CELLTACK - The First Wearable Smartphone Docking System

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A group of young entrepreneurs today revealed the Celltack system – a functional jewelry which is a wearable smartphone docking system that could redefine how people interact with mobile devices.

Celltack attaches a mobile touch screen device to the hand of the user by a strong magnetic force and allows a free navigation of the entire screen while providing the unique option to operate a mobile device safely and conveniently with just one hand. On their Indiegogocrowdfunding campaign during which customers can pre-order Celltack kits for exclusive prices from $10 to $99.

“Ever since the invention of the mobile touch devices the holding of the device was the limiting element for a comfortable interaction in particular when screens got bigger - until now. Celltack can change how we hold mobile devices and how we interact with them.” -LiebmerTrauschein, CEO & Founder.

In addition the Celltacksystem can also be used as a portable smartphone stand and a super sleek mount system at home or on route. The Celltack team has developed an interesting variety of accessories as protection cover, stationary docks, bike mounts and arm bands.

Monies raised through Indiegogo campaign will be used to manufacture all of the hardware and develop the Celltack application.The team aims to raise $40,000. Shipping is planned for Summer 2014.

NASA Discovers New Gully On The Mars

A Nasa spacecraft has discovered a new gully channel on the surface of Mars which may have formed only within the last three years.

A comparison of images taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in November 2010 and May 2013 reveal the formation of a new gully channel on a crater-wall slope in the southern highlands of Mars.

According to the feature was not present in HiRISE photos of the area taken on November 5, 2010.

While the Mars gully looks a lot like river channels on Earth, it likely was not carved out by flowing water and may have resulted from activity of carbon dioxide frost.

Gully or ravine landforms are common on Mars, particularly in the southern highlands, Nasa said.

Th images show that material flowing down from an alcove at the head of a gully broke out of an older route and eroded a new channel.

The dates of the images are more than a full Martian year apart, so the observations did not pin down the Martian season of the activity at this site.

Before-and-after HiRISE pairs of similar activity at other sites demonstrate that this type of activity generally occurs in winter, at temperatures so cold that carbon dioxide, rather than water, is likely to play the key role.

Coming Soon, Mugshots Of Criminals From Their DNA

We know that science has come far enough for us to be able to identify the perpetrator of a crime from the DNA — a strand of hair, semen etc — he might leave at the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, very often, the DNA doesn't match a profile in criminal databases, which in turn means the perpetrator might have got away with his crime.

But not for much longer.

Researches are now saying the day is not very far away when they will be able to create a "photo" of the perpetrator from the DNA that he leaves behind. Researchers are already able to tell what a crime suspect might look like from looking at his DNA, including his racial ancestry and the colour of his hair.

That started in 2012, when Manfred Kayser from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Holland, began looking for genes that affected the relative positions of nine facial "landmarks", including the tip of the nose and the middle of each eyeball. He found five genetic variants which had discernable effects on facial shape.

Furthering Kayser's work, population geneticist Mark Shriver of Pennsylvania State University and imaging specialist Peter Claes of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium used a stereoscopic camera to take 3D pictures of almost 600 volunteers with mixed European and West African ancestry. The scientists reasoned that because people from Europe and Africa tend to have differently shaped faces, studying people with mixed ancestry pushed up their chances of finding genetic variants that affected facial structure.

Shriver and Claes found 24 variants in 20 genes that seemed to predict what a face would look like.

The researches however say their reconstructions are not yet ready for routine use by crime labs. But that said, Shriver is already working with police to see if he can help find the man believed to be responsible for two cases of serial rape in Pennsylvania.

You Can Drive This Car With A Simple Nod Or Wink

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hand gestures from other drivers are a lot like trash talk at playground basketball games: provocative distractions from an otherwise engaging activity.

But gestures may one day find a higher calling, making driving safer and more enjoyable, judging by the amount of work being done to develop technology that would read hand and head motions as computer commands.

Automakers, including Mercedes-Benz and Ford, are cautiously installing gesture sensing systems. Others, like Honda and Hyundai, have applied for gesture patents. Microsoft and Apple have long-range projects with automakers; both companies, along with Google, have filed for related patents, have purchased gesture-systems makers or both.

Commands initiated by hand movements are no Harry Potter fantasy, but a reality found in many homes today. Microsoft's Kinect interface, the infrared-based system in the Xbox 360 console, enables players to control games solely with body movements.

The most visible example of automotive gesture recognition is the foot-swipe, which will open the rear hatch of a Ford Escape when someone carrying the key fob wags a foot under the rear bumper. Most proposed gestures are obvious enough — hands swiping or pointing, palms facing up or down — but some involve pantomimes like cupping an ear. Coming next are waves, winks and nods that are read by video or infrared cameras and ultrasound sensors.

