CNN Video interview with Wafaa Bila, of the Third I project

Posted by on December 6th, 2010

I know Kevin posted about this last month, but I just found this video interview by CNN and.. well, you’ve got to see it.  (Just try and self-filter out the CNN lady)

Movie screens will collect your facial expressions for ‘research’

Posted by on November 4th, 2010

What if I told you that movie theaters may become a little bit similar to Big Brother? A U.K. security firm just earned a grant to use special cameras embedded into movie theater screens to capture your facial expressions — to serve you more relevant ads. Just when I thought privacy couldn’t get any worse, this is sure to shake up movie goers.

The security firm, Arlia Sytems is planning to use infrared to detect the facial expressions of an individual’s face. It will use 3D facial recognition technology to determine things like whether the audience is looking at a certain ad, where on the screen their eyeballs are tracking and how targeted ads are being received.


Transhumanist Barbie

Posted by on August 11th, 2010

In a great victory for the SATANIC GLOBAL TRANSHUMANIST CONSPIRACY, Mattel have released the perfect gift for all the little Transhumanists in the house, Barbie Video Girl.

As this video shows, the camera quality is pretty decent, and the design is frankly hilarious:

I am hoping this could mean the return of the Barbie Liberation Organization.

thanks for the tip-off Seej500!

HP Invents a Central Nervous System for the Earth

Posted by on February 19th, 2010

HP has just unveiled an incredibly ambitious project to create a “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE) composed of billions of super sensitive, cheap, and tough sensors. The project involves distributing these sensors throughout the world and using them to gather data that could be used to detect everything from infrastructure collapse to environmental pollutants to climate change and impending earthquakes. From there, the “Internet of Things” and smarter cities are right around the corner.

HP is currently developing its first sensor to be deployed, which is an accelerometer 1,000 times more sensitive than those used in the Wii or the iPhone – it’s capable of detecting motion and vibrations as subtle as a heartbeat. The company also has plans to use nanomaterials to create chemical and biological sensors that are 100 million times more sensitive than current models. Their overall goal is to use advances in sensitivity and nanotech to shrink the size of these devices so that they are small enough to clip onto a mobile telephone.

Once HP has created an array of sensors, the next step is distributing them and making sense of all the data they generate. That’s no easy task, granted that a network of one million sensors running 24 hours a day would create 20 petabytes of data in just six months. HP is taking all that number crunching to task however, and will be harnessing its in-house networking expertise, consulting, and data storage technologies for the project.

Link via

Motion-sensing phones that predict your every move

Posted by on December 13th, 2009


COULD your cellphone learn to predict what you are going to do before you’ve even started doing it?

Communications engineer Arjen Peddemors thinks so, and along with colleagues at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands he has devised a system that learns users’ behaviour patterns to provide them with an enhanced cellphone service. It could, for example, prevent the phone starting large downloads such as music tracks or podcasts when your behaviour suggests you are about to go out of network range.

Such prediction has become possible because smartphones like the Nokia N97 and Apple iPhone contain accelerometers that sense motion. They are normally used to reorient images when the screen is flipped from vertical to horizontal, or by software that responds to a shake of the phone. But Peddemors realised that they also generate a data stream that reflects every move the phone’s owner makes.

Routine events such as going to work are likely always to involve similar sequences of actions: locking the front door, opening the garage, getting in the car, for instance. The Delft system uses telltale sequences and timings like this to create an electronic signature of particular events.

A neural network software app running on the phone is then trained to predict what happens next and act accordingly. So if your regular drive to work takes you through a particular phone cell, the “going to work” signature could trigger the software to negotiate with the cellphone network to ensure that the cell will have the 3G capacity to maintain your streaming music channel as you drive through it.

I like to watch…

Posted by on July 29th, 2009

Straight from etsy, that window-shopper’s whorehouse, GrinderMonkeyStudios brings us ‘Salome’

This piece is a life-size cast bronze bust with steel for the arms, crosspiece and tray. The back is finished pressboard and the mounting system is wood. The video display is a b+w security monitor and the video loop (that i created specially for this piece) is ran with a dvd player(included) that is hidden in the back.

