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Birds eye view of the elaborate 3-dimensional model of the European Extremely Large Telesc...

December 13, 2006 The current generation of 4 to 10-m telescopes has an incredible wealth of knowledge about our Universe, with the discovery of hundreds of extra-solar systems and the study of far away galaxies, whose light comes almost from the very first epoch in the Universe when stars and galaxies started to form. Even more breathtaking is the recent evidence that nearly all the content of our Universe is made of dark matter, whose nature is as yet unknown, and dark energy, the very existence of which is presently not understood. These discoveries pose many new questions that future generations of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) could answer. The combination of unprecedented acuity and light gathering power will provide unique images of objects at all scales, from those in our own solar system and exoplanetary systems to the very first points of light in our Universe. Moreover, detailed spectral analysis will reveal invaluable information on their nature, motions and characteristics. The first ELT moved a step closer this week when ESO's governing body decided to proceed with a EUR 57 million study for a European Extremely Large Telescope. If all goes to plan, the construction of a 40m diameter optical/infrared telescope will start in three years time, and when finished will revolutionise ground-based astronomy. The chosen design is based on a revolutionary concept specially developed for a telescope of this size.  Read More

Fujifilm introduces FinePix S5 Pro

December 11, 2006 Fujifilm has announced the full specifications, availability and retail price for the FinePix S5 Pro. Announced in development at Photokina 2006, the FinePix S5 Pro is scheduled for nationwide market availability February 2007 at a price of US$2000. The FinePix S5 Pro carries a number of features that will appeal to wedding, portrait and studio photographers. One is an expanded dynamic range from the double pixel technology (6.17 million S-pixels and 6.17 million R-pixels) of the camera’s Super CCD SR Pro sensor that is approximately 400% wider than that of a CCD working on a single-pixel design. In addition, the FinePix S5 Pro goes a step further by coupling the new Super CCD SR Pro sensor with Fujifilm’s new RP Processor Pro for smoother tonality from brightest light to the darkest shadows. An ISO equivalent sensitivity of 3200 is also available on the FinePix S5 Pro, thanks to the RP Processor Pro technology.  Read More

Nikon's DS-Qi1 Digital Camera offers high speed and sensitivity for seamless live cell res...

December 8, 2006 Nikon has released first details of its new DS-Qi1 Monochrome Digital Camera, an ultra high-quality scientific grade digital camera specifically designed for fluorescence applications and an excellent choice for high speed and high sensitivity applications in quantitative fluorescence imaging. The DS-Qi1 represents Nikon's new flagship camera in the DS camera lineup. The camera is a monochrome CCD designed specifically for fluorescence applications and features a 1.3-megapixel CCD that accurately captures microstructures at a high resolution of 1280x1024 pixels. The camera accelerates frame rates beyond previous models and improves resolution, expands dynamic range, and reduces noise by using Nikon's proprietary imaging technology.  Read More

Hitachi's world first hybrid DVD/HDD camcorder

December 4, 2006 After inventing the DVD camcorder in 1999, Hitachi have another world first under their belt with the release of their hybrid DVD/HDD camcorders. Their catch cry is "Shoot for hours, edit in minutes, share in seconds" and unlike some Franken-gadgets that tack on functionality without rhyme or reason, the multiple storage mediums included here make infinite sense - utilising the upsides, and negating the downsides of devices that use one or the other.  Read More

Drive-through Cargo and Vehicle Screening System

November 28, 2006 We’re all familiar with the x-ray machines encountered in airports, but it may be of interest to see the scale such machines are being developed on, and the sophistication now available for contraband detection in vehicles. American Science and Engineering’s newly-announced second generation Z Portal, is a high-throughput, drive-through cargo and vehicle screening system with multi-view Z Backscatter imaging to detect stowaways, explosives, and other contraband. The Z Portal produces images from three sides of the object under examination — for left, right, and top-down screening of the cargo.  Read More

Sensor Recognizes Format Of Digital Image

November 28, 2006 Seimens has developed a tiny new opto-mechanical sensor that recognizes if it is tilted vertically or horizontally. As a result, a digital camera fitted with this sensor could, for example, “know” if a picture is being taken in portrait or landscape format. When equipped with the appropriate software, the camera would immediately store the images with the correct orientation so that the user would not need to tilt his or her camera to view the pictures. In addition, users would no longer have to spend lots of time rotating images on the monitor after the pictures have been transferred to the computer. The new orientation sensor was developed by the Siemens subsidiary Osram Opto Semiconductors, which recently presented it at the Electronica trade fair in Munich. The sensor is especially designed for use in mobile devices such as cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras. This may not seem like a big deal for everybody, but we only have a certain number of minutes on the planet, and every minute wasted turning a pic around the right way is another experience you miss out on.  Read More

