March 24, 2006

lobster_robots.jpg ABC News has a story about the various animal robot experiments of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It seems that DARPA gets so much of your tax money, it has nothing better to do than throw it at random animal robot projects. Some examples? Well, they have previously placed money in remote-controlled shark spies and bomb-sniffing insect soldiers. Right now they are interested in building robot lobsters. That's right, robot lobsters. They need a robot to sweep the ocean floor for mines and buried bombs, so they went with a delicious-tasting crustacean as their inspiration. On the topic of DARPA's future projects, the article states "we're going to have an army of dolphins and robotic bears attacking the enemy anytime soon." That quote might have been preceded by "I wouldn't interpret that to mean," but I really can't say for sure.

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spray-on.jpg Wired has an article about incorporating technology into fashion design. They predict that the ideas being developed in labs today will inevitably make it onto the fashion scene in just a few years. They provide a slide show of examples like jackets with built-in fans, transforming boots and dresses, jewelry made from epithelial skin cells, and camera-enabled hoodies. The most intriguing of all the ideas is spray-on clothing (pictured), a technology invented by Manel Torres that allows you to apply clothing from a spray can. I find it comforting to know that no matter how overweight I become, it will only take a few cans of clothing to make me a nicely-fitted parka.

More pictures after the jump...

Continue Reading "The Future of Fashion"


gsr.jpgDid a secret government agency really force your roommate to sleep with your girlfriend, or has he been lying all along? Why not find out by building yourself a quick a simple lie detector test? Using the Lego Mindstorm kit, velcro, and tinfoil, you can construct a Galvanic Skin Response sensor that determines the amount of sweat on your skin at any given time. The theory is that when someone tells a lie, or is under any stress, they sweat more than when they are truthful and calm. Simply slap one of these together, heed the brief warning about sudden and violent death by electrocution, and you can be well on your way to stripping away all the lies on which your relationships are firmly based.

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on_target.jpg On Target is "an interactive installation with the functional purpose of improving hygiene," which is just a fancy way to say "a urinal with a video game built in." The urinal features a pressure-sensitive display that operates an interactive game with images and sounds. One purpose of the game is to save on cleaning costs, as it will give gentlemen a reason to aim properly, but I don't think they factor in the costs of hiring a electrical repairman willing to work deep in a urinal. Remember, On Target is an example of a video game with urinal functionality, but not all video games are that way. Knowing this will help you avoid many awkward conversations with the arcade manager about the proper way to play Ms. Pac Man.

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hallucenation.jpg The Des Moines Police Department has begun using virtual reality machines to give their officers a chance to experience severe mental illness. The Virtual Hallucination Machine was created by a Belgian pharmaceutical company to display common scenes filled with uncommon events, like people suddenly appearing or disappearing and random voices. The Des Moines Police Department has a crisis response team that is devoted to handling situations with unstable subjects, and they hope to be better prepared by viewing the world through these hallucination machines. The "city bus" and "pharmacy" appear to be the only virtual reality scenario available, but we can bet that the "wild strip club raid" and "shirtless hippie shootout" scenarios are not far behind.

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dokumat500.jpg Dokumat 500 is a robot that creates documentary films that are destined to create buzz at the next Sundance. Created by Niklas Roy, the Dokumat is a completely autonomous robot that decides what to film without ever analyzing the film it records. Using thirteen sensors, the Dokumat roams freely around the landscape, filming and avoiding obstacles like kids and old people. It has complete control over its camera and it independently edits the film, so no human interaction is involved after turning it on. The robot has a short attention span and the filming might be completely random, but isn't that what inevitably happens to the wedding photographer after a few trips to the open bar? Plus the Dokumat will never fall down some stairs and into the wedding cake. Twice.

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