• Virtual Skylight Makes It Easier to Live In Cramped Cities

    November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Some great science fiction movies have depicted the protagonist sitting in front of a beautiful landscape with chirping birds and incredible gardens (Aliens, Total Recall, etc). Spooky Science Fiction has yet again struck close to reality.

    Called the SkyCeiling, it uses high resolution imagery on embedded image tiles to give the looker a true 3D experience. Some of the technology they use in developing the SkyCeiling is used currently to treat seasonal depression. It provides “daylight-balanced light (the same light used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder) for rich color rendition and recognition as ‘natural’ daylight.” The hope is that the product would help sooth and calm people in hospitals who are unnerved by the white and sterile environment.

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  • Intel CTO Rattner: Wireless Power Likely to Produce Devices that Run Infinitely

    November 04 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
    Category: Energy

    Intel CTO Justin Rattner paints a scenario in which humans have access to “computers, and cameras, and phones that run infinitely”, relating that the feasibility and demand for such devices has spurred Intel to seriously research the underlying technologies that could spawn such a future reality.

    Rattner says Intel has been coming at wireless power “in a number of ways”, first from this notion of “scavenging free energy … from the environment to power all sorts of sensing devices” that broadcast data as they filled up with sufficient energy, but more recently through “injecting energy into the environment … particularly at this idea of coupled magnetic resonance circuits as a way to transmit power in a perfectly safe way.”

    With such a heavyweight company devoting real-deal R&D dollars to wireless power one has got to wonder when well start seeing some serious breakthroughs and if, eventually, pervasive power that enables always-on pervasive computing, sensing, and production could become a human reality.

  • Kids Get Hydrogen Powered Remote Controlled Car, Adults Still Waiting

    November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has a spiffy new remote control car that runs on hydrogen. It uses solar power to convert water into hydrogen which the user then empties into the car. Platinum plates then compress the hydrogen to get the needed electricity from it. While the car can only run for about four minutes, it’s a step toward making our toys and gadgets that much more energy efficient.

    Horizon itself is a very interesting company. They started out with the intention of being specialists in everything hydrogen and pretty much did just that. they offer a wide variety of products from small hydrogen fuel cells to portable ones for camping trips. The one that caught my attention was their development of a hydro-bike (video below) with puts a small fuel cell on a bicycle in order to power it. I want.

    via Nerd Grind

  • Heated Carbon Nanotubes Produce Sound, May Make Conventional Speakers Obsolete

    November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    Chinese researchers have discovered that by sending current through sheets of carbon nanotubes they can create sound.

    “Shoushan Fan and his research team at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, working with colleagues at Beijing Normal University, created a thin sheet by roughly aligning many 10-nanometer-diameter carbon nanotubes. When they sent an audio frequency current through the sheet, they discovered it acted as a loudspeaker.” -New Scientist

    Carbon nanotubes have been touted the world over as invaluable in many technological projects such as efficient solar cells, localized medication delivery and even in larger structures such as the planned space elevator if that ever takes off. But this is the first experiment in using nanotubes as a replacement for traditional speakers.

    Why would you make the switch?


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  • World's First Fully Artificial Heart Could Set You Back a Bit

    November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    French scientists unveiled the world’s first fully functional artificial heart at the cost of about $192,000 a unit. The heart, which gets some of its design from modern aerospace research, consists of two pumps which help regulate flow.

    The reason this is called the first fully functional artificial heart is that, unlike other hearts currently made, it comes equipped with sensors which can increase or decrease blood flow depending on the persons level of activity. “The same tiny sensors that measure air pressure and altitude in an airplane or satellite are also in the artificial heart. This should allow the device to respond immediately if the patient needs more or less blood.”(CNN) Current models require an outside regulator to adjust blood flow to the body (and only consist of one pump).


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  • Snowball Launcher Dominates Any Winter Battlefield

    November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    If you’re constantly on the losing team during snowball fights, this nifty hand-held gadget from Hammacher Schlemmer could ensure your survival. “This toy blaster makes and launches softball-sized snowballs up to 50’, allowing rapid, long-range assaults during neighborhood snowball confrontations.” It also packs it’s own snowballs, you only have to cram the snow into it. It works using a slingshot-like launcher so there’s no need to use batteries or worry about decreased performance. The best thing about it is that it’s pretty basic technology so it keeps the cost down.

    We’ve all dreamed of being able to launch snowballs like Will Ferrell in the movie Elf. All we need now is a snowball turret for snow fortresses and possible buckets of ice slush in lieu of boiling oil.

    via Nerdcore

  • Futuristic Scooter Touches on Concept Motorcycle Technology

    November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    If there’s one thing people desire, it’s a simple mode of transportation that doesn’t make them look like a total dweeb. Packing this onto a scooter is hard enough, but designer Sarah Park may have done just that.


