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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Long after humans have gone extinct 3D printers will still be roaming the Earth, completing their tasks, ala the plot of Wall-E.  That’s because three Danish companies plan to create 3D printers that can crawl, swim, and even fly as part of their Break the Grid initiative.

As Futurism explains, “The six-legged crawling 3D printer would skitter across roads, filling cracks in asphalt, while the swimming 3D printer would mix glue with sand from the ocean floor to build coast-protecting artificial reefs. The flying 3D printer, meanwhile, would add thermal insulation to older high-rises.”

These mobile 3D printers would constantly move around the Earth in search of odd jobs, doing important work in hard to reach spots.  The pothole filling printer would be especially valuable in cities with crumbling infrastructure, while the coral reef building printer would be instrumental in the fight against Climate Change.

That’s why it’s easy to imagine an entire fleet of mobile 3D printers going about their business in the near future, surrounded by smaller “worker bee” drones and maybe further down the road a swarm of autonomous nanobots that pick up the remaining slack.  In the past this scenario would have been pure science fiction.  But now thanks to the Break the Grid initiative the groundwork has been laid for an autonomous future.  One in which 3D printing may have finally found a home.

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Is the Break the Grid initiative the Greatest Idea Ever?

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An action packed week.  Even more so than usual.

1. The most habitable exoplanet yet.

Scientists have found water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet making it the most habitable place we’ve yet found!

As Wired puts it, “On Wednesday, a team of astronomers from University College London announced that they detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a ‘super-Earth’ planet outside our own solar system. This is the first time water has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet that is not a gas giant, which the researchers say makes it the most habitable exoplanet currently known. The planet, known by the catchy name K2-18b, is 110 light years away and orbits a red dwarf star about half the size of the sun. The planet is twice the size of Earth, eight times as massive, and orbits its host star once every 33 days.”

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2. New lens works better than human eye.

A revolutionary new lens could transform every optical instrument from cameras and eyeglasses to telescopes.

According to Endgadget, “A new breakthrough could soon revolutionize the design of almost every optical instrument in use today, including cameras, eyeglasses and telescopes. Combining recent developments in artificial muscle and flat lens technologies, a team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a new lens that functions a lot like the human eye. Not only is the instrument capable of focusing in real-time thanks to an elastomer muscle, it features none of the bulk of a traditional spherical lens. It can even do some things the human eye can’t, including adjusting for astigmatism and image shift, two variables that lead to blurry vision.”

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3. Miracle Sheets.

A new brand of bedding could revolutionize home hygiene.

As Futurism puts it, “Miracle brand products are woven with anti-microbial silver that kills 99 percent of bacteria, meaning they stay cleaner and healthier much longer than a typical pillowcase or washcloth. To put it in more precise terms, Miracle’s products can be washed three times less often than other silver-free products because they’re essentially self-cleaning. How does silver accomplish all this? It all comes down to the precious metal’s ions, which naturally carry a positive charge that draws in bacteria and other microbes like a magnet before destroying them before they reproduce.”

Having to clean and do laundry less often? It’s a miracle!

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4. Liquid Magnets.

The list of amazing accidental discoveries just got a little bit longer.

According to Futurism, “Scientists created a metallic liquid capable of maintaining a magnetic field for the first time in history — and they did it entirely by accident.

University of Massachusetts Amherst engineers were working on 3D-printing liquids when they discovered that the droplets of iron, oil, and water were able to maintain a magnetic field, the researchers told Live Science, a first for any liquid.”

The discovery could lead to the invention of programmable tools.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Google Glass and other augmented reality displays haven’t fully caught on yet but perhaps that’s because the technology is too broadly applied, an approach that might not work since mainstream appeal would require tech that it also aesthetically pleasing.  A niche approach may work better as witnessed by the fact that Glass may have found a home in factories as an enterprise tool.  Further evidence that the niche approach may be best now comes to us from an unlikely source: the swimming pool.  In the form (pun intended) of AR infused swimming googles that provide Michael Phelps wannabes with all the information they need to improve their performance one stroke at a time.

According to Digital Trends, “Athletes wearing the goggles can view their performance metrics on an augmented reality display that is built into the lens. Swimmers can see their stroke rate, distance, pace, split time, and more on the integrated display. Because it is an AR overlay, the swimmer’s view of the pool and other people in the water are not obscured.  [In fact] swimmers can customize the goggles allowing them to choose which two metrics they want to see on the swim screen. Swimmers also can decide when each parameter appears — while swimming, after turns, or during rest. When they are done swimming, the swim details are sent to the Form mobile app where it can be analyzed and shared with coaches as well as the Form community.”

For swimming fans this is a real game-changer for instead of having to choose form over function they can now use Form to improve how they function.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Is Form the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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Snoring is something that affects all of us.  Either because we know someone who snores or because we’re the guilty party ourselves.  There have been attempts in the past at curing snoring but nothing has completely eliminated the problem to date.  Until now that is.

That’s because there’s a new product in the market that seems to actually be capable of curing snoring.  Regardless of how you sleep or what kind of pillow you use.

