Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Pills Send Messages When Swallowed [Pills]

University of Florida researchers have developed a signaling technology that can be embedded into drug tablets to notify clinicians and caretakers that a pill has been ingested. Although a bit of electronics is going to be moving through the digestive system, the researchers believe that it will pass safely without causing side effects to the patient. If the technology proves itself, we may soon be using it to confirm compliance in clinical trials or to monitor patients under a strict drug regimen.
One part is the pill, a standard white capsule coated with a label embossed with silvery lines. The lines comprise the antenna, which is printed using ink made of nontoxic, conductive silver nanoparticles. The pill also contains a tiny microchip, one about the size of a period.

When a patient takes the pill, it communicates with the second main element of the system: a small electronic device carried or worn by the patient – for now, a stand-alone device, but in the future perhaps built into a watch or cell phone. The device then signals a cell phone or laptop that the pill has been ingested, in turn informing doctors or family members.

Bashirullah [Rizwan Bashirullah, UF assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering] said the pill needs no battery because the device sends it power via imperceptible bursts of extremely low-voltage electricity. The bursts energize the microchip to send signals relayed via the antenna. Eventually the patient’s stomach acid breaks down the antenna – the microchip is passed through the gastrointestinal tract — but not before the pill confirms its own ingestion.

The team has successfully tested the pill system in artificial human models, as well as cadavers. Researchers have also simulated stomach acids to break down the antenna to learn what traces it leaves behind. Bashirullah said those tests had determined the amount of silver retained in the body is tiny, less than what people often receive from common tap water.
[Medgadget, Press release]

Hubble confirms the accelerated expansion of the universe [Hubble]

Hubble confirms the accelerated expansion of the universe
Astronomers have been studying the results of the biggest survey ever conducted by the Hubble space telescope with an international team of scientists, led by Tim Schrabback of the Leiden Observatory and Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia. The team has been poring over data covering more than 446,000 galaxies in the hopes to better understand cosmic expansion, using ground-based telescopes to compliment the data. What did they find? Not only is the universe getting larger, but it's getting larger at an accelerated rate.

The technique being used is called weak lensing, whereby astronomers study distortions to find out more about the characteristics of distant galaxies. The heart of the study has been on dark matter: 'Dark energy affects our measurements for two reasons,' the University of Bonn's Benjamin Joachimi said. "First, when it is present, galaxy clusters grow more slowly, and secondly, it changes the way the Universe expands, leading to more distant — and more efficiently lensed — galaxies. Our analysis is sensitive to both effects."

The study also calls back to Einstein, according to Martin Kilbinger from the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris: 'Our study also provides an additional confirmation for Einstein's theory of general relativity, which predicts how the lensing signal depends on redshift.'

As for the Hubble, its survey saw it circle the Earth 600 times, photograph the same area of the universe with a slight overlap 575 times, requiring 1,000 man hours of observation.

This clearer map, according to Harvard's William High, made all the difference: 'Before, most of the studies were done in 2D, like taking a chest X-ray. Our study is more like a 3D reconstruction of the skeleton from a CT scan. On top of that, we are able to watch the skeleton of dark matter mature from the Universe's youth to the present.'

[DVICE via via EurekAlert!]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bionic eye could be restoring sight as early as 2013 [Bionic Eye]

Bionic eye could be restoring sight as early as 2013
After over a decade of work, a group of researchers at Bionic Vision Australia have created a prototype of a surgically inserted eye implant that could see real-world applications in as little as three years.

To call it a 'bionic eye' really only addresses part of it, as the entire setup involves the implant, a pair of glasses with a camera, and a tiny processor you keep in your pocket. The camera feeds footage to the processor, which interprets the sensory information and then wirelessly sends images to the eye implant, which in turn stimulates the neurons of the retina to translate that visual data and encourage your brain to create images from it.

The Australian government has invested nearly million in the technology, and the country's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, hails it as 'one of the most important medical advances we see in our lifetime,' commenting that it 'has the potential to restore sight to thousands of people in Australia and across the world.'

