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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Accelerating Technology Parallels Exponentially Rising Piles of Junk

In the midst of a move and digging through the clutter, I’ve excavated a number of ancient pieces of tech from bygone eras. There’s a 2004 Apple Powerbook that’s thicker than the econ textbook it’s sitting on, a cracked first generation iPhone, and an early “flatscreen” TV (that’s far from flat). What to do with this stuff? The faster we move from one generation of technology to the next, the faster the current iteration is destined for the trash heap. Does accelerating tech therefore doom us to flee an uninhabitable WALL-E world in the future? Maybe, but probably not.

Our Sci-fi Future: Robotic Multicopters Follow Golfers With cameras

Not since last year's TacoCopter fiasco has there been such a vague and ominous potential use for multicopters to hit the web. Last week, the golf company Titleist tweeted a photo of a rather monstrous multicopter with a camera hovering over the shoulder of pro golfer Scott Stallings.

Drones Light Up London Night Sky – With Star Trek Logo

It’s not the Bat Signal, but if you’re a Star Trek fan, it’s even better. And if you’re a geeky Star Trek fan that’s really into cutting edge technology – that was deliberately redundant – you’re really going to love this.

Scientists Inject Human Brain Cells Into Mice, Make Them Smarter

And you thought it was all about the neurons. In an experiment that might seem like something only a mad scientist would conjure, researchers injected human brain cells into the brains of mice to see...

Futuristic Predictions From 1988 LA Times Magazine Come True…Mostly

In 2013, a day in the life of a Los Angeles family of four is an amazing testament to technological progress and the idealistic society that can be achieved...or at least that's what the Los Angeles Times Magazine was hoping for 25 years ago. Back in April 1988, the magazine ran a special cover story called "L.A. 2013" and presented what a typical day would be like for a family living in the city.

Patient Receives 3D Printed Implant To Replace 75 Percent Of Skull

At the beginning of March of this year, a radical surgery was performed on an American patient: 75 percent of his skull was replaced with a 3D printed implant. The company that produced the implant, Oxford Performance Materials, made the announcement though offered little detail about the patient or the procedure. The surgery was given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration in February.

World’s Biggest Radio Telescope Opens Eyes in the Chilean Atacama

Information technology continues to invade every nook and cranny of modern life. At Singularity Hub, we tend to focus on genomics, robotics, artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things. But another field, radio astronomy, is progressing leaps and bounds thanks also to rapidly advancing computing power.

Amphibious Salamander-Like Robot Swims In Water, Crawls On Land

A next generation version of a salamander-like bot that has four legs and an actuated spine was recently unveiled. The Salamandra Robotica II is faster and more robust than the previous version, advances that came as the team pursued a better understanding of locomotion systems by comparison to animal movements.

Stunning Visuals From the Edge of Science and Engineering

Sometimes when words just aren't sufficient, adding an image can spark understanding and inspiration. Welcome to the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge 2012, a competition that awards creative communication of scientific concepts by way of images, videos, charts, and even games.

Rare Disease Science Challenge Brings Funding To An Overlooked Area Of Research

In the United States a disease is considered rare if fewer than 200,000 Americans have it. About 7,000 diseases meet this criterion, and the number of people affected by them: 25 million. Doesn’t sound so...

NASA to Launch 13,000 Square Foot Kapton Solar Sail in 2014

Navigating space isn’t easy—there’s no air, water, or earth to push your spacecraft in another direction. Rocket fuels and gravity assist have been our best tools for over fifty years. But in 2014, NASA...

China High-Speed Rail Nears 10,000 Kilometers, Plans To Expand to 50,000 By 2020

By 2015, China is projected to nearly double to 18,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. By 2020 they plan on expanding to 50,000 kilometers.

The Toa Mata All Robot Band

Tired of listening to all of your favorite songs over and over again on Pandora? Or the loud and way-too-human bands that leave your ears ringing after every concert? One alternative is the Toa...

Scientists Create 581 Clones From Same Mouse

Scientists in Japan have taken cloning to a whole new level. They haven’t cloned a new species or even come up with a new technique. They have, however, managed to push the technique to...

Brain Scans Can Now Tell Who You’re Thinking About

Beware stalkers, these neuroscientists can tell who you’re thinking of.