Gesture technology, which falls under the heading of natural user interfaces, will be more than just another gadget. It will operate comfort and entertainment features, and even then, would always be backed up with buttons and voice commands. Researchers say that only about a dozen signs should be used; more would be onerous.

"It is excruciatingly crucial not to be driven by technology" when it comes to human-machine interfaces, said Parrish Hanna, Ford's global director for H.M.I. Gestures have to address a "pain point," he said, not just create marketing buzz.

The foot-swipe isn't as intuitive as pointing, Mr. Hanna said, but it addresses a pain point — getting armloads of groceries into a car. "As a consumer, once I know about it, I really appreciate it," he said.

Behind the wheel, simple gestures that are instantly recognized by a car's computer would help keep drivers' eyes on the road. Gestures also work better in noisy situations that can foil voice commands.

Computer giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft see a future here, starting with the licensing fees charged for each vehicle running their operating systems.

Apple, which made gestures on touch screens a must-have feature when it introduced the iPhone, recently made news when it struck deals with several automakers for the use of its CarPlay control system. Apple executives have talked — and talked — about "iOS for the Car," which would put the Siri personal-assistant app and other Apple technology on four wheels. More than a dozen carmakers have signed on to the effort, but so far, Honda is taking the lead.

Late last year, Apple bought PrimeSense, the company that licensed to Microsoft the technology behind early Kinect Xbox 360 sensors. (Microsoft had moved on to homegrown sensor technology before the buyout.) Besides the patents Apple got with its purchase, it has its own gesture patent and a patent application for using your gaze to control a computer. Apple is also recruiting in this area: Last August, it placed an ad for an "iOS Car Experience Engineer, " and in November it sought a gesture-recognition engineer.

Microsoft may be struggling for traction with its mobile strategy, but the company does have advantages in its Kinect technology. The bigger story is its impressive list of industry partnerships. Besides the work with Ford on the Sync system, it has partnered with Kia and Fiat, and its software is embedded in BMW, Nissan, Honda and Aston Martin vehicles as well. And it has been reported to be working on gesture- and face-recognition products.

Still, it is Google that has the most to gain from putting gesture systems in cars. According to company documents, 90 percent of Google's revenue comes from advertising. One of the best ways to increase ad revenue is to make sure ads are seen by people most likely to click on them. That means collecting data on people using Google's browser, Maps, Gmail and other products. Consumer behavior in cars is all but virgin territory for marketers, and Google is positioned to cash in on it.

Google has multiple efforts underway that could lead it to an automotive future. Last fall, it bought Flutter, a maker of software that enables people with a webcam to operate Netflix and other apps using signs.

Google seems to be comfortable pushing the limits of what a gesture should control. In a patent application, the company proposes using gestures not only to operate media systems but windshield wipers and cruise controls as well.

For carmakers, gestures are arguably sexier than voice systems or touch screens. Focused as designers are on creating a unique driving experience, gestures are an attractive solution.

BMW engineers and designers are experimenting with six gestures as part of the automaker's ConnectedDrive electronics package, expected to be available within the next two model years.

This could be part of a broader effort. The research unit of Mercedes-Benz in North America has been hiring engineers for tasks including 3-D tracking, a necessity in reading gestures. The company's new V-Class vans, due in Europe this year, will have a 3-D sensor that can tell the difference between a command entered on the car's touch pad and an accidental brush.

A Mercedes design study introduced in 2011, the F125, was a more ambitious experiment in gesture technology. That concept had, among other things, a retractable display screen and gullwing doors that were operated by gestures.

In the United States, Ford's foot-swipe most likely will not be a goodbye wave for the company. It has a patent application for in-cabin systems using a video camera to capture seven signs. Ford is also working with Microsoft to outfit its cars with Kinect.

General Motors has been working on gestures with Carnegie Mellon University researchers since at least 2002. To date, the best it has to offer domestically is a sensor in its Cadillac User Experience media package that, when approached by a hand, reveals a slate of favorite apps on a touch screen.

GM's Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai, on the other hand, has developed a gesture-and-voice feature called DiDi Weibo to help Chinese drivers participate in social media on the road.

In South Korea, Hyundai has applied for a patent for gesture-recognition technology, and it's working with two companies to create a two-layer gesture option.

In the first layer, you press a button behind the steering wheel and look at a feature icon in a heads-up display. Releasing the button activates the chosen feature. The second layer is a gesture system that manipulates an interactive screen in the brow of the dash. One demo of the feature shows someone opening video poker games on the screen.