It won't offer perfect vision, though it will allow those who have lost their vision to see images recreated from light. Bionic Vision Australia released a video to show what this might look like when showing off an earlier prototype of its technology (pictured above). Check it all out below.

[DVICE via Bionic Vision Australia via PhysOrg]

Full-page Braille screens on their way [Braille]

Researchers at North Carolina State Univeristy have created a method to allow for full screen electronic Braille displays. Current Braille displays show one line at a time, severely limiting the value of the display. This will create a matrix of Braille readouts on a larger scale.

The researchers have developed a concept called a “hydraulic and latching mechanism,” which would allow the development of such a display system. The mechanism would be made of an electroactive polymer that is very resilient and inexpensive, when compared to current Braille display technologies. “This material will allow us to raise dots to the correct height, so they can be read,” says Dr. Peichun Yang, a postdoctoral research associate at NC State and co-author of the paper. “Once the dots are raised, a latching mechanism would support the weight being applied by a person’s fingers as the dots are read. The material also responds quickly, allowing a reader to scroll through a document or Web site quickly.”

Thoe whole system sounds very steampunk with tiny Braille pixels (brixels?) popping up and down in rapid succession. However, it could allow for more interesting and richer text interfaces for the blind. One researcher, David Winick, wrote “The last 20 years of computer technology have been relatively inaccessible – and today’s common mobile computing devices, from smart-phones to digital navigators and iPads, have been completely nonexistent – to blind people, because the display technology for the blind has not kept pace.”

[CrunchGear via EurekaAlert]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Printable Nanotube RFID Tags Could Make Wireless Checkout Aisles a Reality [RFID]

Printable Nanotube RFID Tags Could Make Wireless Checkout Aisles a Reality
Wireless checkout is many a grocer's dream. It's like Amazon's one-click shopping in the real world, maximizing efficiency for the customer and cutting costs for the supermarket. A new printable RFID tag could make it a reality.

RFID checkout is far from being a new idea—it's already seen small scale implementation in various pockets around the world—but it has never been cheap enough to be a viable, cashier-replacing option. Current RFID tags, made with silicon, cost about 50 cents each to produce, so stamping one on every single item in the store just doesn't make sense.

But a collaboration by researchers at Sunchon National University in Suncheon, South Korea and Rice University in Texas has yielded a new RFID tag that can be printed directly on paper or plastic packaging, eliminating the need for silicon altogether and bringing the cost down to 3 cents a tag. Now we're talking.

The invention was made possible by the wonders of nanotechnology (what isn't these days?). The researchers developed a semiconducting ink, made with carbon nanotubes, that is capable of holding an electric charge. They're currently refining their invention, trying to pack more data into smaller tags and bring the cost down to one cent each.

A fifty-fold reduction in price makes RFID a much more attractive checkout alternative. I just hope someone's still going to bag my groceries.

[Gizmodo via Wired]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nanomagical Material Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer [Science]

Nanomagical Material Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer
Fighting cancer or making nuclear reactors that constantly self-repair themselves, helping to avoid the possibility of another Chernobyl. Clearly, nanotechnology will either save Earth or convert us into Borgs. Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are betting on the first option.

Their new research work—published in Science—could make nuclear reactor much safer by using nanocrystalline materials. These materials are capable of patching the vacancies left by the atom collisions that result from atomic reactions. This is how it works:

Nanomagical Material Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer

Their computer simulations have shown that this materials can work at a large scale, using a newly discovered event called the 'loading-unloading' effect. The discovery will help build reactors that are resistant to the decay caused by the nuclear reactions themselves, which include 'swelling, hardening or embrittlement can manifest in the material and lead to catastrophic failure.'