New Brain Implant Transmits Wirelessly To Computer

Scientists at Brown University have made brain-machine interfaces that are even more hip that BMIs researchers are using now. Like an upgrade from landlines to cell phones, their new device can record and transmit...

BMW Forecasts Cars Will Be Highly Automated by 2020, Driverless by 2025.

The latest in a slew of press from major automakers, BMW and Continental recently announced a partnership to develop new technology for self-driving cars. The collaboration aims to develop an “electronic co-pilot” system for highway grade driverless cars over the next year. And they think we’ll have partially automated cars by 2016, highly automated cars by 2020, and fully automated cars by 2025.

“H.M.” – The Man Who Had Part Of His Brain Removed And Changed Neuroscience Forever

He never got used to the graying person that greeted him in mirror every morning decades later. But even though his condition left him incapable of remembering new facts and new people, including his own aged self, the AAAS session that gathered in Boston last month affirms that he will always be remembered by a field on which he left a lasting mark.

“Keep Calm And Rape A Lot” T-Shirts Show Automation Growing Pains

An inadvertent computer error leads to a string of offensive T-shirts, including "Keep Calm and Rape A Lot", but you can bank on one thing for sure: this will happen again and again, in one form or the other. Why? Because computers have no way of knowing what upsets people unless they are programmed to.

‘Net-Zero’ Energy Store Being Built By Walgreens

Could a large American retail store produce as much energy as it consumes? Walgreens is going all 'green' to find out. The company recently announced a plan to erect a 'net-zero' energy store to replace an older one located in Evanston, Illinois. Through thoughtful and innovative design, the prototype store is specially designed to utilize various renewable energies technologies, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, in order to produce as much or potentially even more energy than it actually needs to operate.

Exclusive Interview: Ray Kurzweil Discusses His First Two Months At Google

In another exclusive interview with Singularity Hub, Ray Kurzweil provides an update about his first two months as Director of Engineering at Google as he builds his team to collaborate with other groups at Google in order to tackle natural language processing.

Boats, Planes And Automobiles – Today’s RCs Are Amazing

The RC world has come a long way since the lumbering vehicles I used to pilot when I was a kid. They couldn’t go very fast, but if need be, they could flex their...

China’s BGI to Sequence 2,200 Geniuses In Search For “Smart” Genes

In the world of genomics, Chinese biotech giant BGI is big and getting bigger. The firm agreed to purchase Bay Area juggernaut Complete Genomics for a bargain basement $117 million in 2012. BGI owns 156 DNA sequencers and produces 10% to 20% of the world's genetic information. Now the firm is putting their DNA sequencing might behind an investigation into the genetics of genius.

Interview: Jason Silva Effs the Ineffable in Fresh Philosophical Espresso Shot

Filmmaker Jason Silva’s latest philosophical short, “The Mirroring Mind,” is a stream of consciousness—about consciousness itself. If you like brain yoga, Silva's your man. He likens the mind’s ability to mirror an external environment that includes the mind itself to “plugging a video camera into the TV and then aiming the camera at the TV—the recursive loop that is formed extends itself ad infinitum.”

Exclusive Interview With Avi Reichental, CEO Of 3D Systems

Avi Reichental of 3D Systems stops by to chat with Founder of Singularity Hub, Keith Kleiner. In addition to his role as President and CEO of 3D Systems, Avi is also the Co-Chair for Nanotechnology and...

A 3D Printed Spaceship On The Scale Of A Human Hair? Hello Nanoscribe 3D Printer

3D printing has become one of the most exciting and talked about technologies of 2013. Last year, a group of researchers at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria refined a 3D printing technique that allowed the construction of sophisticated structures (a F1 racecar and a cathedral) smaller than dust mites in about 4 minutes. Now, a company called Nanoscribe GmbH that emerged from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany has made 3D printer called the Photonic Professional GT which can produce detailed structures on a similar scale but faster.

Why Wait For Google Fiber? UK Farmers Want Faster Internet, Build Their Own

Last November, neighborhoods in Kansas City became the first to enjoy the 1Gbps Internet speed made possible through Google Fiber. As Google considers the possibility of bringing Fiber to other communities (some signs points to Canada as a possible spot), a group of remote farmers in the UK with sluggish Internet speeds decided they didn't want to wait on their ISPs, the government, or even Google to deliver an upgrade to their broadband speeds. They opted to build an ultrafast fiberoptic network themselves.

