• Emotiv Systems Hits Roadblock, Delays Release Until 2009

    December 02 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    project-epoc-wireless-mind-reading-headset.jpgJohn Callaham over at Big Download reports that Emotiv Systems, the company that was expected to release a brain-wave controller by the end of the year, is delaying its release due to issues of it actually working.  The press release where it was unveiled at the Game Developers Conference may be a sign.  "The public demo didn't go as planned; the device simply didn't work in front of the media who attended the press conference."  And while the company later explained that the product didn't work properly due to "interference from wireless transmitters," it's probably safe to say that the product didn't work because it simply isn't working.

    I guess we all should have seen it coming.  A Brain Controlled Interface which is good enough to control video game characters seemed too good to be true for a 2008 release, and I guess it was.  What Emotiv probably found out was that technology as specific as this, much like Google's Voice Recognition software, takes a lot of time to perfect.  Google 411 has been working for years, using hundreds of thousands of voices to finally make a viable product.  Emotiv needs more time to do just the same.  The real question is how long will it take?  2009?  Let's hope.

  • Honda's New Fuel-Feedback System - Behavior Modification Applied to Real-Time Driving

    November 27 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
    Category: Technology

    As sensors and computers continue to spread throughout the world they quantify our environment and offer the opportunity of real-time feedback.  Case in point is Honda's new "Ecological Drive Assist System for Enhanced Real World Fuel Economy", a sensor/display system that learns your driving style and conditions you to become a more ecologically conscious driver.

    Here's what the interface will look like:

    Honda Ecological Drive Assist System for Enhanced Real World Fuel Economy

    And here's Honda's description of the new system:

    TOKYO, Japan, November 20, 2008– Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the development of the Ecological Drive Assist System, which combines three functions to enhance fuel economy: the ECON Mode utilizes harmonized control of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and engine to support more fuel-efficient driving; the guidance function uses speedometer color to provide real-time guidance on fuel-efficient driving; and thescoring function provides feedback about current driving practices, as well as feedback on cumulative, long-term fuel-efficient driving.


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  • Linux Kernal on the iPhone — Does Android Dominate the Mobile Future?

    December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    AndroidThe Linux community could be described as a group of people across the globe with the best of intentions, but even within the Linux community there are still splits and divisions.

    While the idea is to create community-based software that is free to everyone, getting quality software can be hard since instead of working on one program which can, let's say, edit video, there are multiple programs out there to perform this function.  This has always surprised me about the Linux community.  I always figured there would be just one program developers would work on to make the best instead of wasting their resources by working on multiple programs that perform the same function.

    Why are there tons of media players when there should just be one?  Why are there various operating systems when there should be just one?  Even Ubuntu has multiple off-shoots which is understandable since people want to gear their computer towards gaming or speed specifically.  But a media player?

    But now it seems we might be seeing one platform dominating a field where previously there had been over 50 varieties.

    Android has made Linux users happy with their Open Source Operating System.  You can tell by looking through many of the different forums or sites Linux users use.  Just about anytime you see a reference to a mobile phone operating system, Android is referenced in spades.  A team of developers recently put the Linux kernal onto the iPhone.  The reaction?  People couldn't wait to try and put Android onto the iPhone.  And while Apple has tried its best to keep the iPhone from being re-programmed, it may prove futile in the end.

    The only hope Apple has now of avoiding the loss of its operating system (and becoming only a hardware manufacturer) is if it too opens up its programming to users and generates support from the community.  As of now the iPhone is a novelty that, once Android is able to replicate or exceed, will eventually wear off.  Then again, it may already be too late for Apple.


  • IBM Gives Us a Look At The Future With Their "Five In Five"

    December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    IBM held its Third Annual "Five in Five" which looks at emerging trends as well as what IBM itself is developing in their own labs around the world.  Here's the vid.


    While previous predictions given by these "Five in Five" releases can be somewhat fanciful (like mind-reading cellphones for instance), this latest list has the refreshing feel of being very near and very possible.

    Solar technology will be built into everything

    IBM states that within five years we could be seeing thin-film solar technology built into everything around us.  This includes sidewalks, driveways, paint, windows and even clothing.  Their belief is that thin-film solar will get so cheap that it can be applied everywhere in our lives.  It's ability to be flexible also makes it easy to wrap around our daily devices which could benefit from a little extra power boost.  It's interesting to think that while some people are clamoring for white asphalt and roofing tiles to reflect the Suns energy and save on lighting, another faction will emerge that will want solar film instead.  Of course the question remains: are you going to want to hook a battery up to your clothing?

    Your health can be pre-determined

    Mapping DNA keeps getting faster and cheaper as the years go along.  It only makes sense that very soon people will begin to use that genetic information to look for hereditary traits that could impact your health.  In finding out you have a high chance of becoming diabetic, you may try and change your diet to avoid or delay its effects.  Basically, it's the movie GATTACA without being able to actually alter the DNA before birth.  I wonder how you'll take the news when they tell you that the junk food you so love is literally killing your body and taking years off your life.

    Surfing the Web through speech

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  • Michelin reinvents the wheel, electric motors help to retire the combustion engine

    December 01 2008 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    Instead of trying to End Oil, we should focus on Retiring the Combustion Engine!

    Instead of pushing Automakers to incrementally improve miles per gallon, we should empower companies like General Motors and Michelin to transform how cars are built and make liquid fuels like oil irrelevant.


    Let's start by reinventing the wheel.