Inverse sums it up:

“What exactly is Smart Nora? It’s a three-piece system that detects when you’re snoring and moves your pillow so you resume natural breathing. The three parts are

• An insert you put in your pillow—it works in any kind of pillow. It doesn’t matter where you lay your head on the pillow or whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach.

• A small device called the pebble, which is shaped like a computer mouse, that detects snoring.

• A portable case you place by your bed that inflates the pillow when the pebble detects snoring.”

It really is that simple.  Detect snoring, move pillow, rinse and repeat.  Now I’m not sure that I would want to use this device personally.  I’m the princess and the pea capable of detecting the slightest disturbance in my sleeping area.  My fear would be that I would feel the pillow insert or wake up when the pillow moves.  But if you’re not a super light sleeper and snoring really is ruining your life, then maybe Smart Nora is worth a shot for you.

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Is Smart Nora the Greatest Idea Ever?

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In the future you won’t have to apply a new coat of paint to your car or buy different shoes for different outfits.  Instead you’ll be able to simply change their color at will thanks to a newly designed color changing spray created by MIT.

As Futurism explains:

“By combining cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes that react to light, the team created a special spray they call PhotoChromeleon, which can be applied to pretty much any surface, including shoes, toys and phone cases.”

A UV projector can then program the object with new colors in a process that takes up to 40 minutes.  UV light can then also be used to erase the existing design an infinite number of times allowing you countless opportunities to change your style.

All in all, this so called reprogrammable ink could be a real game-changer as it would enable manufacturers to mass produce a single model of their products leaving customization up to the consumer on the back end.  In theory, this would cut down on the amount of waste that is produced when particular designs don’t wind up selling all that well.

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Is reprogrammable ink the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,546 – Zao

According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar the evolutionary limit to how many meaningful relationships we can have is 150, a buffer now known as Dunbar’s limit.  Interestingly, our brains can’t tell the difference though between our neighbor Bob who we spend five minutes a day corresponding with and the members of the New York Yankees with whom we spend countless hours with every night.  As far as our brain is concerned these are all people that we care about and as a result both may take up residence within our limit of 150 relationships that we maintain.  This is why we seem to care so deeply about celebrities, following their exploits, gossiping about them, obsessing over them.  Even though we don’t really know them we feel like we do.

But celebrity culture goes much deeper than that.  We just don’t want to know celebrities.  We want to know what it’s like to be them. It’s why we go on reality TV shows, try out for singing competitions, make YouTube videos that we hope go viral and move to Hollywood in pursuit of our dreams of becoming a celebrity ourselves.  Of course, most of us fail in those pursuits.  But that doesn’t stop thousands of people from trying year after year.

So it should come as no surprise that one of the hottest apps in the world right now is an app that let’s people become celebrities.  Literally.  By making use of Deep Fake technology, which superimposes a person’s face onto someone else’s body, the app Zao is able to offer people the ability to put themselves into their favorite shows and movies in a quick and easy process that only requires a user to upload a single image of themselves.

As the Washington Post describes, “To use Zao, an iOS app developed by a subsidiary of Chinese developer Momo, users upload an image of themselves. Then, the program automatically transposes the image onto an actor’s face from a selection of video clips in just a few seconds. Those clips include scenes from movies and television shows with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Kit Harington and others.”

For now there’s a limited collection of clips with which you have to choose from but eventually we may get to the point where you can place your likeness into any show or movie so that you can see yourself batting Thanos as a member of the Avengers or romancing the love of your life in a romantic comedy.

All in all, thanks to Zao you’ll be able to live out your wildest Hollywood fantasies without having to go through the hassle of actually becoming an actor.  No auditions, no casting couches, no rote memorization of lines, no rejections, no heartbreak.  Just all the action sequences, dramatic scenes, and larger than life moments that you can handle.  For a celebrity obsessed culture it just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Is Zao the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Amazon is already listening to what we have to say thanks to their Echo speakers.  Soon they could be reading our emotions as well thanks to a new device rumored to be in the works.

While such technology could be used for altruistic purposes, for instance, offering words of encouragement to someone who is frustrated or trying to cheer up someone who is depressed, since this is Amazon we’re talking about, it’s likely that the gadget would offer up product recommendations to suit our moods.  Enabling us to quickly and easily get a cure for what’s ailing us.

Bloomberg article suggests the following as a possible example:

“A diagram in the patent filing says the technology can detect an abnormal emotional condition and shows a sniffling woman telling Alexa she’s hungry. The digital assistant, picking up that she has a cold, asks the woman if she would like a recipe for chicken soup.”

As weird as this may seem it’s not an entirely new concept.  And, no, I’m not talking about mood rings.

As Bloomberg puts it, “The notion of building machines that can understand human emotions has long been a staple of science fiction, from stories by Isaac Asimov to Star Trek’s android Data. Amid advances in machine learning and voice and image recognition, the concept has recently marched toward reality. Companies including Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and IBM Corp., among a host of other firms, are developing technologies designed to derive emotional states from images, audio data and other inputs.”

It’s not clear yet whether or not this device will ever see the light of day.  Amazon, like most tech companies, often pursues outside the box radical ideas just to fully explore the realm of possibility.  But if it does we all could be in store for a rosier outlook on life.  One product recommendation at a time.

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Is a device that reads your emotional state the Greatest Idea Ever?

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