New Armored Wall System Could Replace Sandbags in Afghanistan

Posted By Ben Goulding, 18 February, 2010 | permalink

Troops landing in Afghanistan in the coming months may no longer have to spend countless hours stacking sandbags and digging trenches. An $800,000 investment in an armored wall system known as McCurdy’s Armor could have Marines rapidly erecting 6.5-foot-tall mortar-, RPG- and bullet proof fortresses in less than an hour. And best of all, it stacks like Lego!

The armor can be set up in a variety of arrangements (U-shaped, J-shaped, etc.), and in instances where troops are worried about armor piercing rounds a second layer of armor can supplement the structures. But the walls aren’t just a protective cocoon for far-flung outposts; ballistic windows offer protection while giving Marines a line of sight and the ability to fire downrange, meaning McCurdy’s Armor can be deployed as both a defensive stronghold as well as a tactical firing position.

When it’s time to pull up camp, Marines can quickly break down their ersatz stockade, stack it back in their vehicles and move on to fortify the next position without leaving a single thing behind. Just try pulling that off with sandbags.


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Skiing Robot Races Down Snow Slope

Posted By Ben Goulding, 20 October, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

Developed by Bojan Nemec, from the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, this skiing robot can navigate autonomously using a video camera and various other sensors.

The laptop control center plans the robot’s trajectory, using a camera to measure its distance from the race gates. Gyros and force sensors help the bot stay stabilized on the slopes.

The robot carries a GPS unit, but it’s used to help measure speed, not for trajectory planning. That makes sense, if you’re trying to build a robot that works more like a human, relying on vision.

Click the link for some skiing robot bloopers and outtakes!


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Photoshop + Image Recognition = PhotoSketch = Win

Posted By Ben Goulding, 7 October, 2009 | permalink

PhotoSketch has got to be the coolest program that I have ever come across. It’s a piece of software created by five Chinese Computer Science and Technology students at Tsinghua University and the National University of Singapore, that uses Photoshop and image recognition technology to create a picture based on your sketch.

Here’s how it works:

“Step 1. Draw the outlines of the figures you want in your picture – anything from seagulls to a Mercedes, whatever tickles your fancy,

Step 2. Add labels for each of the items, as well as for the background.

Step 3. PhotoSketch will then find real-life images to match your doodles and put them together in a Photoshopped image that will make your jaw drop.”

Here’s an example in which a cheetah and a motorcyclist have been sketched with a desert background. PhotoSketch then gets to work and conjures up a mind-blowing picture.





This video explains how it works.

(Vimeo Video)

Wow, just wow!

Via Mashable

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Gross Mechanical Tumor is a Computer Peripheral

Posted By Ben Goulding, 29 September, 2009 | permalink

Mechanical Computer Tumor. Image: Mio I-zawa

Whoever designed this computer peripheral may need to seek help immediately. I mean why would you want to design a “mechanical” tumor that connects to your computer to measure your CPU?

Okay, aside from the geek bashing, the way this thing works is actually pretty cool. The flesh of this organic-looking material beats like a pulse as your computer processes data. The emphasis of the expansions and contractions depend on the amount of stress your computer is experiencing.

Equipped with a series of motors and pneumatic actuators, the mechanical tumor pulsates gently when the CPU load is low. When the CPU load is high, the tumor’s air compressor is activated, causing the lump of flesh to inflate.

Here it is in action:

(Youtube Link)

One can only imagine the outcome if your computer goes into overload, crashes or decides to blow up…


1 Comment | Posted in: Internet | Sci/Tech
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10 Best Things We’ll Say to Our Grandkids

Posted By Ben Goulding, 22 September, 2009 | permalink

Future GrandkidsHere’s a nice post I saw on Wired, about the 10 best things we’ll say to our grandkids.