Anything that can avoid 'catastrophic failure' seems like a good idea to me.
[Gizmodo via Los Alamos National Laboratory via Daily Mail]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer [Medicine]

This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer
Look close. You may be staring at the end of cancer. Those tiny black dots are nanobots delivering a lethal blow to a cancerous cell, effectively killing it. The first trial on humans have been a success, with no side-effects:
It sneaks in, evades the immune system, delivers the siRNA, and the disassembled components exit out.
Those are the words of Mark Davis, head of the research team that created the nanobot anti-cancer army at the California Institute of Technology. According to a study to be published in Nature, Davis' team has discovered a clean, safe way to deliver RNAi sequences to cancerous cells. RNAi (Ribonucleic acid interference) is a technique that attacks specific genes in malign cells, disabling functions inside and killing them.
This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer
The 70-nanometer attack bots—made with two polymers and a protein that attaches to the cancerous cell's surface—carry a piece of RNA called small-interfering RNA (siRNA), which deactivates the production of a protein, starving the malign cell to death. Once it has delivered its lethal blow, the nanoparticle breaks down into tiny pieces that get eliminated by the body in the urine.
The most amazing thing is that you can send as many of these soldiers as you want, and they will keep attaching to the bad guys, killing them left, right, and center, and stopping tumors. According to Davis, 'the more [they] put in, the more ends up where they are supposed to be, in tumour cells.' While they will have to finish the trials to make sure that there are no side-effects whatsoever, the team is very happy with the successful results and it's excited about what's coming:
What's so exciting is that virtually any gene can be targeted now. Every protein now is druggable. My hope is to make tumours melt away while maintaining a high quality of life for the patients. We're moving another step closer to being able to do that now.
Hopefully, they will be right.
[Gizmodo via Caltech via Nature]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

QuantumFilm Could Change the Way Your Camera Phone Takes Pictures [PhoneCam]

Earlier this morning at DEMO, I was wowed by a presentation from a company called InVisage. InVisage is developing a product they call QuantumFilm which has the ability to make significant changes to the the digital camera space, most notably when dealing with small CMOS sensors on small form factor devices like camera phones.
The biggest problem currently with camera phones isn’t so much the megapixel rating, it’s how much light the sensor can capture. If you have a lot of light, camera phones can turn out great photos. However, right now, capturing more light requires using larger CMOS sensors.
QuantumFilm utilizes a custom-designed semiconductor material that is designed to replace some of the silicon in image sensors used in CMOS cameras. This material which is based on quantum dots, can capture much more light, and can plug into the existing CMOS manufacturing process.

Invisage claims that QuantumFilm can offer twice the light detection and twice the quantum efficiency of typical silicon-only sensors. The potential for QuantumFilm basically means that manufacturers could put cameras with substantially better quality into their products without having to adopt larger sensors or create a whole new manufacturing process.
Mashable talked to Invisage at the show and they said they hope to have a prototype done by the fall and hope to be partnered with ODMs for end-user consumption within the next 18 months.
QuantumFilm is one of the more high-level products at DEMO, but if it can work, it genuinely has the possibility of pushing the next evolution of camera phone and other small CMOS devices forward.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Underground Nuclear Reactor Powered by Bill Gates' Money [Nuclear Power]

An Underground Nuclear Reactor Powered by Bill Gates' Money
A unit of Intellectual Ventures—the patent firm started by ex-Microsoft chief tech dude Nathan Myhrvold and funded partly by Bill Gates—called TerraPower is talking with Toshiba about using its nuclear reactor tech to build underground reactors.

Their reactor tech supposedly can 'run for decades on depleted uranium without refueling or removing spent fuel from the device.' So, these reactors are built way, way underground, without people actually working in them. Of course, these safer, cheaper and awesomer reactors are years and years away from actually being developed.

