mikejuk writes "Considering how long we have been trying to solve the problem, a robot walking is mostly amusing. Atlas is an impressive robot, evoking the deepest fears of sci fi. Watch as one of the DARPA challenge teams makes Atlas walk, unaided, on randomness. This video of Atlas was created by the Florida Institute For Human and Machine Cognition robotics team. It shows Atlas walking across a random collection of obstacles. Notice that even though it looks as if Atlas is supported by a tether, it isn't — as proved when it falls over at the end."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Rambo Tribble writes "In what appears to be a major reversal of policy, Intel's new president, Renee James, has indicated that Intel will be open to manufacturing chips based on rivals' designs. While the language is a bit tentative, this appears to open an opportunity for such as ARM to benefit from Intel's manufacturing expertise and technology." From the article: "James said Intel will evaluate prospective foundry clients on a 'deal by deal basis, not on an architecture by architecture basis.' That applies, James said, 'even in areas where there may be some competition with businesses that we’re in.'" Intel is already manufacturing FPGAs for Altera that include 64-bit ARM cores.
MojoKid writes "Motorola is forging ahead with the concept of modular, customizable smartphones first put forth by designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks concept. The company said recently that it was officially pursuing such an idea with Project Ara, and Motorola is already putting together important partnerships to make it happen. 3D Systems, a maker of 3D printers and other related products, has signed on to create a 'continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system' for it. In other words, 3D Systems is going to print parts for the project, and what's more, the company has what appears to be an exclusive agreement to make all the enclosures and modules for Project Ara."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that self-professed Apple fanatic Jonathan Zufi has published a book of photography profiling 500 of Apple's products through the years, because unlike other companies Apple has unapologetically focused on design says Zufi and he wants to celebrate that with his images. 'Other companies came up with the guts for a machine and then the engineers would find a way to stuff them into a box,' says Zufi. 'Steve Jobs started with the box and said, "You need to find a way to get the guts in."' It's an unlikely project for a software engineer with no formal photography training. Zufi bought new equipment and consulted with a professional as he began the project, which was four years in the making. 'I had a sudden memory of an old game I used to play in high school called Robot War,' says Zufi. 'I hopped on eBay to look for the game and an old Apple II to play it on, and that's how I ended up looking through old Apple products.' Zufi says that he approached each shot by looking for an image that would 'create that same emotional connection to that product, but maybe doesn't look like something you've seen before,' and says that his mission is to showcase the entire spectrum of products that Apple have sold to the public since 1976 – every desktop, every laptop, every notebook, monitor, iPod, iPad, iPhone, mouse, keyboard, modem, cable, port, adapter, docking station, memory expansion card — and that's just their hardware."
MojoKid writes "When Intel debuted Haswell this year, it launched its first mobile processor with a massive 128MB L4 cache. Dubbed "Crystal Well," this on-package (not on-die) pool of memory wasn't just a graphics frame buffer, but a giant pool of RAM for the entire core to utilize. The performance impact from doing so is significant, though the Haswell processors that utilize the L4 cache don't appear to account for very much of Intel's total CPU volume. Right now, the L4 cache pool is only available on mobile parts, but that could change next year. Apparently Broadwell-K will change that. The 14nm desktop chips aren't due until the tail end of next year but we should see a desktop refresh in the spring with a second-generation Haswell part. Still, it's a sign that Intel intends to integrate the large L4 as standard on a wider range of parts. Using EDRAM instead of SRAM allows Intel's architecture to dedicate just one transistor per cell instead of the 6T configurations commonly used for L1 or L2 cache. That means the memory isn't quite as fast but it saves an enormous amount of die space. At 1.6GHz, L4 latencies are 50-60ns which is significantly higher than the L3 but just half the speed of main memory."
