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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

It’s only a matter of time before the wonder material graphene takes over the world.  200x stronger than streel and a million times thinner than a piece of paper, graphene has several unique properties that could enable it to impact nearly every walk of life.  Starting with your wardrobe.  That’s right.  The first place that Graphene could make its presence felt is in your closet thanks to its inclusion in a new jacket that could revolutionize the fashion industry.

According to Fast Company, “At 595 euros ($695) a pop, Vollebak’s new graphene jacket isn’t for everyone. But if even half of what its creators promise is true, it could be worth every cent. According to the company, it shares many of the magical properties of graphene–absorbing heat and then warming you up over time, conducting electricity, repelling bacteria, and dissipating your body’s excess humidity.”

But that’s not all.  We’re only just scratching the surface of what Graphene can do.  As Fast Company explains:

“Its diverse uses are seemingly endless: It can stop a bullet if you add enough layers. It can change the color of your hair with no adverse effects. It can turn the walls of your home into a giant fire detector. ‘It’s so strong and so stretchy that the fibers of a spider web coated in graphene could catch a falling plane,” as Vollebak puts it in its marketing materials.’

Intrigued by these latest extravagant claims I did some digging and found out that, yes, Graphene’s latest tricks really are as amazing as they sound.  First off, in regards to the graphene based hair dye:

“This is how it works: The user applies the graphene dye using a spray, then brushes the hair and dries it. The graphene forms a gentle film around each and every hair strand. Like in a sci-fi movie, your hair will change color before your very eyes as the sheets of graphene attach themselves to your mane. And since the research team says their method doesn’t require toxic solvents, or molecular ingredients, or extreme heat, you don’t have to worry about damaging your hair, skin, or yourself. The color lasts for at least 30 washes, like what you expect from any conventional chemical-based dye. The graphene material will disappear leaving your hair in the exact same state as it was when you applied it.”

But that’s not all.

“The wallpaper comes from China’s Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, where Professor Ying-Jie Zhu and his team are experimenting with graphene applications. Their research, recently published in the journal ACS Nano, describes how they weaved the wallpaper using two types of inorganic materials. The first is ultra-long hydroxyapatite nanowires, which are tiny threads made from a mineral form of calcium apatite commonly found in teeth and bones. The other one is threads of graphene oxide, a form of graphene that can be mixed with other materials.

Both materials are fire-resistant, but it’s the latter that turns this fire-resistant wallpaper into a fire alarm. That’s because graphene oxide is an electrical insulator at room temperature–but when it’s heated to high temperatures, it becomes conductive. In their design, graphene oxide sensors woven into the wallpaper are connected to an alarm system. When it’s exposed to heat, the circuit is closed and electricity moves through the system–setting off the alarm.”

When it comes to graphene the news just keeps on getting more and more exciting.  These latest inventions, from clothing to hair dye to wallpaper, are likely just the beginning.  There’s even a graphene based sneaker hitting the market soon.  Which begs the question: what other life-altering, game-changing graphene based innovations are headed our way?!?

Are any of these graphene based innovations the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this week:

Fat Transplant 

Want a quick and easy way to lose weight?  Try a fat transplant!

As New Atlas puts it, “There’s good fat, and there’s bad fat – although we mostly only hear about the latter. Finding ways to decrease levels of bad (white) fat and increase good (brown) fat could help us lose weight and avoid obesity-related illness, and now researchers at Columbia Engineering have developed a transplant method, where white fat is removed from the body, cultivated in a lab for a few weeks, then reinserted into the body as brown fat.”

This method could be a real game-changer when it comes to managing the ever worsening obesity epidemic in America. 

Image result for new atlas fat transplant

A Car That Runs On Air 

A group of Egyptian students have designed a car capable of running purely on oxygen.  

According to Reuters: 

“The students say their vehicle can hit 40 kilometers an hour and last 30 kilometers before needing to be refueled, and it only costs about 18,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,008.40) to build.

‘The operational cost of the vehicle… will be almost nothing. You are basically using compressed air. You are not paying for fuel and also you do not need cooling,’ said Mahmoud Yasser, a student who helped design it.

The team is now looking to raise funding to expand the project and mass produce the vehicles. They believe they can eventually get the vehicles to top 100 kilometers an hour and run for 100 kilometers before needing to come up for air.”

