Category Archives: Gadgets


Feds’ Drone Regs Draw Profs’ Fire

Some professors are worried that the federal government will stifle their ability to teach and do research with unmanned flying machines.

In a letter sent to the Federal Aviation Administration last week, 30 professors argued that its recent pronouncements on drones would unreasonably restrict scholars’ ability to use the small aircraft for academic purposes, the Associated Press reports.

“To the best of our knowledge, no fatalities have resulted from academic research with model aircraft,” …


Start-Up Aims to Solve Perpetual Graduation Problem: Butchered Names

Stanford University, whose students gave us the modern search engine, the modern sneaker company, and the modern method of money transfer, is finally tackling a native challenge: commencement. At graduation ceremonies over the past weekend, eight departments at the university used a web-based service that allows students to record their names before commencement for the benefit of whoever reads aloud the list of graduates.

Dubbed NameCoach, the start-up was founded last year by students at—whe…


But Is That Ethical? Ask This App.

The disclaimer on Santa Clara University’s new mobile app strikes an ominous tone:

“In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website/app.”

Then again the Ethical Decision Making app, developed by the university’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, aims for more-consequential uses than, say, Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds. The Santa Clara ethicists hope that people who make decisions that will change lives—business leaders, hospi…


Students Prefer Smartphones and Laptops to Tablets, Study Finds

When tablets appeared on the market, there were expectations that they would be laptop computers’ greatest competition. That has not turned out to be true at Ball State University, where students see tablets as a form of entertainment—as essentially a bigger and more expensive smartphone, according to a recent study.

The study, by Michael Hanley, a professor of advertising and director of Ball State’s Institute for Mobile Media Research, found that students’ use of smartphones for entertainment,…


Cornell U. Researchers Put Robots in Conversation, and the Result Is Surprisingly Human

When the machines take over, much will change. But perhaps not the exquisite frustrations of a halting philosophical debate.

Researchers at Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab have demonstrated this by putting two artificially intelligent avatars in conversation with one another. The avatars, called Cleverbots, are sophisticated versions of the classic Eliza program, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. The Cornell researchers—two doctoral students and an…


QuickWire: Texas A&M U. Stadium Will Add 163-Foot-Wide Video Screen

As part of a $450-million expansion of its football stadium, Kyle Field, Texas A&M University will add what the manufacturer says is “the largest video display in all of college football”—a 47-foot-high by 163-foot-wide screen featuring high-definition LED technology. The display will be mounted over the seats in the south end zone, and will be complemented by two 36-by-54-foot screens in opposite corners of the north end zone.

A news release from the manufacturer, Daktronics, says the display w…


QuickWire: Yale U. Libraries Add Google Glass to Offerings

Yale University’s library system is asking students and faculty members to propose fall-semester research and teaching projects that would use Google Glass, the high-tech eyeglasses with built-in computing power. The announcement said the offering followed on the library system’s other successful technology-lending programs, such as one allowing entire classes to borrow iPads.

So far, though, the Yale student who has attracted the most attention using Google Glass has been Henry Furman, a senio…


Futurist Attends Educause Conference via ‘Doppelbot’

Has your budget for attending conferences been slashed again? Here’s an idea: Send a remote-controlled robot instead.

doublebot_bryan_eli2014_liananunziatoThat’s how Bryan Alexander, a futurist and education-technology consultant, attended the Educause Learning Initiative conference, in New Orleans this week. Without leaving his home, in Vermont, he maneuvered a slightly-gawky, two-wheel “telepresence robot”—essentially, an iPad mounted on a sort of miniature Segway—around the Riverside Hilton’s meeting rooms. He chatted with frien…


Vermont Tech Nanosatellite Is Among 11 Rocketed Into Space

Before Tuesday evening, Carl Brandon had never seen a rocket launch. But at about 8:15, when a U.S. Air Force Minotaur I rocket took off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, in Virginia, he not only saw a launch, but the rocket carried a satellite he helped build.

Mr. Brandon, director of the CubeSat Lab at Vermont Technical College, spent the past two years with a few of his students building what’s sometimes referred to as a nanosatellite—or, specifically, a CubeSat, after a set of specifica…