1. Back in my day, we only needed 140 characters.

2. There used to be so much snow up here, you could strap a board to your feet and slide all the way down.

3. Televised contests gave cash prizes to whoever could store the most data in their head.

4. Well, the screens were bigger, but they only showed the movies at certain times of day.

5. We all had one, but nobody actually used it. Come to think of it, I bet my LinkedIn profile is still out there on the Web somewhere.
6. 英語曾經是統治語言。 瘋狂,哼? *

7. Our bodies were made of meat and supported by little sticks of calcium.

8. You used to keep files right on your computer, and you had to go back to that same computer to access them!

9. Is that the new iPhone 27G? Got multitasking yet?

10. I just can’t get used to this darn vat-grown steak. Texture ain’t right.

* Translation: “English used to be the dominant language. Crazy, huh?”

Some of the things we do seem very strange when you come think about it. Meat and calcium, hmmm.

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Immortality is Only 20 Years Away?

Posted By Ben Goulding, 22 September, 2009 | permalink

Immortality. Terminator

The concept of immortality may seem science-fiction for most, however scientist, Ray Kurzweil believes that immortality could be only 20 years away through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the human body works.

Kurzweil, 61, who has predicted new technologies arriving before, says theoretically, at the rate our understanding is increasing, nanotechnologies capable of replacing many of our vital organs could be available in 20 years time.

Mr Kurzweil calls his theory the Law of Accelerating Returns. Writing in The Sun, Mr Kurzweil said: “I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever.

“Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.

“Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen.

“Heart-attack victims – who haven’t taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts – will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive.

“Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes.

“If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go. Virtual sex will become commonplace. And in our daily lives, hologram like figures will pop in our brain to explain what is happening.

“So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs.”

Do you believe that there is potential for humans to become immortal, and if so, do we really want it/is it rational to have it as an option?


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GPS From An Old Nokia Cellphone

Posted By Ben Goulding, 21 September, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

And I was under the impression that GPS was supposed to make your life easier…

2 Comments | Posted in: Entertainment | Internet | Sci/Tech
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50 Things That Are Being Killed By The Internet

Posted By Ben Goulding, 7 September, 2009 | permalink

Internet Revolution. Image: masternewmedia

The internet has been the revolution of our time, and it’s generally changed our lives for the better. I mean, we have an eternity of information at our fingertips, can communicate with others around the globe at the click of a button as well as being able to bank and shop from our homes, and that’s just the start. But the internet is not all good and it does have it’s downsides. Take a look at this really cool article entitled “50 Things That Are Being Killed By The Internet” from the “Telegraph”.

Here’s a brief extract:

1) The art of polite disagreement
While the inane spats of YouTube commencers may not be representative, the internet has certainly sharpened the tone of debate. The most raucous sections of the blogworld seem incapable of accepting sincerely held differences of opinion; all opponents must have “agendas”.

2) Fear that you are the only person unmoved by a celebrity’s death
Twitter has become a clearing-house for jokes about dead famous people. Tasteless, but an antidote to the “fans in mourning” mawkishness that otherwise predominates.

3) Listening to an album all the way through
The single is one of the unlikely beneficiaries of the internet – a development which can be looked at in two ways. There’s no longer any need to endure eight tracks of filler for a couple of decent tunes, but will “album albums” like Radiohead’s Amnesiac get the widespread hearing they deserve?

Click the link for the full 50.


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Visual Effects: 100 Years of Inspiration

Posted By Ben Goulding, 4 September, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

Here is a collection of clips from notable visual effects films, showing the advances that have been made in special effect technology over the past century.

