Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Map for the Programmable World

by Chris  Arkenberg,

IFTF recently published the map for When Everything is Programmable. I did the research & forecast for Neuroprogramming and contributed to Combinatorial Manufacturing. For Neuroprogramming, I focused on brain-computer interface technology in medical, military, and futuretainment. I was, frankly, amazed at just how much rapid development is happening in the field (and how much money is moving through it, as well).

Perhaps surprisingly, Neuroprogramming looks much closer than the molecular construction I researched for Combinatorial Manufacturing. The promise of Drexler et al still seems to be a ways off but Claytronics offers a really compelling path towards programmable matter.

Delivering babies, treating heart attacks, scanning brains – There’s an app for that

from Singularity Hub:

AirStrip Technologies is setting your doctor free. The Texas based company is developing a suite of hardware/software solutions that allow physicians and nurses to monitor important vital signs from their smart phone.

Now, your doctor can use her iPhone to keep track of heartbeats, nurse’s notes, exams results, and drug doses even when she is out of the hospital.

You can check out a free demo of AirStrip OB at the App Store, or watch a local news segment …

Researchers develop new brain-like molecular processor

from ZDnet:

An international research team from Japan and Michigan Technological University have demonstrated a molecular circuit that can evolve continuously to solve complex problems that challenge today’s supercomputers.

The massively parallel circuit contains a layer of molecular switches (monolayer) that simultaneously interact in a manner similar to the information processing performed by the neurons in the human brain. That is, they can evolve to tackle complex problems. That’s because information processing circuits in digital computers are static, and operate serially.

Nanotechnology’s road to artificial brains

from Nanowerk:

If you think that building an artificial human brain is science fiction, you are probably right – for now. But don’t think for a moment that researchers are not working hard on laying the foundations for what is called neuromorphic engineering – a new interdisciplinary discipline that includes nanotechnologies and whose goal is to design artificial neural systems with physical architectures similar to biological nervous systems.

One of the key components of any neuromorphic effort is the design of artificial synapses. The human brain contains vastly more synapses than neurons – by a factor of about 10,000 – and therefore it is necessary to develop a nanoscale, low power, synapse-like device if scientists want to scale neuromorphic circuits towards the human brain level.

Schrödinger’s cash: Minting quantum money

from NewScientist:

Now the theoretical foundations are almost in place that could one day allow quantum cash to become a reality.

Since quantum money is just information, it can be stored and transmitted just like a digital picture or a text file. But because it has quantum properties too, it cannot be copied.

It is this combination that makes quantum cash so attractive: whoever is in possession of it has exclusive and unequivocal ownership of it, just as with hard, physical cash and unlike a credit card.

Brain-controlled exoskeletons advance with MindWalker


A team of European experts is working on a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton that could enable people currently confined to wheelchairs to walk again and also help astronauts rehabilitate to Earth gravity after prolonged periods in the weightlessness of space.

The MindWalker system, which is being developed as part of a three-year, 2.5 million euro project, consists of a brain-computer interface (BCI), a virtual reality training environment and a robotic exoskeleton attached to the legs.

Australian CSIRO analysis of the Megatrends and Megashocks of Our Future World

from Next Big Future:

CSIRO has a new report describing the outcomes from a global foresight project. It presents five megatrends and eight megashocks (global risks) that will redefine how the world’s people live.

The report identified eight megashocks relevant to Australian science:

1. asset price collapse
2. slowing Chinese economy
3. oil and gas price spikes
4. extreme climate change related weather
5. pandemic
6. biodiversity loss
7. terrorism
8. nanotechnology risks

Japan eyes ‘mind-reading’ devices, robots by 2020

from Physorg:

Japan plans to develop “mind-reading” robots and consumer electronics that can be controlled by thought alone and hopes to market them within a decade, the Nikkei daily reported Thursday.

The sci-fi like devices would employ so-called brain-machine interface technology, which analyses users’ brain waves and brain blood-flow patterns detected through sensor-mounted headsets.The envisaged devices would include television sets that can be operated without lifting a finger and mobile phones that send text messages composed purely through thought, the business daily said.

New metamaterial first to bend light in the visible spectrum

from PopSci:

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have engineered a metamaterial with a refined 3-D structure that gives light a negative refraction index upon entering the material.

Put another way, it bends light the opposite way one might expect, irrespective of the angle or polarization of incoming light waves. Put yet another way: We’re getting closer to that invisibility cloak we’ve been looking for.

Can computers read?

from The Brown and White:

Professors Henry Baird and Daniel Lopresti are taking steps to answer this question. Their research of OCR (optical character recognition) software is slowly bridging the gap between artificial intelligence and artificial perception.

According to Barid, OCR technology is centered around “trying to get computers to see things the way we do” – to be able to read, translate and understand written documents just like humans.This is more difficult than it sounds, however, and OCR technology is far from perfect.

