If it's not the most efficient piece of clothing ever designed, it very well might be the smartest. The 'DARPA hoodie,' a strangely-designed patchwork garment accented with the occasional red zipper, is made of 12 interlocking pieces of rip-resistant nylon that sew perfectly together into a hoodie with zero waste. Cooler still, it was born of an algorithm developed for DARPA's Programmable Matter program, which seeks to make T-1000-like shape-shifting smart materials.
Of all of C. Montgomery Burns’s nefarious dealings on The Simpsons, perhaps none sticks in the public consciousness like the time he attempted to use a massive shade to block out the sun (most notably because doing so led to his being shot by a vigilante baby and an uncharacteristic two-episode event). But the U.N. may soon put all such plans to blot out the sun – villainous or otherwise – on hold.
Surfing big breakers is cool and all, but wouldn’t catching lazy rollers be more fun at speeds topping Mach One? A CalTech researcher and a few colleagues put together a few videos showing that it is indeed possible to shred shock waves. Well, in theory anyhow. Using nylon balls, one larger than the other, the researchers demonstrated how one object can ride on the shock waves given off by another.
A portable, collapsible greenhouse inspired in part by a crop-producing system at a South Pole research station could someday provide fresh vegetables and other foods in future manned lunar or Martian outposts. Working in conjunction with private industry, the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) has set up a demo lunar greenhouse to demonstrate how a hydroponic system could grow peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes and other crops for colonists on other planets.
Need help with something? Your roboreceptionist is here to assist you. Researchers at the U. of Arizona and Carnegie Mellon University are developing a robot receptionist that is more than just a pre-programmed phone answering system. “Hala,” the prototype roboreceptionist at Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar outpost, is a bicultural, bilingual robotic interface that interacts with visitors based on each person’s linguistic preference and cultural customs.
Japan’s HRP-4 robotic pop star has been hogging the spotlight lately, honing her singing style and making appearances at CEATECH JAPAN and more recently at the Digital Content Expo in Tokyo. But this time she’s performing with her own crew of backup dancers, which very well could make Divabot – as she’s sometimes known – the first robot to headline a musical performance with support from a human dance troupe.
Our wired world makes it easy for marketers to try to sell us just about anything – products, experiences, sometimes both – over the Web. But things in the virtual world just aren't the same. That is why taking a virtual tour of an art museum is about as satisfying as eating a virtual pizza. Even so, it's hard not to like Mitsubishi's new online marketing initiative, which takes great technological pains to link real-world and online experiences. Starting November 1, U.S. customers will be able to test-drive the new Outlander Sport SUV online. But it's not one of those silly virtual test-drives; this is the real deal, with a real SUV.
Words like "futuristic," "computerized," "explosive," and "grenade launcher" really tickle our sensibilities, so perhaps it was no surprise that we honored the XM-25 grenade launcher – that futuristic-looking, computerized-targeting infantry weapon that hurls smart explosive rounds downrange – with a Best of What's New award last year.
Back in 1996, writer and scientist David Brin wrote "The Transparent Society," a tale of two fundamentally similar yet very different 21st-century cities. Both were littered with security cameras monitoring every inch of public space, but in one city the police did the watching, while in the other the citizens monitored the feeds to keep an eye on each other (and the police). These days, many UK police forces monitor their city streets with cameras mounted on every corner. Now, for a fee, a private company is crowdsourcing security surveillance to any citizen willing to watch, fulfilling Brin's prophecy in a sense.
A robot in Slovenia is bringing the pain in name of science, repeatedly punching human research subjects in an effort to see just how much of a beating they can take. As New Scientist points out, this is a stark violation of Asimov's first law of robotics, but the scientists behind the study say the point of the study is to better define that rule.