Hyundai has not confirmed a release date, but it is expected to see production within the next couple of model years.

Taken together, all of these efforts might seem meek, but the real critics of gestures in cars, oddly, are those closest to the subject: interface designers.

"It's too much work, too crude and too inaccurate " for important tasks, said Chris Noessel, director of interaction design at Cooper Studio, a product design firm based in San Francisco. Gesture recognition is getting attention now because of popular movies like "Iron Man " and "Minority Report," he said.

For the time being, at least, drivers won't look like the inflatable "air dance " figures outside tire stores, their boneless arms in perpetual motion. But the vocabulary of gestures probably will grow, if less profanely.

These Solar Powered Toilet Turns Waste Into ‘Charcoal’

A waterless toilet that is run by solar energy and converts excreta into a form of charcoal will be unveiled next week in India where over 626 million people don't have a closed toilet and consequently defecate in the open.

University of Colorado University Boulder's self-contained toilet, designed and built using a $777,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has the capability of heating human waste to high temperature to sterilize it and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal.

Principal investigator Karl Linden says biochar can be used to increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide. Biochar can be burnt like charcoal and provide energy comparable to commercial charcoal.

The ground breaking idea will help 2.5 billion people who lack safe and sustainable sanitation around the world. The project is part of Gates' Foundation's "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge," an effort to develop a next-generation toilet that can be used to disinfect liquid and solid waste while generating useful end products.

The invention consists of eight parabolic mirrors that focus concentrated sunlight to a spot no larger than a postage stamp on a quartz-glass rod connected to eight bundles of fibre-optic cables, each consisting of thousands of intertwined, fused fibres.

'Breathing Batterie' To Power Our Future Electric Cars

Monday, March 17, 2014

Scientists are working on a new type of battery to power gen-next electric cars that could be up to three times more efficient than existing ones.

With electrical vehicles becoming increasingly popular, researchers at the Mie University in Japan are starting to feel hard-pressed to come up with a new class of batteries, capable of extending the driving range of these cars far beyond their current limits.

The breathing battery, researchers led by Professor Nobuyuki Imanishi say, may enable electric cars to travel more than 482 kilometres on a single charge.

Regular lithium-ion power storage devices allow a maximum range of around 160 kilometres.

"Lithium-air batteries are lightweight and deliver a large amount of electric energy. Many people expect them to one day be used in electric vehicles," said Imanishi.

The main difference between lithium-ion and lithium-air batteries is that the latter replaces the traditional cathode — a key battery component involved in the flow of electric current — with air.

That makes the rechargeable metal-air battery lighter with the potential to pack in more energy than its commercial counterpart.

One of the main components researchers are working on is the batteries' electrolytes, materials that conduct electricity between the electrodes.

There are currently four electrolyte designs, one of which involves water.

The advantage of this "aqueous" design over the others is that it protects the lithium from interacting with gases in the atmosphere and enables fast reactions at the air electrode.

Imanishi's team developed a layered approach, sandwiching a polymer electrolyte with high conductivity and a solid electrolyte in between the lithium electrode and the watery solution.

The result was a unit with the potential to pack almost twice the energy storage capacity, as measured in watt hours per kilogramme (Wh/kg), as a lithium-ion battery.

"Our system's practical energy density is more than 300 Wh/kg. That's in contrast to the energy density of a commercial lithium-ion battery, which is far lower, only around 150 Wh/kg," Imanishi said.

The battery showed a lot of promise, with high conductivity of lithium ions, and the ability to discharge and recharge 100 times, researchers said.

Researchers presented their findings at the national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Dallas.

Mission e.DeOrbit, A Probe To Clean Up The Space Junk

Chances of mass collisions between man-made satellites and space debris may soon be 25 times higher, according to researchers at the European Space Agency (ESA) who now believe that that the amount of debris from man-made objects is about to reach "criticality".

To tackle the problem the space agency is designing a hunter-killer space probe to track down and destroy defunct satellites.

The e.DeOrbit probe would deploy a Roman gladiator-style array of nets and harpoons to first trap rogue satellites and then drag them downwards until they burn up in the atmosphere. Several capture mechanisms are being studied including throw-nets, clamping mechanisms and harpoons, the ESA said.

A symposium in the Netherlands in May will cover studies and technology developments related to e.DeOrbit.

Space debris has become a major risk to space missions - a one cm object can expend the energy of a hand-grenade after colliding with a satellite.

In more than half a century of space activities, more than 4800 launches have placed some 6000 satellites into orbit of which less than a 1000 are still operational today.

