research

Harvard researchers create ‘muscles’ for soft-bodied robots

Harvard researchers create ‘muscles’ for soft-bodied robots

Humans are soft, easily bruised creatures, and robots are, well, not so soft. If a hard-bodied robot swings its arm around, not realizing your face is nearby, you're going to get a black eye, and no one wants that to happen. Soft-bodied robots are ideal for this reason -- it's harder for them to accidentally injure you -- and Harvard researchers have taken steps toward bringing these gentler robots to life. In a recently published study, the team details a new type of actuator that functions like a muscle.

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“Metalens” breakthrough could lead to flat, cheaper lenses

“Metalens” breakthrough could lead to flat, cheaper lenses

There has been a surge of interest in camera sensors and lenses of late, partly because of the equally growing interest in smartphone cameras. But while smartphones are indeed becoming more and more capable in that area, they are limited by the laws of physics and current manufacturing capabilities. One of the hardest to get right are the lenses but inventors, lead by r professor Federico Capasso, may have finally come upon an answer that will yield not not only flatter and cheaper lenses but also better ones that can outperform even those used in top of the line research microscopes.

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Microsoft Research reveals more FlashBack VR tech details

Microsoft Research reveals more FlashBack VR tech details

Although today's generation of virtual reality devices and platforms has made technology more accessible, at least compared to its almost sci-fi stature years ago, it hasn't exactly made it accessible to everyone, especially the budget constrained. Things like Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR does significantly lower the barrier to entry, but it still requires an investment in a not so cheap premium smartphone. Although it dabbles more in augmented rather than virtual reality, Microsoft's Research arm may have stumbled on part of the answer that will enable even mid-range smartphones to display VR content at a respectable framerate.

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U.S. Navy equips diving helmet with Ironman-like HUD

U.S. Navy equips diving helmet with Ironman-like HUD

The U.S. Navy has taken the wraps off what it calls next-gen diving helmets equipped with a specially design head-up display. The embedded HUD is called Divers Augmented Vision Display (DAVD), and it is described as being a see-through high-res display giving divers real-time data on a bunch of things, including text messages from others, AR videos, and diagrams. The HUDs will complement pre-dive briefings, according to the Navy, to aid divers in performing various missions.

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Underwater ‘lost city’ is really just a cool natural phenomenon

Underwater ‘lost city’ is really just a cool natural phenomenon

Underwater near Zakynthos, a Greek island, are some interesting and seemingly human-made structures. When they were discovered by tourists diving in the region, assumptions were made and word spread quickly that some archeological artifacts, possibly the remains of a long-lost city, had been discovered. These claims spurred a group of researchers into investigating the matter, and what they discovered was different, but no less interesting: these structures are entirely natural.

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Synthetic human genome project may lead to lab-grown transplantable organs

Synthetic human genome project may lead to lab-grown transplantable organs

Some scientists want to create a synthetic human genome, and their proposal has critics worked up into a frenzy. In a perfect world, this proposed synthetic human genome would be used to grow human organs for transplant, aid humans in developing medications and vaccines for various illnesses, and more. In a less-than-ideal world, critics worry it could also lead to the creation of a human without parents, to “designer humans” with specific attributes.

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Blue Origin scores NASA partnership for delivering new technologies to space

Blue Origin scores NASA partnership for delivering new technologies to space

SpaceX has already been working with NASA for some time, with the private space agency delivering supplies to the ISS with its reusable rockets, but now rival Blue Origin has landed a similar partnership. The Jeff Bezos-owned space tourism company is now approved for helping NASA deliver new technologies to the edge space for testing. This will be done with Blue Origin's similarly reusable New Shepard rocket, which is capable of reaching suborbital heights.

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King Tut’s dagger has a blade made from meteorite

King Tut’s dagger has a blade made from meteorite

King Tut was buried with two knives, one of which has an iron blade and another that has a gold blade. Though a gold blade isn’t terribly practical in terms of usability, it’s pretty and seemingly benefitting of a king. As it turns out, though, it’s the iron blade that is most notable and rare — it was crafted from a meteorite, scientists have confirmed. The blade's origins had long been a source of debate, but a new study has put the controversy to rest.

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Microsoft Research “FlashBack” can bring VR even to low-end devices

Microsoft Research “FlashBack” can bring VR even to low-end devices

Virtual reality is truly an incredible technology that deserves to be in everyone's hands, or eyes rather. But currently, the devices that allow people to experience VR stand at opposite ends of a spectrum, neither of which make VR really accessible. On the one hand, you have dedicated machines like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. On the other extreme, you have empty shells that require a smartphone, like the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. Interestingly enough, the middle ground between these two might have just been discovered thanks to the efforts of Microsoft Research. Called FlashBack, it is a combination of technologies that could let even less powerful smartphones and laptops handle the load required for a smooth, jitter-free, nausea-free VR experience.

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Kepler-62f could have oceans and be habitable, study finds

Kepler-62f could have oceans and be habitable, study finds

There’s a planet called Kepler-62f located about 1,200 lightyears from our own planet, and NASA introduced it to the public back in early 2013. At the time, NASA had said the planet is located in a “habitable zone,” and now a new study suggests the planet could itself be habitable. A group of researchers studied the planet and came to several conclusions about it, including that it likely has liquid water — possibly oceans — and could have an atmosphere that is the same as our own planet's.

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Comet 67P dust discovered to contain building blocks of life

Comet 67P dust discovered to contain building blocks of life

It turns out that comets have been responsible for spreading some of the key ingredients for life throughout the solar system. The European Space Agency has announced that its Rosetta probe has detected some of these building blocks of life within the dust and gas that surrounds Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists suggest this is the process that could have led to such chemical building blocks being delivered to a newly-formed Earth long ago.

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Blue Origin’s next rocket launch will crash in order to study results

Blue Origin’s next rocket launch will crash in order to study results

The Blue Origin spaceflight agency has successfully launched and landed its reusable New Shepard rocket three times now, an impressive record on its own. But if the goal is consumer space flights, they need to know how to prepare for and deal with situations where things don't go perfectly. That's why their next flight will see the empty crew capsule intentionally crash-land, owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has revealed.

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