1900 – The Enchanted Drawing
1903 – The Great Train Robbery
1923 – The Ten Commandments (Silent)
1927 – Sunrise
1933 – King Kong
1939 – The Wizard of Oz
1940 – The Thief of Bagdad
1954 – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1956 – Forbidden Planet
1963 – Jason and the Argonauts
1964 – Mary Poppins
1977 – Star Wars
1982 – Tron
1985 – Back to the Future
1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1989 – The Abyss
1991 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day
1992 – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
1993 – Jurassic Park
2004 – Spider-Man 2
2005 – King Kong
2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2007 – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2007 – The Golden Compass
2008 – The Spiderwick Chronicles
2008 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


1 Comment | Posted in: Entertainment | Sci/Tech | Television
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Hands Teach You To Play The Piano

Posted By Ben Goulding, 19 August, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

Do you want to learn to play the piano, without having an instructor teach you? Well now you can, with “Concert Hands.”

Concert hands is a new technology with four main components – the software, controller box, ten finger sleeves, and two wrist pilots. The software takes the song file and converts it to a proprietary file system where the controller box distributes the signal to the wrist pilots and finger sleeves.

When the music begins the wrists pilots guide your hands across the piano to a specific location and the finger sleeves receive a pulse to indicate which key to press. The idea is after a period of time the repetitive motions and signals will develop muscle memory within the end user and enable him or her to play their favorite songs on their own.

So in effect, “Concert Hands” doesn’t actually “teach” you how to play the piano, but instead helps you to memorize finger movements so that you can play one particular song, whilst having hands that look like they belong at the back of a server rack.

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Rubber Band Machine Gun

Posted By Ben Goulding, 10 August, 2009 | permalink

Forget flicking rubber bands with your finger…Rubber band technology just went up a notch. Take a look at this awesome rubber band machine gun. Reloading must be a real pain though i guess!

(Youtube Link)

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Unbelievably Skilled Robots

Posted By Ben Goulding, 1 August, 2009 | permalink

With every day, robot technology is improving and here’s the proof. These robots, created by Ishikawa Komuro Laboratories, have way more hand-eye co-ordination and skill than us humans in terms of speed and precision. Check it out!

(Youtube Link)


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Bill Gates Too Popular For Facebook

Posted By Ben Goulding, 27 July, 2009 | permalink

Bill Gates FacebookBill Gates has stopped using Facebook after he confessed that managing his profile had become “way too much trouble”.

At an event in New Delhi, where Bill was receiving an award for his charity work, Gates said he couldn’t keep up with friend requests. “I had 10,000 people wanting to be my friend,” he told the audience. “I am not a 24-hour-a-day tech person” he said.

Despite Gates deleting his personal Facebook profile, he has a Facebook fan group dedicated to him with 17,000 followers and a support page for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with 34,000 fans.

Bill also warned that despite the benefits of technology, some could waste people’s time if they weren’t careful…the words ‘Windows Minesweeper’ spring to mind.


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A Car For The Blind

Posted By Ben Goulding, 25 July, 2009 | permalink

One major drawback for the blind, is their inability to drive. Well, undergraduates at Virginia Tech have created a car that the blind can drive.

Car For The Blind

The students used the same technology that lets cars drive themselves, to allow the blind to drive. The vehicle uses a laser range finder, voice software and other sensory technology which worked flawlessly when blind drivers took the wheel.

A vibrating vest provides cues to follow when accelerating and decelerating. The vest vibrates in different places — the back, the belly and the shoulders — to convey different commands. When the entire vest vibrates, it means, “Slam on the brakes!”

This is a great step forward for the blind. Perhaps in the future, such technology could be used to benefit everyone. It could certainly help cut down alcohol-related traffic incidents. Blinding work guys!


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Baseball Playing Robots

Posted By Ben Goulding, 24 July, 2009 | permalink

Now this is a really cool piece of technology. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have managed to create a robot that can pitch to a separate robot who has a near-perfect swing. Check out the video.

(Youtube Link)

The robot pitcher consists of a high-speed, three-fingered hand (developed by professor Masatoshi Ishikawa and his team from the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology) mounted on a mechanical arm (developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). With superb control of nimble fingers that can open and close at a rate of up to 10 times per second, the robot can release the ball with perfect timing. Precise coordination between the fingers, hand and arm allow the robot pitcher to hit the strike zone 90% of the time.


