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Input Devices

Control Anything With Gestures: Myo Bluetooth Protocol Released 12

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-use-while-driving dept.
First time accepted submitter Legendary Teeth writes The makers of the Myo Gesture Control Armband (Thalmic Labs) have just released the specs for the Bluetooth protocol it uses. While there are already official SDKs for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, this means that now anyone can roll their own support for other platforms like Linux or Arduino without needing to use one of the official platforms as a bridge. Anything you can write code for that that can act as a Bluetooth GATT client would now be possible, really. If you aren't familiar with the Myo armband, it's a Bluetooth Low Energy device with 8 EMG pods and an IMU that you wear on your arm. It can read your muscle activity to detect gestures you make with you hands, which you can then use to do things like fly drones, play games, or control music.
Hardware Hacking

Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) 32

Posted by Roblimo
from the give-your-kids-paper-plates-with-lights-that-tell-them-to-eat-their-veggies dept.
We started looking at ways to make instant hand-drawn or inkjet-printed circuit boards because Timothy met an engaging young man named Yuki Nishida at SXSW. Yuki is a co-founder of AgIC, a company that makes conductive ink pens and supplies special paper you can use to write or draw circuits or, if you have the right model of Brother printer, to print them with special inkjet inks. The AgIC people are agressvively putting the 'A' in STEAM by marketing their products to artists and craftspeople. Indeed the second line on their website's home page says, 'AgIC offers handy tools to light up your own art works.' This is an excellent niche, and now that AgIC has developed a circuit eraser (due to ship this April), it may lead to all kinds of creative designs. And as is typical with this kind of company these days, AgIC has been (at least partly) crowdfunded.

A little cursory Google searching will soon lead you to other companies selling into the home/prototype circuit board market, including Cartesian Co and their Argentum 3-D printer that does prototype and short-run PCBs and only costs $899 (on special at the time this was written) and Electroninks, which markets the Circuit Scribe pen and associated materials with an emphasis on education. There are others in this growing field, and a year from now there will probably be more of them, all working to replace the venerable breadboard the same way electronic calculators replaced slide rules.
Robotics

Robots4Us: DARPA's Response To Mounting Robophobia 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the hug-your-robot dept.
malachiorion writes DARPA knows that people are afraid of robots. Even Steve Wozniak has joined the growing chorus of household names (Musk, Hawking, Gates) who are terrified of bots and AI. And the agency's response--a video contest for kids--is equal parts silly and insightful. It's called Robots4Us, and it asks high schoolers to describe their hopes for a robot-assisted future. Five winners will be flown to the DARPA Robotics Competition Finals this June, where they'll participate in a day-after discussion with experts in the field. But this isn't quite as useless as it sounds. As DRC program manager Gill Pratt points out, it's kids who will be impacted by the major changes to come, moreso than people his age.
Robotics

Future Firefighters May Be Guided By "Robots On Reins" 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-bot dept.
Zothecula writes When firefighters need to enter smoke-filled buildings to conduct search or rescue, they frequently suffer from low visibility and often need to feel their way along walls or follow ropes reeled out by the lead firefighter. With a limited supply of oxygen carried by each firefighter, being slowed by the inability to see can severely limit their capacity to carry out duties in these environments. Now researchers from King's College London and Sheffield Hallam University have developed a prototype robot assistant for firefighters that can help guide them through even the thickest smoke.
China

Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the or-you-know-stop-polluting-so-much dept.
knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."
Transportation

At the Track With Formula E, the First e-Racing Series 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the fast-and-quiet dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ars is running a story about the new all-electric racing car series and its first visit to the U.S.. "The pit lane we're standing in is unusual, and not only because it's a temporary setup placed in the shadow of American Airlines Arena (home of the NBA's Miami Heat). Garages are set up on both sides rather than being limited to one. A few things also appear to be missing. To start, a familiar smell from the usual mix of burning hydrocarbons is absent. And it's remarkably quiet. The occasional impact wrench bursts out in a mechanical staccato, generators drone here and there, but there are no V8s burbling, no V6s screaming....Welcome to Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series. Miami is playing host to the first of two US rounds—the next being held in Long Beach, CA, on April 4—and it's the fifth race in this ePrix's inaugural season. Given we've got a bit of a thing about racing at Cars Technica, as well as an obvious interest in electric vehicles, we had to be on the ground in Miami to experience this for ourselves."
Earth

Nation's Biggest Nuclear Firm Makes a Play For Carbon Credit Cash 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the cash-grap dept.
tomhath writes with this story that may shake up the nuclear industry. "The biggest player in the beleaguered nuclear power industry wants a place alongside solar, wind and hydroelectric power collecting extra money for producing carbon-free electricity. Exelon Corp., operator of the largest fleet of U.S. nuclear plants, says it could have to close three of them if Illinois rejects the company's pitch to let it recoup more from consumers since the plants do not produce greenhouse gases. Exelon and other around-the-clock plants sometimes take losses when wind turbines produce too much electricity for the system. Under the system, electric suppliers would have to buy credits from carbon-free energy producers. Exelon says the plan would benefit nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, and other solar and wind projects."
Robotics

Festo Reveals New Robotic Ants and Butterflies 19

Posted by samzenpus
from the metal-swarm dept.
mikejuk writes "Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects. BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers. The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fiber rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes."
Power

