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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Your Next Doctor Could Save Your Life From Hundreds Of Miles Away

Through this two-way communication tele-intensivists can aid local intensivists by helping to enforce the patient’s daily goals, review their performance with them and respond to alarms if, as if often the case, the local doctor has been called away.

Report: Energy Remains As “Dirty” As Ever Despite Rise Of Renewable Energy

A new report from the International Energy Agency shows that, despite the rapid spread of renewable technologies, the energy produced today is just as “dirty” as it was 20 years ago.

Giant Next-Generation Thirty Meter Telescope Gets Permit From Hawaii to Build on Mauna Kea

What would Dr. Evil do with a supercomputer, a giant laser, and a 30-meter deformable mirror? Hold the planet for ransom, of course. The billion-dollar Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, on the other hand, will assemble these components into a state-of-the-art optical telescope on the lip of a giant volcano and peer into the depths of space and time. (Astronomers. No ambition.)

Robots Will Do Everything You Do Now Only Better—What Then?

The US stock market is approaching a record high—having finally regained all it lost in the 2008 bear market. It would be cause for celebration, if it didn’t feel so out of touch with the “main street” reality of elevated unemployment. As a recent New York Times headline read, “recovery in the US is lifting profits, but not adding jobs.” The NYT goes on to blame the divide between rising corporate profits, recovering stocks, and stubborn unemployment on technology—or more specifically automation and robots.

Want To Have A Better Memory? Study Shows Sounds During Sleep Can Help

If you’re not willing to send electrical shocks through your brain – “mild” as they might be – to become smarter, here’s a much gentler option: play sounds while you sleep.

New Study Suggests Autism Could Be Diagnosed At Birth – By Analyzing The Placenta

Scientists have made strides recently in coming up with ways to detect autism earlier in children. But a recent study suggests it might be possible to diagnose the disorder right at the moment of birth. The telltale signs, they found, can be seen by analyzing the placenta.

Kickstarter Campaign To Create Glowing Plant Goes Viral – Singularity Labs FTW!

“I firmly believe that this is something that’s going to revolutionize our society. With this technology we have a lot of tools that can solve a lot of humanity’s problems. We’re limited only by our imagination.”

CO2 Emissions in US Plunge to 1994 Levels As Natural Gas Booms

Proponents of natural gas, or methane in its purest form, say it is cleaner than coal and oil, lacks the PR problems and toxic waste byproducts of nuclear, and more efficiently produces electricity than sustainable sources. It is abundant and, in recent years, cheap. Is natural gas the future of energy production, a risky stop-gap measure to energy independence and cleaner energy, or simply overhyped?

New Device Keeps Liver Alive Outside Body

In what’s being called a medical first, doctors were able to keep a liver functioning outside the body and then transplant it into a patient.

Switch to Tablet and Smartphone Drives Striking Sales Declines in PCs

What’s going on with PCs? According to data provider IDC, worldwide PC shipments (laptops and desktops) declined -14% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. It’s the worst 12-month decline since IDC began covering the market in 1994, the fourth consecutive such drop, and almost twice the predicted -7.7%. Another data provider, Gartner, is sketching a similarly stark PC forecast in 2013, predicting a -7.6% decline in PC shipments this year.

Lessons From Crowdsourcing The Boston Bombing Investigation

What started as an atypical request by the FBI to gather evidence from the public quickly morphed into a much uglier digital witch hunt, one where the crowd’s fears, prejudices, and suspicions were given credence, while guilt and innocence were doled out based on shreds of circumstantial evidence. In the four days, three hours, and nine minutes between the detonation of the first bomb and the Boston Police Department tweeting that the final suspect had been captured, a new approach for conducting crowdsourced investigations was established.

This Is What Happens When You Wring Out A Wet Cloth In Space

The weightlessness of space makes it a unique place to conduct experiments that can’t be done on Earth, like growing perfect protein crystals, finding out how rat memory changes in zero G, and finding out what happens when you ring out a soaked washcloth.

US Supreme Court To Decide Whether Or Not Genes Can Be Patented

Coming up with an answer that’s satisfactory to the researchers, doctors and patients who have a stake in the case is turning out to be as knotty as the genome itself.

