Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
Radio telescope operators have as much of a problem coping with the avalanche of data as getting that information in the first place. The Victoria University of Wellington is all too aware and is leaning on IBM for a powerful (if very tongue-tying) iDataPlex dx360 M3 compute cluster to sift through the deluge at the upcoming Murchison Widefield Array. Combined, the 4,096 array antennas probing deep space and solar atmospherics will have the Xeon-based cluster tackling signal data to the tune of 8GB per second, and about 50TB per day — that’s a Nexus 7′s worth of astronomy faster than you can sneeze, folks. A 10Gbps network connection will feed the results to Perth to save scientists a roughly 435-mile trek. Construction is still in mid-stride, but the $51 million Australian ($52.2 million US) being spent on the Murchison array may be worthwhile if it helps solve the riddles of star formation and solar flares.
ATM card skimming is hardly a new activity, and neither are card skimmers that continue to get smaller and more discreet. As Brian Krebs of the Krebs on Security blog reports, though, a new development out of Europe has now crossed a key, and potentially troublesome threshold. The European ATM Security Team (otherwise known as EAST) has discovered a new type of wafer-thin card skimmer in use in at least one unnamed European country that’s small enough to fit directly in the ATM’s card slot — that’s as opposed to most current skimmers that can be well-disguised but generally sit on top of the card slot. As you can imagine, that makes it considerably more difficult to spot for even the most attentive ATM users, but Krebs notes that the skimmer still requires a secondary device like a camera or keypad overlay to record a person entering their PIN.
SOURCE via Krebson Security
Sigma R&D has won first prize in a gesture challenge to show just how much more talent — like sign language translation and light saber fun — can be unlocked in a Kinect. Normally the Microsoft device can only scope body and full mitt movements, but the research company was able to track individual fingers with a Kinect or similar sensor, plus its custom software, allowing a user’s hand to become a more finely tuned controller. To prove it, the company introduced a virtual lightsaber to a subject, tracking his swordsmanship perfectly and using his thumb extension to turn it on and off. The system even detected when a passing gesture was made, seamlessly making a virtual transfer of the weapon. The same tech was also used to read sign language, displaying the intended letters on the screen for a quick translation. The SDK is due in the fall, when we can’t wait to finally get our hands on a Jedi weapon that isn’t dangerous or plasticky. To believe it for yourself, see the videos after the break.
AT&T’s improving its coverage at live events by establishing a new (impressive sounding) setup — the five-beam multi-beam antenna. It works by dividing its customers’ signals into five narrow parts, illustrated above by the color bands, upping the bandwidth by splitting traffic to each segment, enabling up to five times the data traffic. Ma Bell even used similar technology to craft a “super” multi-beam antenna, which expands the same idea into two rows of nine, possibly offering up to 18 times the speed of a typical single-tower arrangement. AT&T adds that this setup also reduces dropped calls and failed uploads, and is apparently already being put to use at live concerts and games. Not quite wrapping your head around it? Check the video after the break. Read more…
Just when you thought developments in trash can technology hadn’t moved too far since the trusted b-ball backboard accessory, a Japanese genius comes along to raise the bar. Modder FRP has created the Smart Trashbox, a moving can which uses a Kinect to track airborne garbage and make sure you’ll never miss another three. Impressively, it appears he designed and built every piece of the puzzle himself, from the motorized wheel base right down to the PCB. We dread to think how much coding this took, given that the Kinect monitors the entire room, calculates trash trajectory and sends the can interception orders. Apparently the accuracy stats don’t demand MVP awards just yet, but check out the highlight reel (and more details of the project) after the break. Read more…
Transparent photovoltaics have yet to grace the face of your smartphone, but don’t give up hope — UCLA researchers are working on a new see-through solar cell that’s showing potential. Using a new type of polymer solar cell, the team has been able to build a device that converts infrared light into electrical current. Current prototypes boast 4 percent energy conversion efficiency at 66 percent transparency — not crystal clear, but certainly clean enough to peer through. According to a study in ACS Nano, the technology could be used in “building-integrated photovoltaics or integrated photovoltaic chargers for portable electronics.” Translation? It could one day be used to build solar windows or better sun collecting smartphones. Don’t get too excited though, the technology still has a ways to go before any of these dreams come to fruition.
SOURCE via ACS Nano
Look out silicon and magnetic storage, here comes glass. Micron has announced production of the first commercial cellphone phase-change memory (PCM) modules, a type of flash RAM that works by changing a crystal solid to an amorphous state. The 1Gb chips will share a circuit board with 512Mb of standard volatile memory, just enough to go in feature phones for now — but the company claims it will eventually offer larger modules for smartphone and tablet storage as well. PCM could scale to much faster speeds than conventional NAND flash, since it doesn’t require a time-sapping erase before rewriting — and with read speeds of 400MB/s, it’s already into regular flash territory while still just a first generation product. Once the tech gets even quicker, PCM could even replace volatile RAM, allowing more secure storage in case of a power loss and reducing device costs and power usage. That means the glassy new kid could eventually bump silicon-based storage altogether — ending its 40-year plus reign as king of the memory substrates. To see some of the ways it trumps NAND, check the video after the break. Read more…
Solar3D probably isn’t a company you’re particularly familiar with… at least not yet. The California-based manufacturer has just successfully fabricated a three dimensional solar panel that traps sun light in nano-scale wells on a silicon wafer. Perhaps most exciting, the prototype panel was built using off-the-shelf tech from Panasonic, meaning that the price of mass production shouldn’t be prohibitively high. More testing is needed, but the resulting panels should be up to 50 percent more efficient than current generation 2D ones.
We’ve seen a good number of electronic gloves before, and now researchers at Georgia Tech have devised one to rehabilitate patients who suffer from paralyzing spinal cord injuries while teaching them how to tickle the ivories. Christened Mobile Music Touch, the black mitt pairs with a keyboard and cues individual fingers with vibrations to play notes. The handgear also buzzes constantly for several hours to stimulate recovery while users go about their day, similar to another yellowjacket-developed solution. After treatment, some patients could pick up objects and feel textures they hadn’t been able to — especially remarkable since, according to the university, little improvement is typically seen a year after injuries are sustained. Folks who learned to play the piano with the device also experienced better results than those who did without it. Project leader Dr. Tanya Markow believes that the rehab’s success could be caused by renewed brain activity that sometimes lies dormant.
Tasked with mine detection and eradication in the Persian Gulf, the US Navy has sent a fleet of unmanned submarines to help keep the Strait of Hormuz open in Iran. Dubbed the SeaFox, each vehicle houses an underwater TV camera, sonar and a dose of explosives. Tipping the scales at less than 100 pounds, the subs are about four feet in length and are controlled via fiber optic cable that sends the live feed back to the captain of each ship. SeaFoxes can dive to depths of 300 meters and boasts a top speed of six knots. The units are thrust into action from helicopters, small rubber boats and off the rear of minesweepers and are capable of disposing of the aforementioned weapons of both the floating and drifting sort. There is one small catch: the $100,000 submarine destroys itself in the process, making each successful trek a suicide mission of sorts.
SOURCE via LA Times