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Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Move Over Facial Recognition, New Algorithm Identifies Your Actions in Videos

Researchers at MIT and U.C. Irvine have developed a new algorithm that can detect actions in video much better than past efforts could. It does by applying the lessons of natural language grammar computer scientists have parsed for computers.

Singularity Surplus: New Uses for Hot Techs and New Tech for Unwanted Heat

Advances in exponential technology happen fast — too fast for Singularity Hub to cover them all. This weekly bulletin points to significant developments to keep readers in the know. Here’s a clever new use for...

Researchers Add New Letters to Life’s Genetic Alphabet

Why does the factory of life rely exclusively on four machines, the DNA bases A, G, C and T? To get an answer, scientists at Scripps Research Institute tried working with a host of other potential base molecules. Recently, they succeeded in inserting an extra set of bases into the DNA of an E. coli bacterium, and managed to get it to reproduce with the extra DNA bases in tact.

DARPA Explores Virtual Reality as the Future of Cyberwarfare

In William Gibson’s sci-fi novel, Neuromancer, hackers jack-in to an internet-like virtual world called the matrix. Instead of working with lines of code, they’re digitally embodied in a realm where computers, programs, and the...

Daily At-Home Lab Kits Now Available, But Are the Results Meaningful?

an Diego-based Cue is bringing DIY health care to new heights, with an at-home lab kit that runs five standard tests and displays the results in a mobile app. The lab tests inflammation via C-reactive protein, vitamin D levels, female fertility based on Luteinizing hormone, influenza virus, and testosterone levels.

Software Composes Music Inspired by Classic Novels

In the movie Her, an intelligent operating system called Samantha composes a piece of music to describe her romantic relationship with human companion, Theodore Twombly. It’s an improbably touching moment, simultaneously demonstrating Samantha’s superhuman...

Suspended Animation Goes Primetime: Say Goodbye To Death As We Know It

In The Princess Bride, the always sagacious Miracle Max—aka Billy Crystal—points out “there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” And he wasn’t wrong. Death has always been something of a moving target.  Take, for...

Donating to UNICEF Innovation Labs Could Land You in the Next Star Wars Movie

What are the grand challenges? Depends on the galaxy. In unspecified galaxies far, far away and long ago, energy and cheap space travel were no issue. Evil Sith lords suffering from acute megalomania, on the...

Wireless Charging of Phones From Across the Room? The Tech Inches Closer

Wireless energy transmission has been possible since Thomas Edison’s time, and in the last several years, especially, with robots gaining mobility and electric vehicles building consumer demand, we’ve heard almost daily promises that the days of tangled power cords are numbered. So why do the vast majority of EV drivers and smartphone users, not to mention robots, remain tethered to plug-in chargers and cables?

3D Printers and Drones — The Best Mash-up Since Peanut Butter and Chocolate?

Because one of the formulas for innovation is combining two useful technologies to see if the whole might be greater than the sum of its parts, it was only a matter of time before someone mounted a 3D printer to a drone. Mirko Kovac, an aerospace engineer at the Imperial College London, has done just that.

Singularity Surplus: Robotic Furniture and Stuffed Animals

Kids learn with robots; 3D printed liver, no stem cells required, robotic furniture; living forever as computer code

Researchers Get Closer to Making Functional Human Sperm in the Lab

Stanford researchers found that simply by producing stem cells from adult male skin cells and putting them in the sperm-making tubes of mice, they could obtain partly developed germ cells, the cells that produce sperm. The researchers hypothesized that if the cells had been placed in human testes, with their distinct and roomier topography, they would likely have resulted in functional sperm.

Biotech’s Brave New World: Push One To Create Life; Push Two To Create Alien Life

It’s been a good month for miracles. And by miracles I mean our oldest miracle, that first miracle, the creation of life itself. During these first weeks in May, two separate teams working at two...

Following the Solar Brick Road to Clean Energy and Smart Roadways

A proposal to power the entire United States with solar energy, without wires or solar farms, by using solar cells to pave roads and parking lots, is certainly a big idea. It comes from the Idaho couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, yet it’s promising enough to have received finding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Now their company, Solar Roadways, is looking for another $1 million in funding on Indiegogo to manufacture the product commercially.