    What happened?

    Michelin is now pushing its Active Wheel concept that can simplify how vehicles are built and reduce the manufacturing overhead for auto companies: 'no more engine under the front or rear, no more traditional suspension system, and no more gearbox or transmission shaft...all essential components have been integrated into the wheel itself'


    Let's start by reinventing the wheel.

    There are a few specialty engineering firms that have built high performance wheel based electric motors, but Michelin has the potential to bring ‘scaling’ to this disruptive technology.  The company has integrated the system into the new Venturi Volage which premieres at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.  There is also the new WILL built through a partnership involving Heuliez, Michelin and Orange.

    Change the Wheel, Reinvent the Factory Floor
    A New (more effective) Message: Greener cars = Leaner cars

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  • Toshiba Unveils 16GB MicroSDHC, Bright Future for Computer-phone Interactions

    November 26 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets


    Toshiba recently announced that they would start producing a 16-Gigabyte MicroSDHC in January of next year.  "Toshiba Corp. (Toshiba), a leading innovator in memory card technologies and solutions, and Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC), its subsidiary in the Americas, today reinforced their memory card line-up with the launch of a 16GB microSDHC card offering the largest capacity available in the market."  Although the smaller chip only transfers at 6Mps instead of the faster 20Mps, the fact that 16 Gigabytes can be crammed into such a small area could mean huge changes in the computer/smartphone environment.

    The bridge between phone and computer has been constantly blurring with the increase of mobile internet use among smartphone users.  The ability to link the phone and the computer so far has been relegated to files and applications both share.  The increased space on the phone could be used for more files, but it could also be used as a back-up for your computer.

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  • OLED Is Now Where LCD Was 10 Years Ago: Tiny, Expensive, Awesome

    November 25 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Sony is finally selling the worlds first Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) television. At 3mm wide (imagine a stack of three credit cards, that’s how thick) it boasts an HD display, an aspect ratio of 16:9, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and a contrast ration of one million to one. The greatest feature I feel is the ability to turn off the pixels in areas of the screen that are meant to display black — too often a black screen glows annoyingly making colors seem blurry. This set is sharp.

    And while this amazing beast is going to eventually kill off old power-hungry LCD televisions over the next few years, right now it is tiny and expensive as Hell. How much you say? With a screen size of 11-inches (diagonal) and costing $2,500 on the Sony site, it gives one pause.

    I remember the first LCD computer screen I ever bought in 2001. It cost an arm and a leg, but it beat those old 40-pound monoliths everyone else was sporting those days. I showed it off to all my friends, laughing when they had to move their belongings from apartment to apartment, lugging their computer monitor like a dead weight everywhere they went. I enjoyed this feeling for about a year or two before my world came to an end with even thinner LCD monitors costing half the price of mine. I wept silently.


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  • New Nano-Fabric Allows You to Dunk Clothes in Water Without it Getting Wet

    November 25 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    I wrote a few days ago about GE Labs creating a surface so hydrophobic that water could literally bounce off it, but Swiss researchers at the University of Zurich have gone ahead and done it with polyester fabric. By coating polyester fibers with millions of tiny silicone filaments, the fabric is made so hydrophobic that you could literally put your jacket into a bucket of water, let it sit for two weeks, pull it out and it would be dry as a bone.

    How did they accomplish this?

    Researchers managed to create this amazing fabric through the use of silicone nanofilaments which are very highly chemically hydrophobic. “The spiky structure of the 40-nanometre- wide filaments strengthens that effect, to create a coating that prevents water droplets from soaking through the coating to the polyester fibres underneath.” Lead researcher Stefan Seeger went on to explain it was like a “like a fakir sitting on a bed of nails.” Took me a second to figure out exactly he meant by that but luckily I read a lot of Tintin when I was a kid and it finally paid off. Applying the coating is easy — a silicone gas is released which condenses onto the fibers of the fabric.

    How could this be useful?


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  • DARPA Not Satisfied With Regular Submarine, Wants a Flying One

    November 24 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to develop a plane capable of flight as well as submerging underwater. “The objectives issued by DARPA are for a vehicle that would have an airborne tactical radius of 1,000 nautical miles, a low-level flight radius of 100 nautical miles (which may leverage surface effects), and a submerged tactical radius of 12 nautical miles.” The hope is that it could carry up to eight people and a 2,000 pound payload (check out their full proposal here).

    The problem with developing a submersible aircraft is that air flows around structures differently than water. Developing a body that is efficient through the air as well as water will be incredibly difficult. It may be so daunting that the cost of developing and building working prototypes would render it un-obtainable. The funny thing is, the Navy has wanted something like this for over 60 years. “The U.S. Navy had begun contemplating the merger of aviation and submarine technologies into a single vehicle as early as 1946.” Even the Russians tried to dabble in submersible airplanes (video after the jump).


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  • Foldable OLED Displays For Your Cellphone Are Already Here

    November 24 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    The grainy video you see above is footage of the new Samsung concept phone. While much is not known about it, the video itself is quite amazing simply because it’s the first time a real physical phone has had a flexible display incorporated into it. The best part (for me) was when the phone folded and the keypad was on the other side, gives it a sort of realism to it, like it’ll be available soon.

    When can you expect it?

    Again, not much information is given about the concept phone, but chances are that you will be seeing it by next summer, winter at the latest. The real question though is whether or not the display is touch-sensitive — a large screen won’t do you much good if you can’t interact with it.

    via Engadget