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Monthly Archives: September 2008

DARPA’s New Super Scope Uses Heat Haze As A Focusing Lens

DARPA Super-Resolution Vision System (Image courtesy The Future Of Things)
By Andrew Liszewski

DARPA, aka the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, aka the people who brought us the internet are currently working on a brilliant way to vastly improve the optical system in a soldier’s rifle scope. It’s being called the Super-Resolution Vision System (or SRVS) and it relies on atmospheric turbulence effects where heat haze can essentially work like a fragmented lens, briefly magnifying random parts of whatever’s behind it. The phenomenon is officially known as ‘atmospheric turbulence-generated micro-lensing’ and since the boiling and motion of the heat haze is completely random, the SRVS system rapidly takes many images and then processes and collates them to form a single sharper image of the larger area being observed or targeted by a soldier. It’s not quite real-time as of yet, but the improvements in image quality as seen in the sample above seem to far outweigh the downsides.

Because of the need to interpolate the full image from fragments, the SRVS system will not operate in real time. Delays of approximately one second are anticipated before the composite image is shown to the viewer. DARPA hopes to achieve 90% facial recognition of an individual one kilometer away using a six centimeter lens that will fit into the form factor currently used for military scopes. The image resolution would be approximately three times that of current diffraction-based scopes. The increase in effective distance of the new scopes has not been released (or is not yet known).

The SRVS technology is just at the proof of concept stage at this point, but DARPA is planning to build a 4-pound prototype by the end of 2009 that could see action by 2011 if testing goes well.

[ The Future Of Things – DARPA Developing Super Scope ] VIA [ Newlaunches ]

Sega Toys Handheld Aquarium

Handheld Aquarium (Images courtesy Japan Trend Shop)
By Andrew Liszewski

You can think of this handheld aquarium game from Sega Toys as a sort of Tamagotchi for aspiring marine biologists. Depending on which version you buy, you’ll either be taking care of an Angelfish (blue) or a Dolphin (pink) and as you feed and interact with your pet not only will it grow, but so will their underwater world. (Because I’m sure that 1 inch screen can get pretty cramped at times.) There’s also 3 different mini games you can play with your pet, and not only does it seem like a more educational alternative to a Tamagotchi, but it’s a good way to see if your kids are really prepared to take care of an actual dolphin before you put a real one under the tree this Christmas. You can get it from the Japan Trend Shop for $59.

[ Sega Toys Handheld Aquarium ] VIA [ Boing Boing Gadgets ]

IOData Mini Bluetooth Keyboard – Small Form Factor, Gigantic Price

IOData Mini Bluetooth Keyboard (Images courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

Last week I brought you a ‘super tiny‘ USB keyboard from Brando, and while there’s no denying it was indeed tiny, it only came with a USB connection making it unusable with most cellphones and PDAs. However, this miniature keyboard from IOData, which is currently on display at the Sharp booth at CEATEC, uses bluetooth instead of a wired connection which theoretically would allow you to use it with any bluetooth equipped device. Sure the keyboard is cramped and all, but it’s considerably less cramped than the thumpbad or on-screen keyboard on your cellphone. And while it might excel when it comes to a tiny form factor, it unfortunately fails miserably when it comes to price, since it’s expected to sell for about $150. (Pass.)

[ – IOData Mini Bluetooth Keyboard ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

The Force Is Strong With These Wii Lightsaber Accessories

This post is syndicated with permission from

One of the greatest things about the Wii is that there are so many unique peripherals available for it. Since the Wiimote snaps into them, they are essentially just cheap plastic, which also makes them very cheap. We’ve seen other Lightsaber peripherals in the past, but nothing quite as awesome as these from Thrustmaster. (They used to be well-known for making joysticks, so get your minds out of the gutter.)

This “Glo Saber Duo Pack” includes two of the most authentic-looking lightsaber peripherals that I’ve seen yet. Sure, they left out details, but I think if they looked any better they’d be getting a knock on their door from Mr. Lucas. To add that final touch, they light up with either red or blue LEDs just like the real thing. The pair of plastic accessories will only set you back $35, which is well worth it.