Exploring the World of Quadruped Robots Post-Acquisition of Boston Dynamics

For years, Boston Dynamics has been the undisputed heavyweight champ of viral robot videos. Four-legged robots, like BigDog, LS3, Cheetah, and Wildcat were their bread and butter while two-legged bots, like Petman and Atlas,...

Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Sticks 700 Pounds to a Wall

Geckos are the ultimate climbers. Microscopic hairs on their toes enable the lizards to climb just about anything using the molecular attraction (or Van der Waals forces) between their feet and a surface. Although...

NASA Set to Launch the First 3D Printer to the Space Station

Space travel is a dangerous business. Astronauts are hurled into space in a tiny life support bubble. Contact with Earth is severed. Whatever they’ve got onboard is all they’ve got—period. But what if they...

Blurring the Line Between Disability and Ability — Double Amputee Amy Purdy Snowboards, Dances on Reality TV

Amy Purdy, who lost her legs below the knee after a bout with bacterial meningitis and sepsis in 1999, scored two 10s and a 9 this week for a lively dance with Derek Hough performed on blade prosthetics similar to those made famous by the runner Oscar Pistorius.

Neurogames are Ready to Take Flight — Expect a Breakout Year Ahead

“We’re very close.” In just three words, Palmer Luckey of OculusVR fame, perfectly summarized not only where virtual reality stands, but perhaps the entire neurogaming industry. Luckey was on hand to present with other industry...

Aging Reversed in the Heart, Brain, and Muscles of Mice Thanks to Blood Factor

The idea that blood is the basic stuff of life dates back to well before the scientific method. Yet, in a pair of new studies, researchers have found that blood — and specifically a growth factor in it known as GDF-11 — spurs the brains, muscles, skeletons and hearts of older mice to look and perform like those of younger mice.

Singularity Surplus: Cyborg Edition

Multi-jointed mind-controlled prosthetic arm; prosthetic gets to girl who needs it; steer a wheelchair with your eyes.

NeuroGrid — A Circuit Board Modeled after the Human Brain

A team of Stanford University engineers has developed a circuit board, and its underlying chips, that simulates the activity of the human brain 9,000 times faster than a personal computer and is 100,000 times more energy efficient.

What Will They 3D Print Next? Inside My Trip to Local Motors

Last week, I flew my Cirrus to visit Jay Rogers and his team at Local Motors in Phoenix. Jay showed me their plans to 3D print an entire car in just one day at the...

Chilean Incubator Wants Companies Using Tech to Help the Poor

Chilean not-for-profit Socialab runs competitions for technology-based business proposals that address some of the major problems wrought by poverty in the region: food insecurity, lack of clean drinking water, struggling public education and so on. Then it taps its virtual community of 300,000 users to identify the best ideas and fine-tune them.

Facial transplants are safe, viable, and help patients thrive after a decade of success

Since first becoming available in 2005, 28 people have undergone a full or partial facial transplant—a procedure described by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez as the “Mount Everest” of medical-surgical treatments. Rodriguez is a plastic and reconstructive...

Crowd-Sourced Science Project Discovers How The Eye Perceives Motion

The social gaming venture EyeWire lured citizen scientists to follow retinal neurons at the back of the eye with the chance to level up and outperform competitors. With their help, EyeWire has solved a longstanding mystery about how mammals perceive motion.

Google Self-Driving Cars Are Learning to Navigate the Urban Jungle

Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Audi—major car companies say they’re working to make cars drive themselves. But all are lagging behind Google. The internet company recently said its self-driving fleet has now logged 700,000 miles...

Materials repair themselves automatically and repeatedly, similar to the way cuts heal

Small cracks that develop within the fiberglass bodies of modern cars and planes can quickly turn into irreversible damage, which undermines their structural integrity. Unfortunately, the materials used to construct these vehicles, called fiber-reinforced composites, are challenging...