For $7,179.00 USD (plus postage) it can be yours. I want it to be mine. I would suggest looking at the other stuff available in the store.

Japanese scientists develop tech to read images directly from your brain

Posted by on December 11th, 2008

From PinkTentacle:

brain image scanner

Researchers from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person’s mind and display them on a computer monitor, it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other people’s dreams while they sleep.

The scientists were able to reconstruct various images viewed by a person by analyzing changes in their cerebral blood flow. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the researchers first mapped the blood flow changes that occurred in the cerebral visual cortex as subjects viewed various images held in front of their eyes. Subjects were shown 400 random 10 x 10 pixel black-and-white images for a period of 12 seconds each. While the fMRI machine monitored the changes in brain activity, a computer crunched the data and learned to associate the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.

They predict that within “10 years, advances in this field of research may make it possible to read a person’s thoughts with some degree of accuracy.”

I don’t know about you, but that idea freaks me the fuck out. We’re looking at one messy future kids. Imagine police equipped with such a device, able to pull from your brain exactly what you’re thinking. All the more reason to start fixing the world now, before such a device can be abused by some totalitarian government. Mental discipline will ever more become a survival tool for the future.

The total flip-side being this is just the tool one needs to capture the genius thoughts one has just as they drift off to sleep.

thanks for the tip-off Marc Starecky!

Next-gen DoCoMo phones predict your every move

Posted by on October 5th, 2008


Japan’s NTT DoCoMo mobile carrier is working on new technology for its next generation mobile phones that will quite literally predict your every move. Their next gen phones will be stuffed full of senors that will be able to identify the movement that you’re making.

“Based on your actions you make when you move in a particular way (all of which the phone records via its sensors), sophisticated software will predict what your next actions wil be and will provide recommendations in advance. In other words, the phone will attempt to guess what you’re doing, and the predict what you’re about to do, which sounds just a little bit freaky if it works too well!

The work is part of Japan’s “Information Grand Voyage” research project, in which they’re trying to capitalize on the untapped data that can be harnessed through a world of sensors. Japan recognizes that Google effectively owns the Web’s information, and so cannot compete with existing digital info.”

Bat-Sized Spy Plane

Posted by on September 19th, 2008

Solar powered and using about one watt of energy, the bat-sized spy plane will be capable of sending back video, sound and potential data on biological or chemical warfare, in addition to nuclear radiation levels. The tiny spy is being developed researchers at three universities across the United States with money supplied by the US Army.

Photo and link via

4-inch flybot

Posted by on July 24th, 2008

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The Delft University of Technology has shrunk their robotic ornithopter design down to a very impressive 10cm – that’s almost 1/3 the size of their previous design.

Specs for the Delfly Micro -

Size: 10 cm, from wingtip to wingtip
Weight: 3.07 gram;
Battery: 1 gram
Camera and transmitter: 0.4 gram;
Engine: 0.45 gram;
Receiver: 0.2 gram;
Actuators: 0.5 gram;
Rest: about 0.52 grams.
Battery: 30 mah lithium polymer, for three minutes fight.
Flap frequency wings: 30 Hz
Materials: Mylar foil (wings), carbon and balsawood.
Range: 50m

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Link, photo and video via

Surveillance for Obesity Coming to London?

Posted by on July 24th, 2008

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In the UK, where they have surveillance for everything everywhere, RCA student and engineer Benjamin Males has designed the Static Obesity Logging Device, or SOLA, which measures the body mass index of passers-by. “The casing of the device conceals a mass of technologies including an integrated computer, digital and analogue inputs and outputs and an integrated camera. The system is able to remotely calculate Body Mass Index and publish the data via wired and wireless networks.”

He writes “The purpose of this device is to raise questions about the possible role of surveillance technology in healthcare, and the potential uses (misuses?) of this data by others.”

