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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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3D Printing On The Frontlines — Army Deploying $2.8M Mobile Fabrication Labs

Throughout history, war and innovation have gone hand in hand, whether it's breakthroughs out of heavily funded R&D programs or makeshift contraptions thrown together with spare parts. Soldiers are trained to use the technology on hand to get the job done, one way or the other.

High-Tech Clothing Store Hointer Employs Robots And Mobile Tech Instead Of Salespeople

Hointer is a startup selling men's designer jeans that launched in Seattle last November and offering customers a 21st century shopping experience. The store has no salespeople, confusing signs, or stacks of clothes to riffle through to find the right size. Instead, lines of clothes in hundreds of styles hang for you to browse through. When you find something you like, you scan the QR code on the tag, pick your size on the Hointer app with your smartphone, and your selection automatically drop into a chute in a changing room from the robot-operated stockroom. Once you find everything you want, you put your items in a bag, checkout by swiping your credit card at a station, and walk out the door...just like that.

Tech Giants Promote Video With A Simple Message: Kids Need to Learn Programming

What kind of movement would Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Gabe Newell of Valve, and Microsoft's Bill Gates all back enthusiastically? A call for more computer programmers, specifically really young ones. The nonprofit organization Code.org recently commissioned a short film titled What Most Schools Don't Teach that profiled some of the most recognizable names in technology, along with musician will.i.am and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, to put out a call to get kids excited about something that is shrouded in geekitude: computer programming. The film strongly drives home two main messages: coding is not as hard/geeky/foreign as you think and it's as vital to your future career as any subject in school (perhaps more so).

Dietary Antioxidants Don’t Protect Against Dementia Or Stroke, New Study Shows

Still dutifully taking your antioxidants in order to fend off cancer, heart disease, or to maintain a healthy, lucid mind? If you answered yes to number three, you may be wasting your time. According...

Kickstarter 3Doodler 3D Printing Pen Nothing of the Sort – But Somehow Raises $2 Million

Five days after launch on Kickstarter, the 3Doodler 3D printing pen boasted over 21,000 backers and $1.9 million in pledges. Their goal was $30,000! What’s so special about the 3Doodler? If nothing else, it rivals the lofty infomercial marketing heights of Slap Chop or ShamWow. But let’s get something straight—3Doodler is a crafting “pen” not a handheld 3D printing pen (whatever that even means).

Quest to Model the Human Brain Nets a Billion Euros

Is a billion euros enough to understand the human brain? The Human Brain Project thinks it’s a good start, and on January 28th, the European Commission agreed. The Human Brain Project was one of two projects to get a billion in backing after a two year decision period. Henry Markram, the project’s founder and co-director, hopes to use the funds to build a digital model of the human brain from the ground up to better understand how the brain works.

Blazing Fast Staubli Robot Picks 200 Items Per Minute

Even John Henry, had he been a factory picker instead of a steel driver, couldn’t keep up with this robot. The Switzerland-based TP80 Fast Picker robot by Stäubli Robotics can sort your prescription bottles, Tic-Tac...

Interview: 16-Year-Old Jack Andraka Invents Cheap, Accurate Cancer Test

Jack Andraka is 16 years old, a sophomore in high school, and a pretty endearing chap. Andraka’s alter ego? Mad scientist. Last year, Andraka developed a very cheap, accurate diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer...

Scientists Create Mice That Can’t Feel Cold

By knocking out a specific group of neurons, scientists were able to prevent mice from feeling cold. The study sheds light on how the nervous system transmits sensory information from the body to the brain and may help develop more sophisticated pain medicines.

Robokids – A Growing Generation Of Housebound Kids Telecommuting To School With Robots

Devon Carrow was born with eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic inflammatory disease in which white blood cells build up in the esophagus that makes exposure to common foods such as peanuts, milk and eggs life-threatening....

Deep Brain Stimulation Used To Treat Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease

A device that delivers electrical shocks directly into the brain has been shown to alleviate symptoms in people with early stage Parkinson’s disease better than the best treatments being used today. Normally reserved as...

Catherine Mohr: The Da Vinci Surgical Robot and Beyond

Humans have been doing surgery for 10,000 years, and for most of that time, undergoing a procedure was an immensely painful, high-risk endeavor. But with the rise of advanced techniques in the last 150 years, modern surgery has become sterile, anesthetized, and often minimally invasive. So how has surgery improved more recently? Robots, of course. Robotic surgical tools are not only already here, they’ve been on the surgical scene for over a decade.

Robots Now Dealing Blackjack

Here’s one dealer that won’t attempt to cheat you with sleight of hand – because it doesn’t have any, strictly speaking. More like bulbs with suction cups.