Still, Bill Gates + nuclear power sounds kind of nerdsexy, maybe more so than the nigh-mythical Bloom Box, even if you're ambivalent about what Intellectual Ventures actually does (just Google—or Bing—"Intellectual Ventures patent troll"). And, hopefully, we won't see any blue smoke screens coming out of windows in the ground.
[Gizmodo via WSJ, Image via bibliodyssey/Flickr]

Samsung outs the Galaxy S Android smartphone [Android]

We knew Samsung had something coming today at CTIA. The gigantic banner outside kind of told us that. So here it is: the Android-powered Galaxy S. There's a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen up front with an unspecified 1GHz CPU chilling inside. The Android release has been modified and uses Sammy's 'Social Hub' always-on social networking features. Swype, DLNA, and ThinkFree's MS office app are also included. We hear it will have a world-wide release later this year, but no word on specifics including price or carriers just yet. Stay tuned for some hands-on pics and our initial thoughts.

Update (Gizmodo live):

  • Android 2.1
  • 5MP camera
  • HD (720p) video playback
  • up to 16GB of onboard memory

P4: Honda’s Asimo humanoid gets a re-design after 13 years [Robots]

Honda’s Asimo is probably the world’s most famous humanoid robot. The company today leaked the first technical details and pictures of the fourth version of Asimo, the P4. And the new and improved Asimo, which took 13 years for Honda to develop (P3 was unveiled in 1997), looks much more elegant and human astronaut-like than the previous
Standing 160cm tall, Asimo is probably only second in height to “tower robot” Tsutenkaku. P4 is as tall as P3, but Honda managed to reduce his weight from 130kg to 80kg. He now has 34 joints (two more joints in each hand than P3) and is said to be able to dance better than his predecessors (“dancing” was always one of Asimo’s special skills).

The new Asimo has a more flexible waist (which allows him to walk in a smoother way) and completely redesigned chest and shoulder areas. It looks completely different from the P1 Honda showed back in 1993. We’ll let you know when we get the first videos showing Asimo in action.

[CrunchGear via Plastic Pals and Response]

Darpa's Urban Radar To Follow Your Car Everywhere You Go [DARPA]

Darpa's Urban Radar To Follow Your Car Everywhere You Go
If they succeed, DARPA will be able to follow your car everywhere you go—even if you get into downtown Manhattan's traffic—making movies with car chases absolutely pointless. If Steve McQueen were alive, he would be very sad today.

The new radar is called Multipath Exploitation Radar, and combines three-dimensional urban maps with a Ku-band radar running at frequencies high enough to resolve vehicle details. This makes the MER capable of fixing a target on anything that moves on the ground. The system will depend on unmanned air vehicles, bouncing their radars on ground and buildings and comparing the patterns with 3D maps. The result would be a complete picture of the movement in a city. Once they nail the chasing of one vehicle, DARPA wants to enable multiple target tracking.

Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, citizen.
[Gizmodo via New Scientist]

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Commodore 64 is coming back, sort of [C64]

The Commodore 64 is coming back, sort of
The classic Commodore 64 keyboard computer is coming back, albeit with some updated guts and a shiny new finish. The Commodore brand has been licensed for use making new computers, ones that will keep the keyboard-based form factor.

Just what will be inside and how much they'll cost isn't clear, but hey, new Commodores! If you were a nerd in the 80s, you've gotta be excited.

[DVICE via Engadget via Gizmodo]

3D printer uses bio-ink to create the first 'printed' human veins [Medicine]

3D printer uses bio-ink to create the first 'printed' human veins
It sounds like science fiction, but researchers from the University of Missouri have a 3D printer that could one day recreate human organs by using a cocktail made from human cells. If your liver was failing, for instance, cells from your liver could be used to print a healthy one, or cells from your heart could be used to create a new heart, and so on.

Right now, all of that is still a long way off. What has been done, however, is recreate a human vein using 'bio-ink,' or the liquid sludge that's produced using human cells and printed onto 'bio-paper.' This paper slowly dissolves as the layers of ink bind and start to take on the shape us humans would recognize.

Gabor Forgacs, the man who created the Organovo NovoGen prototype printer, told NPR that the blueprints for the organs, or 'schemes' as he calls them, can be created using x-ray technology and the like, giving researchers an outline and floor plan to each organ. It's not as simple as it sounds, though, and you probably won't hear about printed organs replacing a failing liver. Human testing could begin within five years, according to Forgacs, whose team is currently perfecting the process to print out a human vein.

