Leaked from today's 404 episode:
- Hey look, a real-life "Serendipity" story!
- Forget about ordering pizza delivery -- now you can 3D-print a pie at home.
- NASA funds attempt at 3D food printer for pizza.
- Brightest Flashlight Android app slammed for lying to users.
- Yes, those free health apps are sharing your data with other companies.
- Want to text and walk? New cell phone says no.
I'm guessing you usually make or order a pizza like the cavemen used to do it. That's so yesterday. Start-up company Natural Machines is now tempting our tummies with a 3D-printed pizza made using its working prototype Foodini food printer.
Natural Machines shared a four-step photo collage of the pizza being made. It starts with the Foodini piping dough down in a tight spiral. This phase of the process isn't exactly tummy-rumbling due to the less-than-attractive look of the dough. The next step involves a spiral of bright red sauce. … Read more
Most of us take for granted the ability to handle chores like loading a washing machine and turning it on. For some people with disabilities, though, it's not so simple. Commercial laundry solutions company JTM Service in the UK hacked a washing machine in partnership with manufacturer Miele to create the Woof to Wash machine. The washer is designed to be used by assistance dogs.
Duffy, a 2-year-old golden Labrador, is the test pilot for the machine. The pooch is trained by Support Dogs, a charity organization that provides assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. Duffy opens the washing machine door, loads it from a laundry basket, closes the door, and then barks to activate a voice sensor to turn the machine on.… Read more
What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That's exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They're turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level -- and take patients with them.
The idea for for a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton came to engineering professor Jose Contreras-Vidal, the project's lead, after Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis demonstrated that electrode arrays implanted in monkey brains could pick up on the neuron-firing patterns that occur when the monkey thinks about walking.
"Contreras-Vidal's group found out they could get the same effects using EEG (electroencephalography) to control an exoskeleton. EEG doesn't have the spatial resolution of an implanted electrode array, but it is noninvasive and has the added benefit of being able to measure electrical activity across the entire brain," Popular Mechanics reported. … Read more
Samsung, Qualcomm, ARM, Broadcom, and a bunch of other technology companies want your computer to see.
To that end, they banded together at the Khronos Group to try to standardize some elements of machine vision technology. It's the kind of thing that could make it easier to write an augmented reality app for a mobile phone or sign-recognition software for an autonomous car, for example, because difficult low-level technology would be taken care of.
Cracking one of the most complicated cipher devices ever created -- the Enigma machine -- may not have been what Britain's Mavis Batey envisioned when she studied the German romantic poets at University College London when World War II broke out.
But when she dropped out of school to help with the war effort by becoming a nurse, her German-language skills caught the attention of her superiors, and soon she was asked to train for a more covert kind of duty.
"So I thought, great," Batey recalled to The Daily Telegraph in an interview before her death this week at age 92. "This is going to be an interesting job, Mata Hari, seducing Prussian officers. But I don't think either my legs or my German were good enough because they sent me to the Government Code & Cipher School." … Read more
Lots of people are obsessed with Legos, but one man in particular is obsessed with Legos in washing machines and the shapes they form when tumbling: Ingo Althöfer is a professor of applied mathematics at Friedrich-Schiller University in Germany.
Althöfer decided to see what would happen when you take an old Miele washing machine, add Lego bricks, and let it run. One method involves setting a Lego base plate and a selection of miscellaneous bricks into a sock and sending it through for a cleaning.… Read more
Machine Essays for Mac is one of the oddest and least useful programs we've ever encountered, and yet, we find ourselves kind of charmed by it. Inspired by the infinite monkey theorem, Machine Essays asks your computer to generate blocks of random characters and then identifies any English words that happen to appear, stringing them together in non-grammatical sentences. Why? No reason, really, except that the results can be kind of interesting.
Machine Essays for Mac has a surprising number of features and options. Users can choose from two different word lists, one with more obscure -- and ultimately … Read more
Android 4.4, aka KitKat, comes with an experimental technology called ART designed to speed up Android apps.
ART is a replacement for Dalvik, the "runtime" software that has the job of executing Android apps. Dalvik is a virtual machine -- essentially a software version of a computer that lets Android apps run on a variety of hardware -- that's closely related to Oracle's Java technology.
ART is geared to speed things up by reworking a core part of the process. Developers write apps in high-level languages such as Java, and when they build them, the … Read more