Link and photo via

A DVR In Your Spy-Glasses

Posted by on July 24th, 2008

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These polarized-lens sunglasses have a built-in 1.3-megapixel self-recording color camera and 30-fps digital video recorder, perfect for online video, you can actually upload directly to YouTube. They have 2GB of internal memory, and the li-polymer rechargeable battery records for 5 hours continuously.

You can add a 2GB Micro SD card (not included) for even more recoding. And stereo recording ensures great sound quality to go along with the action. Ideal for outdoor activities such as bike riding, sporting events, snow skiing, tennis, and other events: even for spying and investigation.

Link and photo via

Building the Black Iron Future

Posted by on July 9th, 2008

The first time I ever heard of Shenzhen and the “Special Economic Zone” was when I was working for an international information clearinghouse that should remain nameless. It came up when I was facing the possibility of transferring to our Pan-Asia branch and living there part time. However, over the years, other than being the place where, chances are good, any random bit of tech you have on your desk was manufactured (your iPhone’s been there, as have many other Apple and IBM products, Wal-Mart items and the like) Shenzhen only popped back up on my radar a few months ago as one of the birthplaces of the new surveillance culture.

Chinese officials call it call it “The Golden Shield” and while it’s ostensibly a project of the Chinese Government, it’s being developed by familiar companies like IBM, AT&T, Nortel, Cisco, General Electric, Yahoo, Honeywell, and according to some reports, Google. What the Golden shield comprises is the largest integrated surveillance network in existence. It combines the existing “Great Firewall” which filters almost all net content into China with the “Safe Cities” initiative which includes cameras in all internet cafes, many entertainment venues, and in many cities (2 million cameras in Shenzhen alone by 2010) and a massive photo and biometric information database of all of China’s 1.3 billion citizens.

It’s a massive and lucrative project which is why Western companies are flocking to build a better democracy-free future for China, while here in the US they continue to sell a “freedom friendly” image. Meanwhile the “Golden Shield” has already been tested on examples like the Lhasa riots which recently left anywhere from 16 to 100 people dead as monks clashed with police. The Shield allowed CCTV footage to yield become identities and then locations of many monks and passersby involved in the rioting allowing Chinese police to quickly round up hundreds of people allegedly involved. The same security system is being used, of course, to protect the upcoming 2008 Olympics as well.

As Naomi Klein writes in the Rolling Stone article that many of my statistics are pulled from, these are the kind of companies doing business with China on the sly in order to testbed a new generation of biometrics technologies:

You have probably never heard of L-1, but there is every chance that it has heard of you. Few companies have collected as much sensitive information about U.S. citizens and visitors to America as L-1: It boasts a database of 60 million records, and it “captures” more than a million new fingerprints every year. Here is a small sample of what the company does: produces passports and passport cards for American citizens; takes finger scans of visitors to the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Security’s massive U.S.-Visit program; equips U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with “mobile iris and multimodal devices” so they can collect biometric data in the field; maintains the State Department’s “largest facial-recognition database system”; and produces driver’s licenses in Illinois, Montana and North Carolina. In addition, L-1 has an even more secretive intelligence unit called SpecTal. Asked by a Wall Street analyst to discuss, in “extremely general” terms, what the division was doing with contracts worth roughly $100 million, the company’s CEO would only say, “Stay tuned.”

The good news, though is that the American Government, as they learn about these technologies is only too eager to strip mine them for ideas:

The revelation that China was constructing a gigantic digital database capable of watching its citizens on the streets and online, listening to their phone calls and tracking their consumer purchases sparked neither shock nor outrage. Instead, Walton says, the paper was “mined for ideas” by the U.S. government, as well as by private companies hoping to grab a piece of the suddenly booming market in spy tools. For Walton, the most chilling moment came when the Defense Department tried to launch a system called Total Information Awareness to build what it called a “virtual, centralized grand database” that would create constantly updated electronic dossiers on every citizen, drawing on banking, credit-card, library and phone records, as well as footage from surveillance cameras. “It was clearly similar to what we were condemning China for,” Walton says. Among those aggressively vying to be part of this new security boom was Joseph Atick, now an executive at L-1. The name he chose for his plan to integrate facial-recognition software into a vast security network was uncomfortably close to the surveillance system being constructed in China: “Operation Noble Shield.”

