New sensors might stop photographers from being afraid of the dark

One of the biggest issues for any camera is the device's abilities to take pictures or record video in the dark, especially when a flash isn't practical or can't generate enough light. However, with new sensors that have been developed by Canon, all of that may change. On Friday, the company announced a new high-sensitivity 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, which is specially designed to work in low-light environments.

By utilizing the increasing sensitivity to light along with low-noise imaging, the sensor allows a camera to pick up images that would have been blurry or obscured entirely by darkness, albeit at lower resolutions. According to a press release from Canon, the sensor will be initially tailored for video use only due to the low quality images produced by the lens. In addition, it's unlikely that the new development will be incorporated into any personal-use devices any time soon. Instead, the technology will be incorporated into gathering images of space for research.

"The company is looking to such future applications for the new sensor as astronomical and natural observation, support for medical research and use in surveillance and security equipment," the company said in the release. "Through the further development of innovative CMOS sensors, Canon aims to expand the world of new imaging expression."

In terms of practical use, Canon claims the lens will operate with just 0.03 lux of illumination, comparable to how bright it is with a partial moon in the sky.

The camera will be seen for the first time at SECURITY SHOW 2013 in Tokyo, Japan from March 5-8. At the exhibition, the public will get the first glimpse of what type of sensor housing Canon will use to incorporate the lens into different devices and what future uses the company has planned. Companies such as S-Bond will be integral in developing bond assembly for sensor housing and different methods for which Canon's lenses can be used in the future.

Volvo unveils new sensors to avoid collisions with cyclists

A couple of years ago, Volvo announced that it would install sensors in some of its vehicles that enabled it to detect pedestrians that entered the path of the driver, which would signal the vehicle to automatically break to avoid impact. Now, the Swedish car manufacturer has announced that is has taken this technology to the next level, unveiling new technologies that will allow the sensors to stop the vehicle when cyclists present a danger.

The update to the car sensors – known as Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake – was revealed to the public earlier this week at the Geneva Motor Show, and will first appear in select Volvo models starting this May.

In a release, Volvo claims that 50 percent of all European cyclist deaths occur due to collisions with vehicles, an enormous problem for urban areas where individuals attempt alternative methods of transportation. The sensor will be best served in preventing cars from striking cyclists that unexpectedly cut in front of vehicles in cases where the driver would not have seen the rider in time. Bike riders will be detected by using a radar to sense the speed and location of the cyclist while the car's camera determines what kind of object it is.

"Our solutions for avoiding collisions with unprotected road users are unique in the industry. By covering more and more objects and situations, we reinforce our world-leading position within automotive safety. We keep moving towards our long-term vision to design cars that do not crash," said Doug Speck, Volvo senior vice president of marketing, sales and customer service in a press release.

Developing proper sensor housing for devices that can detect unforeseen threats on the road are just one of many ways that companies like S-Bond are making roads safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Aston Martin’s high-performance hydrogen car to hit the road soon

Previously on this blog, we've discussed the progress of electric cars as one of the major ways that car manufacturers are turning to alternative energy technologies. However, luxury carmaker Aston Martin announced at this year's Geneva Motor Show that it would be turning to a different fuel source to stave off gasoline usage: hydrogen.

However, Aston Martin doesn't just want to produce a serviceable low-emissions hybrid vehicle, it wants one that can race.​

Later this year, the company will be entering one its hydrogen-fueled Aston Martin Rapides in the Nurburgring 24-hour race. The goal, according to Autocar, is to achieve the "first-ever race-pace zero emissions lap" during the event. According to CEO Ulrich Bez, the Rapide will use gasoline for just 20 percent of the race, showing that a car doesn't need gasoline in order to compete.

While hydrogen-based fuel cells have been a popular way to incorporate the substance as a fuel source in vehicles, it's not common to use it directly as a fuel source. According to GreenCarReports.com, the move to produce a vehicle that uses gasoline only a fraction of the time is one of many changes for the high-performance car producer, which has been trying to change its image from one that just produces powerful fuel-guzzlers. By spurning electric motors for ones that use hydrogen as a fuel source, Aston Martin can still produce its signature V-8 and V-12 engines, but can also feature lower gas usage.

Considering the reputation of low emission and electric vehicles as low-performance vehicles that can't keep up with their gasoline-powered counterparts, the presence of a powerful hybrid like the Rapide is a good sign for producers of alternative energy technologies. Companies such as S-Bond will continue to raise the bar of what can be accomplished with new, cleaner fuel sources.

Ryobi recalls batteries due to overheating issues

Previously on this blog, we've reported on companies struggling with thermal management technologies, particularly when battery complications lead to overheating in certain devices. Boeing's failure to address such concerns on its 787 Dreamliner was one of the most publicized cases of this in recent memory.

After running into similar concerns, tool manufacturer One World Technologies, which owns Ryobi, has been forced to recall a number of its devices when reports of overheating in its rechargeable lithium 18 V 4Ah battery packs first emerged.

According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the South Carolina-based company received four reports of charging batteries reaching unsafe temperatures, causing the component to "burst" in some instances. The defective batteries can create burn and fire hazards in such instances, although no injuries have been reported.

These incidents show why it is vital for companies to invest into thermal management technologies and to put adequate resources into testing such devices before they're made available to consumers. While Boeing and Ryobi are currently scrambling to deal with the ramifications of their recalls and to get their products back onto the market, the true damage may come down the road.

In addition to forcing customers to return a purchased product, or in Boeing's case, abandon the use of a certain model of airplane, companies that recall products are dealt a heavy blow to their reputations. When a company recalls a product, they force consumers to question how safe their products are to use. That reluctance may be the difference for a customer to make the switch to another product.

Because of this, it should come to no surprise that many successful companies are putting more resources into thermal management technologies and developing safe methods of bonding battery terminals, so as to avoid the over heating concerns that have plagued Boeing and Ryobi.

Automotive regulators must prepare for new technologies

In a market where new alternative energy technologies are constantly in development and companies are in a perpetual state of competition for the newest innovation, automobile manufacturers have released a bevy of new technologies in recent years, some of which fall under vague classifications for government regulators. Such is the case right now for many car producers with the latest developments in LED-headlight technologies.

According to a story on ExtremeTech.com, it may take some time for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to approve the latest headlight designs from foreign manufacturers, such as the new designs from Audi. The headlights, which are based on more complex LED matrices instead of one simple halogen headlight, offer more precise lighting for the driver as well as less glare for cars heading in the opposite direction. While these advancements are a positive for drivers, the headlights also possess more complicated outputs to attach to the car, making it difficult for producers in the U.S. to incorporate them into North American models. The main challenge on that front comes not from the development of the outputs, but the process through which the NHTSA must approve such new elements for vehicles.

"When government is uncertain about a new product or technology, it often chooses to move cautiously," Bill Howard wrote in the story for ExtremeTechnology. "That's good if it's a prescription acne drug that might cause cancer. With car lighting, the benefits (fewer accidents) probably outweigh the drawbacks."

It's an unfortunate circumstance for manufacturers, especially when such technologies can do so much good for transportation in America. Regardless, it's up to companies like S-Bond to continue to develop new advancements for automobiles, especially in terms of alternative energy technologies, in the hopes that continued improvements will force government regulators to catch up to what's available on the market.