interface. This system, presented in a paper published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, could enable the development of bionic or prosthetic arms that are easier for users to control.”
Evolution has developed superior EOAT. That’s right – the human hand! “Scientists from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), in the ever-present quest to get machines to replicate human abilities, created a framework that's more scaled up: a system that can reorient over two thousand different objects, with the robotic hand facing both upwards and downwards. This ability to manipulate anything from a cup to a tuna can, and a Cheez-It box, could help the hand quickly pick-and-place objects in specific ways and locations—and even generalize to unseen objects."
3. 4D Printing? Liquid Crystals?
Not sure if this is a development in additive technology or just my Tech Trends Podcast co-host Ben buying a new TV. For real, though: We’re talking the same liquid crystals used in digital displays! “As well as being a key component of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), liquid crystals have advanced applications as smart materials in everything from light reflectors and switchable windows to solar panels. When used in conjunction with 3D printing, liquid crystals allow for programmable, reversible, anisotropic actuation in both dry and wet environments, making them a very powerful ‘stimuli-response material’ with 4D capabilities.”
4. ORNL Found a New Additive Aluminum Alloy
Aluminum cerium alloy in particular! This new additively manufactured lightweight blend of metals demonstrates an ability to resist creep or deformation at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit for you non-SI animals)! “Materials that can perform under high pressure, high temperature environments are needed for automotive, aerospace, defense and space applications. Researchers printed (using PBF) pistons made of the alloy for deployment inside of a full-scale engine.”
Can’t go to Formnext this year? I got you. Besides, flights are crazy expensive, and who has time to comply with Germany’s quarantine requirements? It is what it is (I hate tautologies)! Well the good news is there are a ton of exciting exhibitors registered for Formnext next week, and a lot of them are leaking deets to the new tech they’ll be showing off! It’s giving me some serious FOMO.
To access Tech Trends, log in to or register for an MTInsight account at https://www.mtinsight.org/