Sunday, January 31, 2010

Honda unveils a home solar hydrogen-producing station

Honda unveils a home solar hydrogen-producing station
Despite its current impracticality, Honda keeps plugging away at its hydrogen vehicle prototype. The company just revealed a component that brings its hydrogen vehicle closer to reality — a more compact solar hydrogen-making machine that you install in your personal garage, turning water into hydrogen fuel .

The Honda Solar Hydrogen Station uses solar power to perform this alchemy, able to produce a half a kilogram of hydrogen during the day (or using cheaper electricity at night), and refueling that car when you park it in the garage that night.

The idea is to create enough hydrogen for a car to make its round-trip daily commute without using any fossil fuels. We can only hope mass production will someday bring the price of each vehicle below the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs now.
[DVICE via Ubergizmo]

The Next Touchscreens Will Be Very Sensitive About How Hard You Poke Them [Touchscreens]

We've made the leap from resistive to capacitive touchscreens that are more accurate—and multitouchy—so what's next? Screens that feel how hard you tickle them.
One of several approaches to making that happen uses a quantum tunneling compositequantum tunneling happens when you bring two conductors close together, but with an insulating layer still between them, and electrons jump between the two conductors. Peratech's way to do this is with a polymer that changes resistance as you apply force for the insulating layer, so that bottom line, screens using this tech can tell how hard you pressing on the screen, since the sensors are able tell within two micrometers of how far in the screen's bending.
While there's other tech out there for pressure-sensing screens, Peratech says their tech uses less power and is more sensitive. The first gadgets with Peratech's sauce is coming out as early as April, so we'll able to poke things with that much more intent. Though, I have a hard enough time hitting the right stuff on screen—now I'm gonna have to keep track of how hard I press?
[Gizmodo via MIT via Engadget]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hitachi builds 40.26mph elevator, fastest in the world

Hitachi builds 40.26mph elevator, fastest in the world
Buildings are getting higher, and nobody wants to stand around waiting for an elevator. Hitachi aims to fix that with its latest elevator, a 40.26 mph (64.8 km/h) rocket that's the fastest in the world.
It's installing the new 1,080 m/min lift in the 698-foot G1Tower, a building constructed by Hitachi in Hitachinaka City, Japan specifically for testing elevators. The tower's construction will be completed in April.
The new elevator goes so fast it needs its own air pressure control. Maybe they could use one of these in the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai). But maybe not, the Burj's elevators are almost as fast, flying at 40mph. Time for a race.
[DVICE via JCN Network]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple iPad Official Pictures [Apple]

If you still haven't gotten your fill of the iPad here are some official pictures to satisfy your appetite.

[Gizmodo via Apple]

Nokia launches 16GB X6

A somewhat tame version of the X6 has been announced by Nokia today and will become available this quarter. The new 16GB X6 has half the memory capacity of the 32GB version, and it’s also missing the Comes With Music feature. If you think you can live with that, the 16GB X6 has an impressive battery life of 11.5 hours talk time and 18 days of standby, 4.5 hours of video playback and 35 hours of music playback. Of course, Nokia doesn’t cut any corners with cameras on its high-end devices, and this one features a 5 megapixel shooter with Carl Zeiss optics and a dual LED flash — pretty much par for the course on Nokia devices these days. The new X6 also has in-phone video editing capabilities and TV out support so you can watch your amateur cinematography on a big screen. No details on pricing, but we’d imagine it to be less than the full-fledged 32GB version.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Could These Be Pictures of the Real Apple Tablet? [Tablet]

New pictures claiming to be the Apple Tablet have surfaced, and they’re the most realistic ones we’ve seen yet.
The images, posted by designer and user interface guy Dustin Curtis, reveal what appears to be the tablet on top of a MacBook pro. He posted the images on his Posterous.
While we cannot verify or debunk their authenticity, they are the most complete images we’ve seen yet of the rumored device. Without the interface running, any video, or a picture of its backside, we can’t even guess as to whether they’re real. Our gut says no, but they’re convincing images.
We already knew of Dustin Curtis — he’s a talented designer that got attention for his mockup redesign of the American Airlines website and the subsequent firing of an AA employee who gave him a response.
Take a look at these pretty pics; we’ll do the investigating to try to determine if they’re real. Let us know what you think of the images in the comments.

