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Harvard Professor Creates Paper Accelerometer

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the trees-aren't-off-the-hook-yet dept.

Hardware 87

SuperSlacker64 writes "In an age where just about everything starts going digital, it's refreshing to see someone going back to our roots: paper. Well, sort of. Researchers at Harvard have created a cheap, dime-sized, paper-based accelerometer that they believe could be used in various ways, such as inexpensive medical testing. The device works because a carbon bridge stretches and changes resistivity as the device is accelerated." When they say "cheap," they mean it; the cost per device is estimated to be about four cents.

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I'll be impressed.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204076)

When they can make one out of shit!

Re:I'll be impressed.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204754)

why are you even here? just leave. don't come back. nobody likes you.

Re:I'll be impressed.. (1)

joeme1 (959209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205852)

Here. They can make paper out of kangaroo poo, just take it the next step. Take the initiative and your name can be here in an article on Slashdot as the inventor of poop based accelerometers. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/12/roo_poo_is_stat.php [treehugger.com]

Accuracy? (2)

Ethereal.Visage (1990122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204106)

'Twould be very interesting to see just how accurate these devices are. While they are undoubtably cheap and easy to manufacture, many applications require high-precision measurements, not just good approximations. Nevertheless, bravo.

Re:Accuracy? (4, Informative)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204204)

I hath sinned. I read the article. *hangs head in shame* The paper counterparts are far less sensitive. Silicon sensors give about 80 micronewtons while the paper give 120 un.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204272)

But so what?

This wouldn't be used for precision instruments. It's be used for cheap laptops - get that drop protection that the high end ones have.

Children's bicycle helmets so that the over protective parents can have airbags installed in them.

Or any other situation where knowing the approximate acceleration or deceleration would be helpful.

Re:Accuracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204330)

It says for use in medical testing equipment where I'm pretty sure one would want precision, no?

Re:Accuracy? (3, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204418)

It says for use in medical testing equipment where I'm pretty sure one would want precision, no?

Not every test, especially when aiming for low-cost, needs to reach Starfleet standards.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35207030)

electric wheelchair tip-over protection?

Re:Accuracy? (4, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204396)

80 vs. 120 micronewtons isn't too bad. If by 'sensitivity' you mean the expected standard deviation for measurement noise, and assuming such noise is roughly gaussian, then you can almost achieve the precision of a silicon sensor by using two paper sensors and averaging the results (120/sqrt(2) = 84.9).

Throw together 25 of them (for a total cost of $1.00) and you can achieve 24 micronewton 1-sigma precision.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35210478)

80 vs. 120 micronewtons isn't too bad. If by 'sensitivity' you mean the expected standard deviation for measurement noise, and assuming such noise is roughly gaussian, then you can almost achieve the precision of a silicon sensor by using two paper sensors and averaging the results (120/sqrt(2) = 84.9).

Throw together 25 of them (for a total cost of $1.00) and you can achieve 24 micronewton 1-sigma precision.

Assuming the errors are independent.. which if the devices are identical they probably wouldn't be.

Re:Accuracy? (2)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204286)

On the other hand, if they can be mass produced and marketed, they could be great for hardware hackers and hobbyists.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204526)

At about a buck a good quality silicon version [digikey.com] is already great for hackers and hobbyists.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35210562)

Thanks for the link, but at $0.04 to a nickel for these paper guys, I could buy 20 to 25 of them for every silicon accelerometer I bought from digikey. That matters. ;)

Re:Accuracy? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220454)

Thanks for the link, but at $0.04 to a nickel for these paper guys, I could buy 20 to 25 of them for every silicon accelerometer I bought from digikey. That matters. ;)

It does matter, but not as much as the headline figures suggest. An accelerometer sensor (or any other sensor) needs wires to be installed to it, connections to be made (manually or as pads on a circuit board, whatever), a monitoring channel in an A-to-D (dedicated or multiplexed, it matters little), and calibration. Assigning a fixed and utterly randomly selected cost of $0.5 for all of these associated components, then your silicon sensor costs $1.50/sensor circuit, and the paper accelerometer 1/3 of that at $0.54.

