By Gregory MonePosted 10.12.2007 at 11:28 am 2 Comments
Nissan is debuting a new technology in Japan this month. It's called the Around View Monitor, and it creates a composite image of the scene around your car. And I want one.
Four cameras, one each at the front corners, one at the back, and another near the driver's side rear wheel, capture the scene as shown in the images on the left. Inside, the driver sees the total picture, a top-down view. This technology could be a dream for parallel parking, and a bonus for parents who don't want to run over Little Susie's favorite toy as they back out of the driveway. The tech is slated to come to the US in December in the new Infinity EX35.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.11.2007 at 1:18 pm 0 Comments
Not too fond of the full-body pat-down when you're rushing to get to the gate? You could avoid the hassle and expedite your trip by signing up for the Clear Registered Traveler service, or hope that the airport security adopts better technology.
The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is set to begin tests today of a new full-body scanning machine that uses radio waves to search for suspicious objects. The scan itself takes less than two seconds, but it takes a minute for the result to appear on a computer screen for analysis. That's not exactly instantaneous, but at least no one's running their hands over your personal areas. Privacy advocates are protesting, calling the machines virtual strip-searches.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.11.2007 at 1:15 pm 7 Comments
A company called Aperta is taking reservations for the production version of a three-wheeled, 300 MPG concept car that looks like it was lifted from a '60s science fiction flick.
Eventually, the company says an all-electric model that will cruise for 120 miles before needing a re-charge will be available for $26,900. A hybrid version will sell for $29,900. In a year, you'll also be able to reserve a model that flies directly to the Jovian moon Europa, where it will convert into a submarine and take you deep below the surface to search for alien life forms.
OK, so maybe that's not quite true. And we're reluctant to believe those 300 MPG claims, too. That said, the company's Web site sure is sweet.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.11.2007 at 1:14 pm 4 Comments
This must be an illusion. Are PC makers actually trying to out-cool Apple? Gateway might be running in third place in the PC market, but the company's latest model suggests that it's taking the lead in design.
The new One, a desktop with a wireless mouse, keyboard and all-in-one flat-panel LCD monitor, ditches the under-the-desk annoyance of the traditional tower with tangles of wires and cables snaking out the back. Like the iMac, the hard-drive and DVD slots have melded with the screen. Only a single power cord extends out the back. Sure, we're not quite at the everything-wireless stage that some MIT scientists see in our future, but this is an encouraging trend.
News of the new PC broke two weeks ago, and USA Today's tech columnist gives Gateway's One a strong review here.—Gregory Mone
Here's hoping that today will go down as a watershed date in the music industry—the day that a mass-market band finally got it right. I'm talking about the English rockers Radiohead and their innovative distribution model for their new album, In Rainbows, which was released for digital download today.
Rather than wait for it to be leaked online well before its physical release, the band decided to publish the recently completed album to the Web themselves, forgoing the many months of promotion and planning that usually come between an album's completion and its arrival in stores. Better yet, the band allowed each downloader to pay whatever they wanted for the DRM-free record—anything from two cents to, well, hundreds of dollars if you were so inclined.
The beauty of this is that nearly every music fan I know (most of whom havent paid for music in years) was excited to buy this album. Excited because they could pay a very small amount of money, sure, but also because they knew it was going straight to the band they admired and not to a record company. They were also excited to play it however they wanted, on an unlimited number of MP3-capable devices or CDs, without DRM restrictions.
Radiohead discovered something important today: Once customers are not theoretically required to put up money for an album that they were going to download for free anyway, they instantly become more excited about actually paying money for it. It certainly also helps if the album is fantastic, which In Rainbows is. Let's hope other major bands and labels follow suit. The future is now! —John Mahoney
Buy it here - inrainbows.com
The Harvard Microbiotics Lab developed this tiny semi-autonomous inset robot, but it is currently incapable of flying without a tether
Now, this is pretty weird. Rumors have been floating around the Net for a while now speculating on whether or not tiny, dragonfly-like robots have been covertly monitoring recent political demonstrations and protests around Washington, D.C., and New York. Numerous protesters at multiple events have reported seeing the helicopter-like insectoid entities, fueling suspicion that something sneaky was afoot. Yesterday the Washington Post brought the story mainstream in the interests of solving the case. What did they discover?
By Sean CaptainPosted 10.10.2007 at 5:16 pm 0 Comments
Motorola held a "research experience day" at their headquarters in suburban Chicago last week. The company served up booth after booth of technical delight to show whats brewing in the labs.Some of the new tech is bound to make carrier and cable execs salivate but leave consumers cold. Want to pay extra for YouTube through your cable box? How about content-targeted ads in your text messages? Ill pass, thanks. There were a few promising stand-outs, though.