First time accepted submitter fasuin writes "Which is the most advanced cloud storage solution? Which is the impact of server locations? What are the benefits of advanced techniques to optimise data transfers? Researchers from Italy and The Netherlands have come out with a set of benchmarks that allowed them to compare Dropbox, CloudDrive, SkyDrive and Google Drive. Which is the best? You can check it by yourself by running the tests on your own if you like." What this kind of benchmarking can't well do, though, is predict which of these cloud storage companies are going to be around in five years, which might be at least as an important a factor.
cartechboy writes "The electric car challenge is what insiders call "getting butts in seats" — and a lot of butts today still belong to humans who are not yet buying electric cars. The big question is: Why? Surveys show drivers are interested in electric cars--and that they love them once they drive them. EVs also cost less to maintain (though more to buy in the first place) and many experts say they're simply nicer to drive. So what's the problem? Disinterested dealers, uneven distribution, limited supplies, and media bias are some potential challenges. Or maybe it's just lousy marketing--casting electric cars as a moral imperative or a duty, like medicine you have to take."
necro81 writes "Little known even in environmental circles is a renewable energy success story: five geothermal power plants on Leyte Island in the Philippines — each of which produces enough power for the entire island — that collectively produce more than 10% of the Philippines' total electrical demand. From boreholes deep underground comes pressurized water heated to 280 Celsius. At the surface it flashes into steam, turning one set of turbines, then cools and contracts to spin a second set of turbines. The low-grade steam is then condensed back into water and reinjected into the bedrock. But Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the cooling towers, snapped transmission towers, and scattered the employees."
mdsolar sends this quote from an article about the politics of solar energy: "Clean energy technology has always been an easy punching bag for conservatives. Propelled by growing strain of global warming denial within their party, Republicans in Congress have proposed to slash funding for renewable energy programs in half this year, and mocked the idea of a green economy as “groovy” liberal propaganda. Their argument, as laid out by House Republicans and libertarian organs like the Cato Institute and Reason magazine, is that the federal government shouldn't 'pick winners and losers' in the energy markets or gamble taxpayer dollars on renewable-energy loans to companies like Solyndra, the Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving $535 million in federal loan guarantees. The assumption has always been that, without heavy government subsidies, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power would never be able to compete with fossil fuels. But something funny has happened to renewables that major power companies and their Republican allies didn't see coming. Over the past two years, the solar industry has skyrocketed, with one new solar unit installed every four minutes in the US, according to the renewable energy research group Greentech Media. The price of photovoltaic panels has fallen 62 percent since January 2011. Once considered a boutique energy source, solar power has become a cost-competitive alternative for many consumers, costing an average $143 per megawatt-hour, down from $236 in the beginning of 2011. Backed by powerful conservative groups, public utilities in several states are now pushing to curb the solar industry, and asking regulators to raise fees and impose new restrictions on solar customers. And as more people turn to rooftop solar as a way to reduce energy costs—90,000 businesses and homeowners installed panels last year, up 46 percent from 2011—the issue is pitting pro-utilities Republicans against this fledgling movement of libertarian-minded activists who see independent power generation as an individual right. In other words, the fight over solar power is raging within the GOP itself."
alphadogg writes "With memory, as with real estate, location matters. A group of researchers from AMD and the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory have found that the altitude at which SRAM resides can influence how many random errors the memory produces. In a field study of two high-performance computers, the researchers found that L2 and L3 caches had more transient errors on the supercomputer located at a higher altitude, compared with the one closer to sea level. They attributed the disparity largely to lower air pressure and higher cosmic ray-induced neutron strikes. Strangely, higher elevation even led to more errors within a rack of servers, the researchers found. Their tests showed that memory modules on the top of a server rack had 20 percent more transient errors than those closer to the bottom of the rack. However, it's not clear what causes this smaller-scale effect."
mask.of.sanity writes "Users can be identified with a half percent margin of error based on the way they type. The research work has been spun into an application that could continuously authenticate users (PDF), rather than just relying on passwords, and could lock accounts if another person jumped on the computer. Researchers are now integrating mouse movements and clicks, and mobile touch patterns into the work."
alphadogg writes "A network researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has found a potential new use for graphics processing units — capturing data about network traffic in real time. GPU-based network monitors could be uniquely qualified to keep pace with all the traffic flowing through networks running at 10Gbps or more, said Fermilab's Wenji Wu. Wenji presented his work as part of a poster series of new research at the SC 2013 supercomputing conference this week in Denver."
goodminton writes "I'm research the long-term consistency and reproducibility of math results in the cloud and have questions about floating point calculations. For example, say I create a virtual OS instance on a cloud provider (doesn't matter which one) and install Mathematica to run a precise calculation. Mathematica generates the result based on the combination of software version, operating system, hypervisor, firmware and hardware that are running at that time. In the cloud, hardware, firmware and hypervisors are invisible to the users but could still impact the implementation/operation of floating point math. Say I archive the virutal instance and in 5 or 10 years I fire it up on another cloud provider and run the same calculation. What's the likelihood that the results would be the same? What can be done to adjust for this? Currently, I know people who 'archive' hardware just for the purpose of ensuring reproducibility and I'm wondering how this tranlates to the world of cloud and virtualization across multiple hardware types."
