Ambitious researchers think they might be able to map the human brain in just five years, navigating the complex networks between neurons by using advanced images. An Austrian scientist has another idea: Work backward by manipulating neurons to figure out what they do.
You may associate remote control with the urge to jump little R/C cars through walls of fire in your backyard, but that’s just the beginning of what you can do with the technology. Once you’ve mastered the basic concepts, the same parts and techniques used in toys can be used to control machines big and small, practical and absurd.
Say the word "toy" to a techie, and his mind will think one thing: robots. But all infrared-loving, artificially-intelligent smart-toy-ogling tech-savvy aside, new toys can instill as much "ooh! shiny!" as even the hottest cellphone. And we're not just talking about robots: This week, the International Toy Fair hit NYC, and PopSci.com found 20 funky new toys with a few tricks up their sleeves.
Adding a new wrinkle to the 'droid versus iPhone debate, a project at Keio University in Tokyo have created iPhone software specifically designed to control androids. More specifically, they've created an interface that puts control of a humanoid robot right at your fingertips.
A recent ad for Vodafone featured Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton piloting his F1 steed, as if it were an RC car, using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Many were fooled, some were not, but really it was just a wishful-thinking play by clever ad people.
But one such convergence of smartphones and automobiles apparently is legit. Computer science researchers at Berlin's Free University worked up this Chrysler minivan that can be controlled remotely by an iPhone app.
In January, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, told a stunned conference audience that they had managed to create a remote-controlled cyborg beetle by attaching a computer chip to the brain of a giant insect. Now, the paper explaining how they did it has been published in the journal Frontiers In Neuroscience, and they have released a video of the cyber-bug in action.
Lose this remote control you’ve got a serious problem. In two short weeks, a group of German scientists will unveil the iPoint 3D, which allows users to communicate with a 3-D display through simple finger gestures. The technology doesn’t require a data glove, 3-D glasses or any contact with the screen. On the down side it doesn’t negate the need to actually lift your arm.
American soldiers have a bevy of hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicles to choose from these days, but nothing quite as nimble, lightweight and cheap as the Stevens Institute of Technology’s unmanned helicopter. The chopper would allow soldiers to check tall buildings for enemies by flying the camera-equipped, remote-controlled helicopter up staircases and into hidden corners before they go in. The four-pound prototype is made of a doughnut-shaped fiberglass shell 18 inches in diameter; inside, two counter-rotating 14-inch rotors create lift.
For many, the word "apprentice" brings to mind the whimsical scene from Disney's Fantasia where Mickey Mouse, the poor peon to the sorcerer, creates a mess of his master's workspace when the brooms and buckets come to life in a magical musical number. The helicopter apprenticeship at Stanford University seems to contain some of the same elements of unrealism, as helicopters learn to fly and execute complex airborne tricks without a human pilot in the cockpit. In this case, however, there is science behind the magic.