technology

MIT’s NailO puts a tiny trackpad on your fingernail

MIT’s NailO puts a tiny trackpad on your fingernail

MIT has a new invention that, upon first glance, looks like a poorly positioned fake thumbnail. The reason is that it is tiny trackpad designed to be mounted on your fingernail, lending perhaps the best yet remote control of your tablet or smartphone. It's one of the more innovative and unusual wearables we've seen in recent months, and though it is odd to behold at first, there are some valid uses for it. Those with certain disabilities might find it convenient, for example, as well as those who want covert control of their phone.

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Tiny camera can power itself and other devices

Tiny camera can power itself and other devices

To innovators envisioning the Internet of Things, wherein everyday devices operate on a wireless, interconnected network, component size and battery life are incredibly important. This self-powered camera was created by a team of scientists from Columbia University, and the prototype may pave the way for future cameras to charge themselves as they capture images, negating the need to a battery pack or charger at all. They claim their discovery is the first self-powered camera that can harvest energy as it takes pictures.

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Futuristic robot chef uses hands to help in the kitchen

Futuristic robot chef uses hands to help in the kitchen

Everyone loves a home cooked meal, but would it taste the same if it was made by a robot? Moley Robotics just revealed its robot-chef, which uses sophisticated robotic hands to cook just like a human. It doesn't cook any faster than a human, so it's not going to revolutionize the industrial side of cooking. This bionic-chef is designed for home kitchens. The robo-chef has the aptitude to learn from a real chef's delicate movements. Motion capture technology relays all the actions of an actual person preparing the meal and translates the actions into moves for the robotic hands.

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Hologram protest in Spain is a world’s first

Hologram protest in Spain is a world’s first

Behold another world's first you get to witness during your lifetime: the first-ever holographic protest, which took place in Spain to protest new so-called "citizen security" bills that aim to, in part, cut down on the options citizens in the nation have for protesting. One such limitation on protest freedom will be a ban on protesting in front of Parliament. In response, a group of protesters used a bunch of holograms to protest in front of the lower house of Parliament, doing so both to catch ample public attention, and to show what the bills could result in -- having to use holograms in your place.

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Rice University creates vibrating vest, allowing deaf to feel sounds

Rice University creates vibrating vest, allowing deaf to feel sounds

Almost every perceives sound through hearing, but what if you could touch sound understand it simple by feeling vibrations? In a partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University is developing VEST, Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer, a device that could teach the hearing impaired a new language of sound. Rice's electrical engineering students, headed by neuroscientist David Eagleman, developed the wearable vest to take auditory input from its surroundings and transcribe it into vibrations. The vest is essentially creating a new way for people with hearing difficulties to perceive sounds.

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Plastic car engine could create lighter cars, better gas mileage

Plastic car engine could create lighter cars, better gas mileage

When it comes to cars, lightening the load can increase performance capabilities and fuel economy. Incorporating plastic components into the body of the car can only cut down the weight so much. So, auto makers are scrambling to find ways to use plastic parts in other components of the car. German research group Fraunhofer has found a way to create a car engine using plastic parts. Sure the pistons need to be metal, but the casing that houses the cylinders can be made of plastic. Fraunhofer's plastic casing weighs 20% less than if it were made using standard aluminum, and a little goes a long way when it comes to performance and saving fuel.

Bezo’s Blue Origin preps for its first unmanned spaceflight

Bezo’s Blue Origin preps for its first unmanned spaceflight

The competition for private spaceflight is gearing up as companies compete for the privilege to send a new breed of tourists into space. Competing with Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk's Space X is Blue Origin, the covert rocket company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin's latest spacecraft is the New Shephard, which is designed to be capable of carrying 3 or more astronauts and a full cargo load into sub-orbital space. New Shephard will soon begin unmanned test flights in sub-orbital space this year.

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Google’s self-driving cars avoid cows—and other road hazards

Google’s self-driving cars avoid cows—and other road hazards

Self-driving cars are getting a lot of buzz lately. Companies from Google to Uber and Mercedes-Benz are each developing their own driverless car technology. In fact, Uber just partnered with Carnegie Mellon to create the Advanced Technology Center dedicated to the development driverless vehicles. If you're an engineer, you're in luck because they are hiring, too. Google is racing to get to the finish line first, and it may have an edge over the competition as its driverless vehicles can now officially avoid cows (and other conditions.)

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DARPA makes Google Glass-like eye display for soldiers

DARPA makes Google Glass-like eye display for soldiers

Over-eye displays like that offered by Google Glass can serve many purposes -- they facilitate navigation without having to take one's eyes off the roads, for example, and allow data to be presented without pulling out a smartphone in the middle of a project. The military is one entity that can find ample uses for eye-mounted displays, and it is no stranger to such technology. Cost is a perennial problem, however, and so its mad scientist devision DARPA has come up with a budget-friendly Glass-like solution.

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Uber pays fines in Portland ahead of possible re-launch

Uber pays fines in Portland ahead of possible re-launch

Late last year, Uber arrived in Portland, Oregon. The service was unauthorized, and city officials weren’t taking it lightly. A covert operation to request rides and fine drivers was underway (they got two warnings before a fine, technically), which brought as much confusion to the scene as happy hipsters who could bypass the taxi system. After the kerfuffle, Uber agreed to withdraw from the city for 90 days. As City Hall considers new rules that would allow Uber to operate, the ridesharing service has agreed to pay $67,750 in fines handed down by the city over the unsanctioned launch.

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M3 autonomous 1mm computer might be the world’s smallest

M3 autonomous 1mm computer might be the world’s smallest

Computers are getting exponentially smaller. Ahead of the curve is the Michigan Micro Mote, or the M3. Designed with the Internet of Things (IoT) in mind and measuring in at ony 1 cubic mm, this autonomous computer might be the smallest computer in the world. It packs sensors and other features into a package about the sie of a grain of rice. It's amazing to consider that the computing power of today's smartwatch was not only impossible 60 years ago; computers that amounted to basic graphing calculators took up the space of entire rooms.

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Stanford has a battery that charges in a minute

Stanford has a battery that charges in a minute

Batteries. The lifeblood of our mobile devices and ironically also somewhat their Achilles heel. Although the evolution of lithium-ion batteries has made all these portable electronic devices possible, they haven't really caught up with the growing power that we keep in our pockets. That's not even considering yet the similarly growing obsession over thinner devices, which would require thinner batteries that deliver the same power. Stanford University researchers, lead by chemistry professor Dai Hongjie, might have stumbled on the answer in a new variant of an aluminum-ion battery.

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