More than 12000 orbiting items in total are regularly tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network and maintained in their catalogue which covers objects larger than approximately 5 to 10cm in low Earth orbit (LEO) and 30cm to 1m at geostationary altitudes (GEO).

Only 6% of their catalogued orbital population represents operational satellites while 38% can be attributed to decommissioned satellites, spent upper stages and mission-related objects (launch adaptors, lens covers).

The remaining 56% originates from more than 200 in-orbit fragmentations which have been recorded since 1961.

Except for a few collisions (less than 10 accidental and intentional events), the majority of the 200 break-ups were explosions of spacecraft and upper stages - typically due to leftover fuel, material fatigue or pressure increase in batteries.

ESA's Clean Space initiative - tasked with reducing the space industry's environmental impacts on both Earth and space -aims to evaluate battery behaviour after a satellite shuts down, assessing the risk of breakup and ensuring full 'passivation'.

Batteries are among a satellite's bulkier items of equipment. Typically they feed their host with power during launch. Once in orbit it switches to power from its solar arrays but the battery is an important backup to store power for eclipses and emergencies.

'Alert Shirt' Lets You Feel The Tackles While Watching TV

Friday, March 14, 2014

An Australian telecommunications company has claimed that it has created a shirt that enables a wearer to experience some of the physical sensations that athletes have on the field.

If someone has ever thought about how it feels to be tackled while watching a football match, then Foxtel's 'Alert Shirt' let's a user experience physical sensations including pressure, impact, despair, exhaustion and adrenalin.

According to Mashable, Foxtel is vague about how exactly the shirt works, except that it uses 'feedback motors' to transfer sensations to the skin and the data is transmitted via Bluetooth from a smarthpone app.

The shirt, which is powered by a lithium polymer cell battery, is available for Australian Rules football club members who use Foxtel, along with other 'loyal Foxtel Customers' but the pricing information has not been disclosed yet, the report added.

These Glasses Can Warn People Against ‘Date Rape’ Drugs

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Researchers have designed new glasses, cups and straws that can warn if your drink is spiked by changing colour as they come in contact with three common "daterape" drugs. The US researchers created a line of 16-ounce cups and straws that change colours when they come in contact with common " date rape" drugs like ketamine, Rohypnol and GHB.

In an attempt to reduce drug-facilitated sexual assault, DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson teamed up with chemistry professor John Mac-Donald at Worcester Polytechnic institute in Massachusetts to develop the glassware.

Abramson decided to create the glassware line after he was himself affected by the daterape drugs, New York Daily News reported. "In the past three years, three of my close friends, and myself have been unwitting victims of drug slipped into our drink," Abramson said. " Now our goal is to have as many bars and clubs as possible to simply swap out their current drinkware for DrinkSavvy drinkware, making it the new safety standard," said Abramson.

This Military Version Of Google Glass Can See Over Mountains

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

US military may soon be filled with soldiers sporting Google Glass-like headgear that can measure distances, display 3D building layouts, transmit video from a drone and more, all on a glass display right in front of their eyes.

Battlefields are full of data soldiers can use: enemy positions, the location of fellow soldiers, maps of a city or a house, video of what they'll encounter over a hill. But until recently, there's been no way to live-stream that data to soldiers on the ground. That's what Q-Warrior, high-tech headgear built by United Kingdom-based BAE Systems, provides. First reported by Wired, it gives soldiers a full-color, 3D display of what's happening in areas outside their line of sight, which has the potential to seriously boost a soldier's situational awareness.

Though neither BAE Systems nor the United States military would confirm to Mashable that the two had agreed to a contract that would allow soldiers to test-run Q-Warrior, they both said it's only a short matter of time before soldiers will be sporting new eyewear.

“It’s not 10 years out from now, it’s been available for a while," Donald Lee, a project lead in the Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Mashable. "It’s just how do you do it?”

Lee's not talking about building the headsets or transmitting the data—the military and BAE Systems can already do that. What they can't do is ensure that the data stream doesn't cut out or that someone can't hack these helmets and steal drone footage. They need to know how much bandwidth it will take to transmit huge amounts of data to potentially hundreds of thousands of soldiers, how easily someone could block the transmission with a little electromagnetic interference, and how they can make sure the network is secure.

And "then you've got the issue of distraction," Paul Wright, the business development lead for soldier systems at BAE Systems, told Mashable. "Whether the data is a distraction from the main task that a person is carrying out."

With so much information available and transmittable, Wright and Lee said they need to understand what bits of data can help soldiers do their job and how much information is too much.

