• Robotic Jellyfish Could Pave the Way to a Better Robot

    November 06 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    Bump into a jellyfish in the Ocean? Sure it was a real one?

    A German company called Festo threw these guys together using some pretty amazing technology that they hope will be useful for future production sites.

    “Each is coated with conductive metal paint that draws the robot to a nearby charging station. It also has LED illumination, integrated pressure, light and radio sensors, and 11 infrared light-emitting diodes used for jelly-to-jelly communication.” – PopSci.com

    The key is getting the jellyfish (there’s one that floats in the air too) to work together to accomplish tasks. Already they can swarm together and avoid collision through communication, but the real hope is that they can eventually work together.

    Building objects with robots requires an assembly line which, if the swarming technology gets refined, will soon be outdated and inefficient. In getting multiple robots to work together to build a single product or structure, you not only save production time but also space. You could build a thousand cars in a warehouse that today only has a hundred car capacity.

    If anything, at least you could put them in your fish tank and enjoy the show (Dr. Evil might attach laser beams to them).

    via MAKE

  • New Structure Re-Defines the Term "Mobile Home" by Walking On Legs

    November 06 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Some crazy smart people over at MIT collaborated with a Danish design group to make a house that moves on legs.

    The house, which reportedly can move up to five kilometers per hour, comes equipped with all the necessities for a personal dwelling. “The house is ten feet high, powered by solar panels, and is outfitted with a kitchen, toilet, bed, and wood stove.” What makes this different than a traditional motor home is that it can pass over objects where a tire might have a problem. It can reportedly “turn left and right, move forward and back, and even change height as needed.” In a sense, a true mobile home.

    The hope is to eventually create a dwelling capable of climbing hills and navigating over rough terrain. They even hope to build a model which could also float on water for both land and sea adventures.

    But is this a practical invention?

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  • Exploding Bike Lock Ensures a Safe Bike and an Awesome Lawsuit

    November 06 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    There’s two things an exploding bike lock will get you – a safe bike and a lawsuit.

    Mike Lambourn, a product designer out of London, has built himself an exploding bike lock. Not exploding as in fire, but as in liquid. Inside the bike lock is compressed air and liquid which, when the wall is breached by a device such as a bolt cutter, shoots all over the place. As you can see from the video above it’s quite a spray, getting all over the bike, the ground, and especially the thief.

    Why would you want to spray liquid all over everything?

    It’s what’s inside the liquid that counts. “A bike that has been stolen will be covered in coloured dye (the dye renders the bike undesirable and therefore unsellable ) as well as transluscent Smartwater – an invisible forensic property marking liquid.” The hope is that the dye will mark the bike as stolen and UV scanners could pick up the invisible dye on thieves for police to arrest.

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  • Portable Food-In-A-Pill Helps Soldiers and Civilians in Emergencies, Will Metabolize Your Own Fat

    November 06 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    For those emergency situations where food might be scarce (or even destroyed by enemy fire) comes the Meal Ready to Take (MRT), a device loaded with enough food pills to sustain life for a week. Depress the top button for a full-sized meal.

    Although we are told it time and again, not very many of us prepare for disasters. Likewise, soldiers in the field trust that they’ll have enough food in their backpack or vehicle to last them the duration of the mission. So how many water bottles do you have in your place in case of emergency? A half gallon at best? And food? It’s for this reason the MRT is essential to any disaster preparedness kit and in the field of battle.

    Inside each pill is enough vitamins and nutrients to constitute about half a meal for a person on a 2,000 Calories a day diet. While it may not feel like you’re eating a meal due to the size (your stomach will still gnaw at itself), you’ll still notice a difference in your energy levels. Your stomach may be empty but your body is still getting the sustenance it needs to survive.

    Where does the rest of the meal come from?

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  • 3DIcon Develops True 3D Imaging with Dual Infrared Lasers

    November 05 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Tulsa, Oklahoma company 3DIcon has made an astonishing 3D imaging breakthrough with their prototype CSpace.

    “CSpace creates a virtual moving screen display that contains a variety of particles suspended within its volumetric image space. When these particles are excited by two different infrared lasers, they illuminate to generate a 3D image.”

