If there's one thing that is guaranteed to make people crap their pants, it's a hovering hunk of machinery that shoots stuff. Introducing the MKV-L by Lockheed Martin.
Luckily for bad guys this isn't for hovering into bunkers and obliterating everything in the house, but for knocking out incoming projectiles.
"The MKV-L mission is to destroy medium through intercontinental-range ballistic missiles equipped with multiple warheads or countermeasures by using a single interceptor missile. During an actual hostile ballistic missile attack, the carrier vehicle with its cargo of small kill vehicles will maneuver into the path of an enemy missile. Using tracking data from the Ballistic Missile Defense System and its own seeker, the carrier vehicle will dispense and guide the kill vehicles to destroy any warheads or countermeasures."
During the following test the MKV-L was able to hover under its own power, adjust to the target it was tracking, and transmitted video and flight path information to computers on the ground.
HP and the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University announced their first prototype of a flexible screen that is both easy to produce and affordable. Made almost entirely out of plastic, the displays hope to revolutionize the size of our electronics such as laptops, phones and televisions. The amazing thing about it is their prototype consumes 90% less material than traditional displays of the same screen size.
It's been difficult for flexible screens to break into the mass market due to their cost and complicated design, but with recent breakthroughs like this we can expect flexible displays start to show up in our everyday lives by next year. I mean, if they can build a plant that can crank out thousands of feet of thin film solar fairly quickly, it would make sense they could use the same type of production to mass-produce flexible displays.
A train station in Tokyo, Japan has put up a demo LED display which is powered by pedestrians stepping on a spring-board type power generator. "A person weighing 60kg (132 lbs) can generate 0.5W by stepping on the panel twice." The small panel you see above generates enough power for the LED screen to light up and display how much power has been generated so far. Although it will be removed by the end of the year, it still shows the potential power we can generate from the human body.
The greatest thing about this demo is it's sheer practicality in the real world. So many have been talking about solar panel highways or body-heat generating mobile devices, but not so much about kinetic energy. The energy-generating springboard has the additional benefit of being comfortable on the feet and back, something cement and pavement clearly lack. If these were installed in every pedestrian zone (heck, even on roads) it would feel like walking on a basketball court which are in themselves springy. If it proves to be more beneficial instead of developing a solar asphalt, it may just take over ground-level solar production.
A while back I reported on Microsoft's prototype called the SideSight, a cellphone which uses infrared sensors to determine your hand movement. Now it turns out Apple has applied for a patent on just that.
Sure, the image isn't too clear, but what you see is a possible infrared sensor array using LEDs or OLEDs as the sensor. You'll be able to rotate displays with just a wave of your hand if you bring it close to the screen. It doesn't stop there too. Apparently they're looking into the same technology for a possible OLED iPhone that will feature these sensors. Now THAT would be awesome.
What you're looking at is a robotic tank that is capapble of ruining your world. Built by twin brothers in Maine, the Ripsaw MS1 is capable of speeds up to 60mph, can perform maneuvers that would leave a crew bruised and battered, and can be outfitted with a remotely operated machine gun. On top of this, it's extremely rugged, easy to fix, and can caarry a payload of up to 2,000 pounds. This is one mean machine.
The crazy thing is that this was built by two guys in Maine for about $1 million dollars.
Movies sometimes have some pretty fantastical devices which we find hard to believe. There's the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the deneuralyzer from Men in Black and of course the holodeck from the Star Trek franchise. But some movies contain nifty gadgets and technology that seem simple enough to build or develop with current technologies. I mean, it's almost 2009 for christsake.
1. Safety Foam from Demolition Man
In the movie Demolition Man, Stallone's character John Spartan gets into a high-speed car accident during an electric car chase through the future streets of San Angeles. Instead of smashing to tiny bits, a foam fills the car and solidifies, saving his life and leaving him totally unscratched. It would seem easy enough to create such a foam (there might be problems with people inhaling it as it expands) so why the heck isn't it in cars yet?
2. Cold Fusion from The Saint
In The Saint, Simon Templar steals notes from a scientist which, when arranged properly, show how to make cold fusion work. While research into cold fusion technologies is progressing, it's kind of surprising there hasn't been a breakthrough yet in the field. You'd think someone could at least prove that it can or can't work by now.
RoboClam. The name merely conjures up an image of a robotic clam skidding along the ocean floor at top driving speeds. But upon closer examination, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Picture a ship anchor in the shape of an oblong razor clam the size of a cigarette. According to Anette Hosoi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “it turns out that clams are actually very fast diggers.” Seems like researchers are increasingly finding answers in nature.
How does it work? The RoboClam uses its namesake to embed itself in the sand which enables the anchor to hold it’s place. It vibrates in order to turn surrounding mud into liquid. Its jaws then spread open, allowing a mechanical "feeler" to push down further into the ground. The hope is to eventually build one which can dig down up to three feet.
If there's one thing that could creep you out this morning, it's that cyborg creatures (bugs, rats, birds and sharks) already exist. Researchers have been working heavily into cyborg creatures in order to reduce the cost of developing miniature robots. "The motivation is simple: why labour for years to build robots that imitate the ways animals move when you can just plug into living creatures and hijack systems already optimised by millions of years of evolution?" DARPA has heavily funded research into this kind of field, possibly hoping for a bug which can buzz around a room, spying on inhabitants.
Cyborg creatures feature heavily in science fiction movies, and not just for spying. Often cyborgs are touted as superior to robotic creatures since they combine real intelligence with robotic structure. It's weird to think of, but we may well be seeing rat-brain powered personal robots before robotic intelligence gets good enough to take over. Your dog can be taught to fetch the paper and all other sorts of tricks, why not more complicated tasks if given a better body? Fido, go do the laundry!
Check out the full article regarding cyborg developments at the NewScientist.
The University of Aberdeen in the UK has declared that a fully-holographic television (like in Star Wars, yes) is entirely possible by 2018. They base this conclusion on research of their own on holograpic technologies as well as emerging 3D-like televisions that promise to go on sale in the next three to four years. "Whilst the ultimate 3D experience, using fully interactive floating holographic images - similar to that which is seen when Princess Leia appears in front of Luke Skywalker as a hologram in Star Wars - could be on the market by 2018." The team came to this conclusion after recieving $350,000 in funding to study timelines, possibilities and possible applications of a fully holographic television.
The question I find myself asking (other than why someone would still use "whilst" in a sentence) is why someone would even want a holographic television. In every view of the future we see, holograms aren't used for television, but for interactions and display. It will be interesting to see how the public will react to holographic televisions, and how long it will take for them to give way to holographic commmunication and fake girlfriends (Sixth Day). If anything, expect at least five months of Princess Leia parodies once this comes out.
It seems that once a technology is created and shown to work, it's not too long before someone creates a similar product in their basement for a fraction of the price. Here's TradeMark Gunderson of the Evolution Control Comittee showcasing his rear-projection touchscreen he threw together using some LEDs and two WiiMotes. Hope it inspires you to build your own since the Microsoft Surface costs about $12,500.