If you wired up your dollar worth of paper accelerometers, it'd cost you around $13 dollars. (Actually, for such a drastic change in usage, probably more. How are you going to process this 24-fold increase in accelerometry? That likely implies a complete re-write of any software or a redesign of any analogue computing.

Re:Accuracy? (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204446)

many applications require high-precision measurements, not just good approximations

And your point is...?

For any application that needs high-precision measurements, there are many others where lower precision would do fine, if only it wouldn't cost so much.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35207302)

No, no, no. We need one size fits all solutions. We can't have specialization! If this can't be put into my iPhone, or can't be used on commercial airliners, then what fucking use is it? Exactly. None.

The prosecution rests.

Sorry, that's a figure of speech, case closed!

Re:Accuracy? (1)

Whalou (721698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208146)

I can barely do Origami now. I can't imagine how hard it would be to do an acccelerometer fold.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204460)

For high-precision measurements, there are expensive silicon accelerometers.

For everything else, there's AcceleCard...

Materials replace machines (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204108)

I recall from a recent episode of David Pogue's TV show (NOVA, Making Stuff:Smaller), about things getting smaller (and cheaper), one of the themes was mechanical devices being replaced by materials. This looks like another example of that.

My world is topsy-turvy (5, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204110)

I thought professors were people who couldn't hack it in the real world, but it turns out academia is behind most innovation in one way or another? Color me retarded.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204190)

Your axe must be thoroughly ground and mirror polished.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204228)

That rumor is one of my biggest pet peeves. Academics very often simply have a completely different view of money and status. Many professors (perhaps even most) have absolutely no interest in the business world. Whoever started the "professors are people who can't hack it" thing was not only wrong but being really vicious against some very competent, creative, and inventive people.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204264)

>Whoever started the "professors are people who can't hack it" thing was not only wrong but being really vicious against some very competent, creative, and inventive people.

Or maybe he was just looking at the dregs who inhabit most college humanities departments.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205002)

"Academics very often simply have a completely different view of money and status."

In my experience, this is not entirely true. Professors at my university all seek constant advancement (read: raises) and act as though they ascend to another class strata with their advancing salaries. Sure, they enter the process as open-minded PhDs begging for associate professorships, but boy do they gets egos quick!

I think the big difference between their kind and those in private R&D is that professors know that a university lab is going to allow them more freedom and less requirement for tangible products so long as they keep publishing academic papers. The potential for tenure is also a massive draw.

As to the comment on whether or not they could hack it, well, I doubt they could in private industry (at least those I know well). They are just too needy and spoiled.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35208056)

Good luck finding even a tenure track position these days. Tenure will be something my supervisor could get. Not me, wrong generation for that.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35210440)

My partner works at the math department at our university. They're currently recruiting 2x faculty for tenure track. If you can get the grants, you can get tenure.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35209258)

As to the comment on whether or not they could hack it, well, I doubt they could in private industry (at least those I know well). They are just too needy and spoiled.

Unlike the godlike bankers who throw a hissy fit and swap jobs if they don't get their million dollar bonuses, the unutterable wankstains.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35210404)

No... the comparison is between research professors and private industry researchers. Bankers have nothing to do with it.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (2)

dragonxtc (1344101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204266)

A majority of academics are in the pursuit of knowledge and furthering their respective fields. When you are working for a company a majority of the time you are doing something that does not further the field of science and knowledge.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (2)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204344)

A majority of academics are in the pursuit of knowledge and furthering their respective fields. When you are working for a company a majority of the time you are doing something that does not further the field of science and knowledge.

Agreed. Even if you *were* doing useful research, you likely would not be allowed to share it, ever. You have patents and copyright terms and by the end of them its not like companies just open up their records. They'd stay hidden forever. Patents give some insight but not all.

-Taylor

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204756)

Well, kind of. In the pursuit of profit, some times you do run across something remarkable. The problem is, much of the time the discovery is either held back as a trade secret, or patented. At least when it is patented, the public gets to see it, and eventually use it royalty free.