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100% Computer Generated Burger, Fries And Drink

Posted By Ben Goulding, 23 July, 2009 | permalink

This may look like a normal McDonalds advertisement, but watch up to 28 seconds in.

They always look better in the commercials, don’t they?

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Bowlingual Translates Dog Barks Into Words

Posted By Ben Goulding, 20 July, 2009 | permalink

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

The Bowlingual, a gadget that analyzes a dog’s bark to detect its emotion, is being relaunched.

Japanese toy maker, Takara Tomy produced the Bowlingual. The device is able to analyse the acoustics of a dog’s bark and translate it into words. It focuses on six emotions including sadness joy and frustration and is able to convey these emotions to a human.

The Bowlingual Voice was first put on sale in 2002, however today’s model is much more technologically advanced. It consists of a microphone which is attached to the dog and a hand-held unit device. When the dog barks, the technology is able to translate the sound into words displayed on the hand-held device which attempts to tell the user what the dog is trying to say.

A good idea, but is it really needed? Dogs aren’t the most complicated of creatures. Surely an owner could take an educated guess at why the dog is barking. It doesn’t have too many thoughts or demands does it? Having said that, with 300,000 orders of the first Bowlingual, maybe it’s a must-have gadget.


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Japanese Introduce Smile Test At Work

Posted By Ben Goulding, 12 July, 2009 | permalink

Motivational theory tells us that happy workers are productive and efficient workers, but one Japanese company has taken the theory one step further.
Image: Keihin Electric Express Railway Co.

Keihin Electric Express Railway Company has introduced a system to check that staff are smiling enough. The “Smile Scan” is able to analyze the facial characteristics of a person and gives their smile a score from 0 to 100 percent.

A camera is linked to a computer with the smile-scanning software installed on it. An employee must stand in front of the camera and have their eye, lip and wrinkle characteristics measured to give them an overall smile rating.

Those whose smiles are sub-standard will be given a message advising them to cheer up. “You still look too serious,” or “Lift up your mouth corners,” are just some of the statements that will be displayed on the screen.

Employees are required to scan their smiles before work and will receive a print out of their daily smile which they are then expected to keep throughout the day.

Maybe in the future we could see this practice going global. Would the smile scanning machine motivate you? Let us know.

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Let’s Get Ready To…Pea Shoot?!

Posted By Ben Goulding, 12 July, 2009 | permalink

Wimbledon, make way, it’s time for the pea shooting world championships!

Yesterday, the world pea shooting championships took place at Witcham, Cambridgeshire, UK. The crowd gathered as reigning champion, George Hollis, 58, took to the green.

Each contestant must shoot 5 peas, by blowing with the mouth, at a putty target 12 yards away.
Pea Shooting. Image: emmawoodsphotos
Spectators looked on in awe as George aimed his laser-guided shooter and took fire. Those peas flew like bullets out of an AK47…George was on fire!

His home-made shooter featured a laser sight, a gyroscopic balancing mechanism and “other bits” borrowed from his son’s Nintendo. This state of the art technology has helped George to three world championships, however yesterday, he was unable to complete the quadruple.

The title was one by Jim Collins of Camridgeshire, UK, using a more traditional-style peashooter.

Better luck next year George!

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Einstein Robot Teaches Itself To Smile

Posted By Ben Goulding, 11 July, 2009 | permalink

Einstein Robot. Image: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

Researchers at the University of California have created a robot that can teach itself facial expressions. When we were infants we taught ourselves to smile and frown and be aware of our facial expressions. Well, this very clever gadget works in the same way.

The Einstein robot had previously required individually programmed facial movements, however with the use of facial recognition software, through a trial-and-error technique it can now teach itself to change it’s face until it achieves a real expression or emotion.

Today, Einstein is able to express emotions like joy, sadness, anger and surprise. Check out the video!


2 Comments | Posted in: Sci/Tech
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