Posted by on November 13th, 2012

The Continuing Merger of Man & Machine:

  • DARPA’s Pet-Proto Robot Navigates Obstacles:YouTube Preview Imagethanks Carsten Kolassa!
  • 1st Bionic leg propels man up 103 flights:
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  • ‘Terminator’ arm is world’s most advanced prosthetic limb:
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  • Batteries not required, just plug into ear cells:

    The team behind the technology used a natural electrochemical gradient in cells within the inner ear of a guinea pig to power a wireless transmitter for up to five hours.

    The technique could one day provide an autonomous power source for brain and cochlear implants, says Tina Stankovic, an auditory neuroscientist at Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

    The device works well for short durations but long-term use of the electrodes risks damaging the sensitive tissue inside the ear. The next step will be to make the electrodes even smaller, reducing their invasiveness.

    Stankovic says that this is proof of concept that biological sources of energy exist that have not yet been fully considered. “A very futuristic view is that maybe we will be able to extract energy from individual cells using similar designs,” she says.

  • Assembly of nano-machines mimics human muscle:

    …for the first time, Giuseppone’s team has succeeded in synthesizing long polymer chains incorporating, via supramolecular bonds (1), thousands of nano-machines each capable of producing linear telescopic motion of around one nanometer. Under the influence of pH, their simultaneous movements allow the whole polymer chain to contract or extend over about 10 micrometers, thereby amplifying the movement by a factor of 10,000, along the same principles as those used by muscular tissues. Precise measurements of this experimental feat have been performed in collaboration with the team led by Eric Buhler, a physicist specialized in radiation scattering at the Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot).

    These results, obtained using a biomimetic approach, could lead to numerous applications for the design of artificial muscles, micro-robots or the development of new materials incorporating nano-machines endowed with novel multi-scale mechanical properties.

  • What made us human? Being ARMED with lethal ranged weapons -Early kill-tech let us beat Neanderthals, dominate world:

    “When Africans left Africa and entered Neanderthal territory they had projectiles with greater killing reach,” explains Professor Curtis Marean, an expert in stone weapons who was instrumental in the research.

    These early moderns probably also had higher levels of pro-social (hyper-cooperative) behavior. These two traits were a knockout punch. Combine them, as modern humans did and still do, and no prey or competitor is safe,” he adds. “This probably laid the foundation for the expansion out of Africa of modern humans and the extinction of many prey as well as our sister species such as Neanderthals.”

  • gilding primal instinct’s new Prosthetic Jewelry:

  • Nyodyme from Imagina Technologies (already SOLD OUT):

    Nyodyme Magnets give their users the ability to “sense” electromagnetic waves. The technology behind the Nyodyme Magnet is created from a beautiful gold and nickel-plated neodymium magnet that is placed within Imagina’s specially made glue that has magnetic iron filings mixed into it to enhance the vibrations.

  • Military makeup will protect soldiers from bomb-blast burns:

    A new type of camouflage makeup is able to protect wearers from skin burns. Scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi developed the makeup for use in combat situations, but the team plans on developing a transparent version for firefighters. The new material acts like sunblock, forming a barrier thinner than a sheet of paper that can protect skin from extreme heat for up to 15 seconds. After that time, the makeup itself may rise to a temperature where first-degree (mild) burns may occur, but the extra time should help soldiers to find shelter from any explosion. In some tests, the scientists found that the face paint shielded its test subjects for up to 60 seconds.

Towards a Resilient Industrial Revolution

Posted by on January 26th, 2012

Here’s an updated, and suitably bold, plan from Open Source Ecology, the team behind the The Real Life Civilization-Building Kit:

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Suwappu: part-physical, part-digital toys

Posted by on April 5th, 2011

I’ll just let BERGLondon do most of the talking for this one:

Dentsu London are developing an original product called Suwappu. Suwappu are woodland creatures that swap pants, toys that come to life in augmented reality. BERG have been brought in as consultant inventors, and we’ve made this film. Have a look!

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This is where it starts to get interesting:

We wanted to picture a toy world that was part-physical, part-digital and that acts as a platform for media. We imagine toys developing as connected products, pulling from and leaking into familiar media like Twitter and Youtube. Toys already have a long and tenuous relationship with media, as film or television tie-ins and merchandise. It hasn’t been an easy relationship. AR seems like a very apt way of giving cheap, small, non-interactive plastic objects an identity and set of behaviours in new and existing media worlds.

Then it gets really interesting, quoting directly from BERG’s Jack Schulze:

In the film, one of the characters makes a reference to dreams. I love the idea that the toys in their physical form, dream their animated televised adventures in video. When they awake, into their plastic prisons, they half remember the super rendered full motion freedoms and adventures from the world of TV.

