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

November 26 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

PR16GB_uSD_8_16_C6.jpg

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.

Continue Reading

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

November 25 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2015   Rating: 3 Hot

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?

Continue Reading

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

November 25 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

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.

Continue Reading

DARPA Not Satisfied With Regular Submarine, Wants a Flying One

November 24 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2015   Rating: 4 Hot

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).

Continue Reading

New Breakthrough Allows Electronics To Dance The "Twist"

November 21 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2012   Rating: 4 Hot

You’ve heard about electronics that can bend and even stretch, but a team at Northwestern University has managed to make electronics that can withstand any configuration, including twisting.

This breakthrough could help in developing gadgets that are located on the human body which is itself highly flexible (except mine). “This emerging technology promises new flexible sensors, transmitters, new photovoltaic and microfluidic devices, and other applications for medical and athletic use.” Flexible electronics have the potential to change how we view visits to the doctors office, how we talk on the phone, even interacting with people.

Imagine being able to wrap an X-Ray machine around your leg at the emergency room to see exactly what the break looks like and where it’s located. Or having a 40-inch screen folded into the size of a pack of cigarettes. Why not incorporate your music into your winter beanie? The possibilities are already amazing and we haven’t even scratched the surface.

via PhysOrg

Who Doesn't Want Their Own Personal Flying Watercraft?

November 21 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2011   Rating: 7 Hot

Flying planes has been the sort of thing that, to most, seems daunting enough to avoid entirely. Pilot’s license, cost of the plane, upkeep, runway dues, etc. Luckily for us, there’s a company out there which designed a small airplane that’s cheap, easy to handle, and drives like a car. Meet the ICON A5.

Designed for the budding sport-flying enthusiast, the A5 is more affordable than most small aircraft (it will cost an estimated $139,000) and is incredibly easy to operate having taken much of its cockpit design from cars. Its carbon fiber body ensures that it will be lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant to water. The wings also fold back for easy transportation.

What does a product like this mean for me?

Continue Reading

Wonderful Goodies From the Floor of RoboDev '08 in Santa Clara

November 19 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Here you’ll find some videos shot from the floor of the RoboDev expo floor. Enjoy!


Watch MobileRobots.com displays stereovision system in Game Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

The video you see here is of a robot made by MobileRobots.com using the MobileRanger Stereo Vision System. “MobileRanger stereovision systems are top-of-the-line instruments for measuring depth for demanding applications such as mobile robot navigation, people tracking, gesture recognition, targeting, 3D surface visualization and advanced human computer interaction.” You can see how objects at different ranges are represented by different colors (see my hand?). Very cool.

Above you see a photo from the display Boston Engineering had. What you see is a robotic fish they hope to build in the near future (sorry, no prototypes yet). I’m going to stay in contact with these guys on the project since it’s a pretty cool concept that could be built fairly quickly with the latest technology (the fact that they’re basing it off a Tuna fish is proof alone that this thing will be fast and powerful).

Continue Reading

Self-Driving Robotic Cars Incredibly Hard to Make But Necessary

November 18 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2019   Rating: 6 Hot

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.

Saving Energy

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%)

Saving Lives

Continue Reading

DNA Can Double As Fiber Optic Cables, Self Assemble Themselves

November 14 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

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   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

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?

Continue Reading

New Paint Reduces Boat Drag, Developed from Tuna and Dolphins

November 12 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Transportation   Year: 2009   Rating: 11 Hot

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)

US Military Fights Toxic Weapon Labs with Incendiary Fireballs

November 13 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Security   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

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?

Continue Reading