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Science

New tech could allow production lines to automatically adjust to changes

Factories are a bit like living things. They are made up of a number of individual systems, and a change made to any one of those systems can have an affect on other systems down the line. In the case of living things, however, all of the systems are united by the organism’s DNA – if a change is made to one system, the others adjust automatically. Such is not the case in factories, however, where humans must go in and make all the changes manually. Not only is this costly and labor-intensive, but it can also result in errors. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation are addressing this problem by trying to make factories more like living things – as they put it, they’re trying to decode “factory DNA.”Read More

Health & Wellbeing

PlateMate crowd-sources nutritional analysis of users' meals

While there are a great many people who want to lose weight by dieting, there aren't too many who can afford to have a nutritionist assess the caloric value of all their food choices. Using the PlateMate system, however, members can get an online community of laypeople to do exactly that - and for considerably less money. Although taking such an approach to nutrition might sound kind of iffy, calorie estimates generated by the crowd-sourced system are apparently just as accurate as those provided by trained nutritionists, and more accurate than self-kept logs.Read More

Music

Yamaha PDX-11 iPhone dock is designed to take (and play) the hits

If you want to fill a room with the sound of the songs on your iPhone or iPod touch, there are currently a plethora of docking gizmos that will amplify the sound from your device's speakers. While many of these products look like they're designed to be used primarily in the home, however, Yamaha's new portable PDX-11 is ... well, it's sort of like the ghetto blaster of iPhone docks.Read More

Games

iControlPad turns smartphones into personal gaming devices

Many people now carry pocket-sized computers around in the shape of smartphones, and the processing power and graphics capabilities offered by modern devices means that gamers can now enjoy a mobile experience that's not too far removed from console gaming - albeit on a much smaller scale. Unless you've opted for Sony's Xperia PLAY, though, smartphone gaming can be distinctly lacking in the level of control that console gamers are used to. With six face buttons, two rear trigger buttons and a digital D-pad, the iControlPad Bluetooth gaming controller aims to address this issue. It's compatible with just about all smartphones, and there's even an adjustable metal clamp to hold the phone securely in place above the controller.Read More

Inventors & Remarkable People

Barn find quadrant identified as one of Britain's earliest scientific instruments

You just never know what you've got in the shed. This horary quadrant was found in a bag of old pipe fittings in a shed on a farm in Queensland, Australia, forty years ago. Last year the owner of the quadrant was surfing the internet and came across this article where he recognised not just the same tool, but the same stag-coronet insignia that was on his quadrant (he thought it was an astrolabe) signified it was made for King Richard II (of England). He subsequently contacted the British Museum, which identified the item sitting on his desk for the last forty years as a 1396 horary quadrant. It will be auctioned next month and is expected to fetch between GBP150,000 and GBP200,000.Read More

Around The Home

Levitating lamp meets the future halfway

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Angela Jansen has come up with a seriously eye-catching variation on the classic table lamp - the Silhouette Floating Lamp. While the upper part levitates using electromagnets, the lower section is home to a ring of LEDs that reflect off the suspended mirror above to throw light out into the room.Read More

Automotive

Subaru's BRZ Concept sports car finally breaks cover

It feels like we've been waiting for Subaru's BRZ concept forever. The BRZ is a joint development effort between Toyota and Subaru, using a 2.0 liter version of Subaru's signature horizontally-opposed engine with Toyota's direct injection system. Toyota will sell the car as the FT-86 which it showed as a concept two years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show and has since shown with revised styling. The near identical BRZ concept will be seen for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show two weeks from now and can be expected in showrooms in the United States spring of 2012.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Researchers identify enzyme that holds key to living longer through calorie restriction

Studies have shown that restricting the intake of calories without reducing the intake of vitamins and minerals slows the signs of aging in a wide range of animals including monkeys, rats and fish, and even some fungi. More recent studies provide evidence that calorie restriction can also have the same effect on humans and now researchers at the University of Gothenburg have identified one of the enzymes they claim plays a major role in the aging process. Read More

Motorcycles

BRD electric off-road motorcycle range includes "stealth" police bike with race performance

San Francisco's BRD Motorcycles has begun taking deposits on the 2013 RedShift range of off-road electric motorcycles. BRD claims the performance of the RedShift will be equal to or better than a top-end 250cc four-stroke race motorcycle, which is a lofty target. The most remarkable aspect is that it will sell both the US$15,500 SM supermoto and the US$15,000 MX motocrosser with a police kit for an additional US$2500 with stronger subframe to hold the included hard luggage, plus an uprated electrical system. Read More

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