• "Minority Report" Interface Brought to Life by Oblong's g-speak

    November 17 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    This video by Oblong Industries, Inc will amaze you.


    g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

    What you are seeing is a literal replication of movie magic come to life. Dubbed “g-speak’ by its developers, it uses a “combination of gestural i/o, recombinant networking, and real-world pixels brings the first major step in computer interface since 1984.” They believe this method of computer interaction will be far better suited to the “data-intensive” work people are increasingly doing with their computers (the fact that more than one user can operate a single machine speaks volumes towards this belief).

    The tie-in with Minority Report is no coincidence. One of the founders of Oblong worked as a science advisor on the set of that movie and incorporated many of his earlier work at MIT into the set. You can see similarities in the design like having a dedicated room, wearing special gloves, even specialized hand gestures that give it an almost Tai Chi-like feel to it. You could Zen out while doubling your productivity.

    How close are we to this kind of design?

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  • DNA Can Double As Fiber Optic Cables, Self Assemble Themselves

    November 14 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    Bo Albinsson at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has figured out a way to use DNA as a nano fiber optic cable. They accomplish this by combining DNA strands with a chromophore called YO which has a strong attraction to DNA molecules. By wedging itself into areas of DNA, a 3nm diameter fiber optic cable is born (these fibers are self-assembling).

    Fiber optic cables have become more commonplace in the world and are expected to take an even bigger step into the solar energy business by improving photo voltaic cells. Optical computers could also benefit greatly from photon-specific nanowires.

    via New Scientist

    Image: Diego Cantalapiedra (Flickr,CC-Attribution)

  • Philips iPill Targets Medicine at Specific Areas, Measures Acidity

    November 13 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Although camera pills have been around since 2001, Philips recently unveiled the next generation of swallowable gadgets. Called the iPill, it is able to deliver medicine to specific areas of the intestinal tract as well as measure the acidity levels of its environment. “In the form of an 11×26 mm capsule, the iPill incorporates a microprocessor, battery, pH sensor, temperature sensor, RF wireless transceiver, fluid pump and drug reservoir.” It’s also small enough to pass through your intestinal tract without causing any issues.

    Although it determines its location by measuring PH levels (which is accurate enough already), Philips expects iPills to get more accurate when combined with medical imaging devices such as MRIs or CT scans. The iPill could come in especially handy when Crohn’s disease or colitis is involved — typical medicine for sufferers involve lots of steroids and has many adverse side-effects. The direct delivery of medicine with the iPill means medicine levels can be lower, reducing unpleasant side-effects.

    How will this affect me?

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  • SF Artist Sends Out Plea for Recordable Prosthetic Eye-Camera — Open Source?

    November 13 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    Tanya Vlach lost her left eye in a car accident in 2005, now she’s appealing to the online community to build her an eye capable of recording video. “I am attempting to recreate my eye with the help of a miniature camera implant in my prosthetic / artificial eye.” She gives the dimensions of her current prosthetic and what she wants inside of the replacement.

    She believes that it’s possible for the technology of today to construct her an eye that can can record video, take pictures, have a small power source and have a remote trigger (check out the full list here). But it’s not the product she wants which caught my eye (I believe it can be built with current technology) it was her plea to the online community instead of through hospitals. Tanya’s is the first case I’ve heard about where an individual has tried to petition the world to make something that is technologically superior to what’s currently on the market.

    Can the online community accomplish this?

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  • US Military Fights Toxic Weapon Labs with Incendiary Fireballs

    November 13 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Security

    The Pentagon is being very hush-hush about it, but a secret weapon we posses in the US military is a solid rocket-fuel incendiary fireball. Meant to take out chemical weapons labs or underground bunkers, these fireballs burn up anything located inside the structure without blowing it up. “These are hollow spheres, made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno.” If there’s one thing that could ruin a persons day, it’s a bunch of solid rocket-fuel fireballs bouncing around in a small area.

    Due to the secretive nature of the new weapon, not much is being said, but Wired, who initially reported the story, says that it’s quite possible the fireballs (named “CrashPAD” and “Shredder”) have been put into some sort of low-rate production. One wonders if this was the secret military weapon Bob Woodward was talking about a few months ago.

    Does this have a future in the US Military?

