on Friday, 13 June 2014
NASA scientist and Advanced Propulsion Team Lead Harold White has the kind of job thousands dream of and few achieve — he’s in charge of the space agency’s efforts to determine if a faster-than-light warp drive is actually possible and, if it is, how we might create one. Now, in conjunction with artist Mark Rademaker, White has unveiled a new starship model that illustrates how our consideration of the concept has evolved over the decades.
on Thursday, 12 June 2014
Despite a flood of Sunday morning hype, it’s questionable whether computers crossed an artificial intelligence threshold last weekend. However, the news about a chatbot with the personality of a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy passing the Turing test did get us thinking: Is tricking every third human in a text exchange really the best way to measure computer intelligence?
on Wednesday, 11 June 2014
The promise of virtual reality is true immersion—the idea that we’ll be able to step into a whole new digital world and feel like it’s actually real. This simply can’t be realized if we’re holding a game controller in our hands. Last year, a Canadian startup called Thalmic Labs showed off the Myo motion-sensing, muscle-reading armband, which gets us one step closer to the VR of our dreams—by freeing up our hands. Now the company has a final hardware design for the $149 Myo, and says that it will begin shipping in September.
Imagine owning an upmarket, 25-jewel, Swiss-movement mechanical watch. Now imagine one that that can display text messages, notify you of incoming calls and let you remotely control your smartphone or tablet. That may seem a bit farfetched, but Kairos Watches aims to combine a luxury mechanical watch with the functionality of a smartwatch in one seamless device.
Tired of dragging the mouse every time you want to perform even the most basic tasks on the computer? Here’s help. Did you know, for example, that you don’t need the mouse to select text, switch between programmes, or open and close browser windows?

Research reveals a bright future for a new lighting technology

A flexible, lightweight panel made by GE provides diffuse light. The panel is made of organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. This kind of lighting could be more efficient and versatile than old-style light bulbs.
Flick on a light at home and chances are a glass bulb or tube will start to glow. The two most common types of electric lights — incandescent and fluorescent — have worked pretty well for a long time. Make that too long: Both types are so last century.