Neither of them has figured out either of those things just yet, but they don't believe the answers are far off. Plus, Lee said plenty of soldiers want a headgear system such as Q-Warrior as soon as possible, and the military knows this kind of data transmission has the potential to provide untold advantages to American troops if they can get it running before any opposition.

There's no set timeline for when a rollout will start, according to both Lee and Wright, but when it does, Wright said it'll probably begin with a select group such as a special forces team like the Navy Seals who took down Osama bin Laden. If the headgear proves effective, Wright said soldiers of all sorts are likely to follow suit, and the military will have made a revolutionary leap forward in computer-assisted warfare.

By Colin Daileda
We found it on Mashable

London Is Going To Test The First 'Smart' Crosswalks

In London pedestrians will soon be waiting to cross the street at "smart" crosswalks equipped with sensors and cameras.

The city government of London has recently announced plans to test out the new crosswalks at London intersections this summer.

The system, called Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) uses cameras to figure out how many people are waiting to cross the street and adjusts traffic signals accordingly. So if there is a large crowd waiting, for example, the signal to walk will last longer, giving the crowd more time to cross the street.

"This really is a fantastic example of how London is leading the way by using 21st century technology to help make it easier for people to get around our great city," said London's mayor, Boris Johnson, in a statement. "Innovation like this is key to keeping London moving efficiently and making our roads safer for everyone to use."

Testing for the new crosswalks will begin this summer at intersections outside London's Balham and Tooting Bec Underground stations.

London will be the first city to use this kind of technology in its pedestrian crossings, though SCOOT is already used in traffic lights, to help control traffic congestion, in London and other cities around the world, including Toronto, Beijing and Santiago.

Transport for London, the agency overseeing the project, is also working on a "call cancel" feature, which would be able to detect when a pedestrian, who has already pushed the button to cross, walks away or crosses the street before the signal changes.

Soon, Moss Powered Radio To Give Daily FM Fix

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stand by for the ultimate gardening programme. A Swiss designer has teamed up with scientists at the University of Cambridge to use one of the most prolific plants — moss — to power a radio. The device, nicknamed Moss FM, effectively turns moss into biological solar panels by tapping into the surplus electrons that moss creates during photosynthesis .

It's still early days: the radio only runs for a few minutes . But designer Fabienne Felder hopes this is just the start of a journey, comparing it to the beginning phases of solar energy research.

Extremely low-powered LCD screens had previously been powered by plants. I wanted to power something bigger, but I couldn't choose anything extreme, like a computer. I settled for a radio . Also because instead of the usual visual effect, you would actually get an aural effect, which I thought went nicely with plants, she said.

Felder admits that to get your morning radio fix would take about 10sq m of moss. But if you consider that, so far, the scientists — Paolo Bombelli, a biochemist , and Ross Denni, a plant expert — have only harnessed about 0.1% of the energy created by moss, then there is room for progress.

Felder is on a mission to promote moss: "People scrape it off their roofs, thinking it's some kind of weed. But mosses actually preserve the surface they grow on.

They also work as insulators and muffle noise," she said. "They have been used for anything from medicine and preservation, due to their anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, to stuffing furniture , building, or even pottery . In Japan, they are a symbol for long life," Felder added.

Now, There Is A Device To Turn Water Into Wine

A new machine that can turn water into wine in just three days by simply adding a few other ingredients has been developed.

The Miracle Machine takes only a couple of dollars to make wine that would normally cost at least $20, its makers claim. The fermentation chamber in the machine turns water, grape concentrate , yeast and a finishing powder into wine.

The chamber uses sensors, transducers, heaters and pumps to provide an environment for the primary and secondary fermentation stages. An accompanying app, linked to the Miracle Machine via Bluetooth, tracks the wine's progress.

It can be used to select the perfect wine for your taste, telling you which ingredients to purchase in order to make the wine of your choice. The finishing powder has flavours that will allow your wine to taste as if it has been aging for months.

Idea To Have Gas Stations In Space To Refuel Spacecrafts

Friday, March 7, 2014

Space will soon have its very own gas station stacked with rocket fuel. Scientists have now floated plans for fuel depots to be stationed at Lagrange — regions in space between the Earth, moon, and sun that maintain gravitational equilibrium.

Objects at these points remain in place, keeping the same relative position with respect to the Earth and the moon.

This way, future lunar missions may soon dock at a fuel depot, somewhere between the Earth and the moon and pick up extra rocket fuel before making its way to the lunar surface.

MIT engineers say orbiting way stations could reduce the fuel a spacecraft needs to carry from Earth — and with less fuel on board, a rocket could launch heavier payloads, such as large scientific experiments.