New Technique Turns Brain Transparent, Gives Scientists Direct Look Into Brain

A new technique, developed by a scientist who’d already contributed an extraordinary tool to neuroscience, literally allows scientists to peer directly into the brain by making it transparent.

Willow Garage Spinoff IPI Is Building Robots That Can See, Think, and Act

We often hear of robots forcing humans to learn new skills—but Willow Garage spinoff, Industrial Perception, Inc., (IPI) wants to do just the opposite. IPI is in the business of training robots for the real world. Step one: Give them eyes. Step two: Teach them to understand what they’re seeing. Step three: Do something about it.

Chinese Restaurant Owner Says Robot Noodle Maker Doing “A Good Job!”

Noodle peelers should probably start looking for other things to do around the kitchen – there’s just no competing with these robots.

Anticipated and Controversial, First Google Glass Devices in Production

Google Glass is fast becoming the most hyped, anticipated, controversial technology trial of the year. You heard it here first—although I’m sure you didn’t—Google will ship the first trial pairs of Google Glass in the next few days. Google’s Glass Explorer program enrolled 2,000 pre-early adopters who will pay $1,500 to beta test the firm’s wearable computer, iron out the kinks, and get the PR ball rolling.

Why Your Next Phone Will Include Fingerprint, Facial, And Voice Recognition

Though consumers have demanded a better way to secure their phones besides passwords, they may have had the answer all along without even knowing it: their body parts. Biometric identification will almost certainty become available within the next few years, and three options will become standard: a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, facial recognition powered by high-definition cameras, and voice recognition based off a large collection of user vocal samples.

Festo’s Robot Dragonfly an Awesome Mix of Prehistoric and Futuristic

German manufacturing firm Festo recently resurrected a Paleozoic dragonfly. No, we’re not talking de-extinction or synthetic biology—this baby’s robotic. But at 70 cm (27 in) by 48 cm (19 in), Festo’s BionicOpter robot dragonfly is a futuristic flying machine with more than a touch of the prehistoric in it.

RNA-Based Drug Offers New Hope To Hepatitis C Patients

A new drug may present a way for patients to rid their bodies of infection without being subjected to the same severe side effects as current treatments.

Coming Soon to a Body Near You? World’s Smallest Chip to Be Swallowable

Dumb things will soon be smart—you’ve heard it repeated ad nauseum. Cyborg-Earth will bristle with uncounted hordes of tiny embedded chips; smart-roads will talk to smart-cars, warning of black ice; smart-buildings will hold court with smartphones, regulating temperature and lights to match prefences and schedule; trees, oceans, and glaciers will dutifully report real-time conditions to scientists.

Lab Grown Kidney Transplanted Into Rat

Imagine a future in which no one died anymore waiting for an organ. Harvard researchers have taken a major step toward that reality by transplanting a lab-grown kidney into an animal and showing that it works.

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Closer To Reality After Receiving $2 Billion From Japanese Bank

Offshore wind farms are finally arriving on US shores – and they’re doing it with foreign help. Plans to install Cape Wind, a 468 MW, 130 turbine wind farm in the waters off the...

Meet The Two-Ton Robotic Mantis: A Hexapod You Can Ride In

Weighing in at a little over two tons, Mantis is likely the biggest robot hexapod you’ve ever seen. Mantis walks on six ground-sensing hydraulic legs, carrying a human in its thoracic cockpit or being guided remotely by a nearby pilot. In footage taken without the full cockpit, the Mantis/pilot hybrid has the look of Spider-Man’s Doc Ock. Mantis is, quite simply, a sweet looking robot.

Six Of The Best Robot Videos Of Lego Mindstorms NXT

The success of Lego's Mindstorms NXT has been one of the main contributing factors to the widespread interest in robotics. NXT enthusiasts of all ages have created some of the coolest designs, even capturing the attention of engineers who develop industrial robots. Now, Lego has announced that the third generation of its NXT bot, dubbed EV3, will be available this August and will be easier than ever for anyone to get into building new bots. To celebrate, we thought we'd take a look at the best NXT bots to come out in the last few years.

Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Suspends Trading As Prices Crash

The market price of bitcoins in USD has fallen and fallen hard. After peaking at $266, prices plunged Wednesday morning. There was a strong late rally, such that some data providers listed the “close” around $165. But the cryptocurrency trades round the clock, and Wednesday morning’s decline continued throughout the evening and into Thursday.

