Tracking down radiation hotspots is tricky and time consuming because it’s hard to see where the problem areas are. Radiation doesn’t spread itself evenly over an area, and as such it can be hard to find the spots within a contaminated area that require cleanup and differentiate them from the places that do not (typically this is done by walking around waving a handheld meter around, a process that is really, really slow). To simplify the task, Toshiba has developed what it’s calling a Portable Gamma Camera that mashes up gamma ray data with image data to create visual radiation heat maps on the fly.
Self-checkout kiosks at the grocery store can save time and space for quick shoppers, but if an item doesn't have a bar code--like, say, produce (hopefully)--you still have to search through the list of variations, which can lose any time you've gained by phasing out human interaction. But a new system from Toshiba uses a constantly-learning database and a webcam to identify individual types of produce. Where were you during apple season, Toshiba?
3D glasses are a hot topic at CES 2011. Monster has been bragging about their $250 pair that works with any 3DTV. Samsung debuted their "lightest pair ever," weighing in at just one ounce. And Vizio — among others — have been touting the fact that their passive 3DTVs work with the cheap-o polarized glasses you get at the movies.
But what has really caught our attention are those that have managed to nix the eyewear all together.
A recent study found that consumers actually become less interested in 3DTV at home after trying it, due in part to the lack of 3D content and the high price of 3DTVs, but also to the problem of having to wear those dumb glasses all the time.
In the world of IT, it really doesn't matter how much data you can transmit if you can't send it safely and securely. Now, Toshiba researchers in the UK have created the first high-speed network connection that is theoretically impossible to hack, tapping the quantum properties of photons encrypt data that was beamed through more than 30 miles of optical cable.
More than a year after the first consumer 3-D-ready HDTVs were demoed at CES, the next generation of sets are going on sale this week. But, aside from the new TVs, glasses, and Blu-ray players, the question of content remains. While there are already brand partnerships with networks like Discovery and ESPN, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
It's tough to make sense of the maelstrom of gear released at CES. So thick is the swarm of new HDTVs, PMPs and other acronym-bearing curios, that the handful of truly interesting things on display is, well, easy to miss.
Here, we've selected the gadgets that truly impressed us this year. And as is the PopSci way, our picks are not only impressive here in January 2010; they represent a glimpse at what we can expect from the future of consumer electronics.
When it comes to their home entertainment gear, Toshiba loves to do two things: stick Cell processors (the same brain powering the Playstation 3) inside them, and tout the ability to upconvert your crappy standard-def or web-streaming video to glorious high-def. Their Cell TV, just unveiled at CES, promises to do both things, but with an added selling point befitting this year's 3-D theme: upconversion of any two-dimensional source into 3-D in real time.
Computer users of all stripes—whether they usually say “I’m a PC” or “I’m a Mac”—have a few reasons to look forward to the launch of Windows 7 next Thursday. For one, this latest version of Microsoft’s operating system has a clean, easy-to-use interface and a significant structural overhaul that makes up for a lot of Vista’s mistakes. For another, it’s ushering in a new wave of finger-friendly computers. Learn why—and see the breakdown on eight brand-new multitouch machines built for Windows 7.
You may think you've seen these before, but you haven't. Although traditional clear soap bubbles give you a rainbow effect in the right light, Zubbles are the first truly colored bubbles-nearly opaque, with a single vibrant hue. The problem, which took Minnesota toy inventor Tim Kehoe more than 10 years to solve, was to create a dye that could not only tint the thin wall of a soap bubble but that wouldn't leave a stain when the bubble broke. His solution: invent an entirely new dye that simply disappears.
Pumping beer too quickly leads to excess foam, so bar patron turned inventor Matt Younkle designed the TurboTap to reduce the turbulence of fast-flowing beer. The tap's tapered interior limits the beer's acceleration, and an internal diverter sprays it across the bottom of the glass. The result-now available at ballparks and bars-is a perfect pour in half
the time. $100
Most complex events in today's computer games-a stack of boxes tipping over, an avalanche-are just prerecorded animations that give you the same outcome every time. But design a game with physics processing, and suddenly it's like the real world: The boxes fall differently depending on how they're hit, and the avalanche may or may not knock you off the mountain.
Imagine having a 10-gigabyte hard drive in your cellphone or a terabyte of space on your laptop. Perpendicular recording, a new way of writing data to
a hard disk, creates the possibility for these kinds of capacities, just as we're approaching the physical limits of traditional recording methods.
Hard drives store information by changing the polarization of microscopic magnetic bits aligned end-to-end on a surface called a platter. But you can pack in only so many bits before they interfere with one another, randomly switching orientation and turning your data into noise.
With nine processors and 234 million transistors, the Cell is the powerhouse of Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3 console. The four-plus-gigahertz (depending on its application) chip calculates an unmatched 256 billion operations per second, making it 35 times as fast as the PS2's chip. The upshot: Characters react more realistically (like flinching when bullets whiz by). Next year Toshiba will offer an HDTV set that uses the chip to decode high-def signals.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.