Same with the military. They have invented some neat stuff, all the in the pursuit of a better way to defend a country and/or kill other humans. The internet is the most obvious, but even Velcro® (hook and loop fasteners) has a foundation in the military complex.

My point is that there is the opportunity for discovery in all areas. Academia has a somewhat better track record for releasing information, although they also have the worst record for falsifying documents (cold fusion, cough cough) in order to get more funding.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204776)

Academics have a track record for falsify documents the way programmers have a track record of liking Java.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35207258)

The thing that always got me about cold fusion was this: If it actually works would they let you and your work be known or would they do whatever it took to make everyone think you were nuts and lock it up?

I'm not talking some oil/gas company conspiracy theory, I'm talking about how truly dangerous it would be if you can harness that much energy without needing some exotic McGuffin to make it work. I remember an episode of Outer Limits where a kid held a town hostage with a cold fusion bomb until they agreed to walk out and execute the 10 people that had treated him like dirt in his life. Can you imagine the danger if every nutball and loner could cook up a Hiroshima in his kitchen? You'd go from civilization to a Mad Max style free for all in about a month, if it took that long for everyone to go apeshit. I just don't think humans as a race are ready for that kind of instant power, good for the environment or not, do you?

As for TFA, anything that lets technology become cheap enough that everyone can enjoy it is alright in my book, and a big round of applause is in order for the Prof, good job man. Just look at how quick the cost of laptops went down after the EEE came out (yes I know the OLPC did it first, but by refusing to sell to the first world and get economies of scale going they pretty much kept it from reaching critical mass) and now we are seeing the same thing in smartphones and mobile devices thanks to powerful ARM chips being cheap and plentiful.

Hell your average bottom of the line desktop or laptop is more powerful than my first dozen PCs put together and cost less than a fifth of the first one alone. So anything that makes decent tech at low cost is a big and resounding yay in my book. Now if we can get this guy to figure out how to make TB SSDs out of recycled plastic at 50c a pop and an 8 core CPUs out of beer cans for a dollar I'll be a happy camper!

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (5, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204358)

All that academic shit looks good on paper, but.... oh.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204448)

Color me retarded.

We're out of retarded. How about olive?

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35205064)

I thought professors were people who couldn't hack it in the real world, but it turns out academia is behind most innovation in one way or another? Color me retarded.

Wow! But I thought people didn't get their news from Glenn Beck!

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

biohack (955639) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205784)

George Whitesides is a world famous chemist. If not for his intellectual curiosity, he could just earn a comfortable living by consulting for industry and VC firms. As for practicality and simplicity, Whitesides often looks for an inexpensive solution that can produce results that are almost as good as those achieved with state-of-the-art equipment. His group pioneered a number of such creative inventions in microfluidics and nanotechnology, many of which have been widely used and further enhanced by others. When I read that this paper device was developed by a Harvard professor, Whitesides was my first guess.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

FragHARD (640825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205884)

Yea... like global warming, the data looks great on paper.... once it's been fixed lolroflmfao!!!

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35207228)

Being outside of the Business world is pretty lucrative too. I was a temp for an agency that put me in many random jobs around MIT. When I had to do reception type work for professors, a lot of time was spent fielding calls from outside companies who needed a consultant.

One notable professor working in the Cancer Research center was away 90% of the time. It was full time work answering his phone and taking care of his office. I would get calls asking how much the hourly rate was for talking with this professor on the phone. It was over $200 just to speak to this man. Knowing this.. he entered the room and my mouth stayed shut :)

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35209324)

>quote> It was over $200 just to speak to this man.

So this presumed world leader in his field earned as much as some shitty ambulance chasing lawyer? Gosh, how unfair of him.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35214294)

I never said it was unfair. I'm just contributing my experience. The "shitty ambulance lawyer" is disjoint from the conversation.

