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.
Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University where he directs the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, went over the steps his team has made in developing a self-driving vehicle at RoboDev in Santa Clara today. He showed some incredible video of cars smashing into obstacles (sometimes even seeking other cars out to smash into) but ended with videos of their latest vehicle successfully navigating slowly around other moving cars.
The great thing about his presentation was his appeal not to the side that wants self-driving cars, but to a side we can all agree with — saving energy, lives, and time.
In saving energy, Dr. Thrun explained that 22% of the Nation’s energy consumption is used by cars. You also only use your car on average during about 10% of your day, making it useless the other 90%. If self-driving cars could be developed, one car could be used by multiple people. “You could be dropped off at work and then send the car back home to pick up your wife.” Added safety will also increase gas mileage since removing the extra weight of safety features (airbag, reinforced steel) would increase fuel efficiency by 30%. (It should also be noted that convoys reduce energy consumption by 11%-17%)
Look! A great new App is here for the iPhone! Google has incorporated voice recognition capability into their search, allowing users to speak what they want and get results through their phone. Check out the vid below.
Seems pretty cool, eh? Oh wait, there’s a problem.
Turns out that although Apple approved the App for a Friday release (Nov. 14th), it remains to be seen. You’d think that this application, which is coming out first on the iPhone and created by the mega-giant Google, wouldn’t run into any problems. You’d be wrong.
Apple really screwed the the pooch on this one. Although Google decided to release it first on the iPhone, this snub could cause some ramifications down the line between the two companies. Sad thing is, this technology is amazing. The fact the application was able to pick out “Fahrenheit” shocks me (I have a hard enough time spelling it myself). And combined with all the other issues developers of iPhone Apps have been facing, Apple seems to be becoming the “bad guy.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visa Europe is working hard for your money, and in doing so they have come up with a credit card capable of switching around your security code everytime you enter your PIN on its touchpad. “An alpha-numeric display and keypad is built directly into the card. When making a transaction online, customers type their PIN into the card, which creates a one-time security code.” Visa is working with four major banks, including Bank of America in the UK, to develop this card. Videos of how it works can be found here and here.
This is quite amazing. Having a touchpad on your credit card ensures that the code on the back of your card (that little number, usually three digits, on the back) could never be compromised without a thief knowing your PIN number. I wonder though if the numbers you press would look worn, making it easy for the thief to determine what you PIN is.
Although it’s kind of unnerving to think that your credit card has a battery life, the fact that it can run for three years could help boost confidence. You could possibly even charge it at your local bank every year on a simple flat tray. Of course, someone hacking into it within a few days is possible but by then hopefully you’d have canceled it. All we need now is a credit card that can take your fingerprint.
Ericsson, one of the largest companies in Sweden, unveiled their plans for a revolutionary new cellphone capable of 20 Megapixel photos and true HD video recording capability.
At the press conference, Ericsson representative Jonas Lundstedt said they see the cellphone of the future as more of a “mobile terminal” than just a cellphone. With the capability to replace objects in our lives with just one great device, Ericsson is following the way of some of the other major players in the cellphone industry by combining services and devices into one simple object.
The day is coming where the cellphone could possibly no longer be called a cellphone, but a terminal like Lundstedt mentioned. When the cellphone can function as a phone, camera, video camera, map, credit card, etc, can we even call it a cellphone anymore? With AT&T recently approving the tethering of the iPhone to other devices such as televisions and other household appliances this forecast isn’t too far off. The all-in-one device may only be a few short years away. Maybe call it a Universal Remote?
Dean Kamen has jolted the world yet again with his latest contraption — A Stirling engine hybrid car.
The Stirling engine, for those in the dark, is an engine which derives its power from an external heat source. The amazing thing about it is that the heat source can be just about anything, even your own body. Kamen’s car, dubbed “REVOLT,” can run on any conventional fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas.
Despite the practicality of such an engine, development of the Stirling engine in the world has been trying at best. Weird to think that an engine, which runs on heat and was invented in 1816, could fall to the side all these years. But we’re starting to see the Stirling engine pop up more and more these days, especially in large solar arrays.
Touch Bionics, a “leading developer of advanced upper-limb prosthetics” has just made Time’s list of Top 50 inventions of 2008 (coming it at #14).
What’s so amazing about this invention?
For starters, each finger is powered by its own motor. This allows the wearer to individually move their fingers for more accurate manipulation of objects. It’s made of a high-strength plastic resulting in a prosthetic that is lightweight as well as appealing to the eyes. Maintenance of the hand is also very simple. “The modular construction of the i-LIMB Hand means that each individually powered finger can be quickly removed by simply removing one screw. This means that a prosthetist can easily swap out fingers that require servicing and patients can return to their everyday lives after a short clinic visit.” This way you can still have use of the hand while part of it is getting repaired.
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.