Aug 27, 2014

Bricks laid at BIG's new Lego House

posted by Larra Morris

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In a curious case of architecture imitating toys which imitate architecture, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has begun construction on the Lego House. Located in Lego's hometown of Billund, Denmark, the building will resemble an oversized Lego structure and is expected to be completed in 2016.

The brick-laying ceremony included Lego matriarch Edith Kirk Kristiansen, who, along with other members of her family, laid ceremonial foundation stones which look like oversized Lego bricks.
via Gizmag

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Image: The Lego Group 

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Aug 27, 2014

These 3-D printed skeleton keys can pick high-security locks in seconds

posted by Larra Morris

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One of the hairier unintended consequences of cheap 3-D printing is that any troublemaker can duplicate a key without setting foot in a hardware store. But clever lockpickers like Jos Weyers and Christian Holler already are taking that DIY key-making trick a step further: They can 3-D print a slice of plastic or metal that opens even high-security locks in seconds, without even seeing the original key.

Weyers and Holler’s trick is to 3-D print a “bump” key, which resembles a normal key but can open millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer. Using software they created called Photobump, the two engineers say it’s now possible to easily bump open a wide range of locks using keys based on photographs of the locks’ keyholes.
via Wired

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Image: Christian Holler

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Aug 26, 2014

Spherical display lets you see 3-D animations from any angle

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers from the University of São Paulo, in Brazil, and University of British Columbia, in Canada, have developed a spherical display that lets users see and interact with three-dimensional objects. In one demonstration, viewers have the sensation of staring into a snow globe that they can control with simple gestures from any angle.

The device, called Spheree, represents the first display capable of projecting uniform, high resolution pixels on a spherical surface—a technology that also allows users to interact with the 3-D display objects by using gestures.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: The University of British Columbia

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Aug 26, 2014

How Skype Translator learns language from social media

posted by Larra Morris

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When Microsoft and Skype revealed Skype Translator in May, everyone displayed awe and wonder at a service that could finally traverse the language barrier. The premise was that the Skype Translator app would convert speech in real time allowing fluid conversation between speaking partners with different lingual tongues...

First, Microsoft took the traditional approach, but instead of only mapping phrases between languages, the team went a step further and mapped individual words as well. This helped overcome grammatical inconsistencies across languages. However, this soon brought them to social media where each platform—primarily Facebook, SMS, and Twitter—brought a unique challenge. The researchers adapted "social media text nomalization platform" to their existing system and improved text translation by six percent with one developer saying "it really did move the needle on understanding and translating that type of data better."
via Gizmodo

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Aug 26, 2014

Boy gets the first 3D-printed vertebra implant

posted by Larra Morris

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3D-printed implants just got one of their biggest real-world tests to date. Peking University Third Hospital has successfully implanted the first 3D-printed vertebra in a 12-year-old boy with cancer in his spinal cord. The bone substitute is made from titanium powder like many orthopedic implants, but promises to be both safer and longer-lasting than conventional replacements. Since it's designed to mimic the shape of the child's original vertebra, it doesn't need cement or screws to stay in place; healing should go faster, too. The construct is full of small holes that let natural bone grow inside, so it should eventually become a permanent, stable part of the spine that won't need adjustments at some point down the road.
via Engadget

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Image: Peking University Third Hospital

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Aug 25, 2014

The Napa earthquake woke this many Jawbone Up wearers

posted by Larra Morris

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Sleep tracking is one of the best features of the Jawbone Up fitness tracker, but it could serve a purpose beyond helping you feel less groggy in the morning. Jawbone's data science team has collated the sleep information from last night in northern California — which was hit by its biggest earthquake in 25 years — and used it to show what percentage of Up wearers in each city were woken up at 3.20AM PT. Napa was among the worst affected areas, whereas Santa Cruz barely registered a tremor, according to the sleep data.
via The Verge

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Aug 25, 2014

Human Harp: A device that allows you to "play" a bridge

posted by Larra Morris

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The Human Harp is a device that clips on to any urban or industrial structure that enables the user or “movician” to play it like a giant instrument! Attached to retractable strings, the user can adjust various characteristics of the structure’s voice by extending, plucking and moving about.
via Yanko Design

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Aug 25, 2014

3D-printed implants infused with medicine to enable more effective drug delivery

posted by Larra Morris

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A great strength of 3D-printing in the field of medicine is the ability to provide low-cost, personalized implants molded to a patient's anatomy. Researchers from Louisiana Tech University have now taken the technology one step further, loading these custom implants with cancer-fighting and antiobiotic compounds as a means of better targeted drug delivery.

The team's research centered on current drug delivery devices known as antibiotic beads. These implants are typically formed using bone cements and hand-made by a surgeon during a procedure. One problem they pose results from an inability to break down in the body, requiring follow-up surgery for removal once their job is done.
via Gizmag

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Aug 25, 2014

Do telepresence robots need arms?

posted by Larra Morris

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“Yes, absolutely,” says Dr. Fumihide Tanaka, a professor at Tsukuba University in Japan, when asked if he thinks telepresence robots need arms...

After observing people interacting with robots for over 10 years, in multiple countries, Tanaka is convinced that robots with functional arms provide a better experience to users. “Arms and hands increase the opportunities for physical participation,” he says.

The Japanese professor has focused on challenging communication situations, such as with young children who are still learning how to navigate the social world, and interactions between individuals of different cultures.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Aug 24, 2014

MIT scientists say humans would rather take orders from robots

posted by Laura Domela

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Welp. This is how it all begins. Bow on bended knee before your robot overlords. New research from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) shows (with science!) that when working in groups of three—two humans, one robot—us lowly bags of flesh and blood would rather the robot just take over.

At a time when we're all asked to fully trust autonomous systems while also fearing robot-caused unemployment, project lead Matthew Gombolay wanted to investigate how humans and robots might actually work together better. "In our research we were seeking to find that sweet spot for ensuring that the human workforce is both satisfied and productive," he says in a news release. "We discovered that the answer is to actually give machines more autonomy, if it helps people to work together more fluently with robot teammates."
via Gizmodo

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