An anonymous reader writes "Working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, effective immediately, there's a pilot release of the Wolfram Language — as well as Mathematica—that will soon be bundled as part of the standard system software for every Raspberry Pi computer. Quite soon the Wolfram Language is going to start showing up in lots of places, notably on the web and in the cloud."
judgecorp writes "Wireless charging has had little success so far (except for toothbrushes) but Google is giving it a good try, with a Nexus Wireless Charger that works with LG's Nexus 4 and 5 as well as the latest version of Google's tablet, the second generation Nexus 7. The charger operates using the Qi standard, which seems to be ahead of rival Powermat."
puddingebola writes "Toyota has announced plans for a fuel cell powered car at the Tokyo Motor show. From the article, 'Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said Wednesday the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers. "Development is going very smoothly," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. The car will go on sale in Japan in 2015 and within a year later in Europe and U.S."'"
Lucas123 writes "Epson and Evena Medical today unveiled a new smart-glass technology that allows nurses to see 'through' a patient's skin to the vasculature beneath in order to make intravenous placement easier. The Eyes-On Glasses System is based on Epson's Moverio Smart Glasses Technology, an Android-based, see-through wearable display launched earlier this year that allows users to interact with apps and games. The glasses use near-infrared light to highlight deoxygenated hemoglobin in a patient's veins and capture the images with two stereoscopic cameras. The cameras then project the vein images onto the see-through glass screens. The glasses can store the images and video and transfer them wirelessly to a patient's electronic health record, and they also come with dual built-in speakers for video conferencing."
50000BTU_barbecue writes "I made a comment a few days ago in a story basically saying the oscilloscope is dead. While that's a bit dramatic, I've found that over the last 20 years my oscilloscopes have been 'on' less and less. Instead, I use a combination of judicious voltage measurements, a logic analyzer and a decent understanding of the documentation of the gadget I'm working on. Stuff is just more and more digital and microcontroller-based, or just so cheap yet incredibly integrated that there's no point in trying to work on it. (I'm thinking RC toys for example. Undocumented and very cheap. Doesn't work? Buy another.) While I still do old-school electronics like circuit-level troubleshooting (on old test gear), that's not where the majority of hobbyists seem to be. Yet one thing I keep hearing is how people want an oscilloscope to work on hardware. I think it's just not that necessary anymore. What I use most are two regulated DC lab supplies, a frequency counter, a USB logic analyzer, a USB I2C/SPI master, and a USB-RS-232 dongle. That covers a lot of modern electronics. I have two oscilloscopes, a 100MHz two-channel stand-alone USB unit and a 1960s analog plug-in-based mainframe that is a '70s hacker dream scope. But I rarely use them anymore. What equipment do hardware folks out there use the most? And would you tell someone trying to get into electronics that they need a scope?"
jfruh writes "We've reached a point in our electronic lives where most of our gadgets draw power from a USB cable, and we have lots of USB ports to choose from — some of which live on other gadgets, some of which live on adapters that plug into your wall or car. But those ports supply wildly varying amounts of power, which can result in hours of difference in how long it takes your phone to charge. The Practical Meter, the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign, can help you figure out which power sources are going to juice up your gadgets the fastest."
mrspoonsi writes "The Xbox One controller went through many radical designs, including a built-in pico projector and a cartridge designed to release smell. Apparently, 'the core base didn't appreciate them,' so these wacky features were dropped in favor of a standard controller. According to VentureBeat, over $100 million worth of research went into the design they ended up using. 'Microsoft’s first tweaks for a new controller focused on the overall size and how it’d fit into hands, golden or otherwise. Using the Xbox 360 controller as a starting point, the engineers would make plastic-molded or 3D-printed prototypes that were each 1 millimeter wider or narrower than the last, testing a full range of up to plus or minus 8 millimeters. “That gave us the ability to test, with actual users including women and children, which width feels best,” said Morris. “We tested with more than 500 people throughout the course of the project. All ages, all abilities.” ... Morris and his team then looked at different thicknesses and shapes of the grips (or “lobes,” as he calls them), plus the angle of the triggers, different styles of analog sticks, and more.'"