Measuring How Much "Standby Mode" Electricity For Game Consoles Will Cost You 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the trading-money-for-convenience dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Modern game consoles have a "standby" mode, which you can use if you want the console to instantly turn on while not drawing full power the whole time it's idle. But manufacturers are vague about how much power it takes to keep the consoles in this standby state. After a recent press release claiming $250 million worth of electricity was used to power Xbox Ones in standby mode in the past year, Ars Technica decided to run some tests to figure out exactly how much power is being drawn. Their conclusions: the PS4 draws about 10 Watts, $10-11 in extra electricity charges annually. The Xbox One draws 12.9W, costing users $13-$14 in extra electricity charges annually. The Wii U draws 13.3W, costing users $14-$15 in extra electricity charges annually. These aren't trivial amounts, but they're a lot less than simply leaving the console running and shutting off the TV when you aren't using it: "Leaving your PS4 sitting on the menu like this all year would waste over $142 in electricity costs."
China

IBM and OpenPower Could Mean a Fight With Intel For Chinese Server Market 82

Posted by timothy
from the round-the-mulberry-bust dept.
itwbennett writes With AMD's fade out from the server market and the rapid decline of RISC systems, Intel has stood atop the server market all by itself. But now IBM, through its OpenPOWER Foundation, could give Intel and its server OEMs a real fight in China, which is a massive server market. As the investor group Motley Fool notes, OpenPOWER is a threat to Intel in the Chinese server market because the government has been actively pushing homegrown solutions over foreign technology, and many of the Foundation members, like Tyan, are from China.
Government

Notel Media Player Helps North Koreans Skirt Censorship 54

Posted by timothy
from the one-day-will-be-on-ebay.nk dept.
An anonymous reader writes A small portable media device, costing roughly $50, is allowing North Koreans to access and view foreign media despite tight government censorship, according to a Reuters report. The 'Notel', a mashup of notebook and television, is being described as a symbol of change in the repressed society. Used to watch DVDs and shared content from USB sticks and SD cards, the media player can be easily concealed and transported among families and friends. According to correspondents in the region, as many as half of all urban North Korean households have a notel and are swapping a broad range of banned media such as soaps and TV dramas from South Korea and China, Hollywood blockbusters, and news clips — all of which is strictly forbidden by Pyongyang law.
Hardware

Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-to-need-an-elevator dept.
Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.
Displays

Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the harvesting-the-dot-crop dept.
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."
Businesses

Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."
Biotech

Robobug: Scientists Clad Bacterium With Graphene To Make a Working Cytobot 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the cyborg-virus dept.
Zothecula writes By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications. "UIC researchers created an electromechanical device — a humidity sensor — on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. The report is online at Scientific Reports, a Nature open access journal."
Data Storage

Micron and Intel Announce 3D NAND Flash Co-Development To Push SSDs Past 10TB 92

Posted by timothy
from the 10TB-can-hold-quite-a-few-home-movies dept.
MojoKid writes Both Micron and Intel noted in a release today that traditional planar NAND flash memory is reaching a dead-end, and as such, have been working together on 3D memory technology that could open the floodgates for high densities and faster speeds. Not all 3D memory is alike, however. This joint development effort resulted in a "floating gate cell" being used, something not uncommon for standard flash, but a first for 3D. Ultimately, this 3D NAND is composed of flash cells stacked 32 high, resulting in 256Gb MLC and 384Gb TLC die that fit inside of a standard package. That gives us 48GB per die, and up to 750GB in a single package. Other benefits include faster performance, reduced cost, and technologies that help extend the life of the memory.
Input Devices

What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse? 199

Posted by timothy
from the give-it-a-lot-of-cocaine dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article looks at the advanced technology that goes into many gaming mice favoured by professional gamers, from dedicated processors to custom weights for the sake of ergonomics, discussing the developments with designers at three top peripheral companies: Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Surprisingly, some factors that were once thought to have reached the limit of their usefulness, such as DPI sensitivity, are becoming more important again as screens get bigger and we make the move to 4K resolution. ... "With the rise of higher resolution screens, especially looking into 4K multi monitor systems and beyond, DPI might become an important factor in the future again, so we are not ruling out changes in the maximum tracking rate," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.
Businesses

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the goodbye-minimum-wage-worker dept.
moon_unit2 writes Amazon is organizing an event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.
Power

First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
jones_supa writes Jordan has signed an agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom, that sets the legal basis for building the kingdom's first nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,000 MW. The agreement is worth $10 billion and it envisages the construction of a two-unit power plant at Amra in the north of the kingdom by 2022. The deal provides for a feasibility study, site evaluation process and an environmental impact assessment. Currently Jordan imports nearly 98% of its energy from oil products and crude and is struggling to meet electricity demand, which is growing by more than 7% annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion. The kingdom hopes that eventually nuclear power could provide almost 40% of its total electricity generating capacity.
AI

Do Robots Need Behavioral 'Laws' For Interacting With Other Robots? 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-let-your-quake-3-bots-duel dept.
siddesu writes: Asimov's three laws of robotics don't say anything about how robots should treat each other. The common fear is robots will turn against humans. But what happens if we don't build systems to keep them from conflicting with each other? The article argues, "Scientists, philosophers, funders and policy-makers should go a stage further and consider robot–robot and AI–AI interactions (AIonAI). Together, they should develop a proposal for an international charter for AIs, equivalent to that of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This could help to steer research and development into morally considerate robotic and AI engineering. National and international technological policies should introduce AIonAI concepts into current programs aimed at developing safe AIs."