Jurassic Park – But For Real This Time. De-extinction On The Move

Scientists may soon bring a species of frog (Rheobatrachus silus or the gastric brooding frog) back from the dead. The frog—which bizarrely swallowed its eggs, incubated them in its stomach, and gave birth to them through its mouth—has been extinct since 1984. However, researchers from the University of New South Wales harvested dead cell nuclei, frozen in the 70s, and implanted them in a living egg of a different but related frog species. Some of the eggs began to divide into early embyros, and the researchers were able to confirm the genetic material in the dividing cells was a match.

Red Meat Is Bad For Your Heart, But Possibly For A Previously Unknown Reason

You knew that too much red meat wasn’t good for you, but maybe you didn’t know the whole story.

Google Fiber Expands In Kansas City, Heads To Austin Next

If you suffer from Google Fiber envy, which delivers close to gigabit speeds, there's good news: you don't have to move to Kansas anymore. It was only last November when Google Fiber launched in Kansas...

Man Puts House in the Canadian Rockies Up For Sale – in Bitcoins

You can use the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin to buy an ever-lengthening list of items. Last week, a 2007 Porsche Cayenne sale was settled in the currency. But a house? Sure, why not. 23-year-old Taylor More is listing his grandparents home in the Canadian Rockies in Canadian dollars (C$) or Bitcoin—a minor detail More has yet to relay to grandma and grandpa.

Exponential Growth In Small Machines — Don’t Fear, They’re Here To Protect You

Small machines are ubiquitous. They’ve proliferated exponentially for forty years and are now all around us. Since new technology can be scary, especially small machine technologies that human eyes can’t see, I’m writing to tell their story. They’ve been here protecting us, we use them for fun and games; and we expect them to have a continued bright future. From their beginning as air bag collisions sensors for protecting, to smartphone motion games they’re moving into health and activity monitors. They’ve recently become a $10B market across their myriad uses.

Bitcoin Blows Up, Exchange Rate Jumps Ten-Fold in Recent Weeks

Recent headlines are humming over the booming digital currency Bitcoin—it’s either the next big thing or the digital equivalent of Tulipomania. Either way, there’s no debating the fact Bitcoin’s on a wild ride.

Breathometer — A Breathlyzer For Your Smartphone

A California-based company wants to take the guesswork out of the rhetorical question, "Did I drink too much to drive?" The Breathometer is a small $20 device that plugs into a smartphone's audio jack, much the way that the popular credit card reader Square does, and measures the relative quantity of alcohol in breath as accurately as other consumer breathlyzers. Using the accompanying app, a smartphone can then display BAC or blood alcohol concentration level, which is the legal measure used to assess when someone is driving under the influence.

Liquid Robotics Launches New Powerful Data Collecting Ocean Robots

Maker of the epic ocean-going robot, Wave Glider, Liquid Robotics announced it’s engineered and will ship the next generation this fall. The new Wave Glider SV3 combines Liquid Robotics’ proprietary wave-energy harvesting tech (see here for more) with good old fashioned solar power to ensure the glider is master of its own destiny in any conditions.

Are We Paying Enough Attention to Information Technology’s Dark Side?

For centuries, the threat and selective use of brute force has steered the international balance of power. In the last couple of decades, the system has increasingly accommodated economic power as a means of non-violent leverage between states. Now, according to Marc Goodman of Singularity University, we must add technology to the equation.

Distributed Weather Network On Smartphones Crowdsources Data Meteorologists

A startup called Cumulonimbus Inc launched an Android app called PressureNET that displays barometric pressure and allowed users to submit their data. The latest version of the app goes a step further with a way for the 18,000+ users to not only visually display data but also opt-in on data sharing features. The startup wants to transform their app into a distributed, crowdsourced scientific platform that's open source using devices that people already carry around with them.

Autism Rate Rises To 1 In 50 Children – Cause Still A Mystery

It is thought that the increase is due to more autism cases being reported which had previously gone unreported, rather than an actual rise in the incidence of autism.

Human or Robot? Harder to Tell In Latest Bipedal Robot PETMAN Video

Boston Dynamics is no Geppetto and PETMAN no Pinnochio, but someone must have wished on a phosphorous flare because, decked out in full chem-resistant chamo and a dystopic gas mask, PETMAN couldn’t look more human.

