Staff picks for the week of Feb. 15, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralThis week’s staff picks cover everything from robotic butlers to the Grammys and everything in between. Read on for your weekly dose of tech news.

Wood shop enters the age of high-tech (Read by Camillia S.)

There’s a great exchange in the 80s classic “The Breakfast Club” between Bender and Brian in which Brian describes students who take shop as “dopes.” But gone are the days of making bird houses and planters in shop class. Now students are asked to push the envelope and develop their own designs using cutting-edge tools such as 3-D printers and laser cutters. Shop was one of my favorite classes in middle school. It was refreshing to take a break from the books and use my creativity to make something. The opportunities are even greater now, and who knows, maybe it will make you a millionaire!

Researchers discover new glass technology (Read by Heidi B.)

The giant picture window in your parent’s living room could soon be a big screen TV, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. The team found that coating small pieces of glass with thin layers of metal makes the glass more transparent, enhancing the amount of light coming through it. Because metal naturally conducts electricity, the possibility exists to integrate advanced technologies into windows and other glass objects. This breakthrough could really open doors windows in the tech world, if you ask me.

A robot butler is replacing humans in some California hotels (Read by Alexandria H.)

Every day we get a little bit closer to the Jetsons-like reality we all thought we’d be living by now. We still don’t have flying cars, but six hotels in California have taken a step toward the future by way of a robot named Relay (a name similar to Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid). Relay uses Wi-Fi and 3-D cameras to respond to hotel guests’ requests for toothpaste, towels, and other items. Barring the fact that this futuristic employee probably means the loss of real ones, I think it would be pretty awesome to have a robot deliver my newspaper during my next hotel stay.

Technical Grammy: The award you’ve never heard of (Read by Ed M.)

I will suppress every urge to utter phrases like “back in my day” and “they don’t even play instruments” from my commentary while watching tonight’s Grammy Awards. Although most artists now carry their music in cases containing laptops rather than guitars, electronic music has been with us far longer than some Gen X-ers would like to admit. (If you ever air-keyboarded Van Halen’s “Jump” or “Axel F” from the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack on a car dashboard, I’m looking at YOU.) This year’s Best Dance/Electronic Album Grammy nominees, including The Chemical Brothers, Skrillex, and Caribou, build on the legacy of electronic sound introduced by Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog Synthesizer and winner of the Technical Grammy in 2002. Although this year’s Technical Grammy Award honorees won’t see the main stage, many of those in the spotlight tonight built their sound using technology long-ago invented by people like Harvey Fletcher and companies like Elektro-mess-technik (EMT).

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