May 26, 2016

A Bay Area distillery is making vodka with San Francisco fog

posted by Larra Morris

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In a nod to California’s drought, one distillery is opting to make its vodka from a slightly more sustainable source of water, one that also happens to be an icon of San Francisco: fog. Hangar 1 Vodka, headquartered on the East Bay island of Alameda, just debuted Fog Point Vodka, created from fog collected in the San Francisco Bay area.

The company teamed up with FogQuest, a sustainable water organization, to set up fog-harvesting equipment
via Mental Floss

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May 26, 2016

Researchers teaching robots to feel and react to pain

posted by Larra Morris

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One of the most useful things about robots is that they don’t feel pain. Because of this, we have no problem putting them to work in dangerous environments or having them perform tasks that range between slightly unpleasant and definitely fatal to a human. And yet, a pair of German researchers believes that, in some cases, feeling pain might be a good capability for robots to have.

The researchers, from Leibniz University of Hannover, are developing an “artificial robot nervous system to teach robots how to feel pain” and quickly react in order to avoid potential damage to their motors, gears, and electronics. They described the project last week at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Stockholm, Sweden, and we were there to ask them what in the name of Asimov they were thinking when they came up with this concept.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Leibniz University of Hannover

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May 25, 2016

New study investigates why we hate digital assistants like Clippy

posted by Larra Morris

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Vocativ reports that researchers decided to investigate how consumers respond to digital assistants with human or non-human features. They recruited several hundred students to play a series of puzzle games on a computer. During each game, when participants got stuck or confused, they could click on a help icon which would either reveal a smiling face or a faceless interface to give them advice.

The team found that participants felt less autonomous, or less in control, when given help by the anthropomorphized interface, and enjoyed the game less as a whole. Even though the help given was the same regardless of interface, participants couldn’t help but feel a sense of unpleasant dependence when their helper seemed more human. On the flip side, researchers found that the faceless interface was seen as a tool and so did not detract from participants’ sense of autonomy.
via Mental Floss

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May 25, 2016

World's first 3D-printed office opens in Dubai

posted by Larra Morris

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The world's first 3D-printed office building opened this week in Dubai, Reuters reports. The 2,700-square-foot, single-story building was built in just 17 days using a gigantic, 20-foot tall 3D printer and a special mix of concrete, fiber reinforced plastic and glass fiber reinforced gypsum.
via Engadget

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May 25, 2016

Juries 'could enter virtual crime scenes' following research

posted by Larra Morris

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Virtual reality technology used in the gaming industry could be adapted to recreate crime scenes for juries, researchers have claimed.

A Staffordshire University project has experimented with technology and techniques to "transport" jurors to virtual crime scenes.

Associate Prof of Forensics, Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, said it was the first project of its kind in Europe.

Staffordshire Police said it was "a concept" that could become significant.

The project, which received a European Commission research grant of about £140,000, uses green screens, the latest virtual reality headsets and technology from gaming, engineering and computing.
via BBC News

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May 24, 2016

Floating parade brings the works of Hieronymus Bosch to life

posted by Larra Morris

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First launched in 2010, the Bosch Parade is typically held each June in Bosch’s hometown, 's-Hertogenbosch (colloquially referred to as Den Bosch). The event’s organizers recruit professional artists, designers, composers, and choreographers to build elaborate, Bosch-themed floats, which they float down the Dommel River with the help of volunteers. In 2015, 18 watercrafts participated in the event, and thousands of onlookers watched the town’s self-professed “cruise of the absurd” from the river’s banks.
via Mental Floss

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May 24, 2016

Alcohol-monitoring bracelet pings your phone when it's time to ease up

posted by Larra Morris

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Tracking your blood alcohol level is never a bad idea, but huffing, puffing and whipping out a breathlyzer isn't always an option. Looking to unearth a more inconspicuous way of keeping an eye on things, the National Health Institute's Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge put the call out for non-invasive solutions to this problem, and has now selected its winner. The wrist-worn BACtrack Skyn pairs with an app to offer real-time monitoring of alcohol levels, even alerting the user's phone when they are drinking too hard.
via Gizmag

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