For me, this marks an entry into the territory explored in the anime Dennō Coil. But it’s a little Tachikoma that I’d like to see running around my desk, giving me messages, through AR magics.

The “Predator”, or how to build a camera that learns

Posted by on April 4th, 2011

Via a whole bunch of people, who are justifiably equal parts excited and terrified about what this might lead to:

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My first question, how does it handle CV Dazzle? Find out yourself! More details, including the code itself, are available on developer Zdenek Kalal’s website.

Kinect + 3D goggles = “Holodeck”?

Posted by on March 29th, 2011

Today on yetAnotherAwesomeKinectDemo:

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Easy to envisage future interactions with architects being via something like this.

From The Future Digital Life, via Chris Arkenberg.

Quadrocopter Ball Juggling

Posted by on March 29th, 2011

Today’s dose of holy shit it IS the Future!!1 comes courtesy of Mark Simpkins; the amazing ball juggling experiments performed in the ETH Flying Machine Arena:

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The Real Life Civilization-Building Kit

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011

Making these machines, the group explains, is 8 times cheaper than buying them from manufacturers, on average. And in a world where resources might be scarcer than we anticipate more quickly than we anticipate, their ambitious project could prove to be a vital one. They’re publishing the full schematics and diagrams on their Wiki, so anyone can use them once shit goes Mad Max. If the internet still works, that is. OK, maybe you should print them out now just to be safe.

Via Gizmodo.

Remains of the Day: Kinect Hacking Makes for Minority Report-Style Browsing

Posted by on November 30th, 2010

Video via lifehacker.

The Urbee Hybrid is the first car to come out of a printer

Posted by on November 3rd, 2010


3D Printers are getting ever more advanced and, apparently, ever bigger too. Proof to that is the Urbee Hybrid, the result of a partnership between transportation company Kor Ecologic and Stratasys, who we’ve already seen shamelessly rebranding its 3D printers as HP Designjets. Kor provided the concept and the underpinnings of the thing, a design that amazingly has its roots in the early ’90s but has been given a new, teardrop body 100 percent printed by Stratasys. Underneath is a plug-in hybrid powertrain that manages up to 200mpg on the highway and 100mpg around town running on ethanol or plain ‘ol gasoline.

No plans for production (so far). Via

Brother AirScouter projects 16-inch screen right on your eyeball

Posted by on September 17th, 2010

From slashgear, a prototype Retinal Imaging Display:

The images projected directly onto your retina simulate a 16-inch screen viewed for about three feet away according to the maker. The tech came from the Brother printer tech for laser and ink jet printers. The AirScouter will be launched in Japan for industrial uses like overlaying manuals on machinery. That is pretty cool and I could see a market for this thing in the DIY realm for folks that like to fix things themselves. Nothing like step-by-step directions clipped to your eyeball.

Thanks and hat tip to @bindychild!

Robotic helicopter that can grasp a payload

Posted by on August 29th, 2010


Like the Grand Theft Auto RC missions come to life, this helicopter can grasp objects for transport. They don’t have to be a special size or shape, and it can lift them even if they are not centered. This is thanks to a load-balancing hand (originally developed as a prosthesis) that relies on flexible joints and a tendon-like closing mechanism. As you can see in the video, the light-weight chopper has an on-board camera so that the operator can see what is being picked up. This little guy has no problem lifting objects that are over one kilogram while remaining stable in the air.

Link and photo from

See also:

Mini Generators Make Energy From Random Ambient Vibrations

Posted by on March 25th, 2010

Currently in the prototype stage, from

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed tiny generators that can produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor. In humans, these vibrations could come from moving muscles or limbs. The generators have demonstrated that they can produce up to 500 microwatts from typical vibration amplitudes found on the human body. That’s more than enough energy to run a wristwatch, which needs between 1 and 10 microwatts, or a pacemaker, which needs between 10 and 50.

Implantable Silicon-Silk Electronics

Posted by on November 16th, 2009

Scientists of the University of Pennsylvania are creating electronics that almost completely dissolve inside the body, through the use of thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates.

While implanted electronics must usually be encased to protect them from the body, these electronics don’t need protection. The whole process is pretty much seamless: The electronics on the flexible silk substrates conform to biological tissue. The silk melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don’t cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick.

To make the devices, silicon transistors about one millimeter long and 250 nanometers thick are collected on a stamp and then transferred to the surface of a thin film of silk. The silk holds each device in place, even after the array is implanted in an animal – so far the technique is tested on mice – and wetted with saline, causing it to conform to the tissue surface.

In a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the researchers report that such circuits can be implanted in animals with no adverse effects. And the performance of the transistors on silk inside the body doesn’t suffer.

The researchers are now developing silk-silicon LEDs that might act as photonic tattoos that can show blood-sugar readings, as well as arrays of conformable electrodes that might interface with the nervous system.


