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Tag Archives: Technology

Radio The Size Of An Ant Developed, Doesn’t Require External Energy

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Oh, the jokes to be had with this. Or more like, the cliché jokes to the tune of “what is this? A radio for ants?” Well, it is a fully functional radio that’s about the size of an ant, though we don’t expect the little insects from deriving any type of pleasure from it.

Stanford engineer Amin Arbabian has managed to create a wireless radio just a few millimeters across that is so energy efficient that it doesn’t need a battery. Instead, it harvests power from the incoming electromagnetic waves. The Stanford radio chip is designed to compute, execute, and relay signals. What sets this technology apart is that it all happens on a single chip that doesn’t rely on any exotic materials or theoretical principles.

The last time we covered a device that “harvests energy from the surrounding electromagnetic waves”, it was for the RCA Airnergy device, which purported to be able to charge its internal battery in this fashion. Back then the consensus was that this was impossible, or at least the energy gathered was so negligible that it would be impossible to charge anything with it. But this radio is different since it actually uses so little energy itself that a single AAA battery could power it for 100 years. Arbabian even managed to fabricate 100 of these tiny radios, just to see if they’d work, and they do. This technology could help facilitate the development of the “Internet Of Things”, where all your devices are interconnected and online, for added functionality.

It’s all a proof-of-concept for the moment, but the fact that it can be done, and more importantly, done at a low cost, might signal a bright future for the technology.

[ Stanford Page ] VIA [ Geek.com ]

The Chairless Chair Is Only There When You Want It

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If you spend a good portion of your day on your feet, you’ve probably thought of just how sweet it would be to be able to sit now and then. But chairs are stationary, and there you are, moving around. If only you could bring one with you everywhere you go… Well, the Chairless Chair is essentially that: a wearable chair. It’s a light lower-limb exoskeleton that hardens at the push of a button and allows you to sit down anywhere you want. Keith Gunura, the 29-year old CEO and co-founder of noonee, the Zurich-based startup behind the device, informs CNN that it’s made from aluminum and carbon fiber, and weighs around 4 lbs., which makes it nearly indistinguishable to the wearer. To use, the wearer simply moves into the desired position and presses a button, which locks it in place, immediately relieving pressure from the lower limbs. A single 6V battery can power it for up to 24 hours.

The target market is industrial workers who spend most of their day on their feet, assembling things. Less fatigue could translate in increased productivity and worker satisfaction. BMW and Audi are actually going to start trials later this year, and if the tech catches on, perhaps a consumer version might make its way to the market eventually. Don’t hold your breath on that, however.

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[ Product Page ] VIA [ CNN ]

Bullets That Curve In Mid-Air? Yep, The Military’s Got That

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This tech is still in its infancy, but as the video below appears to show, the US military has developed bullets that curve in mid-air. Remember that stupid movie with Angelina Jolie, Wanted? Yeah, it’s like that, only for real this time.

DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.

The EXACTO program is developing new approaches and advanced capabilities to improve the range and accuracy of sniper systems beyond the current state of the art.

When you’re trying to hit a target nearly a mile away, even the slightest mistake compounds into a huge miss, so this kind of tech is definitely useful. How much it cost to develop and how much of that money could have been used for something far less grim than ending lives… is a discussion best left for another day.

[ DARPA ] VIA [ Engadget ]

You Can Now Control Google Glass With Your Mind

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Love it or hate it, Google Glass is still around and kicking. For those of you happy enough to plunk down a hefty $1,500 to acquire the status of über nerd, you’re aware that the main way to navigate the Glass interface is through the touch sensitive panel on the side. But now with the creation of the MindRDR (pronounced “mind reader”) application by a London company called ThisPlace, you could start controlling some functions with your brain waves alone. You’ll first have to purchase a Neurosky MindWave Mobile headset and connect it to your Glass. After you’ve downloaded the free app, you’ll eventually learn how to take pictures and share them without so much as touching a single thing. Yes, it’s limited to picture taking and sharing at the moment, but the company is working on developing the software to allow you to do more. Limited as it is, it’s still pretty impressive.

Of course this setup also means you’ll be seen walking around with not only the nerdiest set of glasses on the planet, but with a mind reading headset as well. If there were a crown given out to the alpha nerds of this planet, you’d be wearing it proudly. And we, my friend, salute you.

