Category Archives: SCIENCE

eco-ideas: turn your Soda bottle into power-free light bulbs

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(image credit: YouTube video)

in certain situation, a room might just be still dark during the day due to (possibly) lack of windows. rather than installing lightings, this man decided to go with a more environmentally friendly approach – by using a water-filled soda bottle. to start off, this ain’t a new news, it was featured back in 2008 by some blogs but we thought it is a worthy news, especially with the rising oil price which could drive the electricity rates up further. the process of creating this free light is really quite fool-proof. all you need is to top up the soda bottle with clear water, topped with 2 capful of bleach to keep those nasty microorganisms built up at bay and stuck a film canister to protect the cap of the bottle from the harmful sunlight. once done, install them on your roof, with part of the bottle exposed outside, of course.

needless to say, proper weather proofing should be done around the bottle to keep the elements out. of course, this method would only work if there’s no ceiling in between. which means it would be an ideal way to light up standalone sheds or outhouses which are not hooked up to the grid. anyway, it turns out that this ingenious method of lighting is capable of putting out the equivalent of a 50 watt incandescent light bulb. not bad at all. check out the video after the jump.

via Hack A Day

seeing green could be history for night vision camera

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(image credit: DIGINFO)

for those who have used night vision capable video camera would be familiar with the green footages associated with it. however, the green footages could be a thing of the past with the newly developed color night vision technology that lets the camera sees red, blue and green objects using highly sensitive infrared photography technology. developed by AIST, this new technology would no doubt benefit a wide spectrum of field, including security and wildlife observation.

in term of security application, footages from this new night vision technology could let investigators easily identify the perpetrator’s clothing or automobile color, which at the present moment, are all in greenish perspective. this would means more accurate identification and hopefully, an earlier arrest of the culprits. the continual research and product development will be carried out by Nanolux Research, an AIST venture for technology transfer.

AIST has planned for a more compact and higher performance, commercial version camera based on this new development and it will try to make this new night vision camera less expensive then the current security cameras in the market.

DigiInfo TV via DVICE

new ‘Frozen Smoke’ may enable higher capacity batteries

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(credit: screenshot from UCF video by mike) the new material multiwalled carbon nanotube aerogel, nicknamed ‘Frozen Smoke’ developed by UCF

the next time when someone asked you for a smoke, don’t dismiss them immediately. they could meant to say ‘do you have batteries’. researchers from the University of Central Florida have engineered the world’s lightest carbon material which could be used to detect pollutants and toxic substances. additionally, due to its flexibility and sensitivity, the carbon nanotubes could be used in robotic application to induce ‘feelings’ to the robot’s fingers or hands, enabling them to handle anything from a power saw to holding a packet of crackers without crushing them.

the new carbon material belongs to the family of lightest solid known to man, commonly termed as the “frozen smoke”, or also known by its technical name, aerogel. the researchers created a multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) aerogel which are so small that each of them is several thousands time thinner than a strand of human hair. in MWCNT, nanotube takes the place of silica, a major component in sand, which increases the materials’ practical application. another property of the nanotubes is its large surface area which means great amount of energy could be stored in the aerogel, thus increasing the capacity of lithium batteries or supercapacitors.

aside from energy storage and pressure sensitivity applications, the MWCNT can be developed to undertake sensing roles. taking advantage of its larger surface area, combining with improved electrical conductivity enables the development of sensor that is capable of screening for toxins in food or water supply. similarly, this technique can be used to develop equipment capable of detecting traces of explosive. in essence, this invention is a significant milestone for the researchers and its development could open up to new areas of explorations and applications.

having said that, we are excited about this development as it could realize two of our many dreams for this world: one, a longer lasting battery that people like Steve Jobs could use and two, robotic arms (or even feet) that has ability to sense or feel which could lead to the development of a humanoid that will eventually take over the world. nah. we are just kidding (about the taking over the world part).

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(credit: screenshot from UCF video by mike) the multiwalled carbon nanotube aerogel looks a burnt foam rubber but trust me, it is more than that

University of Central Florida via Inhabitat

in future, we could be touching ourselves to make a call

Microsoft Skinput 544x311px
(credit: screenshot from YouTube video)

if you think Microsoft is letting its guard down after the success of Kinect (success as hack, not as a gaming peripheral), then you are all so wrong. as if moving our body for gaming isn’t enough, Microsoft wants us to touch ourselves to make a call or play a game of Tetris. yup, that’s right – touch ourselves. no keyboard, no mouse, just us and our arms and hands. Microsoft has tasked a team of researchers to dream up of new ways on how we might one day make a call, control our media players and reinstall the Windows OS to Mac OS. nah… i made the last one up.

one of the projects, dubbed “Skinput” is a system that allows you control your devices by touching specific points on your arm. apparently, unique vibration is generated when we ‘hit’ at different parts of our arm, thus this technology is able to pick up this unique signature and matches it to a specific operations, such as shuffling of songs on your MP3 player. check out the video after break on the vibration-sensing based control, which also can combine with a pico projector mounted on the armband (which also houses the sensing and processing unit of Skinput) to project an interface on your arm or palm.

another method being explored is sensing of electric signals from the muscles as it contracts. hence, when we executes different gestures or movements, our muscles in our body will emit signals in which a contraption such as an armband with sensors built-in could pick them up and translating them to the preassigned action. check out the cool video of hacked Guitar Hero taking input from muscles electric signals after the jump.

while these developments will certainly improve our mobility greatly but it will not see the light of implementation until many years on as they are still in its research phase. though the prospect sounds exciting but these technologies would have far bigger implication to our daily life than we thought. we would probably grow conscious about how we interact with the objects around us, as these moves might just trigger you to call 911 or volume up your media player accidentally or perhaps, getting tiny bruises all over our arms.

