Hello Kitty Shocks The World

Posted By bobdoff, 10 July, 2009 | permalink

Hello Kitty Taser. Image: Hello Kitty Hell

Struggling to think what present to get your 7 year old daughter or want to find a special Christmas gift for your angelic pre-school niece? How about a nice plush cuddly Disney toy? Or may be pair of ballet shoes? Better still, why not purchase something from the Hello Kitty range? You can’t go wrong with that. Can you? Well, check out the latest technological gadget from the cartoon cat with a girlie image?

It looks a little like a hairdryer but you wouldn’t want be staring down the wrong end of this beauty. This creation is a custom version of the Taser C2, packed with 50,000 volts of sense-depriving electricity and a range of 15 feet. Now what idiot came up with this idea? Who in their right mind is going to buy a pink taser? Normal people will not buy these for their friends and family and hardened criminals and street gangs will surely be put off by the pink casing.

Is this a case of inappropriate branding? What next? The Rugrats revolver? Disney knuckle-dusters? Barney thumb screws?

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Burger King Goes Green

Posted By Ben Goulding, 9 July, 2009 | permalink

Burger King Goes GreenMcDonald’s is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly fast food chains in the world with it’s recycling and tree planting schemes, however Burger King is now following in it’s footsteps to create a greener world.

A Burger King franchise in New Jersey said it would test out new speed bumps which would utilize kinetic energy when a vehicle passed over the bumps in the drive-through lane, which could then be used to power equipment in and around the restaurant.

Andrew Paterno, who owns twelve Burger Kings in the New York Metro area said “More than 150,000 cars drive through our Hillside store alone each year, and I think it would be great to capture the wasted kinetic energy of these hundreds of thousands of cars to generate clean electricity.”

This plan was announced on the same day that a McDonald’s in Cary, N.C stated that it would be setting up an electric vehicle charging station.

This is a move in the right direction for both Burger King’s PR and the environment, however now that it is clear that the restuarant has innovative potential, should it use it’s innovation and make it’s food healthier for us all?

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Computer Learns Sign Language By Watching TV

Posted By Ben Goulding, 9 July, 2009 | permalink

British scientists have created a computer that is able to learn sign language by watching television shows that are both subtitled signed.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, came up with an algorithm to recognize gestures made by people. The team exposed the computer to around 10 hours of TV footage that was both signed and subtitled, tasking the software to learn 210 nouns and adjectives that appeared during the footage, of which it correctly learned 136 words.

The software uses a person’s arms to estimate the rough location of fast-moving hands and identifies flesh-colored pixels in those areas to understand the precise hand shape, however difficulty often arises when some words have different meanings depending on the context. E.g. cutting a tree has a different sign to cutting a rose.

Although this is a clever piece of technology, it still has a long way to go. Rather than working round the problem, maybe the researchers should concentrate their efforts more on making deaf people hear again. What do you think?

1 Comment | Posted in: Sci/Tech | Television
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“Thinking Cap” Closer To Reality

Posted By Ben Goulding, 7 July, 2009 | permalink

We all want to have fast, powerful brains…it would make life a whole lot easier. Well, scientists have moved a step closer to creating a “thinking cap” which can boost brainpower, enhancing the brain’s ability to learn.

New research has shown that stimulating a persons brain with magnets, significantly improved the ability of the brain to learn a task and remember it. Thinking Cap

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, took 30 volunteers and tested their ability to track a red dot on a computer screen using a joystick. The dots would move randomly, then enter a programmed patter and finally return to moving randomly. The volunteers were unaware of the repeated section.

During the test some of the volunteers had their brains stimulated by magnets, whilst the others did not. The results showed no significant difference in the volunteers ability during the random sections, however those that had their brains stimulated were better at tracking the red dots during the repeated section.

So there we have it. A “thinking cap” could be of benefit to us all, but especially to those with learning difficulties. Maybe we’ll all end up being geniuses in the not too distant future!

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Sony Patents Everyday Objects As Game Controllers

Posted By Ben Goulding, 6 July, 2009 | permalink

With video games becoming ever more realistic, Sony now has a patent on “real life objects” motion control technology. Yes, that’s right, in the future we could be using our real life keys to open doors, along with other everyday objects we own such as coffee mugs, drinking glasses, books, and bottles, in gameplay.

The patent is intended for the Playstation Eye which can recognise 3D objects and use them as part of its games.
patent
Players show the object (U shaped object in image above) to the camera, rotate it and save it as a file. The system is then able to recognize the object and respond to its movements.

It seems as if Sony is taking gameplay and motion sensing technology to a whole new level, which sounds very exciting. Although what’s next…Sony patenting its game players?

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New Technology For U.S. Soldiers

Posted By Ben Goulding, 6 July, 2009 | permalink

Land WarriorWhen the U.S. Soldiers of the 5th Stryker Brigade touch down in Afghanistan later this month, they will be equipped with the most high-tech gear to aid them in combat.

The new “Land Warrior” computer system enables soldiers to view digital terrain maps, track fellow soldiers with GPS, communicate with soldiers and medics via text messaging or whispers and quickly pinpoint where the enemy is located.

“We’d jump off the helicopter, and within seconds we knew exactly where we were and exactly where we the target was,” one soldier stated. “You don’t really need to communicate through the radio to find out where others are or pull a piece of paper out of your pocket to find out where you need to go.”

Like in the movies, soldiers’ helmets contain microphones and computerized eyepieces, and their rifles will have an extra array of laser sights and sensors networked with backpack computers.

The Pentagon’s push to continually improve soldiers’ equipment will most definitely come in handy as troops increase their offense against the Taliban.

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Rubik’s Cube Inventor Releases New Puzzle

Posted By Ben Goulding, 6 July, 2009 | permalink

Professor Erno Rubik, who sold over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes since 1980 is set to launch a new puzzle onto the market next week.

Rubik 360The game is called the “Rubik’s 360.” The 360 is a clear plastic ball holding six small balls of different colors. Players must get the colored balls from an inner sphere into matching slots on the outer sphere by shaking them through a middle sphere that has only two holes.

The Rubik’s 360 is set to repeat the success of the maddening Cube, which became an overnight sensation almost three decades ago and remains the world’s fastest-selling toy.

“I feel that the 360 is one of the most innovative and exciting puzzles we’ve developed since the Cube — adopting elements of my original design, challenging the solver to use skill, dexterity and logic,” Rubik said in a statement.

Priced at $14.99, the 360 is set to be a big success, following in the footsteps of the cube. If you get your hands on one of these spheres let us know what you thought of it? Is it any match for the legendary cube?

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