Anyway, my larger point is that they can still do quite well in the University setting. In fact, they get to refine their asset full time with research. Many of these professors, while not working directly for businesses, make a hefty amount of money as board members for those companies. At least in the tech field. It's no coincidence that a large number of Biotech and Pharmas live around the Kendall Sq. area.

The world is right side up, don't worry. (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208888)

I thought professors were people who couldn't hack it in the real world, but it turns out academia is behind most innovation in one way or another? Color me retarded.

Note that this is a Professor of Chemistry, and we're talking about physical sciences here.

Your sarcastic criticism refers to something still quite true for all the sophists in the 'Women's studies', 'philosophy', and similar departments.

In the physical sciences, bullsh*t is bullsh*t and often readily identifiable as such. In the 'softer' fields, there is no physical reality that must be lived up to. All one must do for such academic credentials is to spin reams of crap that tickles the egos of their predecessors. In cases where the reality of human civilization indicates some grand social theory is useless, it's authors can claim 'Well the conditions aren't quite what I prescribed.....' and still be lauded if that theory fits the prejudices of said ivory-tower academics.

Re:The world is right side up, don't worry. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35209400)

Anyone who writes 'philosophy' in quotation marks is a moron. Oh look, you just wrote 'philosophy' in quotation marks.

And if you think there is a nice solid physical reality out there that is perfectly understood by tough-guy physical scientists you're also fucking deluded.

Re:The world is right side up, don't worry. (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216010)

I never claimed physical sciences are perfectly understood. I simply stated it's far easier to positively identify bullsh*t theories in the physical sciences than in the softer fields.

I'm sure a genuine student of philosophy- instead of some sophist jackass- would possess more refined logic, such that they wouldn't make the absurd jump between what I posted and what you responded with.

Now calm down, and go fetch me some fries. It's not my fault you're $100k in debt, the world doesn't recognize your 'genius', and fast food is your best career choice.

Re:My world is topsy-turvy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35209170)

I thought professors were people who couldn't hack it in the real world, but it turns out academia is behind most innovation in one way or another? Color me retarded.

You fucking said it, pal.

from the trees-aren't-off-the-hook-yet dept. (2)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204116)

If only there were a way to take a seed from a tree, put it in the ground, and make more of them. You could even envision some people producing tree farms.

thanks (-1, Troll)

hikayeciler (1996312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204124)

thank you good articlle. http://pctesti.com/ [pctesti.com]

cheap huh? (1, Troll)

qkslvr (594310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204132)

So the medical supply company will still manage to charge $1500 for those with insurance, and $5000 without. It's all about the certification labels...

Re:cheap huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204210)

This is perfect! We're only years out from egg carton alert systems.

Re:cheap huh?What? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204356)

Wouldn't they charge more for those with insurance?

Re:cheap huh?What? (2)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204492)

The insurance company worked out a "bulk" deal with the hospital and does not have to pay "full price".

Of course! (5, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204150)

Everything works on paper!

Re:Of course! (1)

knotprawn (1935752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204196)

From the Article: What is truly exciting, he says, is "if you can make such sensors on paper, you can make them on stretchable, biocompatible substrates like silicone, and then you can mimic the properties of skin." This is indeed truly exciting. I can now complete my bot. Hey where'd all the rest of the silicone go?

The cost of a product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204164)

is proportional to the quantity of MBAs b

I can see where this is going (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204420)

Accelerometer embedded in paper. Now they can track every turn of a page -- to collect licensing perhaps?

Paper airplane with autopilot? (1)

Fishead (658061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204480)

I wanna know what it would take to build a paper airplane with autopilot.

Re:Paper airplane with autopilot? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35210600)

Some control surfaces and a few paper PID chips [wikipedia.org] .

Oh, come on, guys. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204572)

TFA may show a picture of a dime next to the accelerometer, but it's clearly at least the size of a nickel!

Missing parts... (3, Informative)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204668)

Most accelerometers are not just a sense element.

