Transform: A Shape Changing Desk

You may have seen videos of this adaptive tech straight out of MIT earlier, showing it manipulating a ball. Check out this video latest video for Transform, utilizing the same tech in an adaptive shape changing desk.

‘I think there’s a lot of space for designers to expand beyond the producer/client model and become knowledge makers, cultural disruptors and gatekeepers between pure economic gain and the well-being of humanity,’

says graduate student and researcher at MIT Media Lab Viirj Kan.

Taking the idea behind inFORM one step further, the MIT team has created a responsive table containing three highly inventive dynamic shape displays.  The arrangement consists of more than a thousand mobile pins that are sensitive to changes in kinetic energy of the surroundings.

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Typewriter Inspired Keyboard

Ugnh I need this. Qwerkytoys has made this typewriter inspired mechanical keyboard called the Qwerkywriter. It’s wireless and has its own macro return bar.

At the moment you can preorder it through their site, though the price is nothing to sneeze at, being $329. The Qwerkywriter will ship November 2015.

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Amazon’s Echo

Amazon is soon to be coming out with a new device called Echo, which is essentially Siri but for your home.

Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick any name as your wake word (I just want to name it TARS or Baymax now). Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. With enhanced noise cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music. Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where we leverage the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request. Learn more about Echo’s voice recognition.

You can use Echo for a ton of things, just by asking including:

  • News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
  • Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
  • Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping, and to-do lists.
  • Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.
  • More coming soon: Echo automatically updates through the cloud with new services and features.

A pretty neat piece of tech by Amazon, which will be priced at $199 although those with Amazon Prime will be able to get it for $99.

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Micro-robots Making Things!

I’m always a sucker for tiny things but also have a great love for robots, so when I learned about these micro-robots, I really got excited. We’re all familiar with ant colonies, where every tiny creature is running around doing just what it needs to. Well it looks like SRI International has taken inspiration from the giant mounds of insects, to create their own swarms of tiny worker robots that can put together mechanical assemblies and electronic circuits.

Diamagnetic Micro Manipulation (DM3) uses tiny magnets that move under a circuit board, to get the micro-robots to follow a set pattern based on a set of preprogrammed instructions. The system can be set up so just one or a couple of robots are working together, or you can have giant groups of them moving together in sync like some bizarre gymnastics routine. Despite their tiny size, the robots can move up to a foot in a single second, so they can haul around your micro manufacturing supplies pretty swiftly.

SRI says that DM3 can be used for prototyping parts, electronics assembly, biotech lab-on-a-chip experiments, and assembling small mechanical systems in hostile environments. Eventually they plan to scale up the technology, by developing a manufacturing head containing thousands of the little buggers that can build much larger assemblies.

As you might expect, the funding comes from the military, and is part of DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program.

Check out the video of the tiny robots in action, you’ll be surprised by how fast and accurate they can be:

Source – Original written by Michael Trei

Thermal Power: Use Your Body Heat to Power Wearable Tech

There’ll soon be no need to ever take off wearable technology as your body heat will be able to run a generator to keep it powered-up.

Thanks to a new invention by scientists in Korea heat that escapes the body can be converted into energy using the generator that can be curved along with the shape of the body.

The researchers developed the glass fabric-based thermoelectric generator to be light and flexible which could help to further commercialise wearable technology.

Byung Kin Cho, who led the team in creating the generator, said that with more development the technology could be used on a large-scale to stop heat energy not being used.

At present wearable technology, such as the activity tracking Fitbit Flex wrist band, is developed with long-lasting battery life – the Flex has a battery life which can last up to five days.

However the latest technology would remove the need to ever take wearable technology off, which can cause some users to stop using their gadgets.

It also comes with the benefit that using thermal energy to power and recharge wearables would not need to use any energy created by non-renewable forms.

The small generator was created and tested on small bracelet and it is said it can be able to provide power in a stable and reliable way.

Cho further described how the generator could be used, he said: “Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator.

We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted.

So far only two types of thermal energy generators have been developed, these have been based on either organic or inorganic materials.

Until now the organic generators have been able to work with human skin but have not been able to generate enough power to be put to practical use.

While those made of inorganic materials have been able to generate enough power but have been too bulky to be able to be used with wearable technology.

Cho came up with the a concept and design technique to build a flexible TE generator that minimizes thermal energy loss but maximizes power output.

The new concept uses liquid like pastes of thermal electronic materials printed on to a glass fabric.

When using the generator, with a size of 10cm by 10cm, for a wearable wristband device, it will produce around 40 mW electric power based on the temperature difference of 31 °F between human skin and the surrounding air.

Images 2 and 3 courtesy of KAIST

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