Computational creativity and the future of AI

Ben Coxworth

IBM's prototype 5.2 x 5 .8 mm Holey Optochip

Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named “Holey Optochip.” The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour. Stated another way, the Optochip is eight times faster than any other parallel optical components currently available, with a speed that’s equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users, if they were using regular 10 Mb/s high-speed internet.  Read More

One of Fraunhofer's artificial venous valves

Chronic venous insufficiency - or CVI - is a very common medical condition in which veins in the legs cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. It is caused by faulty valves within the leg veins, and causes blood to pool in the legs, which can lead to edemas and even open ulcers. Typically, treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics, along with the use of items such as compression stockings. Now scientists have developed a method of mass-producing artificial venous valves, that could replace the malfunctioning natural ones.  Read More

The simple, inexpensive, folded-paper-based oPAD could detect diseases in body fluid sampl...

In First World countries' medical systems, the standard way of checking a patient's body fluid samples is to send them off to a lab. In developing nations, however, such labs often don't exist, nor does the infrastructure for transporting biological samples. Fortunately, a number of groups have been developing simple, inexpensive testing devices that could be used by clinicians in these countries. One of the latest gadgets is the very simple origami Paper Analytical Device, or oPAD – it's made out of paper, could be purchased for under 10 cents, and is folded together by the user.  Read More

SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, is being developed to help put out fi...

If there's one thing that you don't want happening on board a ship, it's a fire. People on board burning ships can't simply run out onto the streets, as they hopefully could in the case of a structural fire, plus many people caught belowdecks don't have windows nearby to climb out of. Then, there's also the fact that crew members fighting such fires have to work in narrow, claustrophobic passageways, instead of wide-open roads. Given that fires are particularly possible on military ships, due to attacks by enemy forces, America's Naval Research Laboratory is now developing a special something to help fight fires at sea - it's called SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot.  Read More

A new algorithmic system allows AUVs to reach their destinations faster, or to use less po...

Autonomous underwater vehicles, better known as AUVs, are increasingly finding use in applications such as oceanographic research, mapping, military reconnaissance, and deep-sea oil-well maintenance. As these independent underwater robots make their way through the world’s oceans, they use GPS transceivers to keep themselves on a predetermined route. When they encounter challenges such as cross-currents, one might assume that their best course of action would be simply to power straight across them, in order to travel the shortest distance possible. Engineers from MIT, however, have developed a system that allows AUVs to reach their destinations sooner, by traveling out of their way to “go with the flow.”  Read More

Toshiba Tec's new supermarket scanner is able to identify grocery items based on nothing b...

At some point, we’ve probably all had a supermarket cashier ask us to identify the mysterious fresh produce that we’re attempting to buy. Once we’ve told them what it is, they have then had to manually type in its code – they have to enter it themselves, of course, given that fruits and vegetables don’t have barcodes. Thanks to Toshiba Tec, however, those days may be coming to an end. The company’s new Object Recognition Scanner is able to instantly identify grocery items of all types based on their appearance alone.  Read More

The Turny Evo is a system that moves a vehicle's seat through the door, so disabled passen...

People with limited mobility face a challenge when getting into a conventional vehicle. Not only do they have to put aside their crutches or get out of their wheelchair, but they are also required to step up and across the vehicle’s door sill and swivel themselves sideways onto the seat. One option is to get a converted van, with a side- or rear-mounted ramp. Autoadapt, however, is now offering an alternative. The Swedish company’s Turny Evo system actually lifts the front driver or passenger seat out the door of the vehicle, turns it toward the user, and lowers it down. Once the user has seated themselves, the seat and passenger are then pulled back inside, and driving can commence.  Read More

Some realistic-looking 'meat,' created by Fraunhofer's vegetarian cutlet factory

There are a number of reasons that some people choose not to eat meat – for instance, they may not want to support the slaughter of animals, they may wish to avoid the health risks associated with consuming too much animal protein, or perhaps they’re not big fans of the environmental impact of raising livestock on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, if these people still want to eat meat-like foods, a lot of the meat alternatives currently available are kind of ... yucky. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, however, is working on a device nicknamed the “vegetarian cutlet factory.” It produces continuous slabs of veggie-based mock meat, which is reportedly quite similar to the real thing.  Read More

Scientists have created a self-healing hydrogel, that responds to the acidity of its envir...

Velcro is pretty handy stuff, but imagine if there was a soft, stretchy material with the same qualities. Well, now there is. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego have created a self-healing hydrogel that binds together in seconds, essentially copying the Velcro process at a molecular level. The new material could potentially find use in medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics.  Read More

Content such as games can be streamed from an iDevice onto an HD TV, via the new 1080p-cap... Along with spreading the word about a certain new tablet computer, Apple also used today's media event to unveil the latest version of its Apple TV video streaming system. The big news is that the new device allows users to view content in full 1080p HD, from sources such as iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo and YouTube. It also features a simpler icon-based user interface, which facilitates the viewing of purchased content that is stored on Apple's iCloud service.  Read More

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