MIT’s Robot Cheetah On The Run

MIT scientists are taking a page out of biology’s playbook in their attempt to create a robot cheetah. While nowhere near as fast as the real thing, their biomimetic approach has certainly resulted in...

Before/After Of Pope Announcement Shows Incredible Proliferation Of Mobile In Just 8 Years

NBC's Today Show provided a little insight today about how mobile has changed society with a comparison of two images from St. Peter's Square: the announcement of Pope Benedict in 2005 and Pope Francis in 2013. At a celebration for a tradition that extends back nearly two millennia, the rapid proliferation of technology into everyday society is visually striking and telling.

New Glasses Help Colorblind To See Normally

With a new pair of stylish shades, people with colorblindness are beginning to see the world just as the rest of us do.

Thalmic Labs Announces MYO Gesture Control Armband

Unlike other gesture control devices that rely on positioning through camera tracking, the MYO armband senses electrical activity in the muscles that control hand and finger motions. Its worn on the forearm and flexing of various muscles serve as gesture inputs. These inputs are communicated via Bluetooth, which are then translated into motions on the screen thanks to some machine-learning algorithms.

Window Cleaning Robots Making Their Way To Skyscraper Happy United Arab Emirates

These robotic window washers are not afraid of heights, high winds, or hard-to-reach places. Gekko Façade and its sister, solar panel cleaning robot Gekko Solar, imitate their lizard namesake by clinging to high places...

Wirelessly Charged Lithium Battery Can Be Stretched, Folded, and Twisted

Singularity Hub has faithfully followed flexible displays over the last few years—and now researchers are hard at work fabricating flexible components to match. In a recent paper, Yonggang Huang and John A. Rogers of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois demonstrated a lithium-ion battery embedded in a rubber substrate that can be stretched, folded, twisted, and charged wirelessly.

Bebionic Prosthetic Hand Continues To Amaze In Latest Video

Another video has been released profiling Nigel Ackland showing off some of the cool things he can do with his bebionic3 prosthetic arm, part of a series of videos from manufacturer RSLSteeper. This round, Nigel responds to some 'fan' requests of things he can do with the hand, but then shifts into more pragmatic daily uses that most of us take for granted, like tying a shoe or taking a dog for a walk. Clearly, the more he practices with the device, the more actions he is able to accomplish.

Distributed Network of 3000 Ocean Robots Argo Notches Millionth Data Point

If there’s one thing we know about Earth’s oceans, it’s that we don’t know terribly much. But robot explorers are helping ocean scientists bridge the gap between known and unknown with more data. Argo,...

Brains of Two Rats “Linked” Half Way Across The World

Now neuroscientists are practicing telepathy. In a recent study, the brain signals of a rat performing a task were transmitted to another rat to help it perform the same task.

Fearsome UK Robot Aircraft Is Semi-Autonomous and Will Fly in 2013

There’s a robotic arms race on. Aerospace firms in concert with defense agencies are upping the ante on airborne attack drones. Not to be outdone by its ally across the Atlantic, the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is said to be soon testing a superdrone called Taranis. The drone is designed to fly intercontinental missions at supersonic speeds, undected by radar—and almost completely free of human direction.

Trailer For Futuristic Film ‘Project Kronos’ Explores Interstellar Space Travel Program

What cost would humanity be willing to pay to make contact with intelligent life in the universe? It's a question at the interface of technology and ethics, an area that a new film called 'Project Kronos' looks to explore at a deeper level. The film, scheduled to be released on April 15, is presented as a faux-documentary that takes place in the future, in which personnel involved in an interstellar space travel program describe what the project was and their involvement with it.

Leading Neuroscientist Says Kurzweil Singularity Prediction A “Bunch Of Hot Air”

Addressing fellow scientists, he dismissed the singularity as “a bunch of hot air,” and went on further to declare that “the brain is not computable and no engineering can reproduce it.”