Google Glass Drops “Project” Status, Opens Testing To The Public

The time has come for Google Glass to drop its "Project" moniker and move into the hands of the public. No, the wirelessly connected eyewear hasn't hit the shelves just yet, but Google has taken the next step in bringing the device to market. The company has announced the "If I Had Glass" promotion allowing members of the public the opportunity to get their hands on the Explorer prototype that few have been able to test. Additionally, a sleek Glass-devoted website has launched with a new commercial called "How It Feels" that helps to better define exactly what the device can and can't do.

New Software Reveals “Hidden Information” In Video Footage

Leave it up to those brainiacs at MIT to come up with a technology like this. With a nifty video processing program they’re able to see changes impossible to see with the naked eye....

Diamandis: Tricorder X Prize Offers $10 Million to Build Star Trek Inspired Health Scanner

It’s hard to imagine a Star Trek away team without their tricorders waving back and forth, scanning for life forms. Was there anything those things couldn’t do, and might we primitive 21st century humans develop a similarly powerful handheld diagnostic technology? The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, announced in 2012, officially opened registration in early 2013 to find out.

FDA Approves Eye Implant Enabling The Blind To Partially See

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Argus II artificial retina to restore partial sight to patients who are blind. The device, sometimes dubbed a bionic eye, was designed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to help people who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative disease that causes degradation of retinal function. Although it does not restore full sight to the visually challenged, those with the disease are able to once have limited, low-resolution vision.

Interview: Diamandis’ Planetary Resources To Claim High Value Asteroids With Robotic Beacons

Once Planetary Resources has figured out how to get to an asteroid and how to mine it—what will they mine? Near-Earth asteroids contain abundant iron, nickel, platinum group metals, and water. If space is to be the “final frontier,” we’ll need to live off the land—and asteroids are a low gravity (in other words, cheap) way to harvest materials.

Veebot’s Needle Wielding Robot to Automate Blood Draws

Taking blood is a fine art. Even the most experienced practioner may require more than one stab to find a vein—seems only natural to wonder, might a robot do the job better? Mountain View’s Veebot thinks so. Veebot wants to take the art out of needlework with their robotic venipuncture machine.

Crowdfunding Star Wars — Kickstarter Campaign For Death Star Construction Aims To Raise $30M

The folks at Kickstarter have given the green light to two projects near-and-dear to the hearts of geeks, techies and futurists alike: the construction of a Death Star and a desperate call to fund X-wing fighters for the Rebel Alliance.

Will You Soon Be Able To Buy Used Ebooks And Digital Music? Amazon Moves In That Direction

A showdown over the meaning of ownership in the digital world between online retailers and content creators is on the horizon. The US Patent and Trademark Office recently awarded Amazon a patent titled Secondary Market For Digital Objects, wherein the mega-retailer describes a marketplace for the transfer of used digital objects, whether ebooks, audio, images, video, and even apps. As stated in the patent, "transfers may include a sale, a rental, a gift, a loan, a trade, etc."

Study Suggests Folic Acid During Pregnancy Decreases Child’s Chances Of Being Autistic

A woman’s diet during pregnancy could determine whether or not her child will have autism, a new study suggests. Women who took supplements of folic acid, a vitamin B variant and found in leafy...

Willow Garage NOT Shutting Down, Evolves To Go Commercial

Willow Garage, the robotics startup that brought us PR2 and the Robot Operating System (ROS) open source software library will soon cease to exist – at least as a stand alone entity. They issued...

Turtle Receives Prosthetic Flippers, Goes For A Swim

In 2008, an endangered loggerhead turtle, was rescued by a fisherman in Japan after getting tangled in fishing nets. It looked as though the turtle, the rescuers named Yu Chan, had been attacked by...

AutoDesk and Organovo Team Up To Bring Printable Human Organs Closer

Bioprinting firm, Organovo, isn’t anywhere near 3D printing a hand or heart. But a recently announced partnership with 3D modeling software giant Autodesk (maker of AutoCAD) might speed things up a bit. As Autodesk’s Carlos Olguin says, “Life is becoming a nascent design space in an engineering sense. It’s subject to specs, subject to QA, it’s repeatable. Biology is becoming an engineering discipline.”

Watson Is Now Commercially Available, Set To Help Doctors Treat Cancer

IBM’s most promising medical student just graduated and is ready to join the workforce and help people – in the fight against cancer, to be specific. IBM has just released a commercially available Watson...

Neil Harbisson Is A Cyborg Who Hears More Of The World Than We See

What would your world be like if you couldn't see color? For artist Neil Harbisson, a rare condition known as achromatopsia that made him completely color blind rendered that question meaningless. Not being able to see color at all meant that there was no blue in the sky or green in grass, and these descriptions were merely something to be taken on faith or memorized to get the correct answers in school. But Neil's life would change drastically when he met computer scientist Adam Montandon.