Noma Programmable Thermostat With Wireless Temperature Monitor

Noma Programmable 5+1+1 Thermostat With Remote (Image courtesy Canadian Tire)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’ve always thought that a single, centrally located thermostat in a house was an odd way to regulate its overall temperature. In the house I grew up in, the thermostat was located in a hallway, and since I didn’t spend a lot of time as a kid hanging out in that hallway, I was always urged to just put on a sweater whenever I complained about my room being too cold. And that’s why I think this particular programmable thermostat from Noma is a pretty great idea. Besides a large easy-to-read (though somewhat complicated) LCD display showing the current temperature, time and operating mode, and 12 weekly programmable settings, it also comes with a wireless remote that can monitor the temperature in whatever room you happen to be in. That way the thermostat will regulate the temperature based on where you actually are in your house, instead of only for a part you’re nowhere near. So if you happen to live in Canada or will be visiting in the near future, you can pick one up from Canadian Tire for around $63.

[ Noma Programmable 5+1+1 Thermostat With Remote ]

USB Volcano Demands USB Virgins

By Evan Ackerman

Volcanoes, in general, are pretty badass, even if they are on occasion responsible for natural disasters and awful movies. Thanks to the power of USB, you are now able to exhibit that sort of power on your desk with an authentic USB volcano. I guess technically it’s a submarine volcano, since it sits in a tank of water. A fan in the base of the, uh, cinder cone pumps “lava beads” up out of the vent, and some high-intensity red LEDs make everything look all lava-y. It can be powered entirely through USB, but if you have no more virgin USB ports to sacrifice to the angry USB volcano gods, you can sacrifice two AA batteries to it instead.

Gadget4all has a little video of the USB volcano erupting, if you’d like to be unimpressed. Cost: $18.

[ gadget4all ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Awesome: Falcon R/C Helicopter Shoots BBs

By Evan Ackerman

I’m not entirely sure what the text on that picture says… Something about destroying France for the last time, I think. But who cares, it’s an R/C helicopter with a freakin’ BB cannon on it. The Falcon 4 channel electric helicopter (it’s modeled after the Apache) comes ready to fly out of the box with a remote, battery, charger, BBs, and safety goggles. Behind the helicopter’s engine compartment is a “bomb box” which holds the BBs, and a button on the remote will launch them out of some kind of cannon thing mounted just under the starboard weapons pod. There’s no information on ammunition capacity, rate of fire, or range… But you can always just zoom past your intended target at neck level and decapitate them with the rotor blades.

The Falcon should be available soon (in Italy, at least) for about 100 Euros (or about 50,000 150 USD).

[ Hobbymedia (Translated) ] VIA [ Coolest Gadgets ]

Nissan Collision Avoidance System Inspired By Bees

By Jonathan Kimak

Technology and insects seem to mesh very well. There are so many gadgets out there that either resemble a bug or behave like one. Now car manufacturer Nissan is using bees for inspiration.

The Nissan Bumblebee is also known as the Biomimetic Car Robot Drive, or BR23C. The bumblebee car simulates a bee’s compound eyes by using a Laser Range Finder(LRF) to detect obstacles up to 2 metres(6.6 feet) away within a 180-degree radius in front of it. The moment it detects an obstacle it reacts like a bee and turns away from the obstacle at right angles to avoid hitting anything.

Unlike a bee, it is restricted to 2-dimensional movement and cannot move up or down.

It is hoped that the Bumblebee car will allow Nissan to develop a fully functional collision avoidance system for cars. Their goal is to reduce the current amount of car crashes in half by 2015.

[ Autoblog ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Turn Your Hamster Into A Race Car Driver

By Luke Anderson

Have you ever had a car which was so slow that you were convinced it was powered by a small rodent? While I doubt that there was actually a hamster under the hood of that old Geo, this plastic vehicle is strictly critter-powered.

The Critter Cruiser  and Hamtrack are, as you would imagine a race track and plastic car. Just put your tiny pet into the plastic exercise wheel (which powers the car) and set it on its way. The car works both on and off of the track, so it can wheel its way all over the house. The car itself is around $36, or you can get the car and track set for around $63.

[ Firebox ] VI [ RGS ]