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Businesses

Video Brady Forrest Talks About Building a Hardware Startup (Video) 7

Brady Forrest is co-author of The Hardware Startup: Building Your Product, Business, and Brand. He has extensive experience building both products and startups, including staffing, financing, and marketing. If you are thinking or dreaming about doing a startup, you should not only watch the video to "meet" Brady, but read the transcript for more info than the video covers.
Power

Solar Windows Could Help Power Buildings 73

Lucas123 writes: Several companies are now beginning to roll out translucent photovoltaic films or solar cells embedded in windows that can supplement a significant amount of energy in the buildings where they're used. SolarWindow Technologies, for example, is preparing to launch a transparent product made with organic PVs, while another company, Solaria, is cutting solar cells into thin strips and embedding them in windows. Both companies admit their products can't produce the 20% efficiency ratings of today's best rooftop solar panels, but they say that's not their objective. Instead, the companies are looking to take advantage of millions of skyscraper windows that today are simply unused real estate for renewable energy. One company is aiming at supplementing 20% to 30% of a skyscrapers power requirements. Meanwhile, universities are also jumping into the solar window arena. Oxford University has spun off a PV window company that produces semi-transparent solar cells made of semi-transparent perovskite oxide that has achieved a 20% solar energy efficiency.
Power

Slowing Wind Energy Production Suffers From Lack of Wind 189

HughPickens.com writes: Gregory Meyer reports at the Financial Times that electricity generated by U.S. wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year, even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent. The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities. The situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the U.S. "We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months," says David Crane. Wind generated 4.4 per cent of US electricity last year, up from 0.4 per cent a decade earlier. But this year U.S. wind plants' "capacity factor" has averaged just a third of their total generating capacity, down from 38 per cent in 2014.

EIA noted that slightly slower wind speeds can reduce output by a disproportionately large amount. "Capacity factors for wind turbines are largely determined by wind resources," says a report from the Energy Information Administration. "Because the output from a turbine varies nonlinearly with wind speed, small decreases in wind speeds can result in much larger changes in output and, in turn, capacity factors." In January of 2015, wind speeds remained 20 to 45 percent below normal on areas of the west coast, but it was especially bad in California, Oregon, and Washington, where those levels dropped to 50 percent below normal during the month of January.
Hardware Hacking

How To Build With Delrin and a Laser Cutter 25

szczys writes: Laser cutters are awesome, but you have to bring your mechanical engineering A-game if you want to build resilient stuff using laser-cut parts. Joshua Vasquez has been building up his bag of tricks using Delrin and a laser cutter to build with techniques like press-fitting, threading, snap-fits, etc. that aren't possible or are non-ideal with the laser-cutting steadfasts of plywood and acrylic. Delrin (PDF) won't shatter like acrylic, and it has more give to it, so even the less precise entry-level lasers can cut joints that will have a snug fit.
Data Storage

Police Body Camera Business All About the Video Evidence Storage 98

Lucas123 writes: Body cameras are the fastest growing segment of the police video camera business. The two largest police body camera manufacturers today — Taser and VieVu — say they've shipped devices to 41% of the nation's 18,000 police departments. But, the hardware is only the basis for the real business: video evidence storage. Last year, Taser's gross profit margins on hardware were 15.6%; the gross margins for video storage were 51%, according to Glenn Mattson, who follows Taser as an equity analyst for Ladenburg Thalmann. "There's no contest. They don't care about making money on the cameras," Mattson said. As of the first quarter of this year, more than a petabyte of police video has been uploaded to Taser's Evidence.com service. Just one of VieVu's clients, the Oakland PD, has uploaded more than a million police videos. The cost of storage, however, is so high that police departments have been forced to determine strict retention policies, that in some cases may effect the long-term handling of evidence. In Birmingham, Ala., for example, where they've deployed 300 cameras and hope to double that this year, the the video cameras themselves cost about $180,000, but the department's total outlay for a five-year contract including cloud storage with Taser will be $889,000.
Cellphones

Sony Unveils Smartphone With 4K Screen 115

An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.
Intel

Intel Launches Onslaught of Skylake CPUs For Laptops, Hybrids and Compute Stick 54