Under Armour Unveils Wearable Athletic Monitoring Device Armour39

A new system scheduled to be released this spring aims to take heart monitoring for athletes to the next level. Under Armour has announced Armour39, a chest-strap monitor that sits near the base of the sternum, measures heart rate, and syncs up to 16 hours of stored data via Bluetooth with a mobile devices or a separate display watch. On the surface, this appears to be just another heart monitor; however, the company claims that the difference is the introduction of a new metric: WILLpower.

LEDs to Outsell Traditional Light Bulbs in 5 Years

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb—but he did relentlessly test the materials and design that took the technology mainstream. Edison’s first incandescent bulb powered on in 1879. A little over 130 years on it remains king, but semiconductor technology is making a run at the throne. IMS Research says that by 2018, consumers will prefer LED bulbs over incandescents.

New Arm Allows Military Robot BigDog to Hurl Cinderblocks Like a Champ

Periodically, Boston Dynamics releases video documenting its robotic protégé BigDog’s development. Prior BigDog hits include video of it walking, running, and toting heavy loads. We can now add to the list video of BigDog hurling cinderblocks with a giant pincher-equipped arm where its head ought to be.

Space Tourist Dennis Tito Announces Quest for Mars by 2018 – Can He Do It?

Seems like every other week there’s a new plan to push humans a little farther into space. Last week, Dennis Tito—the world’s first space tourist—announced the formation of his foundation, Inspiration Mars, and pledged to partially fund a 2018 manned flight (a married couple to be precise) to circle the Red Planet and return to Earth. The project will cost at least $1 billion, and Inspiration Mars will seek philanthropic and potentially government funding in addition to Tito’s contribution.

Scientists Cure Diabetes With Gene Therapy In Dogs – Will It Work On Humans?

Scientists have now cured diabetes – at least in a group of dogs – and they used a gene therapy to do it.

After an Impressive 2012, Online Education to Go Global in 2013

A year after its 2012 launch, online education platform Coursera is booming. The startup recently added 29 partner universities, expanding their catalogue to 313 courses from 62 universities in 17 countries. To say the...

Another Legend Brought Back To Life With Technology — This Time It’s Audrey Hepburn

The late Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn personified grace and elegance, and today, her iconic status still carries on strong. With her panache and discerning tastes, she serves almost as an archetype of quirky style in modern culture. Naturally, anything that can be connected strongly with the film legend associates some of those same qualities to itself...even something as trite as chocolate. That's right -- Galaxy (also known as Dove) has put out a commercial showing a virtual Hepburn in a 1960s Mediterranean backdrop enjoying a piece of chocolate.

Animations Made Entirely By Computers? Algorithm Generates Cartoon Faces, Shows The Future

A montage of scribbly cartoon faces, each imbued with distinct personality, would make any parent proud of their child's artistic creation...except a child didn't produce these faces; a computer algorithm did. Meet the randomly-generated caricatures that are part of the Weird Faces Study, the product of a computer algorithm developed by media artist Matthias Dörfelt. Surprisingly, each face is not only recognizable, but has human qualities conveyed through the rudimentary sketches.

Hype or Hope? We’ll Soon Find Out – Leap Motion “Minority Report” Controller Ships in May

Leap Motion caused quite a stir in 2012 when they unveiled their super precise motion-sensing device, the Leap Motion Controller. (The Leap sensor is capable of detecting details as small as the head of a pin.) On Wednesday, Leap Motion announced plans to ship the first batch of pre-ordered Leap Controllers Monday, May 13th—less than a year after the tech was introduced. The device will be available in Best Buy stores May 19th.

Infinity Aerospace Wants to Open Source Space Research With ArduLab

While ambitious private space outfits like SpaceX and Planetary Resources grab headlines, a quieter grassroots transformation is underway. To that end, Infinity Aerospace recently launched their first creation, ArduLab, at the Kairos 50 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. ArduLab is a plug-and-play microgravity research module, NASA approved, and ready to be installed in the International Space Station out of the box—starting at just $1,999.

Ohio Man Charged With Shooting Robot

In what is sure to be only the beginning of human vs. robot confrontations, a surveillance robot belonging to the police was recently shot after a six-hour standoff with a 62-year-old heavily inebriated man. A camera-equipped robot entered the home to locate the man and the guns. A second larger bot was then sent in, but when the owner spotted it, he opened fire with a small caliber pistol damaging it.

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