MP3 Heels

Posted by on October 8th, 2009

Never leave home without your mp3 player again:

Wearable technology was the topic du jour on the The Gadget Show, a British television series focusing on technology. On the episode, the hosts, Jason and Suzi were challenged to create a wearable technology prototype and have it judged by designer Wayne Hemingway.

Via Syuzi at

Geordi LaForge video-to-brain rig built at MIT

Posted by on September 28th, 2009

The implanted chip, according to the MIT team behind it, features a “microfabricated polyimide stimulating electrode array with sputtered iridium oxide electrodes” which is implanted into the user’s retina by a specially-developed surgical technique. There are also “secondary power and data receiving coils”.

Once the implant is in place, wireless transmissions are made from outside the head. These induce currents in the receiving coils of the nerve chip, meaning that it needs no battery or other power supply. The electrode array stimulates the nerves feeding the optic nerve, so generating a image in the brain.

The wireless signals, for use in humans, would be generated by a glasses-style headset equipped with cameras or other suitable sensors and transmitters tuned to the coils implanted in the head.

Currently implanted in Yucatan minipigs, human trials are still three years away. Link and photo via and original article (available to subscribers only) at Biomedical Engineering.

Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow

Posted by on July 29th, 2009

Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of directors at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany, said his team of scientists have come up with a substance that could replace plastic: Arboform — basically, liquid wood.

It is derived from wood pulp-based lignin and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics, Eisenreich said, as reported by DPA news agency.

Car parts and other durable items made of this bio-plastic already exist, but the chemical hadn’t been suitable for household use until now, due to the high content of sulphurous substances used in separating the lignin from the cell fibers.

The German researchers were able to reduce the sulphur content in Arborform by about 90 percent, making it much safer for use in everyday items.

Bolstering Arboform’s environmental credentials, Eisenreich’s team also discovered that the substance was highly recyclable.

“To find that out, we produced components, broke them up into small pieces, and re-processed the broken pieces — 10 times in all. We did not detect any change in the material properties of the low-sulphur bio-plastic, so that means it can be recycled,” said Inone-Kauffmann.

From, via

Barcodes for the rest of us

Posted by on July 28th, 2009

From MIT news:

The ubiquitous barcodes found on product packaging provide information to the scanner at the checkout counter, but that’s about all they do. Now, researchers at the Media Lab have come up with a new kind of very tiny barcode that could provide a variety of useful information to shoppers as they scan the shelves — and could even lead to new devices for classroom presentations, business meetings, videogames or motion-capture systems.

The new system, called Bokode, is based on a new way of encoding visual information, explains Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar, who leads the lab’s Camera Culture group. Until now, there have been three approaches to communicating data optically: through ordinary imaging (using two-dimensional space), through temporal variations such as a flashing light or moving image (using the time dimension), or through variations in the wavelength of light (used in fiber-optic systems to provide multiple channels of information simultaneously through a single fiber).

Inkjet Printer Recruited to Print Toxin Detecting Paper Biosensors

Posted by on July 16th, 2009

A quick, easy and cheap method of detecting pathogens, viruses and toxins? The printed technology looks promising:

Scientists at McMaster University have come up with a new methodology to create cheap biosensors using an inkjet printer. By applying a “lateral flow” sensing paradigm commonly seen in pregnancy test strips, the developers showed how one can implement a FujiFilm Dimatix Materials Printer to create sensors that can detect the presence of toxins, specifically acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors such as paraoxon and aflatoxin B1.

Link, photo and words via

Osseointegrated Prosthetics

Posted by on July 9th, 2009

Representing the next phase of prosthetic technology, osseointegrated prosthetics are faux limbs that knit themselves with the person’s bone. Since the prosthetic is attached to the bone itself, it creates a more natural movement for the wearer. Last January, we reported on the first dog candidate Cassidy, to receive the new technology. This week, National Geographic is reporting that the German shepard is doing well with his new limb.

Link and photo via

See also:

Thanks to LBA for the link to the update!

Self-Portrait Machine

Posted by on July 3rd, 2009

Jen Hui Liao’s Self-Portrait Machine is a device that takes a picture of the sitter and draws it but with the model’s help. The wrists of the individual are tied to the machine and it is his or her hands that are guided to draw the lines that will eventually form the portrait.

The project started with the observation that nearly everything that surrounds us has been created by machines. Our personal identities are represented by the products of the man-machine relationship. The Self-Portrait Machine encapsulates this man-machine relationship. By co-operating with the machine, a self-portrait is generated. It is self-drawn but from an external viewpoint through controlled movement and limited possibility. Our choice of how we are represented is limited to what the machine will allow.

Link and video via

The thought of being strapped into a machine and forced to draw whatever has been programmed by into the machine is an interesting ethical consideration…..