Toy-Size Helicopter Drones Now On Surveillance Duty In Afghanistan

A swarm of helicopter drones are being deployed to British soldiers in Afghanistan thanks to the UK's Ministry of Defence. Dubbed the PD-100 "Black Hornet" Personal Reconnaissance System, the Norwegian-developed drones are finding utility and praise among the Brigade Reconnaissance Force as they are being used by the British military to identify "insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing."

Sea Installer – The Enormous Ocean Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

Technological progress advances our ability to build bigger and badder machines. A recent example is Sea Installer, part of the next generation of powerful wind turbine installation vessels that are capable of moving and installing...

Recording Your Life, Allowing Others To View It As Virtual Reality World: Lifelogging

It’s called Bad Trip, and it certainly feels like one. Alan Kwan has been recording every moment of his life since November 2011 and he faces the same problem that other lifeloggers do: what to...

The Automation Of Healthcare Continues – Robot System To Sterilize Surgical Tools

  Hospitals are not the cleanest of places. Even in the operating room where the greatest care is taken to create a sterile environment, too often the infectious culprits bacteria, viruses and even fungus are...

Are Humans Causing Oceanic Jellygeddon? The Jury’s Still Out

Tied tight with advancing technology are concerns human development is irrevocably damaging the planet. Back in 2001, one theory warned warmer oceans and overfishing would spawn jellyfish at an alarming rate. Throughout the next...

US Unemployment Is 7.9%—Are Robots to Blame?

Robots want to invade your home, take your job, and steal your wife. Maybe not that last one (yet). But as unemployment remains stubbornly elevated (7.9%) people are searching for answers. Among the usual...

Glass Sculptures Of Bacteria And Viruses Brings Microbiology World To Human Scale

Phrases like "viral art" or "infectious sculpture" only begin to provide vague impressions of what British artist Luke Jerram has created: human-scale glass sculptures of viruses, bacteria, and other organisms from the microbiological world. The sculptures aren't just creative interpretations, but derive from scientific images and models and created at approximately a million times larger scale.

Sifteo Builds New Gaming Platform Using Interactive Cubes

Love video games but want the kind of physical and social interactivity that board games deliver? That's the motivation behind the development of Sifteo Cubes, the touchscreen cubes that communicate wirelessly and have sensors on each of their four sides.

Roadside Sign-Flippers? Robots Are Taking Their Jobs Too

You know those guys at the side of the road, tossing and flipping signs in the air trying to get you to go into that IHOP or get your car washed? Well those guys are now, sometimes, robots.

Virtual Grocery And Toy Stores On The Rise Thanks To QR Codes

The next big thing in shopping may be to walk away empty handed. That's because an increasing number of companies are putting up virtual stores that have no physical merchandise; instead, posters display products with quick response (QR) codes. Customers scan the matrix barcodes with their smartphones, pay for the items in their virtual cart, and items are delivered to their doors within hours to days, depending on the items. It's the advantage of window shopping without the hassle of standing in line to check out.

New Studies Show Cells From Fetus End Up In Mothers’ Brains And Hearts

Microchimerism results when cells from two genetically distinct populations appear in the same tissue, organ, or individual, such as occurs during an organ transplant or during pregnancy. It has been known for some time that,...

Turn Your Plastic Recyclables Into 3D Printing Spools With Filabot

3D printers are getting cooler every day, but there’s one component integral to 3D printing that normally gets overlooked – that is, until you have to pay for it. As many 3D hobbyists have...

Google Wants to Ditch the Password – Sounds Lovely

Memorizing numerous passwords is inconvenient. This is known. To counteract said inconvenience, many people use memorable (read: hackable) passwords on multiple sites. Which is a shame because security experts advise that, at a minimum, we use different, random, alpha-numeric strings for every website and switch them out every few months. Kind of the opposite of convenient. And even this method provides but a fig leaf of security.

Netflix Showing What Television 2.0 Will Look Like

The video streaming service Netflix is advancing the line in the battle for the future of television. CEO Reed Hastings recently indicated in a letter to stockholders to mark February 1, 2013 as a "defining moment in the development of Internet TV." Why? Because that is the day that its much hyped original program House of Cards was not only released, but the entire 13 episodes were made available all at once.

Team Of Doctors Successfully Perform Double Arm Transplant On Veteran

The most extensive bilateral arm transplant to date has been successfully achieved thanks to an interdisciplinary team of doctors and nurses at John Hopkins Hospital. The operation, which was performed on December 18, lasted 13 hours and involved 16 physicians from orthopedics, vascular medicine, plastic surgery, and other disciplines from five hospitals.

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