Each vein starts as a series of circles and then, like layering flattened donuts one on top of the other, the entire stack creates a cylinder — a vein.

NPR has an interview with Forgacs you can listen to here.

[DVICE via Inhabitat]

GM’s Awesome Augmented Reality Windshield [Driving]

We love technology that makes us feel like we’re living in the future. Case in point: General Motors has been working with several universities to develop a working next-generation heads-up display that turns an ordinary windshield into an augmented reality information dashboard.
Such a system can improve safety and advance knowledge behind the wheel, visually identifying important objects in physical space like road signs and the edges of the road you’re on in conditions of poor visibility. It can even bring GPS functions right into the dashboard by outlining the exact building you’re going to. Check out a demo of the system in action below.
The HUD windshield uses night vision, navigation and camera-based sensors to gather data relevant to your surroundings as you drive, and ultraviolet lasers project corresponding images onto the windshield surface. GM says to look for this system being incorporated into its vehicles in the near future.
Would you be excited to have an AR windshield in your next car?

Tags: AR, Augmented Reality, cars, GM, gps, technology, transportation

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quantum Mechanics Observed by the Human Eye [Quantum Mechanics]

Quantum Mechanics Observed by the Human Eye
Remember when, just the other day, we were talking about the future of storage, and how quantum mechanics is on the pipe dream, it's totally magic list for now? Yeah. Me too. Thing is, shit just got real:
Real, and more importantly observable. Observable is important because until this week when one talked about quantum mechanics they were either spouting a lot of unproven theory about things way too tiny to be measured or they were Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge on the engineering deck of the Enterprise D.

No longer!
A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving.
Bwah? It reads like science fiction, to me, but apparently science guy Andrew Cleland and his team, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were able to cool a tiny 30-micrometer metal paddle to the point where it reached a quantum mechanical ground state. Or, as my limited understand calls it, the place where nature starts to get all freaky deaky.

After the cooling process was complete, Cleland and company were able to 'simultaneously set the paddle moving while leaving it standing still.' Again: The metal paddle was both vibrating and not vibrating at the same time, and in a way that was observable by the naked eye.

Are you freaking out yet? Because I know a few cats in dark boxes that are right now.

[Gizmodo via Nature via Kottke]

New AMD processor details leak [AMD]

Oops! Looks like someone accident let some information out early. AMDs “Thuban” processors will be out next month, and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there until recently. Turns out that somebody talked. Well, at least someone’s BIOS talked.

Gigabyte released a couple of BIOS updates recently, and Tech Connect spotted the news: The X6 1035T will have 6 cores, and be running at 2.6 GHz, and the X6 1055T is going to run at 2.8GHz. There was some news about the new Phenom II X6 as well; the 1075T will be clocked at 3.0 GHz, which is about 333 MHz slower then Intel’s new i7 980x. Bummer for AMD, but we’ll see who the real winner is when the pricing comes out; Intel’s new chip sells for $999 right now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Now in Production: The First Google Android Car [CarDroid]

The first car equipped with Google’s Android mobile operating system will hit the streets this April 23. It’s called the Roewe 350, and it will launch at the Beijing Auto Show.
Roewe vehicles are luxury cars made by Chinese car company SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) using technology purchased from British company MG Rover, which has been owned by both BMW and Ford in the past.
The 2.1 version of Google Android — the same that Google used in the Nexus One and Motorola Droid — is installed on the vehicle’s GPS computer. You can use the computer for directions and traffic reports just as you can with many other GPS devices. But it’s not all vanilla; you can also surf the web and engage in some form of Internet chatting. There’s no telling yet which chat service you’ll be using, but hopefully you won’t be doing it while you’re driving!
We haven’t heard whether or not you’ll be able to install apps from the Android Market yet. We also don’t know how the device connects to the Internet. The car will cost between 70,000 and 130,000 yuan, or about $10,250 – $19,000.

