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Mapping

A number of research institutions are currently developing systems in which autonomous robots could be sent into places such as burning buildings, to create a map of the floor plan for use by waiting emergency response teams. Unfortunately, for now, we still have to rely on humans to perform that sort of dangerous reconnaissance work. New technology being developed by MIT, however, kind of splits the difference. It’s a wearable device that creates a digital map in real time, as the person who’s wearing it walks through a building. Read More
The release of a new iPhone means two things. The first is obviously the new phone; but that hardware is also accompanied by a new version of iOS. Apple's mobile operating system has evolved from a relatively simple interface for using a few stock Apple apps (on 2007's debut iPhone) to an advanced system that is creeping ever closer to OS X. The annual iOS refresh is now an event in itself. Let's take a look at the decisions – and execution – that Apple ultimately took with this year's update. Read More
British designer Dominic Wilcox has created a pair of prototype shoes which offer to guide the wearer home with built-in GPS navigation. The inspiration for the clever footwear derives from The Wizard of Oz character Dorothy’s red shoes, which famously transported her home with a click of her heels. Naturally, the GPS system within Wilcox’s shoes is also activated by clicking the heels together. Read More
If you were an animator who was instructed to “Make a street that looks like it’s in Paris,” chances are you might not know what to do. Sure, you could occasionally put the Eiffel Tower in the background, but you couldn’t do that for every shot. If you were using a new data-mining system developed by Carnegie Mellon University and INRIA/École Normale Superiéure in Paris, however, it would show you what you should include. The software automatically looks through photos taken in various cities, and identifies the recurring visual features unique to each place. Read More
If you were in Peru right now, at the long-abandoned Inca village of Mawchu, you might see something very modern flying over it – a Skate unmanned aerial vehicle. The aircraft is the key part of a system designed by a team from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University. Once perfected, it should be able to accomplish in 10 to 15 minutes what would take an archeological team two to three field seasons to complete. Read More
While GPS tracking tends to be ineffective inside buildings, alternative indoor positioning solutions require the presence of Wi-Fi network access points or other beacons ... or at least, that was the case before a Finnish start-up called IndoorAtlas stepped onto the scene. Its software uses your phone’s built-in compass and measures the anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint your location in a building with the accuracy ranging from 0.1 meter to 2 meters (3.93 inches to 6.56 feet). If spiny lobsters can do it, so can we, the logic goes. Read More

Over the last few years, Google's specially-designed cars, trikes, trolleys and snowmobiles have brought interactive Street View technology to the cities and jungles of the world – but why stop there? The search giant recently unveiled the Street View Trekker, a hi-tech backpack-contained system that will bring Street View to those places that can only be reached on foot. Read More

For those of us who just swim lengths in pools, keeping track of where we’ve swum is pretty easy. When it comes to triathletes and other people who swim in lakes or the open ocean, however, there aren’t any lane markers to look back on. Instead, they can now use the Hydro Tracker GPS, made by California water sports tech company FINIS. The waterproof device attaches to the user’s goggle straps, then uses GPS technology to create a map of where they’ve been, while also recording performance data. Read More
While Google Earth can be extremely useful - not to mention a lot of fun - it now has some competition in the form of Pix4D. Instead of satellites, the imaging system uses a small, relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to acquire several hundred 2D photographs of a given geographical area. Those photos are then merged into one image, which users can explore in three dimensions on a computer screen. Read More
We've looked at a number of efforts to extend the capabilities of the traditional white cane for the visually impaired, such as using ultrasonic echoes or lasers to give users a better lay of the land. But a group of engineering researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are looking to do away with the cane altogether and replace it with a "guide vest" that works in conjunction with a helmet-mounted camera and special software to let wearers "see" the world through tactile feedback. Read More
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