As of now, OCR machines can read clean texts written in Western languages effectively. However, problems occur when documents are handwritten, dirty, noisy, old-fashioned or low-quality.

New car is steered with your eyes, not hands

from Associated Press:

Tired of spinning that steering wheel? Try this: German researchers have developed a new technology that lets drivers steer cars using only their eyes.

Raul Rojas, an artificial intelligence researcher at Berlin’s Free University, said Friday that the technology tracks a driver’s eye movement and, in turn, steers the car in whatever direction they’re looking.

With LIDAR, Smart turbines can predict the wind

from green futures:

Smart turbines that can predict changes in air current could dramatically boost the efficiency of wind power. Existing turbines are designed to rotate into the wind and adjust their blade angles, but this only tends to happen periodically – whereas wind conditions are often much more changeable.

But a laser-based equivalent to radar, called LIDAR, will make it possible to monitor wind speeds up to 200 metres away from the turbine, says Torben Mikkelsen of the Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Denmark.

MIT looks at “Computing beyond Silicon”

from MIT’s Technology Review:

It is inevitable that eventually Moore’s Law will fail–at least for silicon technology. Further miniaturizing silicon transistors to fit more of them on a microchip will become impossible, or at least too expensive. Researchers are anticipating that day by developing alternative materials such as gallium arsenide, graphene, and carbon nanotubes.

The hope is that transistors made from these materials will be smaller, faster, and more energy efficient than anything that could ever be made from silicon. “We need to add more materials to the toolbox,” says Michael Mayberry, director of components research at Intel.

Exhibitors showcase latest glasses-free 3D display, e-paper technologies at Finetech Japan 2010

from Digitimes:

Color e-paper and 3D glasses-free display products were a major attraction at the just concluded Finetech Japan 2010 in Tokyo.

Newsight showcased a series 3D displays requiring no glasses, including a 70-inch model for public display applications. The company claimed that the 70-inch model was the largest 3D display in the world.

Bridgestone displayed a 13.1-inch touchscreen 4,096-color e-paper enabled by color filter (CF).

Concept: Solar and wind-powered hanging monorail

from Yanko Design:

At the tops of the towers are urban wind power generators. On top of each of the train cars are solar power generators. The interiors of the cars are mostly open, with seats along the sides to conserve space.

The seats inside the cars are made of Corian which is both strong and easy to clean. OLED panels, touch screen interfaces, Wi-Fi internet, headphone jacks, Bluetooth, information boards, interactivity galore!

The Post-scarcity Economy: What is it & how do we get there? – An interview with Jason Stoddard

Edge of Tomorrow Report – 4.18.2010
an interview with Jason Stoddard
by Wade Inganamort (@swadeshine)

HP Designjet 3D printer now on sale in Europe

from PopSci:

Today Stratasys, the company that is manufacturing the device for HP, announced that it has shipped the first units of the HP-branded Designjet 3D fabrication machines, which will be available in May — but only in Europe.

The Designjet 3D is based on Stratasys’s Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, which turns three-dimensional CAD drawings into tangible prototypes by extruding partially molten ABS plastic in extremely fine layers one atop the other, forming the entire 3-D model in a single piece from the ground up.

Designjet 3D will print in ivory-colored plastic only while Designjet Color 3D will print single-color parts in up to eight different colors.

10 Smart Clothes you may be wearing soon

from ReadWriteWeb:

In the emerging Internet of Things, everyday objects are becoming networked. Clothing is no exception.

It’s still early days for Web-enabled clothes – the best example so far is the Nike+ running shoe, which contains sensors that connect to the user’s iPod. But expect to see everything from your shirt to your underwear networked in the not too distant future.

In the following list of ten ‘smart clothing’ items, we showcase Internet pants, a proximity sensing shirt, a heart sensing bra, biosensor underwear, a “thought helmet”, and more!

3-D printing device could build Moon base from lunar dust and regolith


Future astronauts might end up living in a moon base created largely from lunar dust and regolith, if a giant 3-D printing device can work on the lunar surface.

The print-on-demand technology, known as D-Shape, could save on launch and transportation costs for manned missions to the moon. But the concept must first prove itself in exploratory tests funded by the European Space Agency (ESA)

Artificial photosynthesis achieved with nanotechnology

Pure awesomeness from MIT:

A team of MIT researchers has found a novel way to mimic the process by which plants use the power of sunlight to split water and make chemical fuel to power their growth.

In this case, the team used a modified virus as a kind of biological scaffold that can assemble the nanoscale components needed to split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of a water molecule.

Splitting water is one way to solve the basic problem of solar energy: It’s only available when the sun shines. By using sunlight to make hydrogen from water, the hydrogen can then be stored and used at any time to generate electricity using a fuel cell, or to make liquid fuels (or be used directly) for cars and trucks.