[Mashable via The Next Web]
[img credit:]

Google Wants 3D Graphics Acceleration Directly In Chrome [Chrome]

Google Wants 3D Graphics Acceleration Directly In Chrome
Google's ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine) project, launched today, will allow their Chrome OS to be able to access graphics hardware using the OpenGL ES 2.0 API. What this means to you: 3D graphics in your browser!

So ANGLE, which will get Chrome (and presumably Chrome OS) use WebGL, the 'cross-platform web standard for accessing low-level 3D graphics hardware, will be mostly for Windows, because Windows can't run WebGL without OpenGL drivers installed. OS X and Linux can, because they already use OpenGL to a larger degree.

The main point is that with Google putting so much development emphasis in the browser, the ability to have 3D acceleration on all platforms means it's much more viable to get richer (desktop-like) apps in there.
[Gizmodo via PCWorld]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Parrot AR.Drone turns your living room into a virtual battlefield [AR]

Parrot AR.Drone turns your living room into a virtual battlefield
Last time we checked in with Parrot's AR.Drone quadricopter, we were told that game developers would be putting together some games to play with the drone. Parrot recently showed off what those games look like.

You've got three major flavors to choose from when it comes to playing with the AR.Drone: single player, dual mode and against a robot. The single player mode sees the drone hovering in the middle of the room while you dogfight with virtual opponents. With an attachment atop the AR.Drone, you can compete against other players using virtual rockets and guns. Finally, the robot mode has you going up against a simulated robotic foe, which in real life just looks like a board with circles printed on it.

Most of the augmented reality games play out in such a way that you're trying to keep your drone aimed at a target long enough to fire, while dodging incoming fire and avoiding lock-ons. It's all visible in the video that's streamed to your iPhone-turned-controller.

The Parrot AR.Drone doesn't have a release date or price, yet, but you can check it out in the video down below.

[DVICE via Joystiq]

In Case Self-Assembling Machinery Didn't Scare You Before... [Chips]

When chipmakers slim down their silicon, they need finer and finer tools to organize all that circuitry. With MIT's latest self-assembling chips, the detail work is handled by molecular strands that, freakishly, just know where to go.

Self-assembling chips aren't new, but up till now, people have used electron-beam rays to carve grooves where molecules get cozy. Electron-beam guns are damn expensive and damn slow. This breakthrough—which relies more than ever on molecules doing their own thing—will lead to a cheaper way to make the smallest physically possible microchips, and probably increase hard drive capacity and current chip performance in the meantime.

The news, published this week by MIT researchers Caroline Ross and Karl Berggren, is that they can now use an electron gun just to make "hitchin' posts" for the molecules to identify then wrap around. The trick? Using two separate kinds of molecule strands—described by Ross as spaghetti and tagliatelle, and by Berggren as DeNiro and Grodin in Midnight Run—that keep each other in line. Once the molecules are in place, a plasma charge dissolves one set, and turns the other set into glass crucial to processing. Berggren and Ross have shown they can fake a chip; their next step is to make a pattern that actually functions as a genuine circuit.

We've reached the limits of my understanding, but not my appreciation. This stuff will one day be used for making ever smaller microprocessors, but in the meantime can be used to streamline current chipmaking methods, and also to pack hard drive data in tighter. I'm relieved to hear there's still a need for someone to say where the posts go, but let's face it, with self-assembling chips like these, who needs ham-handed humans anyway? Queue the excitement—and paranoia.
[Gizmodo via MIT]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Storing Your Data For a Billion Years [Memory]

As concerned as we are about memory, we haven't done much to preserve it. Most of our hard drives don't last past 30 years. But soon, using diamond-like carbon nanotubes, even your Gizmodo comments could last practically forever.

The solution, discovered by researchers at the University of California, takes an entirely new approach to data storage. The proposed device would place a microscopic iron crystal inside a carbon nanotube. With the application of an electric signal of just a few volts, the iron nanoparticle moves back and forth along the tube, registering a binary '1' or '0' depending on its position, basically acting as data bits.

