technology

Researchers harness the power of Wi-Fi to charge devices

Researchers harness the power of Wi-Fi to charge devices

A team of researchers from the University of Washington (UW) are working on perfecting a method of charging electronic devices using ambient Wi-Fi signals. They technology, PoWiFi (power over Wi-Fi) makes a small change to routers, so they send out a constant signal that can be harnessed and converted into DC power by a "harvester". The idea isn't new, embodied by Energous's WattUp, but the UW scientists' PoWiFi works with pre-existing hardware, so there is no need to buy a separate device. Their modified routers are able to send data and power over the same signal.

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Japanese robot could replace your moving company, shoves like a human

Japanese robot could replace your moving company, shoves like a human

In a robot, strength is important, but sometimes it's more important how the strength is directed. If you've ever had to move a refrigerator, you know that the best course of action involves pushing or pulling the object instead of lifting up, directly. The latest human-like robot developed by the University of Tokyo's JSK Laboratory takes that logic and expands on it, pushing, pulling, and scooting washing machine and large objects. The robot uses impressive posture and crouches, bracing itself so well that if it were human, it would be protecting its back from lifting strain.

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Tiny self-folding origami robot walks, swims, and then dissolves

Tiny self-folding origami robot walks, swims, and then dissolves

MIT researchers are at it again. This time, a joint research team with TU Munich has developed a self-folding origami robot capable of a range of tasks. The robot can even self-destruct after it completes its mission. The tiny device starts completely flat, and is made from ultra-thin laser-cut polystyrene layers that sandwich a magnet and PVC. The self-folding process is instigated by placing the tiny machine over a heating element. The PVC then contracts along the laser-cut lines, creating folds. The robot weighs only 0.31g and is 1.7cm long, laid flat. It can "walk" at a top speed of 4 cm per second.

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FCC proposal frowns upon robotexts and robocalls

FCC proposal frowns upon robotexts and robocalls

Robocalls are a no-no in most places, and robotexts are treated largely the same way. That doesn’t stop them from happening, however, and so the FCC would like to see options for consumers to block them entirely. As such, the commission has proposed changes to the auto-dialing rules, and it’ll be voting on the proposal the middle of next month. Under it, service providers will be able to offer “technologies” of some sort for blocking the robocalls if they’re unwanted, as well as robotexts in the case of wireless carriers.

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Wolverine claw glove is activated by flexing muscles

Wolverine claw glove is activated by flexing muscles

A bunch of weaponized gloves based on various superheroes exist, including ones that help kids and ones that shoot lasers powerful enough to pop balloons. Then there's this new Wolverine glove, which fits over one's hands and wrists and ejects pointed claws on command. That's nothing new. What is new is how you control it: by flexing your muscles, which causes the claws to pop out and presumably make some bad guy's day a little less productive.

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New biodegradable computer chip is made from trees

New biodegradable computer chip is made from trees

As a way to combat the potentially toxic, metallic waste created by computer components that are thrown away, researchers from the University of Wisconson-Madison (UWM) have come up with a new kind of semiconducting chip--created from trees. It turns out that the actual conductive materials on a chip don't take up nearly as much space as the supporting materials, which are usually non-biodegradable plastics and metal. The researchers developed a method to create biodegradable chips from wood pulp, similar to paper.

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UC Berkley robot learns from trial and error – just like us

UC Berkley robot learns from trial and error – just like us

Artificial intelligence has the potential to grow even smarter with the latest invention from the University of California, Berkley. There, a research team developed an AI algorithm that uses trial and error to learn from its previous mistakes. The robot carrying out the algorithm is named BRETT (Berkley Robot of the Elimination of Tedious Tasks), and it is a PR2 robot from Willow Garage. UC Berkley's algorithm uses "deep reinforcement learning" to develop an awareness of the robot's surroundings.

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Aria remote navigates your smartwatch with getsures

Aria remote navigates your smartwatch with getsures

It takes two hands to access all of the features that a smartwatch has to offer. If you are carrying heavy bags, cooking, or otherwise have your hands full, a smartwatch's functionality is basically off-limits. Soon, a new smartwatch remote control could let you operate your apps without ever having to touch the smartwatch screen. Aria, under development by Deus Ex Technology, wants to give you the ability to control your smartwatch by one-handed gestures.

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It’s time to give these gadgets a try

It’s time to give these gadgets a try

Technology's here and it's there, and if you'll forgive the Dr. Seuss-ism, it's everywhere. You cannot avoid it, even if you haven't tried some aspect of it for yourself. Odds are high you've at least a little technology in your personal life, but haven't found a use for some of the latest and greatest gadgets of the modern world. It's time for that to end. Innovation is happening faster than ever, and if you don't get on board soon you'll get left behind. It's time to give these gadgets a try if you haven't yet.

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Uber’s self-driving research car is spotted on the street

Uber’s self-driving research car is spotted on the street

Uber is testing out its self-driving cars on the public roads of Pittsburgh around its new research institute at Carnegie Mellon University, the Center for Advanced Technologies (CAT). Uber recently posted job openings for its CAT, specifically hunting for "motion planning engineers" among other research positions--Uber may even still have some openings.

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High schooler hits entire school district with week-long cyberattack

High schooler hits entire school district with week-long cyberattack

Teenagers regularly make poor decisions when it comes to technology, and too many of them in recent times involve swatting pranks. This latest episode of poor teenage judgement comes in the form of an alleged cyberattack, however, and now that high school student is facing a possible felony charge, according to KTVB. The unnamed 17-year-old is said to have instituted a DDoS attack against the West Ada school district in Idaho — it’s the largest school district in the state, and for one miserable week students and faculty across dozens of schools suffered because of it.

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Schools that ban smartphones will (likely) improve test scores

Schools that ban smartphones will (likely) improve test scores

It’s always important to backup the seemingly obvious with an actual study, and such is what the London School of Economics did. The school conducted a study that looked at the test scores of students and the effect smartphones have on them. As it turns out (and no one is surprised), banning the smartphones caused the test scores to improve, lending credence to some schools’ push for anti-smartphone zones. Underachieving students see the most improvement.

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