Scientists also floated the idea of stock piling.

Spacecraft heading to the moon would carry contingency propellant as they normally would, dropping the tank at a depot on the way back to Earth if it's not needed.

Over time, the depot builds up a large fuel supply. This way, if a large lunar mission launches in the future, its rocket wouldn't need a huge fuel supply to launch the heavier payload.

Instead, it can stop at the depot to collect the stockpiled propellant to fuel its landing on the moon.

Over the last few decades, scientists have proposed various designs, such as building a fuel-manufacturing station on the moon and sending tankers to refill floating depots. But most ideas have come with hefty price tags, requiring long-term investment.

The MIT team has come up with two cost-efficient depot designs that do not require such long-term commitment.

Both designs take advantage of the fact that each lunar mission carries a supply of contingency propellant — fuel that's meant to be used only in emergencies.

In most cases, this backup fuel goes unused and is either left on the moon or burned up as the crew re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.

The MIT team proposes using contingency propellant from past missions to fuel future spacecraft.

For instance, as a mission heads back to Earth, it may drop a tank of contingency propellant at a depot before heading home.

The next mission can pick up the fuel tank on its way to the moon as its own emergency supply. If it ends up not needing the extra propellant, it can also drop it at the depot for the next mission.

"Whatever rockets you use, you'd like to take full advantage of your lifting capacity," says Jeffrey Hoffman, a professor of the practice in MIT's department of aeronautics and astronautics.

"Most of what we launch from the Earth is propellant. So whatever you can save, there's that much more payload you can take with you".

The main drawbacks for both depot designs include maintenance; keeping depots within the Lagrange point and preventing a phenomenon, called boil-off, in which fuel that's not kept at cold-enough temperatures can boil away.

If scientists can find ways around these challenges, Hoffman says, gas stations in space could be an efficient way to support large lunar explorations.

Real Life Spider Man's Silk That Can Really Stop Trains

Under development is a super strong synthetic spider silk, five times stronger than steel, that could stop a speeding train, just like the scene in Hollywood flick 'Spiderman 2'.

"Spider silk of fantastical, superhero strength is finally speeding towards commercial reality - at least a synthetic version of it is," researchers said.

The material, which is five times stronger than steel, could be used in products from bulletproof vests to medical implants, according to an article in the magazine Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).

Scientists said the scene in "Spiderman 2" where Peter Parker halts an out of control passenger train with several strands is not exactly far-fetched.

"We calculated roughly how thick the fibers were, how many of them he had attached to the walls, how much the locomotive and people weighed, and how fast it appeared to be going," Randy Lewis, professor of biological engineering at Utah State University, said.

Spider-Man would have been able to stop that train, said Lewis.

Spider silk's impressive strength has been studied for years, and scientists have been trying to make a synthetic version of the super-strong protein in the lab, Alex Scott, a senior editor at C&EN, said.

For other simpler proteins, scientists have been able to insert relevant genes into bacterial DNA, essentially turning the microorganisms into protein factories. But spider silk has not been so easy to churn out.

Now, small firms just might have found the right genetic tricks, the article said.

They are coaxing not just genetically engineered bacteria but also goats, transgenic silkworms and even alfalfa to produce multiple different versions of synthetic spider and spider-silkworm silks.

One company has even taken their iteration to the market - though theirs is a non-fiber kind of spider silk for use in cosmetics. So far, commercialization has been on a modest scale.

However, the research pipeline for synthetic spider silk is very active, and scientists expect that production is right on the verge of scaling up.

First 3D Fingerprint And Concerns Regarding Future Security

A team of Michigan State University computer scientists led by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alum Anil Jain have built the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint.

This development will not only help today's fingerprint-matching technology do its job better, but could eventually lead to improvements in security, according to information posted on MSU website.

What Jain, a University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering, and his team did was develop a method that takes a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and maps it to a 3-D finger surface.

The 3-D finger surface, complete with all the ridges and valleys that make up the human fingerprint, is made using a 3-D printer. It creates what Jain's team called a fingerprint "phantom."

Imaging phantoms are common in the world of medical imaging. For example, to make sure an MRI machine or a CT scanner is working properly, it needs to first image an object of known dimensions and material properties.

"In health care, a 3-D heart or kidney can be created," Jain said. "Because the dimensions are known, they can be put into a scanner and the imaging system can be calibrated."

In this case, the ultimate goal is to have a precise fingerprint model with known properties and features that can be used to calibrate existing technology used to match fingerprints.

"When I have this 3-D fingerprint phantom, I know its precise measurements," said Jain. "And because I know the true dimensions of the fingerprint features on this phantom, I can better evaluate fingerprint readers."

