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MIT


— Science

LuminAR Bulb transforms any surface into a touch screen

We've all seen gigantic touch screens on the news or in movies, but what if you could achieve the same type of interface by simply replacing the bulb in your desk lamp? That's the idea behind the LuminAR, developed by a team led by Natan Linder at the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group. It combines a Pico-projector, camera, and wireless computer to project interactive images onto any surface - and is small enough to screw into a standard light fixture. Read More
— Science

Lab-grown brain tissue might lead to bioengineered implants

A team of researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School have devised a cheap way of artificially growing three-dimensional brain tissues in the lab. Built layer by layer, the tissues can take on just about any shape and closely mimic the cellular composition of the tissue found in the living brain. The advance could allow scientists to get a closer look at how neurons form connections, predict how cells of individual patients will respond to different drugs, and even lead to the creation of bioengineered implants to replace damaged brain tissue. Read More
— Robotics

MIT developing a robotic "Swiss Army knife" that changes shape to suit the job

An MIT team is developing a robot that has the potential to become possibly the most versatile machine ever. Referred to by the team as the "robotic equivalent of a Swiss Army knife,” the milli-motein robot is made up of a chain of tiny modules each containing a new type of motor that can be used to form the chain into various shapes. This shape-changing capability could lead to the creation of robots that dynamically change their form to suit the task at hand. Read More
— Robotics

MIT spin-off Robot Rebuilt working on sensitive robotic hands

Robot manipulators – or hands, as we like to call them – come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like those developed for Willow Garage's PR2, have just two fingers. Others have three, four, or five fingers – and some manage to lift objects with none at all. Now, an MIT spin-off called Robot Rebuilt is hitting up Boston venture capital firms to develop a manipulator with human-like sensitivity. Read More
— Robotics

MIT Media Lab births robotic weight loss coach

While earning his PhD at the MIT Media Lab, Cory Kidd wanted to build a social robot that could have a place and function in the home. One of the potential applications was a lifestyle coach – a robot that you would interact with daily as you try to lose weight. Kidd built a prototype, recruited people for a study, and found that participants using the robot stuck to the weight loss program twice as long as those who used an identical program on a laptop – and that most felt that the robot was more credible than an animated character on the screen. Read More
— Science

MIT produces new metamaterial that acts as a lens for radio waves

We expect the world to be predictable. Water flows downhill, fire burns and lenses bend light in a particular way. That worldview took a jolt as Isaac Ehrenberg, an MIT graduate student in mechanical engineering, developed a three-dimensional, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision. That may not seem too disturbing, but the lens is concave and works in exactly the opposite manner of how such a lens should. Read More
— Drones

MIT investigating ways to combat boredom in drone pilots

The saying that "war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror” could have been written for military UAV pilots. The news media like to portray drones like the MQ-1 Predator as robot warriors, but behind each one is a human pilot with only limited powers of endurance. On long missions, pilots get bored and distracted, so a team from MIT’s Human and Automaton’s Lab is studying how what can be done to stave off boredom and keep pilots alert. Read More
— Inventors and Remarkable People Feature

The Economist reveals its 2012 Innovation Awards winners

The Economist magazine announced the winners of its 2012 Innovation Awards on Thursday evening. Selected from fields as diverse as bioscience, telecommunications, energy and aerospace, the winners were selected by a panel of judges, comprised largely of previous award winners. As diverse as they were, those awarded did share one particular trait: far from being pie-in-the-sky ideas, their innovations were all proven technologies. Gizmag attended the awards ceremony at BAFTA in London to get the lowdown on the event. Read More
— Science

MIT breakthrough could lead to paper-thin bullet-proof armor

Scientists have theorized that paper-thin composite nanomaterials could stop bullets just as effectively as heavy weight body armor, but progress has been hampered by their inability to reliably test such materials against projectile impacts. Researchers at MIT and Rice University have developed a breakthrough stress-test that fires microscopic glass beads at impact-absorbing material. Although the projectiles are much smaller than a bullet, the experimental results could be scaled up to predict how the material would stand up to larger impacts. Read More
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