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Ben Coxworth

IBM has unveiled two prototype computer chips that are said to emulate the human brain (Im...

In April, the University of Southern California made the headlines when it announced that researchers there had created a functioning synthetic synapse circuit using carbon nanotubes. Well, today IBM unveiled a new class of experimental computer chips that are designed to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. According to the company, “The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.”  Read More

A prototype haptic feedback system lets golfers experience what it feels like to perform a...

Golfers, are you still trying to perfect your putt? Well, you could try a five-minute lesson from the RobotPutt machine, have your technique analyzed by the iClub system, or download the iSwing app. Someday soon, you might also be able to use a new system developed by Katherine Kuchenbecker, an assistant professor of Innovation Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her system guides the user's club into delivering the ball straight to the hole, with the intention that golfers will develop a muscle memory for what it feels like to execute that "perfect putt."  Read More

Pocket Smart String uses a flexible string instead of a semi-rigid tape for measuring item...

Although it would be wrong to say that tape measures are difficult to use, they can sometimes certainly be a bit fiddly – a couple of examples include the measuring of objects that aren’t straight-edged, or having to squint to count off the exact millimeters on the tape. Pocket Smart String, however, goes about measuring in a different way. Users pull a string out from the pocket calculator-sized device, laying it alongside or winding it around whatever they want to measure. The exact length is digitally displayed on the device’s LCD screen, and can then be stored in its memory for calculating things such as area or volume.  Read More

Maxwell von Stein's Flywheel Bicycle stores the power that would otherwise be wasted in th...

In order to help boost their range, many electric and hybrid cars employ regenerative technology where braking energy is stored in the battery instead of simply being wasted. This idea can also be applied to electric-assist bikes, but what about bicycles of the plain old human-powered variety? Isn't it a shame that after having built up some good momentum, you just have to write it all off once you stop? Maxwell von Stein, a student at New York City's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, thought so. As his senior project, he recently rigged up a flywheel to an existing bicycle, in order to harness the energy that's lost during braking. That energy can then be used to boost the bike when needed.  Read More

A Swarmanoid Hand-Bot, with three Foot-Bots

Swarms of small, intercommunicating robots are now being eyed up for all sorts of potential uses, including the creation of communications networks for disaster relief, mapping out hazardous environments, or even perhaps helping with the colonization of Mars. Since 2007, a group of European research groups have been collaborating on the now-completed Swarmanoid project, in which a variety of purpose-specific mini robots where programmed to cooperate in order to accomplish a task. Although the bots have been perfecting their book-stealing routine since 2009, a video depicting the task won the Best Video award at last week's 2011 Artificial Intelligence Conference in San Francisco, and was many peoples' introduction to Swarmanoid.  Read More

The Desktop Jellyfish Tank is an aquarium designed specifically for the keeping of jellyfi...

Jellyfish are definitely fascinating creatures, that are almost hypnotizing to watch ... you could say, they’re the lava lamps of the animal kingdom. Unfortunately for aquarists, however, they also can’t be kept in a regular aquarium, as they’ll get sucked into the water filtration intakes. That’s why Duke University Biology and Environmental Science alumnus Alex Andon started experimenting with adapting regular aquaria to make them jellyfish-friendly. After having some success with selling these converted tanks online, he decided to start making them from scratch. His San Francisco company, Jellyfish Art, is now marketing them as the Desktop Jellyfish Tank.  Read More

Paul's Duplex lever allows disabled cyclists to activate both brakes with one hand

While commuter bicycles can generally get by with a rear-wheel-only coaster brake, mountain and cyclocross bikes require both front and rear brakes – along with the hand levers used to activate them. Although this doesn’t pose much of a challenge for most riders, it does for those who only have the use of one hand. One possible solution is to use a system that joins both brake cables to one common end, which then goes into a conventional lever. Another solution, however, is to use Paul Component Engineering’s dual-cable Duplex lever.  Read More

Air Swimmers are remote-control model fish, that swim through the air

Should someone tell you “Last night, I saw a great white shark swimming through my living room,” don’t assume that they’re crazy. It could be that what they saw was an Air Swimmer. The remote-control toys (which are available as a shark or a clown fish) are able to swim through the air, turning, diving and climbing on command. Now all we need is an RC model penguin, that flies underwater.  Read More

A scientist has proposed a 'fluid flow cloak,' which might reduce the drag on ships' hulls...

North Carolina’s Duke University has been grabbing some headlines over the past few years, due to research carried out there involving the use of metamaterials for creating functioning invisibility cloaks. Just this month, Duke researchers announced that they had developed another such material that could be used to manipulate the frequency and direction of light at will, for use in optical switching. Now, Duke’s Prof. Yaroslav Urzhumov has proposed that metamaterials could also be used to drastically reduce the drag on ships’ hulls, “by tricking the surrounding water into staying still.”  Read More

Goodyear is developing a system that would automatically keep tires inflated to the proper...

It’s important to keep your tires sufficiently inflated, both for the sake of the tires themselves, and in order to maximize the performance and fuel economy of your vehicle. The problem is that for many of us, we only think to check our tire pressure when heading out on a long road trip – if even then. With Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology (AMT), however, that shouldn’t matter. The system, which is currently in development, would automatically keep tires topped up to the proper pressure.  Read More

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