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Mechanical Engineering. 2016;138(11):32-37. doi:10.1115/1.2016-Nov-1.

This article explores the collaboration of artificial intelligence and voice recognition in day-to-day living. As everyday products grow smarter and more capable, voice promises to simplify how we communicate with smart cars, smart homes, smart offices, and smart factories. Instead of mastering one new app after another, voice could make it simpler to command them all. Incorporating voice interfaces is expected to transform product design. Voice recognition is also expanding its beachhead in physical products. Many new cars use voice to place calls, set the GPS, write and receive texts, change radio stations, and adjust the temperature. The machine learning software behind voice recognition analyzes data from actual interactions to improve its performance. It is expected that by coupling natural language requests to the deepest workings of the operating system, we may soon have new types of products that will give anyone access to features that only a professional could manipulate.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2016;138(11):38-43. doi:10.1115/1.2016-Nov-2.

This article discusses increasing use of energy water due to increasing unavailability of fresh water. There has been an increasing demand for energy and water even faster than population increase, driven by economic growth on top of the population growth. The increased energy intensity of water has several different components, including stricter water/wastewater treatment standards, deeper aquifer production, long-haul pipelines, and desalination. Each of those elements is more energy intensive than conventional piped water today, and seems to be a more common option moving forward. Rapid desalination growth is also occurring in China, where booming industrial activity is straining water supplies that serve the world’s largest population. While trading energy for water makes a lot of sense in places such as the Middle East or Libya, where there is an abundance of energy and a scarcity of freshwater, that trade-off is not obviously an excellent value in places such as the United Kingdom or the United States, where other cost-effective options such as water conservation, graywater capture, and water reuse might be available.

Topics: Water
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2016;138(11):45-47. doi:10.1115/1.2016-Nov-3.

This article presents an overview of various aspects of nanoscale technology. As opposed to the macroscale, where water molecules next to a pipe wall have zero velocity, in nanochannels, fluid molecules slip at the channel surface, experiencing an enhanced convective transport. Nanotechnology can also help us alter natural designs. Carbon nanotubes act like a reinforcement to give synthetic tissue the strength, stiffness, and viscoelastic performance of natural membranes. In order to store macroscopically significant amounts of energy, one needs to deform large numbers of carbon nanotubes. It is more challenging still to deform them in a way that maintains high-energy density of overall system. Micro- and nanoscale structures have given us capabilities to interact with cells and pathogens at their level as never before and helped us understand how they live, grow, multiply, differentiate, and die.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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