Electronic Specifier’s top stories from 2023

4th January 2024
Paige West

As we step forward into the new year, Electronic Specifier looks back at some of its most popular stories from the last 12 months.

Virgin Galactic takes its first tourists to the edge of space!

Virgin Galactic had successfully launched its inaugural space tourism flight, carrying its first group of passengers to the edge of space. Among the passengers on board the VSS Unity were Jon Goodwin, a former Olympian from Newcastle who competed in canoeing during the 1972 Munich Games, as well as Keisha Schahaff, 46, and her 18-year-old daughter Anastatia Mayers, a student at the University of Aberdeen.

Aitech’s AI supercomputer on NASA’s LOFTID

With the successful launch and re-entry of NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) on 10th November 2022, Aitech’s S-A1760 Venus AI supercomputer became the first use of GPGPU technology in space. Six S-A1760 Venus GPGPUs were onboard to help control and record the visible and infrared camera images from each of the six camera pods viewing the LOFTID heatshield. The GPGPU helped ensure recovery of the backup recordings for the mission’s captured camera data and provided critical intelligence on the aeroshell/heatshield performance.

Apple's next-gen airpods bring new opportunities to the industry chain

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman revealed Apple's plan to incorporate more health tracking features into its audio products. According to Mark Gurman's newsletter, Apple is working on a new hearing test feature that will play different tones and sounds to allow the AirPods to determine how well users can hear and help them screen for hearing issues. In addition, Mark Gurman revealed that Apple plans to add more health sensors to the AirPods hardware, such as measuring body temperature through the ear canal. This feature would allow AirPods to collect more accurate data than the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra models, which collect data through the wrist while users sleep, and expand the use to determine whether the wearer is experiencing cold or other illnesses.

Quantum computing: The whats, whens and hows

Quantum computing is a rapidly emerging technology that promises to revolutionise the way we process and analyse information entirely. Whilst this is fantastic news at face value, what are these quantum machines, and how do they actually work? What is being developed and how? And what does the future hold? Electronic Specifier spoke to Professor Robert Young, Chief Scientist at Quantum Base and Professor of Quantum Technology at Lancaster University, to dive headfirst into these exciting questions.

Apple is rumoured to be 3D printing its new smart watches

According to reports, Apple is testing the use of 3D printing to make the stainless-steel chassis for its new smart watches. Bloomberg has reported that the company will be conducting preliminary tests of the technology in the production phase of the upcoming Apple Watch 9. If these initial tests prove successful, Apple intends to incorporate this technology into the manufacturing processes of additional products in the years ahead.

Verge Motorcycles launches electric superbike

F1 legend and two-time World Champion Mika Häkkinen has designed the signature model of a new electric superbike in collaboration with Verge Motorcycles. Just one hundred signature models will be produced, making it an extremely exclusive rarity. Mika Häkkinen and Verge Motorcycles teamed up at the beginning of the year, when Häkkinen was appointed to the company’s Advisory Board. Häkkinen is also one of the investors in Verge Motorcycles. The signature model that Häkkinen and Verge have designed together demonstrates the best of two leading players in their field.

3D hologram research could lead to improved IVF success

In a world first, 3D holographic images of an embryo have been developed as part of a collaborative research project between the University of St Andrews and University of Adelaide. The images are created using miniscule amounts of light in a fraction of a second. The team, led by Professor Kishan Dholakia from the University of St Andrews and the University of Adelaide, and Dr Kylie Dunning, Hospital Research Foundation fellow from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, developed an approach to create 3D holographic images of the pre-clinical model of an embryo at various stages of development.

Meh-taverse: has industry lost interest in the virtual world?

The Metaverse, the word that was once on the tips of everyone’s tongue in the business world and consumer sphere, is in a tentative position. CEO Mark Zuckerberg once touted the Metaverse as being the future of his company. Yet he’s since laid-off 11,000 staff, and when outlining the company’s next steps in March, said the company’s "single largest investment is advancing AI and building it into every one of our products."

The Raspberry Pi 5 is coming, and it’s twice as fast

Launched at the end of October, Raspberry Pi 5 comes with new features, is over twice as fast as its predecessor, and is the first one to feature silicon designed in-house at Cambridge, UK. With a price tag of $60 for the 4GB version and $80 for its 8GB counterpart, the platform has undergone comprehensive upgrades, ensuring an uncompromised user experience in every way.

AI enables a ‘final’ Beatles record

Sir Paul McCartney has employed the help of AI to enable the creation of what he says could be “the final Beatles record.” In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McCartney says how the AI had been used to “extricate” John Lennon’s voice from an old demo to recreate the voice for the new record. Thanks to technology, the new record, which has yet to have a name attached to it, has been finished and is touted to be released later this year.

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