Archive for March, 2012

Big Brother? Homes, cities to watch, interact with you

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 31, 2012   View Article

Our homes and cities may soon be filled with sensors and tiny, energy-sipping computers that watch our every move in order, we hope, to enrich our lives and lower our impact on the environment, according to researchers working in the field of “ambient intelligence.”

While there’s a creepy Big Brother element to our houses and cities watching, learning, and interacting with our every move, the smart homes and cities of the future are really just the next frontier in our already sensor-rich and hyper-connected world.

Star-Trek-like open source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 29, 2012   View Article

Know the near-magical handheld analysis gadgets known as “tricorders” that everyone carries in Star Trek? A cognitive science researcher has created a real-world version.

“The open source science tricorders that I’ve developed are very much a way to help people explore and feed their curiosity for the world,” Peter Jansen, who created and built the gadget, told me today in an email.

Pardon me: Did a robot just hear fish farts?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 29, 2012   View Article

A torpedo-shaped robot that bobbed up and down along the Florida coast to map sound production by red grouper and toadfish has detected what appears to be the unmistakable sound of herring passing gas.

That is, a robot heard what scientists believe to be fish farts.

Robotic jellyfish may never run out of energy

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 21, 2012   View Article

A robot built to look and swim like an inconspicuous jellyfish may keep going and going and going thanks to an infinite source of fuel — its surroundings.

The power comes from heat-producing chemical reactions between oxygen and hydrogen with platinum coated on the surface of the bio-inspired robot, known as Robojelly.

Radar is game changer in saving endangered birds

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 20, 2012   View Article

A portable radar system combined with night vision goggles and thermal imaging cameras are helping scientists find and protect a rare bird in the Caribbean, a conservation group explained Monday.

While none of these technologies are new, they are now inexpensive enough to do more than track airplanes and find thugs hiding behind enemy lines.

Road paved with toilets gets green credential

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 14, 2012   View Article

If you take a stroll along a newly paved six-block stretch of downtown Bellingham, Wash., you’ll be excused if you think you put your foot in a toilet. The sidewalk contains 5 tons of crushed potty.

The project is the first to earn Greenroads certification, a rating system that aims to do for roadway construction what LEED did for the building industry – make projects more sustainable.

Solar cells that go anywhere win invention prize

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 8, 2012   View Article

Your windows, curtains and wallpaper may soon start harvesting energy from sunlight as it spills into your room thanks to a prize-winning inventor who is putting solar cells on just about any surface.

“The barriers to adoption and installation are reduced if you can really put these anywhere,” Miles Barr, who received the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize on Wednesday, told me.

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