While it's a theoretical solution right now, the scientists who created it are confident that we'll someday see a practical application. And when we do, because of the project's nanoscale nature, we may be able to store 25 DVDs' worth of information on a postage stamp-sized storage device.

The prospect of billion-year storage is fascinating and a little terrifying. Do I want researchers ten thousand years from now combing through my drunken tweets? Actually: maybe. Because when our robot overlords comb through the records and find this post, they'll know that I've always been fully supportive of their cold, steely, logical reign. [Gizmodo via Science via Wired]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Video: The craziest simulator in the world [Simulator]

It’s Friday, and that means only one thing: stupid videos, and lots of them. So, allow me to oblige. This here is a video found on a Brazilian Web site showing “the craziest simulator in the world.” Quite.

Friday, March 12, 2010

3D chips to take Moore's Law past 2020?

3D chips to take Moore's Law past 2020?
Here's a technique that can keep processor density doubling every two years, keeping up with Moore's Law using a couple of clever techniques. IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Z├╝rich figured out a way to stack multiple processor cores vertically instead of next to each other as they are now.

That neat trick speeds up data transfers between the cores, making them 'many times faster.' With all this extra speed comes more heat, but that's covered by a cooling system using tiny tubes that are the width of a human hair, bringing cooling water or evaporating refrigerant in between the 3D cores, keeping everything frosty.

The result? Aquasaur, the first water-cooled supercomputer of its kind, using multiple nano surfaces to keep its blinding speed from generating so much heat that the whole thing melts down into a useless blob of silicon and metal. Now if they could just fit this into an iPhone....

[DVICE via Kurzweil AI]

Intel’s new Gulftown i7-980X CPU reviews well [Core i7]

Intel cut loose some benchmarking samples of their new, top of the line CPU, the i7-980X Extreme Edition. This is not a CPU intended for the causal use, but rather aim directly at the gaming market. MSRP for the CPU all by itself is a jaw-dropping $999, and rumors are already circulating that the OEMs are already looking at coming out with systems that utilize the new processors.

The reviews are looking good too. There’s just one little problem. There’s no software out there that can really take advantage of the new processor threading yet. See, the i7-980X supports up to 6 cores, which means it’s a multi-threading monster, but if the software doesn’t support it, you end up spending a grand on future proofing. Not a terrible idea, I mean it’s not like it’s worthless, but don’t expect the your brand new smoking CPU to be all it can be until the software can take advantage of it.

Don’t take my word for it, I haven’t actually seen one of these bad boys yet, but all the reviews out there are pretty much saying the same thing.

HTC Incredible Poised for CTIA [Sense UI]

The HTC Incredible has been seen in the wild, yet again, leading us to believe the handset has been prepped and readied for a CTIA announcement. Dressed in Verizon black and red, this super phone has an awful lot going on under the hood. If you look at the bottom right of the battery cover you will see the Verizon logo silk-screened in the corner. We'd be very surprised if CTIA comes and goes without a word from anyone.

We've scoured over 107 pages of the AndroidForums post where these images come from and have collected some specs. Since nothing is confirmed by HTC or Verizon, these details are subject to change.

With that out of the way, here's what we can expect out of the Incredible:.
  • 1 GHz Snapdragon processor
  • 3.7 inch AMOLED WVGA 800x480
  • 512MB ROM | 1GB RAM
  • 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash and autofocus
  • Android 2.1 | Sense UI
  • Optical track pad
  • 1300 mAh battery
  • 8GB MicroSDHC card
  • FM Tuner
  • Dimensions: 117.5 mm (L) x 58.5 mm (w) x 11.9 mm (T)

So... who wants one?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Connecting the Quantum Dots to More Than Double Hard Drive Capacity [Science]

Scientists have developed a new type of semiconductor structure—using microscopic crystals called magnetic quantum dots—that could more than double current hard drive storage capacity. That's just for starters.