Hopefully their claim isn’t full of hot air.

Image result for car that runs on air egyptian student

The Future of Car Dashboards

Speaking of cars two tech giants are working on ways to enhance the entertainment options you’ll have available to you during your drive.  We’ll start with the news from Apple.

As Fortune puts it:

“Apple tends to be tight-lipped about its research and development efforts, especially when it comes to car technology. But a patent application filed by the company this month gives a glimpse into an intriguing product it may offer in the future: a smart windshield.

According to Patently Apple, a blog that scours the latest patents filed by the Cupertino giant, Apple filed a patent last week in Europe for an augmented-reality powered windshield system, which it termed a Heads-Up Display.

While innovations detailed in corporate patents often don’t see the light of day, some of the ideas that Apple is exploring are interesting. Notably, its AR windshield may allow passengers in different vehicles to conduct FaceTime calls with each other.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a way to integrate Alexa into your car’s dashboard.

As Mashable puts it, “Amazon doesn’t just want to compete with Google and Apple in your home. It’s coming for your car, too. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will soon be “Hey Alexa” ready through the car infotainment system — a territory Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have inhabited for years. “

Image result for apple smart windshield

Speed of Light Object Recognition

One of the main pushes in today’s cutting edge Artificial Intelligence research is to imbue computers with senses, for example, with the ability to see. Current attempts to do so are a little bit clunky, as you first need a camera or other sensor to record an image, then have the computer try to figure out what it is looking at, and then act on that information.  It all happens in a manner of seconds but that’s not good enough when it comes to putting AI in control of life and death situations, such as with Driverless Cars.  Thankfully, there’s a new 3D printed device, modeled after the human brain, capable of identifying objects at the speed of light.

Nexpected explains:

“…a driverless car using the technology could react instantaneously – even faster than it does using current technology – to a stop sign. With a device based on the system, the car would ‘read’ the sign as soon as the light from the sign hits it, as opposed to having to ‘wait’ for the car’s camera to image the object and then use its computers to figure out what the object is.

Technology based on the invention could also be used in microscopic imaging and medicine, for example, to sort through millions of cells for signs of disease, researchers said. ‘This work opens up fundamentally new opportunities to use an artificial intelligence-based passive device to instantaneously analyze data, images and classify objects,’ said Aydogan Ozcan, a professor at UCLA.”

Image result for speed of light object recognition

Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Soon there may be a lot more waiters and waitresses waiting around for a big break in Hollywood that will never come.  That’s because all of the best roles will continue to go to existing actors.  Or retired ones.  Even long after their dead.  That’s right.  In the future it may be possible to digitally reincarnate actors using CGI to the point where you could shoot a flashback scene featuring a younger version of an existing actor or even continue to shoot a movie, say another Fast and the Furious, using Paul Walker, even after he has passed away.  The technology will be so advanced that you’d be unable to tell the difference between a real actor and a digital recreation.

This idea came to light recently when Carrie Fisher passed away.  Disney has already said that they won’t digitally recreate Princes Leia for the 9th Star Wars film, but that’s not really the point.  The point is that they could if they wanted to.

As MovieWeb puts it, “The digitally recreated Grand Moff Tarkin and Young Princess Leia in Rogue One were unsettling and creepy for some Star Wars fans. But that technology is almost two years old and only improving at an expedient rate. The next time an actor gets digitally inserted into a Star Wars movie, it’s going to be a lot harder to tell the difference. And before long, the line will be completely burred. Soon, Lucasfilm and Disney could have the potential to create a whole Star Wars movie featuring an authentic young Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, which practical effects built around them. And this will be entirely possible, even for Carrie Fisher, as Lucasfilm has confirmed they have digital clones of all Star Wars actors both young and old.”

Just like watching a hologram of Tupac Shakur perform a concert, it may soon become commonplace to go to a movie and watch a digital reincarnation act.  This is good news for fans of beloved characters who may pass away during filming.  Bad news for the rest of us who may be stuck watching Tom Cruise for the rest of our lives.