Empowered by the Patriot Act, many of the big dreams hatched by men like Atick have already been put into practice at home. New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are all experimenting with linking surveillance cameras into a single citywide network. Police use of surveillance cameras at peaceful demonstrations is now routine, and the images collected can be mined for “face prints,” then cross-checked with ever-expanding photo databases. Although Total Information Awareness was scrapped after the plans became public, large pieces of the project continue, with private data-mining companies collecting unprecedented amounts of information about everything from Web browsing to car rentals, and selling it to the government.

Check out the rest of that excellent article for far more detail on the topic of surveillance culture in China. My goal isn’t to poke at China in particular. For example the draconian national firewall around our old friend Dubai (as well as Saudi Arabia, and Qatar) is built and administered by U.S. based company Secure Computing a.k.a. Smart Filter. Now leaving aside the possibly vastly hypocritical clash behind some of their senior staff’s personal lives (Google boingboing, adult baby, and smartfilter, if you care to) and the technologies they develop to limit internet access for others, once again we have a Western company (this one more public about it since internet censorship is their raison d’etre) implementing and developing censorship technologies overseas.

What prompts this little link-filled rant, then? Well, today the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed. This act, for those of you playing along at home or abroad, first of all offers up immunity to Verizon, AT&T, and several other telecom companies for their part in assisting the National Security Agency with warrentless wiretaps before and after the 9/11 attacks. The act then proceeds to arguably weaken oversight of domestic wiretaps and information collection. The Bill passed with overwhelming support, granting retroactive protections for invasions of privacy by a collection of telecom companies.

These are some of the same telecom companies and their interests that, as we’ve seen elsewhere, have their hands on the rudder of a different Web 2.0. One that resembles the satirical USIdent integrated internet/entertainment/surveillance solution from Southland Tales more than it does the Web 2.0 of a thousand blog entries. While it’s easy to see mainly the utopian or fantastic applications of a lot of the technologies we discuss and trumpet on here, so many of them have an equal footing in a parallel version of the future being grown as we speak by some of the same companies produce the cool new future gadgets.

This is one of the reasons I take the “find outbreaks of the future” mandate so seriously. First of all, outbreaks of the future are not always pretty; but secondly, by keeping our eyes open and aggregating this kind of information, we’re at least increasing the odds of being able to pick our own futures. Because honestly? I don’t want the futures that the people are offering “liberation” with jokes about surveillance are selling.

At least, that’s what I tell myself at night.

Tech that lets you connect with kids…

Posted by on June 19th, 2008

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The “Link” Child Locator is a device that takes a page from the movie Alien, in that it allows for the tracking of your spawn as they hide in the clothing racks at your local Gap store. The product has 2 components, a bracelet worn by the child that contains a transmitter module that works at a range of up to 100′, and a watch-style bracelet worn by the parent that receives the child’s signal and indicates its direction and distance on a small LCD display.

Link and images via

Researchers create music… with their minds!

Posted by on June 15th, 2008

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G-Tec’s thought control hat has been out there making people look silly for some time now, but a group of researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London have now put it to a somewhat more unique (but equally silly-looking) use. As the BBC reports, they’ve effectively turned the device into a musical instrument, with the wearer only required to think about a note as they flash on a screen in order to play it. It’s apparently not quite a foolproof solution just yet, with it currently only able to play the correct note about six out of eight times, but the researchers see plenty of potential applications for the system, including helping composers struck down with multiple sclerosis or other physical disabilities. Hit up the read link below to check out a video demonstration.

