Friday, January 29, 2010

Controlling the TV with a wave of the hand

Apparently the new word on the street is 'Touchscreens are so yesterday. Remote controls? So last century. The future is controlling your devices with a simple wave of the hand.' So..what do 'they' have to say about this? Well...

A wiggle of the fingers will change television channels or turn the volume up or down. In videogames, your movements will control your onscreen digital avatar. It's called 3D gesture recognition and while it may not be in stores this Christmas a number of technology companies are promising that it will be by next year. Softkinetic, a Brussels-based software company, is one of the leaders in the gesture-control field and has teamed up with US semiconductor giant Texas Instruments and others to make this touchless vision of the future a reality...

..."We're in that transition to a time when gestural input will be quite natural," Kay said. "From what I've seen of the demos they're pretty close."On the gaming front, "using a camera in real time to capture motion and then take the representative avatar from that and play it on a screen with other elements in a is a pretty compelling experience," he said.

Read more - 'Controlling the TV with a wave of the hand'


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

This is a video - a TEDtalk India - with Pranav Mistry. Pranav Mistry demos several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data - including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper "laptop." In an onstage Q&A, Mistry says he'll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all.

For the video, see here -  'The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology'


Monday, January 25, 2010

CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones

Oh dear, things seem to be going from bad to worse in the UK in terms of state surveillance. Here's some of the latest news (from The Guardian):

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ­"routine" monitoring of antisocial motorists, ­protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Read more - 'CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones'


Friday, January 22, 2010

Augmented reality is on its way

Charlie Brooker over at the Guardian has written a post on the 2010 coming of augmented reality. But then again, it has always been coming... just never fully birthed. But it may now be 'more ready than ever' to enter into our everyday gadgets:

Monocle app
Cause an almighty logjam by shuffling slowly along the pavements staring at your augmented-reality app. Photograph: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

According to technophiles, experts, and that whispering voice in your head, 2010 will be the year that augmented reality makes a breakthrough. In case you don't know, "augmented reality" is the rather quotidian title given to a smart, gizmo-specific type of software that takes a live camera feed from the real world and superimposes stuff on to it in real time.

Being a gadget designed for people who'd rather look at a screen than the real world, the iPhone inevitably plays host to several examples of this sort of thing. Download the relevant app, hold your iPhone aloft and gawp in astonishment as it magically displays live footage of the actual world directly in front of you – just like the real thing but smaller, and with snazzy direction signs floating over it. You might see a magic hand pointing in the direction of the nearest Starbucks, for instance – a magic hand that repositions itself as you move around. It's incredibly useful, assuming you'd prefer to cause an almighty logjam by shuffling slowly along the pavement while staring into your palm than stop and ask a fellow human being for directions.

Read more at - 'Augmented reality is on its way'


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Designing highways the slime mould way

New Scientist has an interesting post on how slime mould has been used as a way of mapping new transport routes.. here's goes, the slime's guide to the M25!

Take the slime road (Image: University of the West of England)
Take the slime road (Image: University of the West of England)

Jeff Jones and Andrew Adamatzky, specialists in unconventional computing at the University of the West of England in Bristol, wondered if biology could provide an alternative to conventional road planning methods. To find out, they created templates of the UK using a sheet of agar on which they marked out the nine most populous cities, excluding London, with oat flakes. Then, in the place of London, the pair introduced a colony of P. polycephalum, which feeds by spawning tendrils to reach nutrients, and recorded the colony's feeding activity (see picture).

Most of the resulting "maps" mimicked the real inter-city road network, but some offered new routes. For instance, the motorway between Manchester and Glasgow passes along the west coast of the UK, but the slime mould preferred to travel east to Newcastle and then north to Glasgow ( "This shows how a single-celled creature without any nervous system - and thus intelligence in the classical sense - can provide an efficient solution to a routing problem," says Jones.