MojoKid writes: Intel is following up on its Skylake launch bonanza by opening the floodgates on at least two dozen SKUs mostly covering the mobile sector. The company is divvying up the range into four distinct series. There's the Y-Series, which is dedicated to 2-in-1 convertibles, tablets, and Intel's new Compute Stick venture. Then there's the U-Series, which is aimed at thin and light notebooks and "portable" all-in-one machines. The H-Series is built for gaming notebooks and mobile workstations, while the S-Series is designated for desktops, all-in-one machines, and mini PCs. Also, the Y-Series that was previously known as simply the Core M, (the chip found in products like the 12-inch Apple MacBook and Asus Transformer Book Chi T300) is now expanding into a whole family of processors. There will be Core m3, Core m5, and Core m7 processors, similar to Intel's Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPU models in other desktop and notebook chips.
Firefox

Video Mozilla Project Working on Immersive Displays (Video) 45

Yes, it's 3-D, and works with the Firefox browser. But that's not all. The MozVR virtual reality system is not just for Firefox, and it can incorporate infrared and other sensors to give a more complete picture than can be derived from visible light alone. In theory, the user's (client) computer needs no special hardware beyond a decent GPU and an Oculus Rift headset. Everything else lives on a server.

Is this the future of consumer displays? Even if not, the development is fun to watch, which you can start doing at mozvr.com -- and if you're serious about learning about this project you may want to read our interview transcript in addition to watching the video, because the transcript contains additional information.
Earth

Citi Report: Slowing Global Warming Could Save Tens of Trillions of Dollars 248

Layzej writes with news carried by The Guardian about a report published by the Global Perspectives & Solutions division of Citibank (America's third-largest bank) examining the costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report examined two hypothetical futures: one "business as usual," and the other (the "Action" scenario) which includes an aggressive move to reduce energy use and carbon emission. From the article: "One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action." But there will be winners and losers, says the report: "The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries."
Power

Gaming Computers Offer Huge, Untapped Energy Savings Potential 205

Required Snark writes: According to Phys.org, a study by Evan Mills at Berkeley Lab shows that "gamers can achieve energy savings of more than 75 percent by changing some settings and swapping out some components, while also improving reliability and performance" because "your average gaming computer is like three refrigerators." Gaming computers represent only 2.5 percent of the global installed personal computer (PC) base but account for 20 percent of the energy use. Mills estimated that gaming computers consumed 75 TWh of electricity globally in 2012, or $10 billion, and projects that will double by 2020 given current sales rates and without efficiency improvements. Potential estimated savings of $18 billion per year globally by 2020, or 120 terawatt hours (TWh) are possible. Mills started the site GreeningtheBeast.org. You can read the full paper as a PDF.
Space

World's Most Powerful Digital Camera Sees Construction Green Light 89

An anonymous reader writes: The Department of Energy has approved the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telecscope's 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, which will be the most advanced in the world. When complete the camera will weigh more than three tons and take such high resolution pictures that it would take 1,500 high-definition televisions to display one of them. According to SLAC: "Starting in 2022, LSST will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, cataloging by far the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. During a 10-year time frame, LSST will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than there are people on Earth – and will create movies of the sky with unprecedented details. Funding for the camera comes from the DOE, while financial support for the telescope and site facilities, the data management system, and the education and public outreach infrastructure of LSST comes primarily from the National Science Foundation (NSF)."
Power

Plunging Battery Prices Expected To Spur Renewable Energy Adoption 130

Lucas123 writes: Lithium-ion (Li-on) and flow battery prices are expected to drop by as much as 60% by 2020, making them far more affordable for storing power from distributed renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar, according to a recent report by Australia's Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The 130-page report (PDF) shows that Li-on batteries will drop from $550 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2014 to $200 per kWh by 2020; and flow battery prices will drop from $680 per kWh to $350 per kWh during the same time. Flow batteries and Li-ion batteries work well with intermittent energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines because of their ability to be idle for long periods without losing a charge. Both battery technologies offer unique advantages in that they can easily be scaled to suit many applications and have high cycle efficiency, the ARENA report noted. Li-ion batteries more easily suit consumer market. Flow batteries, which are less adaptable for consumer use because they're typically too large, scale more easily because all that's needed to grow storage capacity is more electrolyte liquid; the hardware remains the same.
Networking

OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse? 123

An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, Google surprised everybody by announcing a new piece of hardware: the OnHub Wi-Fi router. It packs a ton of processing power and a bunch of wireless radios into a glowy cylinder, and they're going to sell it for $200, which is on the high end for home networking equipment. Google sent out a number of units for testing, and the reviews are starting to come out. The device is truly Wi-Fi-centric, with only a single port for an ethernet cable. It runs on a Qualcomm IPQ8064 dual-core 1.4GHz SoC with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. You can only access the router's admin settings by using the associated app on a mobile device.