The Tablet Images


Friday, January 22, 2010

This EMP Cannon Stops Cars Almost Instantly [EMP]

We've heard of electromagnetic pulses cutting steel in milliseconds, but apparently they can also be used to stop moving cars just as fast. The cannon demonstrated in the video here is still a prototype, but it definitely seems to work.

The idea is that an electromagnetic pulse would be used to disable a car's microprocessors, chips, and whatever other electronics are keeping it running. The final 'cannon' system, built by Eureka Aerospace, will apparently a bit smaller and lighter than what we see in the video—it'll be suitcase-sized and about 50 pounds—and it will "stop cars in their tracks up to 656 feet (200 m) away."

I wish they tested that cannon on a moving car, but it does just what it should by disabling the car's electrical system. Only trouble is that even once the system is perfected and in use it can still be foiled easily: By using a pre-1970s car which doesn't rely on microprocessors. Whoops.
[Gizmodo via Flight Global via Pop Sci]

Astronaut Posts First Real-Time Tweet from Space [Twitter]

Astronaut Mike Massimino, a.k.a. @Astro_Mike, may be credited with the first tweet from space, but technically it was “assisted,” and hence not live. Move over @Astro_Mike, @Astro_TJ just sent the first real-time tweet from space.

New software aboard the International Space State has made it possible to tweet live from space, and Astronaut Timothy Creamer wasted no time in sending the first digital message.
@Astro_TJ, as Creamer is known on Twitter, posted the first live update about eight hours ago while in orbit, saying: “Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s”
Of course live tweeting from space is pretty darn cool, but we’re even more impressed with the technology that NASA has employed to make the activity possible. The beauty is that the technology will also give astronauts the ability to use the web and connect with loved ones from space in a much more real-time fashion.
Here’s how NASA describes the new technology and what it means:
“This personal Web access, called the Crew Support LAN, takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.
During periods when the station is actively communicating with the ground using high-speed Ku-band communications, the crew will have remote access to the Internet via a ground computer. The crew will view the desktop of the ground computer using an onboard laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.
Astronauts will be subject to the same computer use guidelines as government employees on Earth. In addition to this new capability, the crew will continue to have official e-mail, Internet Protocol telephone and limited videoconferencing capabilities.”


Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Know Corsair Dominator GTX 2333MHz Is Ridiculously Fast RAM Just By Looking At It [Gaming]

Corsair's Dominator GTX 2333MHz is the fastest RAM you can buy that's Intel XMP-certified, at 2333MHz with latencies of 9-11-9-27. Each 2GB module is individually tested, in case you're wondering why else it's $200 a stick.
[Gizmodo via Hexus]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Shoots HD Video (Also Takes Calls and Stuff) [Smartphones]

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz, formerly known as the Kurara, is a smartphone with enough optical muscle to challenge any high end pocket camcorder.
We'll ignore the Symbian S60 OS for a moment (pretending that Android wouldn't be so, so much more tempting), and point out the Vivaz's 8.1MP camera with perks like face detection, that's also completely capable of shooting 720P videos and uploading them to services like YouTube or playing them back through TV-out.
Otherwise, the Vivaz has the typical smartphone amenities, including a 3.2-inch (360 x 640) touchscreen, EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA 7.2 Mbit/s/HSUPA, Wi-Fi, GPS and MicroSD support. Look for the Vivaz soon, running somewhere between $670 and $750 in select markets.
[Gizmodo via Sony Ericsson via phoneArena]

HTC Bravo Snapped in the Wild

On paper, the HTC Bravo appears to be everything the Nexus One offers. Although the two practically mimic each other in terms of specs, there are some subtle differences. For instance, there is an optical joystick in place of the trackball. Also, there are four physical buttons across the bottom as opposed to touch sensitive buttons found on the Nexus One. The other two changes are the inclusion of Sense UI and multi-touch support. Other than that, one might consider them the same phone.
Thanks to someone over at Omio, the first 'in the wild' shot has arrived for the Bravo. For now, it appears that Bravo will be headed to T-Mobile UK. It's not known whether or not this phone will arrive in the US, but we get the feeling that many of our readers would welcome it. Couple the hardware of the Nexus One with the great interface that HTC has put together and you have a winning combination.