    The two infrared lasers combine to form an image in a “volumetric image space” (something like a clear cube). The breakthrough made is in the technology as well as the display quality. Not only can the 3D image be viewed from any angle, but it also displays an incredibly high resolution. On top of this, the whole prototype requires no moving parts. So far they’ve only been able to create green 3D objects, but the hope is to eventually create full-color 3D images.

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  • LCD Screen Can Monitor UV Levels and Take Your Fingerprints

    November 05 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    AU Optronics Corp, one of the top three manufacturers of thin film Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), have developed a LCD screen which has the ability to take your fingerprint or monitor UV levels on the environment (the UV thing is kinda weird, they hope to market it to women worried about too much skin exposure to UV rays).

    The LCD screen is able to scan a fingerprint due to the high amount of sensors built into the pixels themselves. “The LCD panel is mounted with optical sensors and a detection circuit. Each pixel is equipped with four sensors.” The high pixel to sensor ratio allows it to scan a fingerprint only a few seconds after a finger is placed on it.

    The scariest issue about all of this is the fact that surfaces, which we thought were simple, are becoming even more complex. This is a huge issue when you consider biometric information (fingerprints, DNA, iris scan) can easily be gained by technology that used to just make thinner TVs possible. It makes you wonder how decades from now people are going to protect their identity when the technology around them records everything about them.

    via TechOn!

  • Nanobama made of carbon nanotubes

    November 04 2008 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Government

    Nanowerk has reported on University of Michigan Professor John Hart’s Nanobama site featuring nanoscale designed faces of Barack Obama. The carbon nanotube faces consist of millions of aligned nanotubes, and shown via a scanning electron microscope.

  • FCC Frees Up White Spaces, Signals a Wireless Revolution (Google is Very Happy)

    November 05 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    On the eve of the election, the FCC approved the use of the wireless spectrum left void by the national switch to digital television (commonly referred to as “white space”) for tech company use.

    “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted a Second Report and Order (Second R&O) that establishes rules to allow new, sophisticated wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum on a secondary basis at locations where that spectrum is open. (This unused TV spectrum is now commonly referred to as television “white spaces”). The rules adopted today will allow for the use of these new and innovative types of unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum to provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.” – FCC Website

    Google, a long proponent of developing the strong white space spectrum for wireless internet, is ecstatic. Having lead the fight to free up the white space spectrum with other partners such as Dell, Microsoft and HP, Google must be feeling like they’re on top of the world.

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  • Mintpass Promises to Give The Nano a Run For Its Money

    November 05 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    While you were pounding a few beers back last night, a Korean company unleashed a product into the world that may give the iPod Nano a run for its money. Dubbed the Mintpass, this little guy (only the size of your palm and weighing only 3.2 ounces) has Wi-Fi capabilities, plays music, can chat, blog, function as a post-it and even surf the internet. Did I mention it has a 1.3M camera? Or a speaker and microphone? How about video capability and 4GB of space (on top of an 8GB microSD slot). Think of it as a Nano on steroids. Demo video here.

    Will we be seeing it anytime soon?

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  • It Hurt the Music Industry, But Can Apple Kill the Gaming Industry?

    November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Arik Hesseldahl at Business Week wrote a very interesting article about how the iPhone and iTouch could possibly compete with the big-wigs of the gaming industry.

    “For the last few days I’ve been sampling some of the games available from the iTunes Store on the iPod Touch, and I’ve been stunned at how elaborate and involved they are. On the iPod Touch I’ve played a version of Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2009 that rivals the version of the game on the Nintendo DS, and I didn’t even miss the buttons.”

    And it’s true, the gaming experience on these mobile devices has gotten so good that people are able to play networked games such as Quake 3 on them.

    But the fact of the matter is, like video, playing games on a screen the size of a pack of cigarettes isn’t going to do much damage to the gaming industry. It’s going to be years before the iPhone can reach the same processor capability to match, for instance, the XBOX 360. The gaming consoles themselves are also much cheaper than an iPhone and are capable of streaming High Definition to colossal TV screens.

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