Sep 30, 2014

Shelving that automatically waters your plants, even when you forget

posted by Larra Morris

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It might not be as heartbreaking as saying goodbye to a pet, but no one wants to see their plants die—it's a sign of failure. And since using a device that reminds you to water them is useless if you're never home, this simple set of shelving will serve as your horticultural assistant, keeping your plants watered—and alive—for up to an entire month without intervention.

It sounds too good to be true, but it's not. After all, entire jungles and forests thrive without mankind's intervention, they just need a reliable source of water. So instead of rain clouds, the Pikaplant One shelving has a large clear water reservoir on top that you need to fill about once a month. With the help of gravity, water is pulled down through a tube that keeps your vegetation hydrated with minimal intervention needed.
via Gizmodo

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Sep 30, 2014

Murata's dancing robotic cheerleaders showcase advanced group control

posted by Larra Morris

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The only thing better than state-of-the-arts robotics is when it's combined with Force 9 cuteness. Japanese electronics company Murata Manufacturing has given us one example with the unveiling if its robotic Cheerleaders. The squad of ten ball-mounted robots uses advanced ultrasonics, infrared, and group control technology to perform synchronized dance routines with perfect stability.

The Cheerleaders were built in collaboration with Matsuno Lab at Kyoto University and represent Murata’s fourth generation of robots. The design is based on the company’s bicycle-riding Murata Boy and unicycle-riding Murata Boy, though the Cheerleader robots are designed to represent "elementary school students full of energy and curiosity," and each stands 36 cm (14 ft) tall and weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 lb).
via Gizmag

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Sep 29, 2014

Analog ASCII portraits of famous writers

posted by Laura Domela

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Álvaro Franca uses manual typewriters to create ASCII portraits of famous literary figures like Jack Kerouac (above), Charles Bukowski, and Jose Saramago. Here's a time-lapse video of the process.
via Boing Boing

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Typewritten Portraits from Álvaro Franca on Vimeo.

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Sep 29, 2014

This is a cute bracelet! Oh, and it’s also a drone that will take selfies for you in mid-air

posted by Larra Morris

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That’s the idea behind Intel’s Make It Wearable contest, “a global initiative to inspire ideas and fuel innovation that will evolve personal computing in exciting new ways.” With a $500,000 grand prize, Intel is challenging people to invent and design tech projects so small and functional that you can wear them on your body unobtrusively. It’s the future!

The Make It Wearable contest finalists include emotional prosthetics, a low-cost robotic hand, a sports necklace – and Nixie, the bracelet that is actually a flying drone that will take your selfies and return to your wrist. It’s like a falcon, if the falcon was actually a robot that could take your picture.
via The Mary Sue

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Sep 29, 2014

Ingenious design lowers the water under a bridge to let tall ships pass

posted by Larra Morris

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Most bridges are compromises: Cars want to speed low and straight across the water, but but boats want to pass under them. So we wind up with either tall bridges (expensive) or moveable bridges (clunky and awkward). But now a Dutch engineering firm has come up with a radical solution that doesn't involve the bridge—instead, it lowers the water 26 feet to let ships safely pass.

The tilting lock is the brainchild of Royal HaskoningDHV, one of the world's largest engineering consulting firms. Ordinary, a lock raises or lowers a boat to let pass between two bodies of water of different heights, such as a lake to an ocean. Here, the lock tilts to artificially and temporarily lower the water level, letting a tall sailboat fit under even a low bridge. Solar panels will power the whole thing.
via Gizmodo

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Sep 29, 2014

After seven years, Australia's rescue-drone challenge has a winner

posted by Larra Morris

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The UAV outback challenge is an annual event designed to promote the use of drones in Australia's expansive inland regions. If anything, it only highlights how far from safety you could find yourself. Each year, teams compete to find "Outback Joe" (a mannequin in high-viz attire) using unmanned craft and -- once located -- deliver him a bottle of water. It's like "Where's Waldo" but harder, and with UAVs. The thing is, since the competition's inception in 2007, no one has managed this -- until now. CanberraUAV was the team that successfully airdropped the liquid payload just 2.6 meters from ole' Joe, finally ending the competition's empty-podium problem. Of course, the real business here is raising awareness about how UAVs could be used in real world safety and rescue situations.
via Engadget

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Sep 29, 2014

Hull-clinging robots could perform secret searches of smugglers' boats

posted by Larra Morris

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Maritime smugglers will often hide contraband in false hulls or propeller shafts within their boats. While there are ways in which port authorities can search for such stashes, the smugglers often have time to ditch their illicit goods before those searches can be performed. However, what if there were stealthy, inexpensive, underwater hull-hugging robots that could check the boats out, without the crews even knowing they were there? That's just what a team at MIT is developing.

The current prototype robot was designed by mechanical engineering grad student Sampriti Bhattacharyya and her advisor, Prof. Harry Asada. Built mainly using a 3D printer, it's oval in shape (but with a flat bottom), and is described as being a little smaller than a football.
via Gizmag

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Image: MIT

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