NASA's Puffin Is a Stealthy, Personal Tilt-Rotor Aircraft [PopSci]

What's cooler than a hover-capable, electric-powered, super-quiet personal VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft? If you answered 'absolutely nothing,' do read on, because NASA is preparing to oblige you.
The space agency's Puffin aircraft design will be officially unveiled tomorrow, showing just how far personal, electrically propelled flight could change the ways we live and get around.

The Puffin is something of a personal V-22 Osprey, complete with vertical-takeoff and landing capability (but minus the squad of Marines). But rather than tilting the rotors forward for horizontal flight, the whole craft — cockpit and all — pitches forward, meaning the pilot flies from a prone position. During takeoff and landing the tail splits into four legs that serve as landing gear, and flaps on the wings deploy to keep the aircraft stable as it lifts and descends.

Don't let the cuddly name fool you; as far as specs are concerned the Puffin is no slouch. Its 12-feet height and 13.5-feet wingspan mean it's big, but of manageable stature. In theory it can cruise at 150 miles per hour and sprint at more like 300 miles per hour. Since the craft is electrically propelled it doesn't need air intake, so thinning air is not a limitation, meaning it can reach — again, in theory — 30,000 feet before limitations on battery power force it to descend (clearly the pilot would need a pressurized cabin or oxygen tanks at that altitude, but we're just talking raw physical capability here).

The Puffin's range would be the most limiting characteristic, at just 50 miles, but that's simply a matter of battery density. Batteries are growing more dense by the day, so in coming years that range could be drastically improved.

Of course, the Puffin is so far just a cool digital rendering in a NASA-branded video, but let's not forget exactly who put men on the moon before we call the concept unfeasible. The coolest thing about the Puffin design is that it shows just how electric flight could revolutionize personal transportation. Aside from the military applications (super-stealthy troop insertions with very low thermal signatures?) the quiet, uncomplicated, low-powered electric lift — just 60 horsepower gets pilot and craft airborne — shows how a world in which everyday folks get around modern cities via personal aircraft may not be as sci-fi as was once thought.

[Gizmodo via Scientific American]
Popular Science is your wormhole to the future. Reporting on what's new and what's next in science and technology, we deliver the future now.

Build your own electric car with the Trexa platform

Build your own electric car with the Trexa platform
So you want an electric car, but you're not satisfied with any of your current options. Well, why settle? Just grab one of these Trexa EV platforms and build your own electric car!
Trexa is gunning to be the first electric vehicle devlopment platform, with a battery, driveline and power electronics built-in. You just add the passenger compartment on top. Want a pickup truck or a hot rod? The choice is yours, provided you've got the chops to put it together.

[DVICE via Trexa via Inhabitat]

China's Loongson Processor Could Power First Natural-Born Chinese Supercomputer [PopSci]

The People's Republic has unveiled more details on its quest to phase U.S.-made processors from its microchip diet. China's next supercomputer will run purely on Chinese processors, possibly before the end of this year.
China has been developing its own CPUs at the state-run Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) for several years, but iterations of its chip – known as Loongson or 'Dragon Core' – have been incapable of breaking into the elite ranks of supercomputing. China's last supercomputer, the Dawning 5000a, was intended to run on Loongson processors, but was eventually constructed around AMD processors when the ICT couldn't deliver a powerful enough chip quickly enough.

The Loongson 3, under development since 2001, should change all this if the ICT can deliver on its promise. Based on the MIPS architecture, the chips theoretically can be strung in 16-core clusters to perform at extremely high speeds, possibly hitting the petaflop performance mark with just 782 16-core chips. That's one quadrillion operations per second, for those of you keeping score.

Right now, of course, this is all on paper (well, a quad-core chip is in prototype, but the proposed 16-core bad boy is still under development). But authorities in the supercomputing field seem to agree that the chips, running in clusters, can hit the performance marks necessary to create a top-tier supercomputer. This isn't the first time the Chinese have promised a home-grown high-performance supercomputer, but for the first time it looks like they are going to deliver.

