Aug 21, 2014

Octopus-like camouflage can hide you in plain sight

posted by Larra Morris

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Octopuses and other cephalopods are masters of disguise -- their prey often doesn't realize the danger until it's too late. It only makes sense to model active camouflage after that behavior, then, and a team at the University of Illinois has managed just that. Their octopus-like material uses layers of photosensors, actuators and temperature-sensitive pigment to detect ambient light and change colors in response. Individual points on the unversity's test skin can turn from black to transparent within a second or two, letting it quickly blend into its surroundings -- or purposefully stand out, as you see above. The technology will ideally allow for many colors in the future, although that's not an immediate priority.
via Engadget

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Aug 20, 2014

Cities are making spiders grow bigger and multiply faster

posted by Laura Domela

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Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.

A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spidersliving near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.
via Wired

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Aug 20, 2014

'Video-less' 3D games developed for blind players

posted by Larra Morris

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Creating a video game bereft of any actual video might seem like an unusual idea.

But the concept is being adopted by a growing number of games designers, to help make the industry more accessible to blind and visually impaired people.

"Video-less" games use a production technique known as binaural recording, to construct an immersive, audio-only world.

The technique involves fitting a dummy with tiny condenser microphones that mimic the way our ears naturally hear sound. Each scene in the game is recorded using this method and the result is a more realistic, three-dimensional experience.
via BBC News

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Aug 20, 2014

3D-printed house concept offers blueprint for living on Mars

posted by Larra Morris

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If humans successfully colonize Mars in the future, what kind of homes will they inhabit? NASA and MakerBot recently hosted a competition which tasked people with making a 3D-printed model home suitable for the Red Planet. Noah Hornberger won with his Queen B (Bioshielding) concept home, which offers food-for-thought concerning the future of interplanetary architecture.
via Gizmag

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Image: Noah Hornberger

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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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