The team behind the Department of Energy’s solar program SunShot internally calls one of its projects “the Steve Jobs solicitation.” That’s the one officially named “Plug and Play Photovoltaics,” which is using $21 million to support projects that try to turn the process of installing solar panels on rooftops into an easy, simple and ultimately one-step product — a far cry from the current lengthy and relatively complicated process it is today.
on Tuesday, 10 June 2014
As talk heats up about the expected 3D head tracking of Amazon’s smartphone, don’t count Microsoft out of the handset gestures game. The company is working on a way to navigate around Windows Phone without touching the screen, using Kinect-like gestures to work with apps and games. A Monday morning report from The Verge suggests that Nokia’s successor to the Lumia 1020 (below), codenamed McLaren, will be the first Windows Phone with these features.
Google's Chromecast and Roku's Streaming Stick have both been around for a while now. When Roku was first released, more recently, it touted itself as having a huge number of channels, something Chromecast didn't. But gradually, Google has been catching up. Gizmag decided to compare the two.
Apple revealed a lot of news at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this year, but it didn’t discuss or show off any iWatch. Still, a new report from Japanese newspaper the Nikkei says that an iWatch is indeed on its way, with a targeted ship date of October. The gadget will include a curved OLED screen and health tracking functions, and be powered by iOS 8, Nikkei reports.
A new type of invisibility cloak that hides objects from light in diffusive media such as a cloudy liquid – rather than a clear medium such as air – has been unveiled by physicists in Germany. Based on the same physical principle used in cloaks that shield objects from heat, the device has been created by Robert Schittny and colleagues at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Although applications of the device are limited, the researchers say that it could be used to create aesthetically pleasing yet burglar-proof glass.
on Monday, 9 June 2014
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new way to safely transfer energy to tiny medical devices implanted deep inside the human body. The advance could lead to the development of tiny "electroceutical" devices that can be implanted near nerve bundles, heart or brain tissue and stimulate them directly when needed, treating diseases using electronics rather than drugs.
Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have developed a lab-on-a-chip device that can detect protein cancer markers in a drop of blood, working as a very early cancer-detection system. The device can detect very low concentrations of markers and is reliable, cheap and portable, making it attractive for deployment in remote areas of the world.
When it comes to driver awareness, we all know how hard it can be to keep an eye on every pedestrian and moving vehicle in our vicinity, particularly when driving in a busy city area. Couple this with the upcoming Kids and Transportation Safety Act in the US that dictates that all cars built from May 2018 onwards must be fitted with rear view cameras as standard, and it becomes doubly important that on-board vehicle cameras are used to their best advantage. To help in this regard, Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited is set to introduce software that assists in detecting and identifying cars, people, and other moving objects and alerts the driver of their position and direction of travel.
A new online tool aims to create a real-time emotional map of how people all over the world feel, from analyzing how cheerful or depressed different countries might be, to how budget cuts or other news might hit people emotionally. Called "We Feel," the tool analyzes 32,000 tweets a minute to monitor people's collective mood swings and how their emotions fluctuate over time globally.
Maybe they’re just small tweaks to make bigger smartphones or smaller tablets, but the rising popularity of phablets could lead to a faster global shift to more always-connected touchscreen computing devices.
on Friday, 6 June 2014
Do you have a stack of speakers or stereo system at home collecting dust due to their inability to wirelessly connect to your digital music collection? The folks at Motorola have decided it’s time to modernize your antiquated audio system with the release of a portable wireless adapter called Moto Stream, which brings wireless audio streaming capabilities to older units.
Facebook announced in a blog post on Thursday that it has upgraded the Apache HBase database with a new open source system called HydraBase. Facebook is an avid HBase shop, using it to store data for various services, including the company’s internal monitoring system, search indexing, streaming data analysis and data scraping. What makes HydraBase better than HBase is that it is supposedly a more reliable database that should minimize downtime when servers fail.
Have you ever wished you were an alien or a shark? Well, sorry, but you're never going to get to be one. The free Nito app, however, does let you appear as those characters or others, in recorded 15-second videos. It tracks your facial features and movements as you talk, and reproduces them in real time via an animated avatar of your choice.
Though smartwatches and Google Glass have made for some bold and interesting products, you could easily argue that the best wearables so far have been fitness trackers. But are these US$100+ accessories worth the price of admission?
on Thursday, 5 June 2014
When it comes to virtual reality headsets, their remit so far has primarily been for use in gaming or for game-like experience, but soon you could be able to watch whole movies with one of these devices strapped to your head. This is thanks to a new 360-degree camera called the Panopticam developed by a team of British VR experts. 
Smartphones have come a long way in a few short years, but two things have remained constant; most sport a "slab of glass" form factor, and dropping one makes you wish you’d had it insured.
A smart grid of solar roads could reduce pollution, improve the economy, and have the potential to produce three times the amount of power the US currently uses. 
While Sony’s flagship Z-line handsets are all about high-end specs and waterproofing, it’s taking a slightly different approach with the mid-range sector. With the new T3 smartphone, Sony is providing one of the skinniest devices on the market, while still packing in some solid internals.
It used to be that the only way you could get a speeding ticket was if a police officer personally witnessed your overly-fast driving. Then photo radar came along. Well, when it comes to drunk driving, lasers could soon be the equivalent of photo radar. Polish researchers at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have demonstrated how the high-intensity beams of light can be used to detect the presence of alcohol – even exhaled alcohol – in passing vehicles.
With the world seemingly transferring everything online to apps and cloud services, we're losing touch with how our actions trigger reactions. Bttn, a physical button that can be used in any way its owner sees fit, is an attempt to bring back a tactile element to the way we connect with everyone and everything around us.
on Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Researchers working at TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in the Netherlands claim to have successfully transferred data via teleportation. By exploiting the quantum phenomenon known as particle entanglement, the team says it transferred information across a 3 m (10 ft) distance, without the information actually traveling through the intervening space.
The trouble with existing 3D imaging technology is that – at the consumer level, at least – it tends to struggle with distances beyond a few feet. Put even a third of the width of a basketball court between yourself and a Microsoft Kinect sensor, for instance, and it won't pick up your movements at all. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, claim to have developed a Lidar (light radar)-based system that can remotely sense objects across distances as long as 30 feet (10 m), which could have widespread benefits in fields as diverse as entertainment, transportation, robotics, and mobile phones.
At its WWDC developer event yesterday, Apple surprised all of the developers in the audience by launching a new programming language called Swift. This new language seems to be poised to replace Objective-C as the main programming language on Apple’s platforms.
http://extraaeducation.com/school/article.php?id=2859&catid=47,48 The tractor beam is a staple of science fiction. Aliens use them to haul up unwilling earthlings into flying saucers for probing, and spacecraft use them to seize enemy ships or tow captured objects around in space. Now a group of researchers working at the University of Dundee actually claim to have built one. But instead of lasers, it uses ultrasonic waves to pull macroscopic objects in.
Scientists at the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have developed a high-performance Li-ion battery made of carbon nanotube fiber yarns. Roughly one 1 mm in diameter, the fiber shaped lithium-ion batteries are reported lightweight enough to create weavable and wearable textile batteries that could power various devices. The researchers say that the yarn is capable of delivering nearly 71 mAh/g of power, and can also be woven into existing textiles to create novel electronic fabrics.
on Tuesday, 3 June 2014
At the Code Conference in California this week, Intel revealed that its 3D-printed Jimmy Research Robot, which debuted at Maker Faire NYC last year, will be available through its 21st Century Robot Project later this year. Users will be able to download the files required for printing.
Artificially replicating the biological process of photosynthesis is a goal being sought on many fronts, and it promises to one day improve light-to-energy efficiencies of solar collection well beyond what's possible with photovoltaic cells. One of the first steps on the road to achieving this objective is to imitate the mechanisms at work in the transfer of energy from reception through to output.
MacBooks can make for great notebook PCs, but their speedy solid-state drives don't give you much storage bang for your buck. So why not do something with that SD card slot, and give yourself some extra (semi-permanent) storage? That's the thinking behind Transcend's JetDrive Lite
on Monday, 2 June 2014
The privacy of the data that we put online has been a hot topic over the last year. In order to protect against unwanted snooping, a group of scientists has created a new secure email service. ProtonMail provides end-to-end encryption, meaning that even the company itself can't even see the content of your messages.
In a small lab, near a lake at the edge of West Berkeley, sits the prototype of what could revolutionize battery power as we know it. The secret to this power? Algae.
Using Bluetooth to send ads between nearby devices sounds both boring and annoying. But that’s exactly what Apple’s iBeacon does — and Apple’s not in the boring-and-annoying business.