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  • Glowbots Learn What You Like, Use It to Overthrow the Human Race

    November 12 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

    If there’s one thing scarier than a robot, it’s a robot that can adapt its design to be more appealing to people. Glowbots do just that.

    These little guys go through various random images in order to attract a human to pick them up. When picked up and given a shake, they lock in that image and then spread the likable image to other Glowbots so they too can be attractive. If they run into another Glowbot that has a differing likable image, they meld the two together to create a totally different image that the user will hopefully like.

    The scary thing about this is that if robots can learn our likes and dislikes, how will that affect our lives? Will animals give way to a smartphone Furby? Or maybe someone could use the data stored on your robot to know exactly what to get you for your birthday. In fact, you could connect it to your online profile, allowing people to see what restaurants you like, clothes you find attractive, even what you like to do in your spare time. And this is all done through a personal robot.

    Do we need to worry about something like this? Probably not. Robots becoming more friendly is the way of the future (even deadly ones will seem friendly) and learning your habits is just part of the whole picture.

    via CrunchGear

  • New Paint Reduces Boat Drag, Developed from Tuna and Dolphins

    November 12 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Transportation

    Nippon Paint Co. has developed a new gel-like paint to coat ships in order to reduce the drag they face on the water. The substance, developed with tuna and dolphins in mind, promises to improve fuel efficiency by 4%. That’s a considerable amount when you consider how much fuel the average tanker uses in an ocean crossing.

    Not only does the gel-like paint reduce drag on the boat, it also fills in small imperfections in the hull that may be small but still have the overall effect of causing drag. Although the paint is three times more expensive than regular paint, the savings made over a year in fuel costs more than offset this investment.

    Transportation is trying really hard to save money while saving the environment. One wonders if we’ve gone past the point where companies stop worrying about PR (does a shipping company need PR?) and just want to help out the environment. On top of gel-paint for hulls, you may have read about how the largest shipping company in China (COSCO) has signed a deal to develop solar sails for their tankers in order to reduce fuel usage by 20-40 percent. With Obama and Biden moving into the White House, the hope is that Biden (a huge supporter of trains) will help the train industry here in the US to greater heights as well.

    via DigitalWorldTokyo

    Image: get directly down (Flickr, CC-Attribution)

  • "C3 Loops" An Interesting Touchscreen, May Make You Dizzy

    November 12 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets


    C3 Loops demo at NordiCHI’08 from Peter Bennett on Vimeo.

    The C3 Loops touchscreen, developed by “Rikard Lindell”, uses an interesting way to zoom in and out — by using circles. The user draws their fingers around in circles clockwise to zoom in, counterclockwise to zoom out. Much different than the accepted way of zooming in and out by spreading hands apart or pinching them together. In fact, you might say this guy has circles on the brain, especially when you see his website.

    Lindell believes that circles are the key to just about any design and bases most of his research around them, calling it ConCentric CRAFT. “From experience we know that users want to work and collaborate content centric in an unbroken activity flow.” For some the idea of a circle being incorporated into the design might give the user a Zen-like feel to their interactive experience. Or it could make you dizzy.

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  • With Hi-Tech Devices, Radio Doesn't Have to be a Dying Medium

    November 12 2008 / by christinep
    Category: Technology

    The Mp3 format has defined the digital age. No more are the days of people carrying their Sony Walkman listening to the ubiquitous morning show or crazy afternoon DJs during those long commutes. Pretty much the only time people listen to radio now is when they are stuck in their car. Today people have their earphones plugged into their iPod, drifting around and ignoring the world around them.

    What if those people you see aren’t listening to an iPod?

    The person pulls out the pocket-size device and starts to fiddle around with the buttons. You catch a glimpse of it and wonder: “Some crazy company still makes radio gadgets?” Apparently, yes there are.

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  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells — What's Good For Your Car is Good For Your Phone

    November 12 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Energy

    Although there has been much discussion about developing a hydrogen fuel cell for vehicles, a crazy company called MyFC has decided what’s good for the car is great for the cellphone. They went ahead and developed a flexible hydrogen fuel cell only 3mm thick which can fit snugly under your battery cover (pictured above). This means you could potentially power your devices with good clean energy (and who knows how long the charge could last, maybe days).

    When can you expect to see this?

    Although CrunchGear reports that the fuel cell is “amazingly close to production,” actual support and implementation of such a device could be years away. Here’s why:

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