Read original article - 'Designing highways the slime mould way'


Monday, January 18, 2010

Technology predictions for 2010

Charles Arthur from The Guardian has revealed his annual list of tech predictions including the year ahead for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Internet and social sites... here's an example:


18) The Digital Britain bill will fall as the election (in May?) intervenes and kills off legislation in progress.
19) The freeing of Ordnance Survey map data (in April) will see rival companies vying to produce paper maps specialised for various niches such as ramblers and climbers, and an explosion in websites that mash all sorts of government content against maps.
20) If elected, the Tories will also back the freeing of Ordnance Survey data (rather than privatising it) and of other government data.

Being social

27) Facebook's growth will level off in the western world. There's only so many people you can encourage to poke and friend you.
28) Twitter will start making money – not just through searches (it charges Google and Bing), but also through charging companies for various sorts of access to its network and data.
29) AOL will sell Bebo and/or News Corporation will sell MySpace; in either or both cases, at a substantial loss.

Read more here - 'Technology predictions for 2010'


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A street-legal airplane

Here we go again, more developments in the 'flying car'... or rather I should say, in 'personal transport'. Because now when you land your personal commuter airplane at the airport, you can just fold up the wings and drive home. Conversion from plane to street-legal auto takes less than 30 seconds. And it flies on regular petrolium.... yet with an anticipated price of around $200,000 - all ready for delivery in 2011.!

See here for more info and pictures: Terrafugia


Friday, January 15, 2010

Chips in brains will control computers by 2020

Here we are.. a glimpse of the future.. when dictating is dead, and replaced by 'thinktate' - the art of mentally transferring your thoughts to the computer. Sci-fi? Well, not really - according to Intel's new chip design:

By the year 2020, you won't need a keyboard and mouse to control your computer, say Intel Corp. researchers. Instead, users will open documents and surf the Web using nothing more than their brain waves.
Scientists at Intel's research lab in Pittsburgh are working to find ways to read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones. The brain waves would be harnessed with Intel-developed sensors implanted in people's brains.

The scientists say the plan is not a scene from a sci-fi movie -- Big Brother won't be planting chips in your brain against your will. Researchers expect that consumers will want the freedom they will gain by using the implant.

"I think human beings are remarkable adaptive," said Andrew Chien, vice president of research and director of future technologies research at Intel Labs. "If you told people 20 years ago that they would be carrying computers all the time, they would have said, 'I don't want that. I don't need that.' Now you can't get them to stop [carrying devices]. There are a lot of things that have to be done first but I think [implanting chips into human brains] is well within the scope of possibility."

The beginning of a microchip future.... for the sake of progress.

Read more at - 'Chips in brains will control computers by 2020'

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

Now that airport security is on a new drive for further scanning methods after the appallingly concocted 'underpant bomber' episode, this development in terahertz waves is interesting. It has been said that new scanning methods were set to employ terahertz waves - lets hope this is not the case after these recent findings:

Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes , paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and "frisk" people at distance. The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material...

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. "Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none," say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable....

Go to original site - 'How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA'

Monday, January 11, 2010

'Road trains' get ready to roll

Welcome back all readers to another year! 2010 looks set to be an uncertain and unpredictable year indeed - yet mixed with there it seems that the year ahead will also be open to tremendous opportunities and vision. Some things are already on a 'roll', including this plan for cars on EU roads to be linked together in a 'train' using wireless sensors:

An EU-financed research project is looking at inexpensive ways of getting vehicles to travel in a 'platoon' on Europe's motorways.Each road train could include up to eight separate vehicles - cars, buses and trucks will be mixed in each one.

The EU hopes to cut fuel consumption, journey times and congestion by linking vehicles together.
Early work on the idea suggests that fuel consumption could be cut by 20% among those cars and trucks travelling behind the lead vehicle.

Spanish trials
The lead vehicle would be handled by a professional driver who would monitor the status of the road train. Those in following vehicles could take their hands off the wheel, read a book or watch TV, while they travel along the motorway. Their vehicle would be controlled by the lead vehicle. Funded under the European Commission's Framework 7 research plan, Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at commuters in cars who travel long distances to work every day but will also look at ways to involve commercial vehicles.

Read original article - ''Road trains' get ready to roll'