jones_supa writes "During the first day of the latest virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit, Canonical developers finally plotted out the enabling of TRIM/DISCARD support by default for solid-state drives on Ubuntu 14.04. Ubuntu developers aren't looking to enable discard at the file-system level since it can slow down delete operations, so instead they're wanting to have their own cron job that routinely runs fstrim for TRIMing the system. In the past there has been talk about the TRIM implementation being unoptimized in the kernel. Around when Linux 3.0 was released, OpenSUSE noted that the kernel performs TRIM to a single range, instead of vectorized list of TRIM ranges, which is what the specification calls for. In some scenarios this results in lowered performance."
SmartAboutThings writes "Chip maker AMD has announced that it's won 2 CES Innovation Awards for a gaming tablet the company plans to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is called "Project Discovery" and will come with AMD's Mullins chip that is a 64-bit, x86-based chip, perfectly suitable for Windows 8.1. The low-power Mullins APU (accelerated processing unit) is AMD's answer to Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, aimed at fanless tablets, ultrathin notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices. The 28nm processor is expected to consume as little as 2 watts of energy while in use. The obtained images show that the upcoming AMD tablet is quite similar to Razer Edge."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A small handful of Tesla electric cars have caught fire, driving down the company's stock price, and finally prompting CEO Elon Musk to tackle the issue in a new blog posting. 'Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data),' he wrote in that posting. 'However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined.' Responsible journalism on the matter, he added, has been 'drowned out' by 'an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false.' According to his own figures, Tesla suffers an average of one fire per 6,333 cars, versus a rate of one fire per 1,350 gasoline-powered cars. Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting. 'Despite multiple high-speed accidents, there have been no deaths or serious injuries in a Model S of any kind ever,' Musk continued. 'Of course, at some point, the law of large numbers dictates that this, too, will change, but the record is long enough already for us to be extremely proud of this achievement.' Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds. In theory, that could reduce the chances of impact damage to the underbody, should the vehicle roll over an object — and that, in turn, could lower the chances of fire."
An anonymous reader writes "The itinerary for Steam Dev Days 2014 lists two talks by Valve's internal virtual and augmented reality researchers, Michael Abrash and Joe Ludwig. Abrash's talk, titled 'What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years' will feature a demonstration of Valve's secret prototype VR headset that is 'capable of stunning experiences.' Ludwig's talk 'Virtual Reality and Steam' will discuss how Valve will be adapting Steam to VR to 'support and promote Virtual Reality games.' Rift inventor and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey will also be taking to the stage at Steam Dev Days to speak on best-practice for VR development." There's a hint that they might be showing off a head mounted display featuring a low persistence display, which would be great news for those of us that get the urge to hurl when playing Doom on a conventional display. If you missed it you might want to check out the slides and notes (PDF) from Michael Abrash's GDC2013 talk on VR.
MojoKid writes "The supercomputing conference SC13 kicks off this week and Nvidia is kicking off their own event with the launch of a new GPU and a strategic partnership with IBM. Just as the GTX 780 Ti was the full consumer implementation of the GK110 GPU, the new K40 Tesla card is the supercomputing / HPC variant of the same core architecture. The K40 picks up additional clock headroom and implements the same variable clock speed threshold that has characterized Nvidia's consumer cards for the past year, for a significant overall boost in performance. The other major shift between Nvidia's previous gen K20X and the new K40 is the amount of on-board RAM. K40 packs a full 12GB and clocks it modestly higher to boot. That's important because datasets are typically limited to on-board GPU memory (at least, if you want to work with any kind of speed). Finally, IBM and Nvidia announced a partnership to combine Tesla GPUs and Power CPUs for OpenPOWER solutions. The goal is to push the new Tesla cards as workload accelerators for specific datacenter tasks. According to Nvidia's release, Tesla GPUs will ship alongside Power8 CPUs, which are currently scheduled for a mid-2014 release date. IBM's venerable architecture is expected to target a 4GHz clock speed and offer up to 12 cores with 96MB of shared L3 cache. A 12-core implementation would be capable of handling up to 96 simultaneous threads. The two should make for a potent combination."