Victims of War in Sudan Aided by 3D Printing

Last November, equipped with two 3D printers, a few days' intensive training, and a digital schematic for a 3D printed prosthetic arm, Mick Ebeling flew to war-torn Sudan to find Daniel Omar. Daniel had...

Escape Dynamics Aims to Eliminate Single-Use Rockets in Space Flight

Escape Dynamics is proposing that we do away with fiery rockets altogether in order to make a much more dramatic attack on the exorbitant cost of space flight.

NASA Spacesuit Design With Sci-Fi Flair Prepares For Mars Missions

NASA may have decommissioned the Space Shuttle, but it's not the end of space exploration for the iconic agency which wants to send humans back to the Moon and on to Mars within the...

Singularity Surplus: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

U.N. goals whittle child and maternal death rates; computer solves word problems so you don't have to; the Milky Way gets an MRI; making fuel out of nothing.

Link Between Mom’s Diet at Conception and Child’s Lifelong Health, Study Reveals

The mother’s nutrition at the time of conception can permanently and fundamentally affect physical characteristics of her offspring, according to a study just published in Nature Communications, by influencing the child's epigenome.

Discover the Convergence of Tech and Finance at the Exponential Finance Conference, June 10-11

CNBC and Singularity University are partnering to present Exponential Finance, a two-day summit to explore upcoming, game-changing technologies and their imminent implications for the financial world.  Financial professionals are familiar with exponential growth. In retirement planning, half...

Drones Overhead, Seeing Everything, Always: Inside Google and Facebook’s Latest Acquisitions

Imagine a fleet of drones, overhead, out of sight, tens of thousands of feet in the sky. Imagine those drones being powered by sunlight -- effectively aerial satellites that are orbiting constantly, never having...

Inspired by Video Game, Makers Construct Wearable Wrist Computer for Space Explorers

Forget smart watches. What you really need is a full-on wrist-computer (3D printed, of course) that looks like it just fell out of a video game—because, basically, it did. A team of hackers from...

This Robot’s Been Programmed to Look You in the Eye at Just the Right Times

In design, a robot or animated character tends to evoke an increasingly positive emotional response as it more closely approximates human characteristics—but too close, and things go terribly wrong. It’s known as the uncanny...

3D Printed Organs, Blood Vessels and All, Takes a Big Step Toward Reality

There’s something a little creepy-sounding about the phrase “lab-grown organs,” but producing human organs in the lab could have a range of such powerful benefits that, if they became widely available, only the rare...

Singularity Surplus: Not, Contrary to Popular Belief, Impossible

3d printing houses, neighborhoods, and audio speakers; growing new cartilage in the lab; Congressional bipartisanship over online privacy.

Toyota’s Replacing Robots With Humans…So They Can Make Even Better Robots

Japan and car manufacturing are pretty much synonymous with robots. Some of the most advanced and practical bots hail from the former and work in the latter. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn Japanese...

Twitter-like Consumer App Arrives for the Internet of Things

While the Internet of Things continues to grow, its adoption is progressing much more slowly than that of, say, smartphones. The trouble may go back to Steve Jobs’s famous talking point: The Internet of Things lacks a common platform that “just works” the way the iPhone did. Freeboard and Dweet, two modular products from New York-based Bugs Labs, are trying to solve that problem.

Watch as These Colorful Robotic Swarms Respond to Human Gestures

Disney is taking animation into three-dimensions to restore its ability to wow audiences. A research team affiliated with the company recently presented a swarm of 75 watch-sized robots whose colors and formations can be controlled with a drawing app.

Have researchers found the ‘fattening gene’?

Collaborating German and Japanese scientists have studied mice lacking a gene that plays a central role in energy metabolism. Their findings? The mice maintain their normal weight, despite consuming foods high in fats. "We established that Sirt7-knockout mice...

Why Vicarious’ $50M Investment Round Matters for Entrepreneurs

Check this out. A company of 10 employees that's raised $50M of investment from Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel and Ashton Kutcher, just to name a few. Few things make me...

Human Skin Grown From Stem Cells Replicates The Real Thing

Researchers have successfully produced skin in the lab that reproduces the skin barrier. The advance presents a viable alternative to animal testing for cosmetics.

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