The Analog devices ones from a few years back included an onboard reference (to allow single supply operation), and an on board buffer amplifier with externally settable gain (i.e. integrated op-amp). The 4 cent sensor still requires precision op-amps, nulling trim pots, etc to get a usable sensor. Don't forget packaging to protect the element from kinks, moisture, etc.

BUT, the most important thing about the accelerometers from Analog I used was they were laser trimmed for 0G, and used a very cool sense mechanism. The sensor was a micro-machined silicon mass on springs with a capacitive force/sense system that detects a perturbation of position by using a 1 MHz AC pump signal with a capacitive bridge and synchronous demodulation feedback. The mass is forced to be stationary by applying a DC electrical voltage on the capacitive sense plates, imparting a force 100% proportional to the applied DC voltage (i.e. purely LINEAR voltage to force relationship).

So what? Their system keeps the mass centered, thus making micro-machined springs that hold the mass irrelevant to the output voltage. In other words the NON-LINEARITY of crap springs is servoed out, and the output voltage is not an open loop measurement with gain, but a true measure of the force being applied to the tiny little mass by the acceleration trying to be measured.

Paper as a spring is not going to be repeatable from batch to batch, is subject to moisture, subject to fatigue, hysteresis, etc. Mad props for new uses of paper, but practical as a replacement for the devices it mocks it is not.

Re:Missing parts... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35204772)

As opposed to what? 1MHz DC?

Re:Missing parts... (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204868)

The terms AC and DC have two subtly different meanings. In one of them, AC is distinguished from DC because AC oscillates and DC does not. In the other sense, AC differs from DC by virtue of the direction of current flow -- the current only "alternates" if it actually comes to a stop and flows in the opposite direction. It's possible to have oscillation without the current changing direction, for instance a 1 MHz oscillation that ranges from 0 volt to 1 volt. The current always moves in one direction, though its amplitude varies.

So yes, indicating AC is not redundant. It means the voltage passes through 0.

Re:Missing parts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35205070)

Since we're talking about a capacitive bridge, you're wrong, I'm right, good night.

Re:Missing parts... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205468)

It's nice to pick and choose bits of previous posts to make it sound like that's what you meant, but I know that what you meant is that "oscillating means AC" and that just doesn't jive with the dictionary definition of the term. But congratulations, you won a pointless battle with somebody who wasn't trying to fight in the first place and who you'll never meet :-)

Re:Missing parts... (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205134)

(1 MHz AC) pump vs. 1 MHz (AC pump)

I should have said 1 MHz LO, and IF feedback instead of DC. I have trouble adjusting my terminology to more lay terms, sorry.

Re:Missing parts... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205928)

[yada yada yada] ... but practical as a replacement for the devices it mocks it is not.

Um, yeah. Totally misses the point. It's not meant to replace those devices. It isn't even meant to replace the much cheaper, more widespread alternative to those devices (silicon MEMS sensors). From TFA:

Harvard chemistry professor and paper device pioneer George Whitesides, who led the new work, says he does not expect the paper sensors to replace silicon accelerometers. He doesn’t currently have specific applications in mind, but he expects the low-cost, lightweight, and easy-to-fabricate devices to open up new applications in different areas, from consumer gadgets to medicine.

Re:Missing parts... (2)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#35206170)

BUT, the most important thing about the accelerometers from Analog I used was they were laser trimmed for 0G, and used a very cool sense mechanism. The sensor was a micro-machined silicon mass on springs with a capacitive force/sense system that detects a perturbation of position by using a 1 MHz AC pump signal with a capacitive bridge and synchronous demodulation feedback.

I assume you then reverse the polarity and feed it back through the deflector dish?

Re:Missing parts... (1)

prionic6 (858109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35207280)

I was going to say the same thing...

Re:Missing parts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35232504)

that isn't going to work unless you remodulate

Real World Billing (1)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204858)

If it only costs four cents to manufacture, your doctor's office will bill $42.65 for it.

Re:Real World Billing (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35204974)

If it only costs four cents to manufacture, your doctor's office will bill $42.65 for it.