With her signature pink hair, MIT engineer Limor Fried has become a force in the maker movement. Last year she was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine, and her company, Adafruit Industries, did $10 million in sales. Limor has agreed to take some time away from soldering and running a new company to answer your questions about hardware, electronics, and Adafruit. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Several sources, including this report at Forbes, and this one at All Things Digital, say that Apple has bought (or is in the process of buying) Tel-Aviv based PrimeSense, the company behind the 3-D sensing technology in Microsoft's Kinect, for $345 million. The Forbes piece also gives a compact but interesting summary of the possibilities of ubiquitous 3-D hardware, and the sudden, recent drop in price of the components necessary for that to happen. Devices like the Lynx 3-D scanner that I saw at last year's SXSW (targeting the cheap and portable end of the 3-D scanning market) may have a lot of competition in the near future.
The Raspberry Pi project that we've been fans of for quite a while now has hit a new milestone: Today, they announced that as of the last week in October, the project has sold more than two million boards. Raspberry Pi is anything but alone in the tiny, hackable computer world (all kinds of other options, from Arduino to the x86-based Minnowboard, are out there, and all have their selling points), but the low price, open-source emphasis, and focus on education have all helped the Pi catch on. If yours is one of these 2 million, what are you using it for? (And if you favor some other small system for your own experiments, what factors matter?)
New submitter isza writes "MobilECG is probably the first open source clinical-grade electrocardiograph with simultaneous 12-lead recording and Android support. It has been designed to meet all the relevant medical standards (ISO 60601-1, etc.). Manufacturing cost @ 1000 pieces: ~$110. I had worked at a medical device company designing clinical electrocardiographs for three years. Fed up with the unreasonably high price, cumbersome design, and dishonest distribution practices of clinical ECG machines, I started working on a high-quality ECG that is different. After a couple of failed attempts to get funding for the expensive certification process and completely running out of funds, I decided to publish everything under a license that allows others to finalize and manufacture it or reuse parts of it in other projects." From the project page linked: "The software is licensed under WTFPL, the hardware under CERN OHL 1.2," and a few words of disclaimer: "Note: the design is functional but unfinished, it needs additional work before it can be certified. There are also some known bugs in it. Most of the software is unimplemented." Conventional crowdfunding may have fallen short, but Isza has proposed an interesting bargain for working on the project again himself: that will happen if he raises via donation half the amount of his original $22,000 investment.
mdsolar writes with this excerpt from the New York Times: "Japan took a major step back on Friday from earlier pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, saying a shutdown of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had made previous targets unattainable. The announcement cast a shadow over international talks underway in Warsaw aimed at fashioning a new global pact to address the threats of a changing climate. Under its new goal, Japan, one of the world's top polluters, would still seek to reduce its current emissions. But it would release 3 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 1990, rather than the 6 percent cut it originally promised or the 25 percent reduction it promised two years before the 2011 nuclear disaster."
Rich0 writes "I own an HP 48 calculator that I'm quite content with, but soon I'll need to take a certification exam where this calculator will not be welcome. I'm sure this is a common problem for those who own higher-end calculators. Sure, I could just buy a random $15 calculator with a few trig functions, but I was wondering who makes the best moderately-priced calculators for somebody who already has and appreciates a programmable calculator and just needs something simple. Bonus points if the calculator can handle polar vector arithmetic and unit conversions, but it has to be simple enough that virtually any exam would accept its use."
ClaraBow writes "I find it interesting that Dell has started selling a thin and light touchscreen laptop called the XPS 13 Developer Edition, which will have Ubuntu Linux OS and Intel's fourth-generation Core processors, code-named Haswell. The laptop, code-named Sputnik, has a 13.3-inch touchscreen and will run on Ubuntu 12.04 OS. It is priced starting at $1,250 and is available in the U.S." One thing I wish was addressed in the blog post announcing this newest entry in the Sputnik line, or its listed specs (bad news beats not knowing, in this case), is battery life.