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Is Artificial Reincarnation the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,344 – Dandelion

Ever since I first heard about Google [X], the secretive moonshot laboratory said to be working on dozens of top-secret projects, most of which never see the light of day, I’ve often wondered what it is that they are up to.  What’s the Next Big Thing that could revolutionize society, up to three times over?  Well, now we know.  In addition to Driverless cars and Internet delivering hot air balloons, one of the things that they’ve been working on is a way to control the temperature in our homes.  I know that’s not as sexy as their scraped plans for a Space Elevator, but nonetheless, it’s still a pretty cool idea, pun intended.

The idea comes to us from a company known as Dandelion with the hope being that we can better utilize the terrain around our homes to cool them down and heat them up.

According to CNN, “Rather than relying on furnaces and traditional AC systems, Dandelion Air is a geothermal system that uses the ground’s energy via plastic pipes and a pump in the home. The systems move heat from the ground into the house in the winter, and heat from the house into the ground in the summer.”

Adds Fast Company, “Geothermal systems aren’t new, but they’re rare, in part because installing one is typically a custom, expensive job. Dandelion’s tech-filled system is designed to be immediately cheaper than using fossil fuels, and durable, so it also avoids high maintenance costs over time. After it’s installed and turned on, the tech inside automatically checks to make sure that it’s been installed correctly. It also checks performance data over time, so that it can quickly find and fix any issues that might occur.”

So while Dandelion isn’t likely to grab the headlines anytime soon, it may wind up being one of the most practical and cost-effective of Google’s moonshots.  At least until we find out what else they’re working on…

Image result for dandelion google

Is Dandelion the Greatest Idea Ever?

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A quick look at some of the latest mind blowing scientific research currently making the rounds.

Nanobot Spray

It has been said that the development of nanotechnology could have the same kind of impact that the discovery of microscopic bacteria once did as it would allow us to operate at a whole new scale that was previously unknown to us.  What we have to do now is figure out the best way to take advantage of this technology.  A new aerosol spray could be how we do it.

As Futurism puts it, “You may have sworn off aerosol sprays in the ’90s when everyone was talking about the hole in the ozone layer, but a team of researchers from MIT has found a use for aerosols that could be good for both the environment and our health. This spray contains nanobots, tiny sensors with the potential to do everything, from detecting dangerous leaks in pipelines, to diagnosing health issues.”

This spray would make it super easy to deploy these nanobots where needed.

Image result for m.i.t. nanobot aerosol spray

Dissolvable Microneedles 

In the future going to the doctor may become a far more pleasant experience than it is today thanks to a new drug delivery breakthrough.

As Futurism puts it, “A fear of needles may soon be a thing of the past, as a team at the University of Texas at Dallas has come up with a painless alternative to conventional syringes.

With the new method, drugs would still be injected into the body, but using a microneedle that patients can’t even feel. The needle is so thin that it would break off under the skin dissolving as it releases the intended substance over time. Although the system wouldn’t work for every kind of medication, ultra-thin needles are able to deliver a variety of drugs, provided they are made of small molecules.”

Image result for dissolvable microneedles

AI Made From DNA 

It’s easy to assume that the future will either be dominated by Artificial Intelligence, the ability to use gene-editing techniques like CRISPR-CAS-9 to control our biological destiny, or both.  But I bet no one saw AI made from DNA coming.  Yet, that’s exactly what we may have.

According to Vice, “Last Wednesday, researchers at Caltech announced that they created an artificial neural network from synthetic DNA that is able to recognize numbers coded in molecules. It’s a novel implementation of a classic machine learning test that demonstrates how the very building blocks of life can be harnessed as a computer.”

It will be interesting to monitor this project going forward and see just how complex these neural networks can become.

Image result for ai made from dna

Grandmother Neurons

Need to recover quickly from jet lag? New research may help us figure out how to do just that.

According to New Atlas, “Humans have evolved to do stuff during the day and sleep at night, but international travel or shift work can throw off that natural rhythm. Finding ways to reset this circadian clock could be key, and now researchers at Washington University in St Louis have isolated a small cluster of ‘grandmother’ neurons that tell the rest of the brain when to go to bed, and found that stimulating those could help combat jet lag.”

Image result for jet lag

Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a quick look at everything that tickled my fancy over the last week:

Tiny Robot Olympics

DARPA is looking to host an Olympics of sorts in order to push innovation in the field of robotics.  The goal would be to design tiny bug-sized robots capable of conducting surveillance, assisting in search and rescue missions, or being used to repair hard to reach places inside of autonomous vehicles.  In other words DARPA is trying to bring the technology behind Ant-Man to life.

