Aug 20, 2014

You can charge a phone battery by playing music at it

posted by Larra Morris

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There are any number of research teams trying to build alternative power sources for your cellphone. Do you want to put tiny windmills on it? What about plugging it into a solar-powered charging bench or just holding it up to the sun? Now, at the Queen Mary University of London, a group of scientists has created a prototype panel capable of charging a cellphone off environmental vibrations like music or dinner conversation.

Researchers call the device a "nanogenerator," and it looks like a flat metal plate with some wires attached. In reality, it's plastic sprayed with a sheet of tiny zinc oxide rods that generate electricity when squashed or stretched — as they would be in the presence of everyday background noise.
via The Verge

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Aug 20, 2014

Hitch-hiking robot ends 6,000km journey across Canada

posted by Larra Morris

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A robot sent out to travel across Canada by hitch-hiking has completed its 6,000km (3,728-mile) trip - apparently in one piece.

HitchBOT reached Canada's Pacific coast at Victoria, British Columbia nearly three weeks after leaving Halifax in Nova Scotia, far away on the Atlantic coast, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. "I'm on a boat," one of HitchBOT's last tweets says. "Well, a ferry to be exact. Victoria, I'm on my way." An arrival event is due to be held on Thursday.

The robot was made by a group of Toronto researchers as an experimentin human-robot interaction and artificial intelligence technologies. Built from an old beer-cooler bucket, foam pool noodles, wellies, solar panels and a computer, it uses GPS technology to send its creators details and pictures of its location. "This project asks: can robots trust human beings?" researcher Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University says.
via BBC News

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Aug 19, 2014

Which cyborg implant should you get?

posted by Laura Domela

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Aug 19, 2014

How fast you drive reveals where you drive

posted by Larra Morris

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Don’t believe the hype. Insurance companies wanting  information about what you do in your car say that they can’t use it to track your location. But a team of computer engineers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., have shown that to be untrue. The engineers say they’ve figured out how to create a fairly accurate map of where a car has traveled based solely on where it started and a stream of data indicating how fast it has gone—no GPS or cellular triangulation is necessary.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Aug 19, 2014

Clever carpet "printer" brushes pictures onto your rugs

posted by Larra Morris

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You know that incredibly satisfying feeling of seeing a freshly vacuumed carpet with the fibers all perfectly upright and unmarred by footprints? Designer Yuta Sugiura has found a way to take advantage of that effect to print detailed images on a rug or carpeting using a handheld machine he developed and built.

It works kind of like a vacuum, but instead of suction it uses a series of moving agitators to flatten or raise carpet fibers to produce a static monochrome image—but with surprising detail. An accompanying piece of software lets any image be converted into carpet imagery, meaning it could be used to display everything from corporate logos to fine art.
via Gizmodo

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Aug 19, 2014

Violinist fiddles with a smart bow during his brain surgery

posted by Larra Morris

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It's common for brain surgery patients to stay awake. That's how surgeons know everything is going smoothly, after all. When concert violinist Roger Frisch started suffering from tremors that are only a problem when he's playing, however, Mayo Clinic doctors had to resort to some rather unusual technology to find out if they were installing the necessary brain pacemaker correctly. The surgical crew gave Frisch a bow equipped with a motion-tracking sensor and asked him to fiddle during the operation; the team knew it had electrodes in the right spot when the musician's performance was steady.
via Engadget

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Aug 18, 2014

Mom creates app so kids can't ignore her calls

posted by Laura Domela

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Sharon Standifird served in the Gulf War. She's climbed mountains.

So how hard could it be to get her kids to show a little respect?

Her teens, you see, tended to do what teens do. So when she called them on their cell phones, their natural instinct was to press "ignore."

What's a mom to do? Get mad? Or get spectacularly, ingeniously even?

She chose the latter. She began to consider what sort of app might get her teens to see the light. The result was Ignore No More.

This charming addition to her kids' phones does something very simple: if the kids don't pick up mom's calls, the app locks their phones.
via cnet

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Aug 18, 2014

Los Angeles moves to begin fining people for loud parties and barking dogs

posted by Laura Domela

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Los Angeles is getting super-serious about what surely must be a terrible citywide epidemic of loud parties and noisy dogs. The City Council's Public Safety and Personnel and Welfare and Animal Services Committees have recommended approval of a new pilot program, called Administrative Citation Enforcement, that would let police officers hand out tickets and hefty fines—$250 for the first offense, $500 the second time around, and $1,000 for third-timers—to people who commit "quality of life" crimes like throwing loud house parties or using gas-powered blowers outside of the approved times, says the LA Daily News.
via Curbed

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[Dog via Eric Isselee / Shutterstock]

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Aug 18, 2014

A "sound camera" zeroes in on buzz, squeak, and rattle

posted by Laura Domela

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Annoying noise—what the automotive industry calls “buzz, squeak, and rattle” (BSR)—is the leading cause of customer complaints about new cars. Eliminating noise during the design and prototyping phase can pay big dividends…but locating transient, intermittent, ill-defined sounds like BSR or cricket chirps can be exasperatingly difficult.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Hyundai Motor Group and SM Instruments

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Aug 18, 2014

The man who created the first pop-up ad says 'sorry'

posted by Larra Morris

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"I'm sorry. Our intentions were good."

Ethan Zuckerman was a designer and programmer for the early web-hosting serviceTripod.com when a car company freaked out. The unspecified manufacturer had bought a banner ad on a page that "celebrated anal sex," and was not too pleased at the association of its brand with sexual escapades. Tripod had the solution: what if an advert could launch in its own window? Zuckerman wrote the code for the world's first pop-up ad, and for many years it was impossible to browse without being inundated by pop-ups.
via The Verge

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Image: PA Computer Guys

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