Jeff looks a little different on this morning's episode of The 404 podcast, doesn't he? Initial reports tell us that the half-moon forming on Jeff's face is actually a smile, which probably has to do with Ilya Kovalchuk staying with the New Jersey Devils this season.
The LA Kings, New York Islanders, the NJ Devils, and a random team in Russia all grabbed for Kovalchuk when he became a free agent on July 1, but only the Devils were able to secure the hockey star for a reported 100 million bucks over the next 17 years, which … Read more
A new pair of robotic legs out of New Zealand lets wheelchair users do the improbable--stand, walk, and even go up and down stairs.
Users transfer themselves from their chair into the Robotic Exoskeleton (Rex) by holding on to Rex's legs. They then strap themselves in and use a hand-controlled joystick and control pad to maneuver the battery-powered mobility-assist device on solid, stable surfaces such as those inside the home or workplace. (Rex is not designed for use on slippery or soft surfaces, or in areas containing debris or small objects such as ice, snow, sand, grass, mud, or … Read more
Wilson kicks of this morning's episode of The 404 Podcast with a glowing review of Chris Nolan's newest movie, "Inception." After watching an advanced IMAX screening last night, Wilson has several tips that'll make the experience even better, and don't worry folks--it's all SPOILER FREE! You have our guarantee that nothing of importance will come out of Wilson's mouth in this episode.
Wilson attests that "Inception" is certainly a cerebral film, but not one that leaves the audience feeling confused or asking a bunch of questions, like "Synecdoche." … Read more
Britain's Ministry of Defence recently unveiled an unmanned stealth attack aircraft that redefines "autopilot"--it's designed to fly halfway around the world and choose its own targets without human intervention, according to a report in The Globe and Mail.
Named after the Celtic god of thunder, the Taranis is designed to fly much farther than conventional drones, which typically support troops or carry out air strikes in a limited area. Controlled by ground-based human operators, Taranis is supposed to be able to hit targets on other continents; it's unclear when the target-picking AI skills would … Read more
It seems that the latest movement in vehicular design is the movement that sends roadworthy machines into the sky.
A couple of weeks ago came the news that the FAA was giving a regulation break to a flying car prototype, the Terrafugia Transition, allowing it to be classified as a light sports aircraft with heavy airbags.
Then it was said that the Marines might take possession of their own flying four-wheeler, courtesy of Logi Aerospace.
But now I bring joy to the privileged and pouty who will only drive labels that show their deep-seated power and class. I mean, naturally, … Read more
South Korea's military has deployed machine-gun-toting robots along the heavily fortified border with North Korea, and a related promo video delivers more shock and awe than Kim Jong-Il singing the blues.
Samsung Techwin and other firms developed the SGR-1 robots, and they have been installed on a trial basis at a post in the central part of the Demilitarized Zone, Yonhap News quoted military officials as saying.
The $200,000 SGR-1s are remote-operated sentry bots that work in tandem with cameras and radar systems. They can detect intruders with heat and motion sensors, and challenge them through audio and video communications. The bots can also fire on targets with 5.5-millimeter machine guns and 40-millimeter automatic grenade launchers.
The officials didn't say how many bots were set up, but they will be installed throughout the 160-mile DMZ if the trial, which runs through the end of this year, is successful. Tensions along the DMZ are already high following the sinking of the South's warship Cheonan in March.
"Human soldiers can easily fall asleep or allow for the depreciation of their concentration over time," Samsung Techwin spokesman Huh Kwang-hak was quoted as saying by Stars and Stripes. "But these robots have automatic surveillance, which doesn't leave room for anything resembling human laziness. They also won't have any fear (of) enemy attackers on the front lines." … Read more
If there's anything worse than imagining that your ornery homeroom teacher has come back to haunt you, it's imagining that she's come back as a robotic head. One that can never die.
Bina48 is an interactive robotic head whose appearance and personality are based on those of a real woman, Bina Rothblatt (I'm not implying Rothblatt is ornery or a teacher, but her uncanny doppelganger reminds me of a severe former nun I had in grade school).
Bina48 can link to the Internet to retrieve information and chat with users by referencing dozens of hours of interviews with the human Bina. In a crude fashion, it enshrines her personality and allows her to exist beyond her years in robot form. The bot even admits to wanting to be more like the real Bina.
As seen in The New York Times interview in the video below, however, it has underwhelming conversational abilities, typical of android heads and chatbots. Its movements can be jerky, even zombielike, evoking the dreaded Uncanny Valley, a design issue that can make humanoid robots and characters repugnant.
Bina48's backstory, though, is interesting. According to the Times' Amy Harmon, Hanson created the $125,000 mecha-bust of Rothblatt for her spouse, millionaire entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt in an attempt to give Bina some degree of immortality. … Read more
Attention HTC: We've found a designer you might want to talk to. Andrew Kim is a design nerd who operates a blog called design fabulous. On it, he shares photos of designs of everyday things he enjoys. He also shares designs he himself puts together for his portfolio. One of his latest concepts, the HTC 1, is absolutely beautiful, useful, and totally Crave-worthy.
Frustrated with HTC's sprawling and slightly confusing product matrix, Kim set out to design a top-tier, premium smartphone the manufacturer could use as a flagship device. Like all good modern design, he started with the … Read more