Link and picture via

David Bowen: Growth Rendering Device

Posted by on May 14th, 2008

This is an amazing robot created by David Bowen. Here is how he explains his Growth Rendering Device:

This system provides light and food in the form of hydroponic solution for the plant. The plant reacts to the device by growing. The device in-turn reacts to the plant by producing a rasterized inkjet drawing of the plant every twenty-four hours. After a new drawing is produced the system scrolls the roll of paper approximately four inches so a new drawing can be produced during the next cycle. This system is allowed two run indefinitely and the final outcome is not predetermined

Link via

New concept digital musical instrument launched

Posted by on April 30th, 2008

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Yamaha launched its new concept digital musical instrument “Tenori-On” at a press conference in Japan on April 25, 2008. Tenori-On is completely unlike any existing musical instrument. Users operate the Tenori-On’s LED buttons to play phrases and tempos. An array of LEDs on the instrument draws attention at first sight. On both rear and front sides of the Tenori-On, 256 LEDs (16 columns x 16 rows) are laid out. For example the LEDs on the front side, which faces the user, are buttons that can be pressed to play music and compose songs. The LEDs on the rear side display the same pattern as those on the front side, so viewers in the audience can enjoy the variation of sound and light when the Tenori-On is used for a stage performance.

Basically, time is allotted horizontally, while tone is allotted vertically (in Score mode). In this mode, the Tenori-On displays a vertical line that runs from left to right at a certain speed. When holding down a button, the LED at the pressed position turns on, and the sound is produced at that tone when the vertical line reaches that position. Toshio Iwai the media artist who created the concept and cooperated in its development said that the Tenori-On was inspired by manual paper tape music boxes.

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Users select the sound, note, octave and loop frequency using the function keys on the left side, while specifying the layer, tempo, transposition (change in key) and block using the function keys on the right side. Songs created in this way can be recorded and stored in SD memory cards.

Link via

I’m fascinated by the mixes already available on youtube:
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Bluetooth Microphone for Your Tooth

Posted by on April 1st, 2008

An extremely small microphone is packaged with solar panel and battery to provide the most portable unit to date. The durable composite resin filling is designed to fit in a hole 2.2mm in diameter and 1.7 mm deep and will pick up sound and vibrations from your mouth to produce incredibly clear sound.

The Bluetooth Dental Insert Microphone will soon be available over at Chinavision, who also points out that “All dental work should be performed by a qualified dentist, Chinavasion does not take responsibility for injury resulting from the installation of this product”.


The CellScope: RateMyMelanoma is one step nearer

Posted by on March 17th, 2008

Ok, so you’ve got your home endoscopy kit.  But let’s face it, sometimes you really need to know what’s going on in your body on a whole other scale.  Which is where those cuddly scientists at the University of California have stepped in, by developing a device that turns a common cell phone camera into a medical microscope.

Using Bluetooth, wi-fi and cellular networks, and a magnification of 5-50X, cell-phone microscopy will enable images captured by health workers to be annotated, organized, and transmitted to medical experts.

The ability to capture images of, for example, malarial blood samples, infected skin, or ulcerous lesions, and then to send those images for remote diagnosis could drastically reduce both the cost and time of performing critical disease diagnosis – as well as provide early warning of outbreaks – in poverty stricken regions of the globe.

“This could be useful even at home,” suggests Dan Fletcher at Berkeley, “where, for example, early warnings of a change in the shape of a mole could be sent to your clinician on a regular basis to monitor.”

In addition, cancer patients could conduct their own blood cell counts that today require larger microscopes and particle counters.

See ABCNews for more, and a video of the handy little cell (via Medgadget).

Information Ring

Posted by on March 13th, 2008


Shaking hands is a customary greeting action. Handshake brings the action one step further by creating an information transfer function. Handshake operates when people first meet and shake hands, and the rings on their fingers gain the proximity to operate. The rings exchange the users’ information and store it while the users are shaking hands. The more people met, the more information transferred. When the users browse through the people they have met, the card displays the basic information that was stored in the ring. The power source originates from the human body temperature, so no plug is required.

Need to wake up easier in the morning? Get the alarm ring.