Mobile Technology Milestone: First Cellular Call Made 40 Years Ago

Martin Cooper, former VP at Motorola, likely didn't appreciate the full significance of making the world's first cell phone call in 1973, but 40 years later, mobile technology is an unstoppable force, poised to transform just about everything that makes up modern living. The famous call made by Cooper to a colleague at rival telecom Bell Labs (who was actually heading the AT&T program) is the stuff of legend and forged the path to the first cellular phone, the 2.2-pound DynaTAC, made commercially available a decade later for a whopping cost of about $4,000.

Voice Ads Let You Speak With Mobile Advertisements

The number of conversations you have with your smartphone is about to go way up, for better or worse. Nuance, the company whose speech recognition technology helped bring Apple's Siri to life, is now taking its technology into a new frontier: mobile advertisements. The program is called Voice Ads and enables advertisers to embed voice recognition into ads, so smartphone users can respond with speech.

First Fully 3D Printed Building May Take Shape This Year

We can 3D print the very small—check out these mindblowing nanoscale creations—but what about the very big? If a few bold architectural startups have anything to do with it, we may soon see the first...

Robots Invade Restaurants: Here Are Eight of Our Favorites

Robotic automation has long been the domain of manufacturing. But of late, robots have made an often entertaining and sometimes gimmicky leap to restaurants in China, Taiwan, Japan, and increasingly the US. Please accept the following video ode to Singularity Hub’s favorite restaurant robots of the past few years.

Multiple Vaccinations on Same Day Does Not Raise Autism Risk

A new study that should help assuage concerns shows that giving children multiple vaccines on the same day does not increase the risk for autism. How persuasive the study will be to doubting parents, however, is anybody’s guess.

A Million Smartphones Will Drive Biggest Heart Health Study in History

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are recruiting a million participants to join a decade long heart health study. The enabling factor? Smartphones. It’s a great example of information technology bleeding into other fields and speeding their progress. If all goes to plan, the UCSF study (dubbed Health eHeart) will be the broadest such study ever completed.

The Moon Is A Natural Platform For Asteroid Mining, Detection, And Deflection

In the near future we could have technology to not only watch out for asteroid threats, but to deflect these planet killers and harvest their vast resources. We can turn swords into ploughshares on a cosmic scale. In fact, Earth has a natural ally in this effort – the Moon. The Moon will also play a vital role in the future of Earth’s planetary protection, one day supporting robotic sentinels that will watching the skies, able to rapidly respond to asteroid threats. This is far from science fiction.

PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel Joins $5 Million Backing For Robot Security Company RoboteX

Along with RoboteX founder Nathan Gettings, chief executive Alexander Karp, and four other unnamed investors, the group filed $5 million in funding for the California-based company.

World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Online In United Arab Emirates

And now, this country that has risen from poverty to become the world’s thirteenth richest after striking oil, is doing renewable energy in a characteristically big way. They’ve just completed the world’s largest solar power station.

Reprogrammed Assembly Line Robots Make Fine Art in San Francisco

What is an Autofuss? Good question. The four year old San Francisco design firm is hard to pin down. Go to the website to find out, and you will be shown (not told) with a lush selection of video shorts defying the laws of physics and begging the question, “How’d they do that?” Well, you wouldn’t be here if the answer were anything else. Robots, of course.

Controversial No More – Study Shows Much Hyped Multiple Sclerosis ‘Cure’ Doesn’t Work

Paolo Zamboni didn’t buy into the conventional wisdom that multiple sclerosis was an autoimmune disorder resulting in the wearing away of the nervous system’s cellular insulation: myelin. Instead, the vascular surgeon from Italy was...

Sensors in Smartphones: Galaxy S4 Adds Pressure, Temperature, and Humidity Sensors

Samsung recently launched their latest salvo in the smartphone wars, the Galaxy S4. Most tech writers couldn't decide whether they’d rather be bored by the phone or pan its ridiculous Broadway-style launch (see below, circa 17:20)—a little from column A, a little from column B, perhaps? We don’t write about every smartphone release, but this one caught our eye. The S4 includes a barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer (to measure humidity)—the first smartphone to do so.

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