OnHub's data transfer speeds couldn't compete with a similarly priced Asus router, but it had no problem blanketing the area with a strong signal. Ron Amadeo puts his conclusion simply: "To us, this looks like Google's smart home Trojan horse." The smartphone app that accompanies OnHub has branding for something called "Google On," which they speculate is Google's new hub for smart home products. "There are tons of competing smart home protocols out there, all of which are incompatible with one another—imagine HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, but with about five different players. ... Other than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything in OnHub is a Google/Nest/Alphabet protocol. And remember, the "Built for Google On" stamp on the bottom of the OnHub sure sounds like a third-party certification program."
AMD

AMD's R9 Fury On Open-Source: Prepare for Disappointment, For Now 43

An anonymous reader writes: With Linux 4.3 AMD is adding the initial open-source driver for the R9 Fury graphics cards. Unfortunate for Linux gamers, the R9 Fury isn't yet in good shape on the open-source driver and it's not good with the Catalyst Linux driver either as previously discussed. With the initial code going into Linux 4.3, the $550 R9 Fury runs slower than graphics cards like the lower-cost and older R7 370 and HD 7950 GPUs, since AMD's open-source developers haven't yet found the time to implement power management / re-clocking support. The R9 Fury also only advertises OpenGL 3.0 support while the hardware is GL4.5-capable and the other open-source AMD GCN driver ships OpenGL 4.1. It doesn't look like AMD has any near-term R9 Fury Linux fix for either driver, but at least their older hardware is performing well with the open-source code.
Biotech

Magnet-Steered Nano-Fish Could Deliver Drugs and Sweep Body Toxins 37

dkatana writes: David Warner writes on InformationWeek how "nanoengineers" from UC San Diego have created microscopic fish powered by hydrogen peroxide that use magnets to steer themselves. "The "fish" are powerful enough to swim through your bloodstream, removing toxins or bringing medicine directly to crucial parts of your body, as cells in your blood stream do. Given enough time, the fish could be used to deliver drugs directly to cancer tumors or parts of your body that are too fragile for surgery."
Graphics

MIAOW Open Source GPU Debuts At Hot Chips 45

alexvoica writes: The first general-purpose graphics processor (GPGPU) now available as open-source RTL was unveiled at the Hot Chips event. Although the GPGPU is in an early and relatively crude stage, it is another piece of an emerging open-source hardware platform, said Karu Sankaralingam, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sankaralingam led the team that designed the Many-core Integrated Accelerator of Wisconsin (MIAOW). A 12-person team developed the MIAOW core in 36 months. Their goal was simply to create a functional GPGPU without setting any specific area, frequency, power or performance goals. The resulting GPGPU uses just 95 instructions and 32 compute units in its current design. It only supports single-precision operations. Students are now adding a graphics pipeline to the design, a job expected to take about six months.
Businesses

Kenya's iHub Creates Accelerator Program For Tech-Hardware Entrepreneurs 16

An anonymous reader writes: The iHub in Nairobi has long been at the epicentre of tech developments in Africa, and has been lauded by both Barack Obama and Satya Nadella in recent weeks. It currently has about 3000 software devs registered as members, but since last year has been building a makerspace for hardware entrepreneurs, too. Gearbox, as its called, it's just launched its first incubation program with the backing of Village Capital, offering $100,000 in investment opportunities for 12 entrepreneurs through a three month program. According to the organisers, it's the first of its kind on the continent. (It's certainly not the first hackerspace in Africa, though -- even in 2012, there were quite a few.)
Displays

A Look At the World's First Virtual Reality Theme Park 16

redletterdave writes: The Void is the first company to create a virtual reality theme park, where virtual experiences are layered on top of physical, real world environments. Tech Insider was the first media outlet to visit The Void's headquarters in Utah, filming the company's first creations. These experiences are still far from final, but the footage is impressive and entertaining. This is not Lazer Tag.
Hardware

Learn FPGAs With a $25 Board and Open Source Tools 93

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the 'gateway drug' to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.
Canada

Canadian Nuclear Accident Study Puts Risks Into Perspective 165

An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) study has concluded that there would be no detectable increase in cancer risk for most of the population from radiation released in a hypothetical severe nuclear accident. The CNSC's study is the result of a collaborative effort of research and analysis undertaken to address concerns raised during public hearings on the environmental assessment for the refurbishment of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG's) Darlington nuclear power plant in 2012. The draft study was released for public consultation in June 2014. Feedback from the Commission itself and comments from over 500 submissions from the public, government and other organizations have been incorporated in the final version. The study involved identifying and modelling a large atmospheric release of radionuclides from a hypothetical severe nuclear accident at the four-unit Darlington plant