Researchers have discovered that common bacteria suspended in a solution can be made to turn microgears. This opens up the possibility of building hybrid biological machines at the microscopic scale. The researchers say the discovery demonstrates how microscopic swimming agents, such as bacteria or man-made nanorobots, in combination with hard materials, can constitute a "smart material", which can dynamically alter its microstructures, repair damage, or power microdevices.
The gestural interface used by Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report
was based on work by MIT Media Lab’s Hiroshi Ishii, who has already commercialized similar large-scale gestural interface systems. However, such systems comprise many expensive cameras or require the user to wear tracking devices on their fingers. To develop a similar yet cost effective gestural interface system that is within reach of many more people other researchers at MIT have instead been working to develop screens with embedded optical sensors to track the movement of the user’s fingers that could quickly make touch screens seem outdated.
Previously, we’ve looked at technology to generate electricity from roads
embedded with piezoelectric crystals that produce electricity when squeezed. Now a group of researchers is looking to shift the technology from the road to the vehicles themselves and use piezoelectrics placed on the vehicles to convert their kinetic energy into electricity.
The ocean is a potentially vast source of electric power, yet wave-energy systems
are rare as they generally offer limited efficiency, must withstand battering storms, and need to be tethered to the sea floor
. But by applying the principles that keep airplanes aloft, a team of aerospace engineers is creating a new wave energy system that is durable, extremely efficient, and can be placed anywhere on the ocean, regardless of depth.
Is your iPhone movie-making prowess giving your viewers motion sickness? Are your carefully planned, in-your-face action sequences of your friends’ skateboarding accidents, or grandma’s 80th birthday party antics not making it to Funniest Home Videos because of your inability to hold your iPhone still while you capture potential money-making footage. Fear not! If what the manufacturers say is true, the iSteady Shot camera stabilizer will soon have you cashing in. For roughly US$100, you can attach you iPhone or iPod nano to device and have your very own Hollywood-style “steady-cam” – check the video below to see what a difference the iSteady Shot makes to everyday filming.
Although fish numbers are in decline in oceans all around the globe, the same can’t be said for their robotic brethren. Like the “Robotuna
” from MIT and the robots
developed by a team at the University of Essex, the latest robotic fish from Michigan State University also take inspiration from nature. The aim is to give researchers more precise data on aquatic conditions and provide a deeper understanding of critical water supplies and habitats... and hopefully help improve the outlook for fish of the biological variety.
Jogging on the spot has gone high tech thanks to an omni-directional treadmill that allows you to walk in any direction while staying centered on the treadmill. When coupled with virtual reality (VR) technology it offers the potential for truly natural walking and immersion in virtual environments.
The rise and rise of the Nintendo Wii continues unabated and we’ve seen all manner of weird and wacky accessories released over the last year. With everything from bowling balls
to exercise bikes
popping up to complement associated games, it’s no surprise the console is a big hit with those who like gadgets and gimmicks, but aside from the MotionPlus
we haven’t seen anything genuinely revolutionary since the original motion-sensitive controls... so it looks like it's up to the next-gen successor to truly re-imagine the Wii’s potential.
Apparently, the ongoing testing
of the MotionPower system
for generating electricity from the movement of cars and light trucks - as reported here previously - is paying dividends. New Energy, the company developing the technology, reports it can produce a 25-fold increase in the system’s capacity to capture kinetic energy from moving vehicles, bringing the commercialization of the MotionPower system another step closer to reality.
We’ve looked at robots that use a variety of ways to get around, from caterpillar treads
, to wheels
and even combustion-driven pistons
. But the title of weirdest (not to mention unsettling) method of robot propulsion we’ve come across has to go to the shape-shifting ChemBot from iRobot. The ChemBot, which looks more like the Blob than most people’s preconceived ideas of what a robot should be, moves around by changing its shape in a process its creators call, “jamming skin enabled locomotion.”