Surround sound? That's old technology. How about surround vision?
The folks at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new system called surround vision that can let you follow objects outside of your regular TV screen by viewing them on smartphones and handheld Internet devices. Imagine you're watching a movie on your regular TV, and a drives off the screen. You could follow and view that car as it drives away by looking at and pointing your smartphone or tablet in its direction.
The person leading this promising new project is Santiago Alfaro, a graduate student at the lab. To kick-start his testing, Alfaro attached a magnetometer to an existing handheld device. A type of digital compass, magnetometers are already used in smartphones like the iPhone to detect the direction the device is pointing. He then created the necessary software to sync the magnetometer with other sensors on the device.
After outfitting the handheld with motion sensors, Alfaro shot video on campus from three different angles--center, left, and right. Watching the TV screen straight on played video from the center. But by pointing the handheld to the left or right, Alfaro was able to view the footage shot from both side angles.
As a further test of the technology, Alfaro took advantage of the alternate takes found on many DVDs. He created a demo that let him switch between the final footage and the alternate takes and angles by changing the direction of the handheld device.… Read more
With Thursday's announcement/town hall demo of iPhone OS 4, a few more gripes about Apple's growing OS and software platform were erased. Multitasking, organized app folders, and more robust e-mail joined the fold, adding to the usability of any iPhone, iPod Touch, or eventually iPad, and closing the gap just a little bit more.
What gap? Why, the gap between our conceptions of what a smartphone or tablet is versus a traditional computer.
Last year, universal search and held-back tools like cut and paste may have been available on other smartphones, but the iPhone benefitted greatly from … Read more
IBM and Saudi Arabia's national research group are opening a solar-powered desalination plant in the city of Al-Khafji.
The pilot plant will supply water to about 100,000 people and pump out about 30,000 cubic meters of potable drinking water per day. It will run exclusively on solar-powered electricity, and showcase two technology breakthroughs that were the result of a multi-year collaborative research agreement signed in 2008 by IBM and the Saudi research group known as the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
On the solar end, the plant will use ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic (UHCPV) cells … Read more
CNET's resident cell phone expert Bonnie Cha is back from CTIA 2010, and we're all anxious to hear about the new smartphones coming out this year. But the main dish is Sprint's new HTC Evo 4G, the first handheld to use Sprint's WiMax network that promises faster speeds than traditional Wi-Fi (when it's finally deployed).
Before we get too deep, Bonnie tells us what we should know about Sprint's 4G network, the difference between WiMax and LTE, and what we can expect in terms of speed from the Evo. Bonnie's description of her firsthand experience with the phone at CTIA gets us even more excited about its upcoming release.
The phone features a 4.3-inch multitouch display, the new 1GHz Snapdragon processor (dual-core processors in phones coming soon?), forward- and rear-facing cameras, a built-in HDMI port for streaming high-def video, and the ultimate kicker: a KICKSTAND! This is not a drill; the HTC Evo actually does have a little foot on the back that stands the phone at an angle for hands-free Sprint TV viewing.
We're also spinning our wheels about what this Thursday's Apple announcement will have in store for the iPhone. Fresh off the recent release of the iPad, we're crossing our fingers that Apple's new iPhone OS 4.0 finally lets you multitask. Rest assured that Wilson and the rest of the CNET TV crew will be working around the clock to keep you up-to-date as we find out more.
Finally, don't forget that The Audiophillie Music Awards for Excellence in Recorded Sound, hosted by our own Steve Guttenberg, is still in full effect! It's not too late to record a band (could be your own!) for a chance to win a set of either Monster Turbine Pro Gold ($299) or Pro Copper ($399) headphones.
Lo-fi submissions are welcome, but to enter this contest you need to download, print, and complete the contest entry form (PDF). We already have a few submissions and the deadline is April 12, so record quickly and good luck!EPISODE 553 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
The U.S. Air Force is preparing to launch a reusable robot spacecraft that will bring military capabilities into orbit, the result of a long development program that has seen few achievements so far.
Designed by NASA and Boeing, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle resembles a midget Space Shuttle or a Predator drone on steroids. Its purpose is classified, but the launch slated for April 19 is intended to demonstrate its ability to perform tasks in low Earth orbit before autonomously landing on a runway in California, according to an Associated Press report.
Weighing 11,000 pounds, the X-37B is … Read more
Japanese engineers have created a female android that's an exact replica of a woman while being cheaper and more compact than earlier models, bringing the futuristic world of the film "Surrogates" closer to reality.
The Geminoid F is an air servo-powered, remote-operated talking humanoid with eye, mouth, head, and shoulder mobility. She was designed by Osaka University's Hiroshi Ishiguro, ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, and Kokoro, a Tokyo-based entertainment firm. Copies of Geminoid are to go on sale for about $110,000, Ishiguro was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Geminoid F (F stands for "female") is a replica of an unnamed model, a woman in her twenties at right in the photo (see more pics here).
The robot is designed to mimic human behavior and possibly serve in roles like receptionist, museum guide, or patient attendant in hospitals, according to Kokoro. She's slated to begin patient communication trials at the University of Tokyo Hospital in May. Kokoro says patients have already reacted favorably.
Compared with Ishiguro's first Geminoid HI-1 robot, in which he replicated himself in android form, Geminoid F has fewer servomotors (only 12 compared with HI-1's 46), meaning it was significantly cheaper to produce. … Read more
NEC has put its communication robot PaPeRo to work as a cashier that can provide verbal guidance on how to scan merchandise at the checkout counter.
The system was recently shown off at RetailTech Japan 2010. PaPeRo is a 15-inch-tall interactive robot that can talk, tell stories, and generally look cute. It doesn't have arms or other manipulators, so forget getting help with bagging. But combined with NEC's Twinpos E-Money Self-Checkout System, PaPeRo can look cute while taking your money.