[Gizmodo via Technology Review]

Popular Science is your wormhole to the future. Reporting on what's new and what's next in science and technology, we deliver the future now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Strings? Where We're Going We Don't Need Strings [Guitars]

Strings? Nope. Frets? Not really. The Misa Digital Guitar, an open source, Linux-powered MIDI controller, brings shredding to the 21st century by dumping traditional guitar strings for buttons and a futuristic touch screen.
Before you wooden-guitar purists get all bent out of shape, the Misa's creator wants to make this perfectly clear: the digital guitar is intended to complement the traditional guitar, not replace it.
Intended as a tool for making electronic music, the Misa is played by pressing the 144 note buttons with the left hand and tapping a touch screen control pad with the right. As a MIDI controller, the Misa can play any instrument pack you happen to have on your computer.
The Misa's creator, Michael, explains:
In electronic music, the timbre (or colour) of the sound can be morphed in an infinite number of ways. For a guitar to accommodate this, the right hand needs more control than just plucking strings. You need to be able to control elements of the sound, such as sustain, pitch, filter cutoffs, contour or any other synthesizer parameter, in a way that has no physical constraints.
To take your solos back to the future, check out the Misa Digital homepage.
[Gizmodo via Misa Digital via Engadget]

Nokia Files Patent For a Bendy Phone With Many Functions [Patents]

Images of the Nokia Morph, a flexible concept phone with a transparent screen, cropped up nearly two years ago. The company's recently-filed patent for a device with a bendy screen suggests that the Gumbyphone may still have legs.

Nokia recently filed a patent for a device with a flexible screen that takes on different applications when the hardware is bent into different shapes.

While that diagram might make it seem like Nokia is trading in camping gear, the patent illuminates some of the phone's possible uses:
In one embodiment the pre-specified shape is also associated with a movement. As a pre-specified shape is detected and followed by the detection of a pre-specified movement an associated function is executed.'
'FIG. 10a shows a device having been bent to resemble a can, possibly used to hold beer or soda. A search will thus be performed for a bar or a pub either a specific franchise or any bar or pub in the neighborhood.
FIG. 10b shows a device having been bent to resemble a bowl. A search will thus be performed for a restaurant either a specific franchise or any restaurant in the neighborhood.
FIG. 10c shows a device having been bent to resemble a roof or a tent. A search will thus be performed for a hotel, motel or guest house either a specific franchise or any hotel, motel or guesthouse in the neighborhood.

There's no telling if this patent will amount to anything, but for now just be happy that Nokia's bendy phone may eventually see the light of day.
[Gizmodo via Go Rumors via Slash Gear]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nvidia GF100 512-Core Monster Graphics Card Previewed: Goodbye, Eyeballs [Graphics Cards]

The curtain's been dropped on much of Nvidia's upcoming Fermi-based graphics cards, and the five-hundred-and-twelve-core GF100 looks like a behemoth, indeed. A completely overhauled architecture is all about three things: scalability, parallelism, and geometry. Oh, and ripping your eyeballs out.
Tom's Hardware, Anandtech, HotHardware and others go pretty deep on the new architecture, which is now eminently scalable. Here's the overall structure of the GF100, which should give you an idea of the scalability—the GF100 is made up of four graphics processing clusters (GPC), themselves composed of four streaming multiprocessors (which are made up of 32 CUDA cores and texture units) and a raster engine:

To go deeper on architecture, you're better off reading the 10-page reports from any of the sites linked above, but bottom line, Tom's Hardware is predicting something like double the performance of Nvidia's current GTX 285. Anandtech also points out that Nvidia's geometry performance only went 3x between the NV30 engine in the ancient GeForce FX 5800 and current GT200 in the GTX 280, but the Fermi-based GF100 has 8x the geometry performance of the GT200. The endgame being that ' it allows them to take the same assets from the same games as AMD and generate something that will look better. With more geometry power, NVIDIA can use tessellation and displacement mapping to generate more complex characters, objects, and scenery than AMD can at the same level of performance.'
There is a cost. Even though it's at the 40nm process, those 3 billion transistors are going to run hot, and the GF100 maybe the hottest single-card GPU ever. It's also not going to be cheap. At all.
[Gizmodo via Tom's Hardware, Anandtech]