Fading signals have historically limited fibers ability to carry torrents of data over the "last mile"—from the carriers central office to your house. Motorolas range-boosting amp could increase fiber-to-the-home availability—pushing gigabit speeds that put cable and DSL to shame.
WiMAX, a next-gen, long-range wireless standard, has been in the pipeline for a while, and the menagerie of WiMAX hardware on display promises ubiquitous wireless broadband (though not as fast as fiber optic service)—whether at home or even in a speeding car. Sprint plans to start deploying a WiMAX network soon—though that could be on the rocks. To give a sense of the seamlessness, Motorola techs walked a WiMAX laptop across the auditorium floor, streaming video without a hiccup while the connection jumped from one base station to another.
Motorolas working on ways to bring social networking to the television—starting with a cable box community where you can keep tabs on what your friends are watching. The demo hardware consisted of two networked TVs, hypothetically installed in separate houses. A push of the button on one TV (right) brings up a list of whats playing on the other TV (left, Inside Huskie Sports) — so you can share a pseudo-social vegetative experience without leaving the couch.
Gesture-based Remote ControlIn a similarly slothful vein, the company is working on a Nintendo Wii-esque gesture-based remote for your cable box—sparing you a grueling button push. The concept-remote I witnessed in action required rather violent gesticulation to change the channel or up the volume, so an energy savings over old-fashioned channel flipping may be a ways off.
One of the more amusing demos involved a hypothetical prom dress shopping-trip crisis, convincingly dramatized by a grown man who was at a loss for the right accessories. But RFID saved the day. A sensor registered the radio tag in the garment, and brought up a list of matching accessories on a screen embedded in the mirror. Disaster averted. The mirror can also send a history of your shopping trip to your cell phone, so you can review the days selections and show them to friends for second opinions.—Eric Mika
By Dave ProchnowPosted 10.10.2007 at 1:11 pm 0 Comments
An explosive kit for exploring energy can be purchased from Educational Innovations. The Piezo Popper Kit (HS-2A; $7.50) is a simple fuel-powered engine that is triggered with a piezoelectric igniter.
Just fill the supplied film canister with two drops of a flammable liquid propellant, seal the canister, shake it (shaken, not stirred), and press the igniter. POP! The resulting explosion can catapult the film canister up to ten feet away from the startled scientist.
If the notion of juicing a film canister with a flammable liquid leaves you a little shaken, yourself, then consider this alternative testing technique:
What Youll Need:
35mm Film Canister
Antacid tablets like Alka-Seltzer are potent rocket propellant systems. I kid you not. In addition to the antacid tablets, you will also need an empty 35mm film canister. These two items are your engine mount and propellant. Optionally, you can add a rolled paper tube that will snuggly and safely hold the engine (film canister). In my tests, I found that Fujifilm canisters are the best engines.
Now, rather than adding two drops of a flammable liquid, add measured amounts of the antacid tablet + measured volumes of water and record the mass of the canister and the height attained by the flying canister. You can apply these measurements to the same calculations used in the Piezo Popper Kit. Compare the results from a flammable canisters flight versus an antacid-fueled voyage.
Just dont expect NASA to begin replacing its booster rocket engines with antacid tablets anytime soon. —Dave Prochnow
By Gregory MonePosted 10.10.2007 at 10:56 am 0 Comments
Oxford University zoologists announced recently that they've developed miniature video cameras that can be attached to wild birds, giving them an unprecedented window into the behavior of the creatures. By studying up-close videos of New Caledonian crows, the group overturned certain assumptions about how and in what cases the birds use tools.
Each of the so-called "tailcams" weighs only 14 grams, and is attached to a bird's tail feathers with tape. The idea is that the tiny size of the cameras allows the birds to act naturally. As you can see in the top image at left, it's not quite a bird's eye view. It looks a little more like a butt-cam, capturing the bird's perspective from behind and below. Within a few weeks the tailcams fall off. You can check out a few of the videos here. Warning: It's not exactly HD.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.10.2007 at 10:55 am 0 Comments
The Dawn spacecraft might have a 3-billion-mile journey ahead of it, but that doesn't mean NASA engineers are rushing to get the trip started. The mission control team has been communicating with the craft since its September 27th launch, and this past weekend, the scientists finally fired up one of Dawn's three ion propulsion engines.
They ran the system for 27 hours, burning only a soda-can-sized portion of Dawn's xenon fuel, and the spacecraft passed all its tests. The first stop on the mission, in 2011, will be the asteroid Vesta. Then Dawn will move on to the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015.—Gregory Mone