A team of scientists at Pittsburgh University has used small probes attached to monkey’s brains to test a robotic arm operated by thought only. The limb has a fully mobile shoulder, arm, and gripper hand. The probes were attached to the monkey’s brain, with their natural limbs being restrained. After a while, the monkey were able to control the robotic limbs with their minds as if they were their own. The idea here is that humans with missing limbs may be able to to train their minds to use a robotic limb as if it were the original. Currently the brain probes only last about six months, as organic matter begins to grow over them at that point. The team is working on developing a better probe.
Read More | BBC News
It looks like robots are getting better at replicating the human walking motion, just another one of those things we take for granted until we hurt our backs shoveling snow. Recently, three concept robots were unveiled by researchers from Cornell University, the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US and Delft University in the Netherlands. While walking robots are nothing new, these are doing it with much more efficiency by utilising the natural dynamics involved. In fact they use about the same amount of energy a human being would, where Honda Motor Co.’s ASIMO, was using approximately 10 times that. I would love to see a movie of the new robots in action, as the article describes the walking as “awkward but amiable.” Very cute.
Read More | New Scientist
Boost Mobile has launched a limited edition i860 handset by Motorola with classic ‘60’s surf-style wood paneling. Aside from the gimmick, the i860 still looks like a pretty decent phone, with a hands-free speaker, 4X digital camera, and walkie-talkie capability. Even though it’s a limited edition phone, $499 does sound pricey though. I mean, you could pick up the Treo 650 for a little less, actually. I suppose novelty always comes at a price.
Read More | Boost Mobile
Other than for driving your cat and co-workers crazy, I can’t quite think of a reason for this thing. But maybe those are reasons enough! This device is an air launcher used to shoot a focused blast of air up to 20 feet away. It uses no electiricity, requiring no charging or batteries. Simply pull on an elastic launcher, and instant hilarity ensues. It’s also pretty quiet, for maximum surprise effect. Measuring at about 17 inches x 15 inches by 11 inches, it’s yours for $24.99 - and it’s probably safer than airborne paperclips and rubber bands.
Read More | Gadget Madness
Who would’ve thought there would be a day when a 5.1 digital camera is considered “entry-level.” Well, that’s what Nikon is calling one of their six new cameras, the Coolpix 5600, coming in March for $279.95. It will feature built-in image improvement technology, red-eye removal, and a D-Lighting feature which compensates for insufficient lighting. The camera is also equipped with a blur warning and an alert feature that informs the user of a ruined shot due to a handshake. Tripods, people.
Read More | Techtree
It seems that author and scientist Ray Kurzweil believes that human immortality is a mere twenty years away. Rather than chasing the fountain of youth, however, Ray believes that nanobots are the secret ingredient needed to keep a person alive forever - barring a major accident. Nanobots are microscopic robots which are the size of a human blood cell. They swarm through the body repairing brain cells, bones, muscles, and arteries. In fact, Kurzweil believes that you can download programs to these nanobots which will then have them compensate for genes that may cause health problems. Sounds odd, I know - until you see that he is an extremely accomplished scientist and inventor.
We have been keeping you up to date on the latest Xbox 360° rumors as they appear, but this one takes the cake. Claiming they have an inside source, Kotaku has revealed more Xbox 360° details. If they are right, the next Xbox will certainly look a lot better looking than the first – it will be a sleek silver set top worthy of being a countertop display, have curves instead of angles, and will be able to stand upright much like the PS2. Its side will have an oversized back-lit power button, nicnamed “The Ring of Light”. This Xbox will also be easy to customize with the use of colorful designer face plates that simply pop on and off. Even the dashboard will be customizable to fit each user’s unique taste. Kotaku was even able to confirm some of the inner workings of the Xbox 360°. The console will feature high definition audio/video, include wireless controllers, and will come in two packages – one with an internal hard drive and another without the hard drive. According to Kotaku’s source, Microsoft has not been able to achieve backward compatible functionality on its next box - but they are working on making it happen. This information confirms some rumors that we have been informing you about, but we must stress that this information has to be considered a rumor until official confirmation is made public by Microsoft. Until that day comes, we can drool over these details.
Read More | Kotaku
I know structured wiring and home automation aren’t exactly at the tip of your tongue. All I can say is that it will be. If you want to be able to integrate all of your high tech audio and video toys with your home entertainment systems, and build them into multi room designs, you will need both home automation and structured wiring. The reason I mention this is that Leviton has announced that it is releasing the LE&AP, a multimedia hard drive distribution unit for its structured wiring enclosures. With a Linux based operating system, the LE&AP allows you to distribute your digital music and videos across multiple platforms. Send your MP3’s to your stereo and your digital videos and digital camera images to the televisions. The distribution unit will also share out your broadband connection. I’m an MCSE and I’m going to be looking at this way before I look at mounting a computer with windows media system loaded on it.
This is an 8-zone commercial grade gateway and firewall, with 4 USB expansion ports, and a 120 GB internal drive. It can be upgraded to larger storage capacity as well as software upgrades. From the looks of the system eventually it will integrate with your security and home control devices as well.
With basic audio and video connections as well as advanced digital connections, the unit connects to your TV or stereo and uses your home network for communications. With the remote and some easy to use menus on the TV homeowners can browse and select all of their audio, video and photo storage.
Read More | Leviton
Microsoft has issued a recall notice on the power cord of Xbox consoles made before Jan. 13, 2004 in Continental Europe, and units made for the rest of the world before Oct. 23, 2003 - Xbox’s built after those days were built in such a way that the failure does not occur. The recall is due to a defect on some boxes that lead to minor singe burns and scorched carpets or entertainment centers. According to reports to Microsoft’s customer service and warranty repair data, the failure rate is about 1 in 10,000 units. That may seem like a small percentage, but why take the chance? Xbox owners may order a replacement through the Xbox website or by calling the toll free number for their respective country.
Read More | Reuters
You know we gotta keep you in the loop as it pertains to the Apple rumor mill. While it isn’t yet official, it appears that the ship date for Apple OS X 10.4 (a.k.a. Tiger) will be June 30th 2005. Now, that works…except for the fact that ThinkSecret reported that Apple is “working hard on Final Cut Pro 5 and will use the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in mid-April to debut the software.” The report also states that “Final Cut Pro 5 will require Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and will take advantage of the new Core Video technology, which functions as a bridge between QuickTime and a supported video card to deliver hardware-accelerated video processing.” This seems to imply that if Final Cut Pro 5 is going to debut in April, and will require OS X Tiger to run, that Tiger should also be available in mid-April. It’s tough being a super sleuth.
Oh, and the image to the right is what is believed to be the final packaging box.
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