While the 3-D model doesn't yet have the exact texture or feel of a real finger, it could advance fingerprint sensing and matching technology.

"Tools like this would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock," Jain said.

Members of Jain's team include Sunpreet Arora, a computer science doctoral student, Kai Cao, a research associate in computer science and engineering and research collaborator Nick Paulter at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Jain, who has a B.Tech degree from IIT Kanpur and MS and PhD degrees from Ohio State University, has six US patents on fingerprint matching and has written a number of books on biometrics and fingerprint/facial recognition.

Additionally, Jain has also received a number of prestigious awards for contributions to pattern recognition and biometrics.

This Futuristic Card Will Force You To Ditch Your Wallet Completly

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Today the presence of credit and debit cards have already cut back on the amount of cash people carry with them. But tomorrow you can even reduce the number of cards you carry to just one — or even eliminate your wallet entirely?

Coin, a credit-card-like device, is set for a summer 2014 launch. As the video below explains, Coin swipes like an ordinary card. The difference is, the card holds up to eight credit cards, debit cards or gift cards. Coin provides a dongle device to users that connects to their phone and an app that lets you download the card info.

The device will cost $100, but the company is charging $50 for early adopters that pre-order now. Founded by former PayPal developer Kanishk Parashar, Coin uses a patent-pending magnetic strip. The reader device employs Bluetooth Low Energy and Coin's battery lasts two years, according to the company.

With so much energy spent towards turning smartphones into digital wallets, Coin's idea seems a bit like a throwback, or at least a stopgap solution until those initiatives go mainstream. (Coin's debut coincided with the U.S. launch of Isis, a mobile wallet initiative backed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.)

Assuming the traditional wallet sticks around for a while, though, Coin might carve its own niche, especially if it can somehow incorporate drivers' licenses, tickets and library cards, among other stubbornly analog forms of ID.

In 2015, Humanoid Robot Will Be Able To Keep Your Secrets

Dying to share a secret but can't trust anyone? How about sharing it with your robot? Robots that can keep secrets are presently being designed by scientists from Britain.

Humanoid robots are not just the stuff of science fiction — these computing devices are likely to be walking around our streets in the next decade.

That is why Oxford University researchers are exploring privacy concerns surrounding surrogate robots.

The research team, from the Universities of Oxford, Bath, Exeter, Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have started measuring how people respond to robotic surrogates in public spaces.

The researchers are introducing an advanced-programmed humanoid robot, " Nao" to the public in Bristol in 2015. Finding ways of preventing information stored on the robot being hacked or passed on to others is one of the main challenges.

Explain his work to embed privacy in the design of robots; Dr Ian Brown said that while they will record and transmit what they see and hear, they will not unnecessarily reveal the identities of the people they have captured.

Humanoid robotics is an emerging research field that will become increasingly important as robots start to assist people in their daily lives — for example, becoming companions for older people in their homes.

Dr Brown, associate director of Oxford University's Cyber Security Centre and senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and his Oxford colleague Dr Joss Wright, are part of a UK team of researchers working on this £2 million three-year project examining the implications of robots in public spaces.

The issue is around how much information is gleaned and stored, particularly as these sociable human-seeming devices could lead to us being less guarded about what we reveal.

Dr Brown said, "When we begin to interact with friendly-looking humanoid robots, our expectations and assumptions shift. New questions arise about how much we trust these devices. Some people might develop an emotional attachment to them, particularly in situations where robots play the role of companions. It is important, therefore, that we design robots that have privacy embedded into their design, so their information gathering is restricted to what is needed to interact and carry out their tasks, and information about the identity of their human users is kept to a minimum. Otherwise, these robot friends could betray the trust of the people they come into contact with, passing on information to third parties."

"Humanoid robots have the potential to gather, store and analyse data about our movements and activities," said Dr Wright. "While they provide opportunities to make our lives easier, the potential loss of control over this information should concern us. At Oxford we have been exploring how individuals can maintain control over information about themselves, while still enjoying the potential benefits of robotic technology."

The techniques being developed for providing information without compromising users' privacy include matching people into groups with similar interests, either online or at social gatherings, without needing each person to share their interests.

This would also allow commuters to search for car-pooling partners without broadcasting their home location and work route, which will be useful as self-driven cars start appearing on Britain's streets. It would also help motorists plan routes allowing for rush-hour traffic without the need for pervasive monitoring infrastructures.

