research

NASA flirts with far-out tech: Methane subs and solar sails

NASA flirts with far-out tech: Methane subs and solar sails

A submarine for diving through lakes of methane, a tiny satellite designed to snare an asteroid, and solar sail for deep-space probes are all among NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program for 2014, as the space agency hunts for the next big thing in exploration. Several of the new NIAC proposals, notable for often taking more outlandish approaches to science and technology than mainstream NASA research, tackle planetary exploration such as the advances needed for human missions to be safe and affordable.

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NVIDIA and UNC cook up truly immersive AR wearable

NVIDIA and UNC cook up truly immersive AR wearable

As reactions to Google Glass show, the world isn't ready for ungainly wearable displays, but NVIDIA and researchers from the University of North Carolina think they've come up with a far more aesthetically pleasing - and discrete - alternative. Pinlight Displays promise not only to be far less clunky than suspending a tiny screen in front of the wearer, but offer a far broader field-of-view in the process, and even do it all cheaper than standard wearable displays.

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Algorithm extracts audio from silent video using vibrations

Algorithm extracts audio from silent video using vibrations

It feels almost like a scene straight out of a spy movie or crime procedural show. You only have a video a of man talking with his back to the camera. No audio to tell you clearly what he's saying and there are no lips to read to give you a clue. But by observing just the movement of the leaves of a plant nearby, you are able to reconstruct what the man is saying, stop his evil plot, defeat the bad guy, and save the day.

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NASA IceCube hunts climate change and cost savings

NASA IceCube hunts climate change and cost savings

NASA will take advantage of new tiny satellite technology, CubeSats, to test a new weather-monitoring technology that could help unlock the secrets of climate change, the space agency has announced. IceCube - also known as Earth-1, is around a foot long and four inches wide, and takes advantage of satellite standardization expected to make launching orbiting probes faster and more cost-effective.

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Rim light photography? Not a problem for this drone

Rim light photography? Not a problem for this drone

Soon, professional photographers might have a use for these fancy personal drones that are becoming popular among hobbyists today. A joint research group from MIT and Cornell University are developing a kind of drone that will assist photographers by providing them with the perfect light, even in the most difficult requirements, like rim light.

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NVIDIA stacks screens for high-res wearables on a budget

NVIDIA stacks screens for high-res wearables on a budget

Sandwiching several cheap LCDs together to fudge a higher resolution version could be the secret to making cheap head-mounted displays, NVIDIA researchers are suggesting, taking an unusual approach to competing in the pixel density race. While Samsung, LG Display and others have been pushing development of high-resolution screens for wearables like Oculus Rift, where smoother quality makes for a more realistic, immersive experience, NVIDIA's strategy is to chase the same goal only with much cheaper parts, potentially pushing chips like the Tegra K1 in the process.

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Audi puts self-driving A7 on road in highway testing

Audi puts self-driving A7 on road in highway testing

Audi dispatched its latest self-driving car prototype down the highways of Florida, previewing the autonomous technologies the German firm believes it will commercialize within the next five years. The test saw a heavily customized Audi A7 drive itself down Tampa's Selmon Expressway, at one point putting the governor responsible for making the route an automated driving and connected car test bed in the driving seat, albeit with his hands off the wheel.

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