via Fast Company

CIA declassified spy gadgets photos now on public domain

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(image credit: United States Government Work) Robot Fish “Charlie” is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UVV)

this is one news that would definitely quench our thirst for real-life spy gadgets. the newly overhauled CIA website now includes link to CIA official pages on YouTube and Flickr, containing historical agency videos and photo galleries.

the videos didn’t get our attention as much as the photo galleries on Flickr which includes never-before-seen spy gadget images, along with a bunch of more mundane photos. shown on the photo galleries include standard spy gear such as miniature imaging devices, concealment contraptions, and code breaking machines – which we might have already imagined or seen them in spy movies (as in the concept, not the actual item).

however, there are also more advanced gadgets such as “Charlie”, an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) disguised as a fish (is that a cat fish?). “Charlie” is a line-of-sight radio control robotic fish that comes complete with built-in ballast and propulsion systems which allow it to covertly swim underwater. who would have suspect a fish would ever spy on them? clever.

another exploration by CIA was the dragonfly “Insectothopter” which is one of the first micro spy drones back in the 70s. according the caption on CIA’s Flickr gallery, the Insectothopter “was an initiative to explore the concept of intelligence collection by miniaturize platforms.”

these are just a handful being shown which are all part of the history and with the technological advancement of today, one could imagine the kind of super gadgets the agency now possess.

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CIA Spy Gadgets - Enigma cipher machine 400x600px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Letter Removal Device 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Letter Removal Device 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - M-209 mechanical cipher device 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Dragonfly Insectothopter micro-UAV 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - CIA Semi-Submersible 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Concealment Device (Modified Ladies Make-Up Compact) 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - "Belly Buster" Hand-Crank Audio Drill 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Tobacco Pouch Camera 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Stereoscope and Case (3D map viewer) 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - “Dead” Drop Spike Concealment Device 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Pigeon Camera (for use with real pigeons) 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - "Silver Dollar" Hollow Container 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Seismic Intruder Detection Device 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - this is how a spy looks like. what? no tux??? 600x400px

CIA Spy Gadgets - Kodak "Matchbox" Camera 600x400px

via Fox News

kinect-hack: swim the web instead of surfing the web

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(credit: screenshot by mike)

kinetic must be the favorite among hackers. i mean its motion sensing technology has huge potential (other than gaming…) and this one is called the SwimBrowser which is a natural interaction web browser made for the 2011 PrimeSense/OpenNI developer challenge. its a weird name but it does garner attention after all. in anyway, user browses the net by motion similar to swimming strokes, hence the name SwimBrowser – swimming googles is optional. Continue reading kinect-hack: swim the web instead of surfing the web

unmanned aircraft in the guise of a hummingbird [video]

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meet Nano Hummingbird, the world’s first unmanned aircraft in guise of a hummingbird. developed by AeroVironment, the Nano Hummingbird is part of the Phase II contract awarded by DARPA to design and build a flying prototype “Hummingbird-like” aircraft for the Nano Air Vehicle or NAV program. Continue reading unmanned aircraft in the guise of a hummingbird

say hello to Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator, and he wants a job

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(image credit: Meka Robotics) Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator | about US$340,000.00 | mekabot.com

developed by Meka Robotics, a specialist in development of robotic systems for researchers, the M1 Mobile Manipulator embodies mobility, dexterity and what Meka termed, complaint force-control which basically, means the the Meka Bot won’t accidentally crush your hand during a handshake. unlike most robot out there, M1 doesn’t have lower limbs, instead it uses simple motorized wheel base for mobility. this will means stairs and undulating floor are out of bound for our dear M1 but at least, you know it won’t lose balance and topple over.

along with a host of other sensors, the M1 rides on the existing Microsoft Kinect as part of its sensor system to give it both video and 3D depth perception which closely imitates human vision. though i put a price on the above, but this isn’t going to be a robot for everyone. the price tag for a M1 Mobile Manipulator is a cool $340,000 for a user-customizable design and it’s up for acquisition for institutions who are keen using it as a base for their own developments. it will be interesting see how the rest is going to expand the M1 capability and perhaps, we would be seeing a real world ‘Sonny’ in near future.

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check out the short clip of the M1 in action after the break.

DARPA mind-controlled arm brings hope to the disabled

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(image credit: John Hopkins)

the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency‘s (DARPA) mind-controlled prosthetic arm could be available in the market in four or five years time. in line with the recently-announced priority review program for breakthrough medical devices in order to get innovative and lifesaving treatment to the market faster, the DARPA’s mind-controlled will be first to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Continue reading DARPA mind-controlled arm brings hope to the disabled

$500 hack creates this low-cost video chat robot

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(credit: screenshot by mike)

when Johnny Chung Lee was temporarily separated from his fiance, he decided to device his own version of telepresence robot to keep in touch with her, instead of just relying on the traditional web cams. the robot in question consists of two major components, a netbook which he purchased for about $250 and an iRobot Create, an affordable educational robot which he acquired for about $250. with his Video Chat Robot, Lee can now navigate around his former home as well as chatting with his fiance without being confined to the desk.

bridging the gap between the netbook and the iRobot Create is a custom software written by Lee, which controls the robot movement and communication is via the freely available video conferencing software such as SKYPE. Lee took a step further by integrating the charging of the two components into a one step charging process. however, Lee is quick to point out several disclaimers with regard to this process. with just one click, Lee is able to direct the robot to seek out the docking station for charging. this of course, was a built-in feature of the Create which Lee integrated into his hack.

like all good hackers, Lee has made the VideoChatRobot software including the source and documentation for the dock modifications available for download at his blog. so for those who aspires to create a Video Chat Robot yourself, here’s your opportunity to do so. meanwhile, check out Lee’s video on his awesome creation after the jump.

procrastineering via Hack A Day