Swiss Website Lets You Vitually Hike Through The Alps

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Of course in future we all will be able to do more and more things without leaving our home, but what if I would say that you already can hike the Swiss Alps while being in your living room, thanks to technology for the unbelievable experience offered by

Translated as Web Hike, this revolutionary website allows visitors to see the most beautiful sights the Alps have to offer, from the perspective of a hiker. To achieve the desired effect, the project initiators used real hikers to film HD footage of their  mountain treks and uploaded the material to their website. All in all there are 10 stages that cover 130 kilometers of hiking, from Thusis (Switzerland) to Tirano (Italy). It all unfolds at normal speed, so it would take you days to go through the whole thing, but the best part is anyone can just jump through the footage however they like and see the most popular sights of the mountain range in a matter of hours.

To understand just how incredible this web hike really is, you have to check it out for yourself. The cameramen are absolutely silent throughout the whole experience, so you can only hear their footsteps and the nature sounds in the background. The camera is very steady, the quality of the footage is very good, and the perspective almost makes you feel like you’re actually there, only you’re in your underwear and munching on potato chips, not worrying about muscle aches. If you though Google Street View and those panorama-style pages were cool, this is going to blow your mind.

Although this virtual hike through the Alps allows anyone to see their beauty from the comfort of their own home, tourist chiefs in Switzerland hope this project will actually attract more visitors to the area. “We don’t think it will stop people coming to enjoy the real thing. You can’t experience the clean air and the pure countryside by being a couch potato” said spokesman Gieri Spescha.

Doctors To Grow Ear, Nose & Other Body Parts From Fat

British doctors will undertake a path breaking procedure to reconstruct people's faces with stem cells taken from their fat.

The team has successfully grown cartilage in the laboratory and believe it could be used to rebuild ears and noses.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) say the effectiveness of human stem cell therapies for facial reconstruction has been effectively investigated and shows how stem cells could pose a viable alternative to current approaches to facial cartilage reconstruction such as ear and nose reconstruction.

GOSH is world renowned for successfully treating patients born with a malformed or missing ear, a condition known as microtia.

The two-stage ear reconstruction takes cartilage from the patient's ribs and a new scaffold is moulded and placed beneath the skin from it.

Both the clinical and cosmetic results of this procedure have been very good.

However, as Patrizia Ferretti, head of developmental biology unit at the ICH and her co-authors demonstrate in their study, the potential application of human stem cells and tissue engineering could further improve results and would obviate the need for this invasive part of the procedure, which leaves a permanent defect in the donor site.

What the team envisages is taking a tiny sample of fat from the child and stem cells would be extracted and grown from it.

An ear-shaped scaffold would be placed in the stem cell broth so the cells would take on the desired shape and structure. Chemicals would then be used to persuade the stem cells to transform into cartilage cells.

This could then be implanted beneath the skin to give the child an ear shape.

Dr Ferretti said "We used stem cells harvested from the abdominal tissue of young patients affected by craniofacial conditions to explore, in our laboratories, how these might be used in future surgery. The use of stem cells from the paediatric patients themselves circumvents the issue of rejection and would overcome the need for immunosuppressive therapies".

The study suggests that combining stem cells with scaffolds can be of great value for several applications.

In addition to ear and nose cartilage reconstruction, they could be used, for example, to improve the quality of tracheal transplants.

Daring Robotic Mission To Jupiter's Moon 'Europa'

Nasa is plotting a daring robotic mission to Jupiter's watery moon Europa, a place where astronomers speculate there might be some form of life.

The space agency set aside $15 million in its 2015 budget proposal to start planning some kind of mission to Europa. No details have been decided yet, but Nasa chief financial officer Elizabeth Robinson said on Tuesday that it would be launched in the mid-2020s.

Robinson said the high radiation environment around Jupiter and distance from Earth would be a challenge. When Nasa sent Galileo to Jupiter in 1989, it took the spacecraft six years to get to the fifth planet from the sun.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute astronomer Laurie Leshin said it could be "a daring mission to an extremely compelling object in our solar system."

Past Nasa probes have flown by Europa, especially Galileo, but none have concentrated on the moon, one of dozens orbiting Jupiter. Astronomers have long lobbied for a mission to Europa, but proposals would have cost billions of dollars.

Last year, scientists discovered liquid plumes of water shooting up through Europa's ice. Flying through those watery jets could make Europa cheaper to explore than just circling it or landing on the ice, said Nasa Europa scientist Robert Pappalardo.

Nasa will look at many competing ideas for a Europa mission, so the agency doesn't know how big or how much it will cost, Robinson said. She said a major mission goal would be searching for life in the strange liquid water under the ice-covered surface.

Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb said going to Europa would be more exciting than exploring dry Mars: "There might be fish under the ice."
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