Sure, they will do that because they know that insurance companies will take that bill and then only pay $.03 for it. They then need one uninsured person to agree to that increased price to make up for the money they lost to the insurance companies.

Re:Real World Billing (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208488)

Unless its on medicare and then they'll charge $420.65 for it.

biomimicry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35205022)

In other news, skin can function as an accelerometer, and black skin is more sensitive than white skin. That explains why black people can dance better than anybody else.

Ahh, MEMS (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205024)

I see this is based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). As we continue to work on new ways to develop accurate MEMS - and incorporate them into things we need - we'll see if these live up to their promise. A while ago I was at a mass spectrometry conference where a researcher was talking about his work with MEMS for mass spec; which could turn the whole industry and field on it's head . While reducing the (physical) size of the detection part of a mass spectrometer is great, it offers another advantage as well - a MEMS could measure mass directly (all mass spectrometers on the market today measure mass-to-charge ratio instead).

If anything mentioned on slashdot recently has brought us closer to a real, working, tricorder, it is a MEMS based mass spectrometer.

undo (3, Insightful)

fahlesr1 (1910982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205034)

Commenting to undo unintentional mod.

Re:undo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35205360)

Quick, vote parent up!

Re:undo (1)

Tuan121 (1715852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208108)

1) Spend mod point
2) Reply to undo
3) Get modded up to receive more mod points than originally spent
4) ???
5) Profit!

Helps if you read (1)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205162)

When I first read the title, I read it as a paper particle accelerator. I was really excited and curious, although confused when I actually rtfa and it talked about mems accelerometers, but I kept going, and it wasn't until the very last that I actually figured out that it was not in fact, a particle accelerator shrunk to the size of a dime made out of paper, but a tiny accelerometer made out of paper (essentially). It's been a long day.

Z-axiz rotation (1)

bendytendril (1281160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205778)

Could it tell me how long it took me to twist up this fattie?

Why did I read that as (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35205914)

Harvard Professor Creates Papal Accelerometer?

Way overhyped (1)

Laser Dan (707106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35206628)

Amazing new paper sensor!
Only 4c to manufacture!
The size of a dime!
120 micronewton accuracy!

Fine print:
Requires precision resistors for the wheatstone bridge, a high resolution ADC, and a microcontroller for minimal calibration. Also a temperature sensor and additional ADC for decent calibration. Sounds like about $3 worth of additional cost minimum.

A 10 second check of digikey shows you can get a *3-axis* MEMS accelerometer (MMA8453QT) in a 3x3x1mm package (MUCH smaller than a dime) for US$2 ($1.12 in 100 qty). So this paper thing is larger, more expensive, and less accurate than MEMS accelerometers. That is besides the problem of sensitivity to humidity, and I expect low bandwidth. An interesting idea, but impractical.

Amazing!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35207310)

That's fantastic!

Our new age will have a name: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35207396)

Welcome to the Carbon Age.

Not paper (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208394)

It's not made of paper. It's made of paper, carbon and silver.

Inexpensive medical testing? (1)

Benson Arizona (933024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35208660)

An (electronic) accelerometer can be constricted by attaching a resistive material to a vaguely flexible substrate such that the electrical resistance varies when the substrate is deformed (much the same as a strain gauge actually). In this case, the paper is merely the substrate and it is difficult to accept the claim that the accelerometer is made of paper.It seems rather akin to claiming to have made a paper-based computer - by sticking a laptop to a sheet of paper.

More importantly, precisely which medical tests require an accelerometer? Not being the sort of malingerer who spends a lot of time undergoing medical testing, I may have missed them but I'm pretty sure that no doctor has ever attempted to measure my acceleration. I know that older people often claim that time seems to pass more quickly. Perhaps time passing more quickly actually manifests as a measurable reduction in their acceleration and acceleration tests are a geriatric specialisation that I can look forward to as I get older. Perhaps the more senior SlashDot followers would care to comment on the efficacy of acceleration testing?

different from piezoelectric transducer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35210148)

How is this different from a normal piezoelectric transducer being used as an accelerometer ?

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