According to Popular Mechanics, “Researchers will design and test new ways to power the small robots, as well as try new materials that could improve the robots’ performance without compromising on size or weight. Competitions that test robots’ untethered actuator-power systems will measure how high and far a robot can jump, how much weight it can lift, how far it can throw objects, and how it fares in a tug-of-war. Another contest will evaluate complete robot designs to see their rock piling, climbing, navigation skills, or put them through a biathlon.”

Hopefully, NBC won’t be airing these Olympics on a 12 hour tape delay.  I don’t know what I would do with myself if the tug-of-war results are spoiled ahead of time on Twitter.

Image result for darpa robot olympics

Pocket Espresso Machine

Speaking of things that are tiny….there is now an espresso machine that you can put in your pocket and travel around with!

As Mental Floss puts it:

“If you’ve been putting off buying an espresso machine until you have the counter space, check out the Nanopresso from Wacaco. The gadget is smaller than most travel mugs, and it lets you brew hot, fresh coffee in even remote, electricity-free locations.

According to Bustle, Nanopresso operates through a hand-powered system. Just load water and your favorite blend of finely ground espresso in the right compartments, screw it back together, and pump the button on the side. Soon you’ll have a shot of espresso you can squeeze directly into the detachable cup.”

 Image result for nanopresso

No More Liquid Travel Ban?!?!

A detailed new Computed Tomography scanner could provide security personnel with such high resolution images that airports won’t need to restrict the amount of liquids that you can carry onto planes.  That means no more taking liquids out of your luggage, moving them into plastic bags, or having to discard items that don’t met the size threshold requirement.

According to The Guardian, “The regulations on carrying liquids, which require passengers to keep liquids of up to 100ml in transparent plastic bags, came into force in 2006.

The new technology, which could lead to the removal of the 100ml limit, has been tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and John F Kennedy airport in New York City.”

Image result for liquid travel ban in airport

Amazon’s Part Finder

Phones are already pretty handy but now they can literally act like a handy man.

According to Digital Trends, “Your days of going to Lowe’s or Home Depot with a random screw in your hand and a look of quiet desperation on your face will soon be behind you, and it’s all thanks to Amazon. The online retail giant’s greatest gift to us this year may not have anything at all to do with Prime Day, but rather with a new mobile app feature that lets you simply point your smartphone camera at the spare part in question so that Amazon can scan it, match it with the correct item, and then send you to buy said item online.

The app is appropriately named ‘Part Finder,’ and could be a real game changer for home improvement projects everywhere.”

Image result for amazon part finder

Weird New Fruits

Not only can gene editing cure diseases and create designer babies but it may one day lead to the creation of exotic new fruits as well!  Or even significant improvements upon existing fruits such as creating sweeter tasting strawberries! As if that would even be needed.

According to The Guardian, “While researchers have previously produced plants with specific traits through traditional breeding techniques, experts say new technologies such as the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas-9 could be used to bring about changes far more rapidly and efficiently.

It could, they say, potentially open the door to a new range of fruits and vegetables that look, taste and feel very different to those we are used to.”

Image result for fruits

Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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For the most part I think I’ve lived at the perfect time.  Growing up before computers and cell phones became ubiquitous allowed me to have a normal childhood, free of distraction and full of imaginative wonderment.  While coming of age in the Internet Era has allowed me to enjoy all the conveniences of modern life.

However, my timing may have been off in one regard: growing up without Noveto.

According to CNBC, “The start-up has created a technology that can deliver audio directly to a single person, who’s not wearing headphones, allowing everyone else in the vicinity to go about their business uninterrupted. Meanwhile, the listener can also still clearly catch surrounding noise.”

This use of targeted sound means that two college roommates can co-exist in the same space while one studies for an exam and the other watches Rick and Morty.  It also means that long road trips, like the ones I dreaded as a kid when I knew I would be subjected to Oldies Music for four hours, can now become bearable.

Just think about how many marriages this technology can save.  Just think about how many childhood fights among siblings it can prevent. Just think about how much heartache and anguish it can stave off.  If only it existed when I was growing up.  It really is true what they say.  Timing is everything.

 

Image result for noveto

Is Noveto the Greatest Idea Ever?

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