The Digital Security Guard detects uninvited guests

November 15, 2006 Siemens has developed a video surveillance system known as Sistore that automatically identifies intruders and tracks them via cameras. As the research magazine Pictures of the Future reports in its latest issue, Sistore CX EDS digitizes the images recorded by video cameras in real-time, and then uses a special algorithm to search them for suspicious movements. If it discovers an intruder, the system from Siemens Building Technologies will then trigger an alarm in the security control center, and automatically begin tracking the person in question with other available cameras.  Read More

An artist's impression of the VuPod

November 13, 2006 Anyone who has ever spent the weekend driving in endless circles attending “open for inspection” realty will understand the appeal of the newly announced VuPOD Real Estate immersion room. With the VuPOD immersion room, home shoppers are “surrounded by a 360-degree image projected on the walls around them”, so they can quickly view numerous prospective homes and sort out those worth actually visiting, cutting out all the travel time. Announced this week, the VuPOD will be available for everyone to see some time next year but if it does what is claimed, it will be a fantastic tool for the cash-rich-time poor home buyer and a killer app for those realtors who invest in the technology. The publicity claims it is “nothing like the virtual tours on the market today” and it wouldn’t want to be because in the main, they don’t have sufficient resolution/detail to do the job. The success of this project will depend on the quality of the VR and the playback device and the price (to the realtor) and maybe, just maybe, they’ll get the price/convenience factor just right and have a massive hit. We must admit to being quite bullish about the prospects of this one, because although we think that using a Trimersion HMD or almost any other HMD with something like the VirtuSphere would offer a more realistic immersive environment, the system appears to use eight hi-res rear projectors to achieve its realism and could be very good indeed - see image library. Similarly, we’re prepared to suspend disbelief despite some of the the claims having a distinctly over-the-top-salesspeak ring to them, such as VuPOD Co-Inventor Sean Lee’s statement, “Buyers can literally be teleported to prospective properties.” Unless there’s been a significant breakthrough we’re not aware of, that’s err … not true.  Read More

The Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom

The world’s most influential gadget media has been raving about the Joby since it was released early this year, and now comes the news that the serious photographers amongst us have been waiting for. Firstly, the GorillaPod is a mini-tripod with flexible legs designed to grip, twist and bend around anything handy – railings, rocks, branches, poles etcetera. The ball-and-socket joints rotate 360 degrees and it is a very handy addition to a full-size tripod, can do lots of things that said traditional tripod cannot do, and being light and small, almost completely replaces said tripod with much less hassle. Then came the Gorillapod SLR – same as the original tripod except it could hold the extra weight of a full SLR camera. Now comes the announcement that counts - the Gorillapod SLR Zoom can handle all of the above plus a zoom lens - 3 kilograms in total weight - all pointed in exactly the right direction whilst weighing in at a diminutive 241 grams (8.5 oz).  Read More

The Canon PIXMA MP960

October 27, 2006 It’s not all that long ago that printing colour photography in the home required a dedicated room with a truckload of gear and chemicals – clearly the domain of the well-heeled prosumer. We had cause to reflect just how far things had come in the last decade when we saw Canon’s new flagship PIXMA MP960 Photo All-In-One – it prints seven colours (six colours for lab-quality photos and one pigment black for razor sharp documents) at 9600dpi and can print a borderless 4 x 6-inch photo lab quality photo in roughly 35 seconds. But wait, there’s more – it also offers copier and scanning capabilities. Not only does it scan flat sheets at 4800 dpi, it comes with a Film Adaptor Unit that scans up to 12 negatives and eight mounted slides at a time and it also prints on CD/DVDs. As a copier it can copy 30 b/w pages per minute and 22 pages per minute in four, whoops, seven colours. Use it with a Canon digital SLR, and you get what they call the Canon-to-Canon Direct Advantage and print directly from the camera to the printer without the need for a PC. It’ll even print a contact sheet with up to 35 images all directly from the camera controls without a PC. The price? US$400  Read More

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