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ramé-hart instrument co. May 2014 Newsletter
|Windshield Wipers May Go the Way of the Dodo Bird|
Think about the ordinary windshield wiper for a moment. Not much has changed in the past 100 plus years with this seemingly essential component of every car and truck on the road. The first wipers were invented in 1903 by a woman named Mary Anderson and were hand-operated.1 Before long a motor was added, then intermittent control came along in the 1960s. However exciting the development of the wiper has been, you have to admit that not a whole lot has changed over the past eleven or so decades: a strip of rubber is affixed to an arm which swings over the windshield to push rain, sleet, and snow off the glass.
Can you imagine that your next new car may, in fact, not have a windshield wiper? There are several budding technologies that may bring the end to the wiper as we know it.
The first is the development of a superhydrophobic coating that exhibits extreme water repellency, transparency, and long-term durability. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Nelum Sciences are working on one such coating which exhibits at least some of the required characteristics. See the video below to learn more about this coating technology. A ramé-hart Model 290 was used in the development of this product.2 To get a feeling of what it might feel like to drive a wiperless car in the rain, check out this video: http://youtu.be/4V1OeDTGL4w
Another potential contender for replacing the windshield wiper is ultrasonic wave technology borrowed from jet-fighter designs. Engineers at McLaren are developing a technology that involves sending 30kHz sound waves across the windshield which would keep it clear of rain, snow, and debris.3 The ultrasonic waves produce small bubbles which in turn lift contaminants and water off the glass. Amazingly, this technology, when mass produced, could cost as little as $15 per vehicle.
Graphene is another possible wiper eliminator. Researchers at Vanderbilt University are working on developing applications for graphene.4 The wiperless windshield is a potentially good fit: graphene is made up of carbon which is cheap; it's also very thin making it transparent. For a more detailed conversation on the amazing properties of graphene, check out our August 2012 Newsletter.5
Another set of Italians are also working on a wiper-less solution.6 Leonardo Fioravanti and his coworkers believe four layers are required to make a superhydrophobic windshield that works without wipers: The first layer defends against the damaging effects of the sun and weather. The second layer relies on a nano-dusted glass surface with self-cleaning capabilities. The third layer acts as a sensor to detect contaminants on the windshield in order to signal the second layer to activate and do its job. The fourth layer consists of conductive material to pass the electrical current required to operate the surface.
A solution developed by the Japanese is to simply use a series of jet nozzles to blow air at high pressure across the windshield. This method was used by engineers at Honda in an Acura TL concept car but the technology does not seem to be gaining any traction7.
Okay, so your next car may or may not be wiperless. However, it's likely you will see wiper-free technology emerge in our lifetime. It will be interesting to see if one of the budding technologies we mentioned above will be the winner...or if something new and better will come along. Maybe you'll be the one to come up with the winning solution.
The New ramé-hart U1 Series Camera
For the past few years we've had excellent
success with our F4 Series digital camera. It has a been a solid
performer and the default camera for all of our instruments starting
with Model 200. After serious consideration and research, we've decided
to migrate to an even faster standard camera. In the next couple of
months we will be rolling out our new U1 Series camera which will be
available as standard equipment on all of our new Models except 190.
Note that there will be no price increases despite a significant
improvement in performance.
The new U1 Series camera runs at 100 fps, 42% faster than the F4 Series which operates at a maximum 70 fps. Part of the increased speed is attributable to a change from the FireWire-b interface to USB 3.0, also called SuperSpeed USB. FireWire-b has been an excellent interface standard but USB 3.0 offers about five times greater bandwidth and overcomes the shortfalls of USB 2.0 including: low latency and jitter times thanks to better bidirectional communication, low CPU load due to the use of zero copy (DMA), and overall system stability and flexibility. We have tested the U1 Series camera in our lab for many hours with every edition of DROPimage and find it to be rock solid reliable, fast, and fully transparent to DROPimage with no special configuration procedures or setup for the end user to worry about. The power and data pass over a single cable for hassle-free setup and maintenance. We really like the U1 Series camera and trust you will, too.