    The most striking thing about this concept, besides the Bat Pod-like angles of the thing, is that it incorporates four tires into its design. Some of you may remember this kind of setup from Dodge’s incredibly fast Tomahawk. The parallel tires angle themselves depending on the angle of the vehicle — this allows the vehicle to have four tires instead of two for greater stability and balance.

    Also equipped with headlights and taillights, a device such as this guarantees if you’re caught riding around on it you won’t get the laughs the Segway does.

    via Coroflot

  • The iPhone of 2015 Promises Flexible Screens and Contact Lens Displays

    November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Leaked photos of the next generation Mac Mini suggest that Apple is committed to steadily shrinking components and appears to be on the road to something that may look a lot like this vision of the iPhone 2015 that we published last November:


    Sometimes it’s hard for people to get an accurate sense of what the future holds for certain technologies. For instance, could the average person three years ago have imagined that something like the 3G iPhone could exist now?

    It is for this reason I present this vision of the iPhone circa 2015.

    Contact Lens Display

    The most interesting feature of the iPhone 2015 is its first generation Contact Lens Display System. If there’s one thing that iPhone users believe themselves to be, and that Apple stresses all the time, it’s that people who use Apple products are independent and unique. It is for this reason that an eyeglass display was thrown out. No iPhone user would be caught dead wearing the same glasses as over ten million other iPhone users. The fact is, glasses are cumbersome. They gather dirt, get lost easily, and make sports rather difficult.

    In 2007, development of a contact lens display system began at the University of Washington, Seattle. “Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.” In the time between now and 2015, the cost involved in the production of a contact lens display will likely reduce in price, meaning the loss of one won’t reduce you to tears in case of loss.

    The problems associated with contact lenses (protein build-up, 8-hour wear limit, annoyance of constant inserting and removal) will be lessened with oxygen-permeable lenses. O2OPTIX, a company currently specializing in such breathable lenses, already sells a lens capable of week-long wear without removal. “O2OPTIX is made with a revolutionary silicone hydrogel technology allowing up to 5 times more oxygen through the lens than the leading traditional 2-week lens, to help protect from the signs and symptoms of corneal oxygen deficiency.” It only makes sense that seven years from now a lens will be developed which can last even longer making wearable contact lenses less of a pain.

    Of course there always is the option of implanting the lens permanently into the eye, but who would ever go under invasive surgery for first generation technology?


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  • Trackball-like Hamster Cage Interesting but Falls Short of Progress

    November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Dubbed the VirtuSphere, this giant ball hopes to deliver a true virtual reality experience by giving people the ability to explore their environments on foot. “The VirtuSphere platform consists of a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless, head-mounted display, users can step inside the sphere to fully interact in immersive virtual environments.” It claims users can run, jump, crawl, even roll inside the sphere.

    This is new technology, meaning it’s also beta technology. From the looks of it, the idea that a user could actually run in that thing is a little far-fetched. Not only is the ground curved, but without a more accurate virtual image on the heads-up display users might find themselves a little off-balance. It also looks like the sphere cannot help move the ball in the direction you are moving — if you’re running at full speed and suddenly stop, you might end up eating virtual pavement as the ball continues its momentum.

    The key to these devices is really going to be in flat ground. Balance is easier, it’s more familiar, and it allows for non-wireless tech to be included such as more powerful headsets and maybe a support harness. Maybe an omni-directional treadmill which can tell which way you are going and move accordingly?

    Maybe if we can get those white boxes from the Beijing Opening Ceremony we could incorporate vertical as well as horizontal movement (skip to the 42 minute mark).

  • EyeClops Night Vision — A New Reason to Fear Your Children

    November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    For a measly $60, your kid can become a Rainbow Six operative with these sweet night vision goggles. EyeClops allows the user to see up to 50 feet in pitch dark conditions using real infrared technology for its display. And while it’s a power-hog (the five AA batteries last about five hours), night vision has been the dream of just about any boy out there who’s parents accidentally let him watch the movie Patriot Games).

    Is this a future trend? Military technology making its way into the home as a much friendlier version?

    Of course it is. The military has fascinating gadgets — it only makes sense they’d eventually find their way into the hands of our children. BB guns (weapons), remote-control airplanes (Unmanned Aeriel Vehicles), and of course fireworks (explosives). The real question is, what military tech today could wind up in the hands of the next generation?