The crystals themselves aren't new; they've been around for over a decade in computer chips, solar cells, and LEDs, according to CBC News. This particular application, though, is unprecedented:
The new work, reported today in the journal Nature Materials, describes a class of quantum dots that not only control electrons, but also have good magnetic properties allowing them to read the electron's spin.
The research team claims it's the first successful synthesis of magnetic quantum dots above room temperature.
The breakthrough came after two years of research, when the team was able to get the right concentration of manganese combined with the germanium matrix of the quantum dot. Makes perfect sense! But however high-level the science, the end result is clear: a new breed of semiconductor could be on the way, bringing with it speed, efficiency, and storage increases bordering on the exponential. The only question now is how long?
[Gizmodo via CBC News]

Tiny Sensor Listens For Shots and Identifies What Gun Shot Them (and Where) [Military]

This is the gear that gets our troops excited. Microflown Technologies' tiny sensor listens for the sounds of war by measuring particles in the air. Then it reports what weapon made the sound and where that sound originated.

The sensor uses a technology, developed by Microflown, called acoustic vector sensing. AVS heats two 200-nanometer wide platinum strips to 200 degrees Celsius and measures how passing air particles cool them down. From those cooling patterns, Microflown's proprietary software can determine not only what the sound is but also where it came from.

There are other technologies that can do the same type of thing, but they all have their own unique disadvantages: radar-based solutions are traceable; others require the deployment of large apparatuses, and some need multiple sensors to triangulate sounds.

Microflown's matchstick almost seems too good to be true, but several nations' armies—including the Netherlands, Germany, India, Poland, and Australia—are currently testing out the tech and seeing what they hear.

[Gizmodo via DVICE]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

HP Slate flaunts Flash capability in a new video [HP]

That HP also has a Slate in stock for us is no secret especially since its debut at the CES back in January. However, with this new clip we are assured it will be capable of Flash and AIR. No doubt it is good sales point but still depends… Is it good enough bait for you to go for HP Slate instead of Apple’s iPad?

And as to this HP Windows 7 Slate commercial, it was released around the time of the CES. However, watching it now is more meaningful as you can see yourself amused by the reminiscence of it to the iPad’s commercial.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Courier rides again! New shots of Microsoft’s “digital journal” [Courier]

Ever since we saw those first leaked shots and videos of Microsoft’s Courier, we’ve all been itching for more. I personally thought it was particularly wonderful, and was dismayed when they decided to show off a lackluster Windows 7 tablet at CES. I’ve asked about the Courier at very nearly every Microsoft event I’ve gone to, and asked all my contacts to keep their ears to the ground… but Engadget, damn their eyes, got to them first! Well, I’m just happy to see my baby again.

The real surprise here is the size; I’m not sure exactly what size I thought it was from the previous demos, but the sizes quoted are that each half is about 5×7″, making the whole thing about 10×7″… or almost exactly the size of the iPad. Now, I can’t be the only one that thinks it would be nice to be able to fold my iPad in half and put it in my pocket. Oh, and it weighs just over a pound. Want?

It was in vain for us to speculate on what the little thing ran before, since it was a totally custom interface, but I think Microsoft has decided that it’s better to make it a “big small device” rather than a “small big device.” You understand? They’re not shrinking a Windows 7 tablet, they’re making something new driven by a Tegra 2, which actually puts it ahead of the iPad in terms of processing power. The dual input (touch/stylus) I think is also a bonus, though of course Apple seems to have the market cornered on really nice touchscreens, so we’ll have to wait and see how it actually responds. Depending on the resolution, handwriting might be weird, too. Again, until we have a hands-on, it’s hard to say.

They’re saying a late-2010 release. I’m liking the form factor for an e-book reader, but it might get in the way of the creative aspirations of next-generation bookmakers. Either way I’m sold on this thing right now. More shots and video (most of which you’ve seen, but still) over at Engadget.
[CrunchGear via Engadget]