[ MindRDR ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Some Day, Microwaves Will Count Calories For You

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Whether you’re trying to get fit by counting calories, or you’re just curious about what the damage will be from that home-made double-dipped deep-fried triple bacon burger, there are a number of tools on the market to come to your aid. But none of these will directly measure the amount of calories present in your food; they instead rely on databases of known values in oder to estimate the caloric content of your meal. GE, however, is working on a microwave that will be able to analyze the specific portion it heats, measuring the caloric content exactly.

Matt Webster, the senior scientist in diagnostic imaging and biomedical technologies at GE Research determined that it’s possible to get an accurate calorie estimate using just three pieces of data—fat content, water content, and weight. The calories from all the other constituents of food—such as sugar, fiber, and protein—can be approximated by subtracting the water and fat weight from the total weight.

In this fashion your oven could determine the caloric content of your food as it heats and send that information to your smartphone for tracking. The tech currently only works with blended foods, though the company is trying to develop their technique to work on everything. If successful, it would be more accurate than some other similar products recently introduced into the market that only analyze the surface of a dish, a method that works great with an apple but not so much with something like a burrito. There’s no word on when or even if this will ever see the light of day.

[ MIT Tech Review ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Take The Elbow Grease Out Of Cleaning Your Glasses, Cliris Does It For You

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To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t take a whole bunch of work to clean a pair of glasses. But if a device can do it for you, and not just clean but “disinfect, anti-fog treat, dry and (optionally) scent your spectacles in only four minutes”, then we start getting curious. Because what is the point of technology if not to make simple tasks even easier? Cliris uses ultrasonic tech and the company’s biodegradable cleaning solution to achieve these results. The solution comes in replaceable pods that last about 30 cleaning cycles and cost about $25 each. Yeah, that’s almost $1 per cleaning, and $269 for the device itself, which is a whole lot of money for something you can do yourself. But if you’ve got a good chunk of disposable income lying around and really dislike cleaning your glasses, the link to their Kickstarter is at the bottom. The project is quite far from being funded, perhaps because other people agree that it’s too much money for too little benefit. But you never know what good marketing can achieve.

[ Project Page ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

Printeer – the Kids-friendly 3D Printer

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There is no denying that modern day kids are smarter than we were at their age; being exposed to tons of new and cool gadgets has given them the upper hand, at least where technology is concerned. One piece of tech, however, has long been out of reach because of the level of technical expertise required – and that’s 3D printing. But thanks to Mission Street’s Printeer, kids can now get hands-on with three-dimensional printing as well. Involving no complex CAD programs and software, the 3D printer just requires kids to have an iPad and a drawing tool. Once an image has been drawn, they simply send it to the 3D printer. With a pledge amount of $549, Printeer is likely to be made commercially available sometime after November – after they’ve met their crowd-funding target. Pledge-givers, however, can get their hands on limited inventory as early as October.

[ Kickstarter ] VIA [ Engadget ]

The Vessyl Smartcup Tells You How Many Calories are in Your Drink!

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Not every wish gets fulfilled, but some dreams do turn into reality. For those of you who have long been dreaming about utensils that can tell you how good or bad a particular food is for you, you have just been invited to come one step closer to realizing your deepest desire. Yes, there’s a new smartcup called Vessyl that can recognize a beverage from among thousands of drinks and tell you exactly how many calories it is holding at a given moment. The container has been designed by Yves Béhar and holds 13 ounces of liquid. It’s not only calorie-smart, but it can even tell you whether you’re properly hydrated – and it sends all the information to a special app on your smartphone. Tilt the cup and the display tells all. Not a bad bargain at a pre-order price of $99.

[ Vessyl ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Maglev Keys Could Mean Slimmer Keyboards

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When you’re trying to make a product smaller, every little bit you can shave counts. Keyboards on laptops are already pretty thin but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be thinner. A Taiwanese manufacturer called Darfon is working on keyboard keys that use magnetic levitation rather than mechanical switches, membranes, or springs to keep the keys apart from their base. In this way you can achieve thicknesses that are a fraction smaller than before, while also allowing you to fine tune how much resistance each key gives you. Anyone that spends a lot of time on a keyboard will tell you that this (more than the reduced thickness) could be a massive selling point.

There’s no word on which laptop manufacturers ordered this technology, but word is that we’ll start seeing pop up on the market in the second half of this year. Which, well… is now.

[ C|Net ] VIA [ Engadget ]