Lucas123 writes "Google just announced it is investing another $80 million in six new solar power plants in California and Arizona, bringing its total investment in renewable energy to more than $1 billion. The new plants are expected to generate 160MW of electricity, enough to power 17,000 typical U.S. homes. They are expected to be operational by early 2014. With the new plants, Google's renewable power facilities will be able to generate a total of 2 billion watts (gigawatts) of energy, enough to power 500,000 homes or all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon, and Wyoming for one year, it said. Currently, Google gets about 20% of its power from renewable energy, but it has set a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy."
mdsolar writes with this excerpt from Bloomberg News: "Arizona will permit the state's largest utility to charge a monthly fee to customers who install photovoltaic panels on their roofs, in a closely watched hearing that drew about 1,000 protesters and may threaten the surging residential solar market. The Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, agreed in a 3-to-2 vote at a meeting [Thursday] in Phoenix that Arizona Public Service Co. may collect about $4.90 a month from customers with solar systems. Arizona Public is required to buy solar power from customers with rooftop panels, and the commission agreed with its argument that the policy unfairly shifts some of the utility's costs to people without panels. Imposing a fee designed to address this issue may prompt power companies in other states to follow suit, and will discourage some people from installing new systems, according to the Sierra Club."
waderoush writes "Anki gained instant fame as the robot-car company that launched at Apple's WWDC in June. Its iPhone-controlled racing game hit Apple stores in October, and the company is hoping it will be a holiday hit. But while Anki Drive offers offers a novel physical/virtual entertainment experience for kids and their gadget-loving parents, being a toy company 'is not our vision,' says co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman in this combined company profile and product review from Xconomy. Anki Drive is planned as the first in a series of new consumer-robotics products that are intensively AI-driven, as compared to the mechanically sophisticated but relatively instinctual or behavioral robots exemplified by iRobot's Roomba (which is probably the most successful consumer robot to date). The common characteristics of Anki's coming products, in Sofman's mind: 'Relatively simple and elegant hardware; incredibly complicated software; and Web and wireless connectivity to be able to continually expand the experience over time.'"
An anonymous reader writes "There's many improvements due in the Linux 3.13 kernel that just entered development. On the matter of new hardware support, there's open-source driver support for Intel Broadwell and AMD Radeon R9 290 'Hawaii' graphics. NFTables will eventually replace IPTables; the multi-queue block layer is supposed to make disk access much faster on Linux; HDMI audio has improved; Stereo/3D HDMI support is found for Intel hardware; file-system improvements are on the way, along with support for limiting the power consumption of individual PC components."
dcblogs writes "One year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million plan to develop a technology capable of radically extending battery life. 'We want to change the game, basically,' said George Crabtree, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a physics professor who is leading the effort. The goal is to develop a battery that can deliver five times the performance, measured in energy density, that's also five times cheaper, and do it in five years. They are looking at three research areas. Researchers are considering replacing the lithium with magnesium that has two charges, or aluminum, which has three charges. Another approach investigates replacing the intercalation step with a true chemical reaction. A third approach is the use of liquids to replace crystalline anodes and cathodes, which opens up more space for working ions."
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports on efforts at Sydney University, where researchers have had excellent success herding dairy cows with robots. By designing the robots to move smoothly, they have kept the cows moving without stressing them. From the video, one can see the animals seem not to interpret the machine as any threat. 'The robot could also cut down the number of accidents involving humans on farms. Most dairy farmers in Australia use quad bikes to round up their cattle and they are one of the leading causes of injury. The team hopes that by using the robot to do the job instead, accident rates could fall.'"
Lucas123 writes "Autonomous robots programmed to scan city streets with thermal imaging and robotic equipment carriers created to aid in transporting ammunition and other supplies will likely outnumber U.S. troops in 10 years, according to robotic researchers and U.S. military officials. 5D Robotics, Northrop Grumman Corp., QinetiQ, HDT Robotics and other companies demonstrated a wide array of autonomous robots during a display at Ft. Benning in Georgia last month. The companies are already gaining traction in the military. For example, British military forces, use QinetiQ's 10-pound Dragon Runner robot, which can be carried in a backpack and then tossed into a building or a cave to capture and relay surveillance video. 'Robots allow [soldiers] to be more lethal and engaged in their surroundings,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning, Ga. 'I think there's more work to be done but I'm expecting we'll get there.'"
First time accepted submitter NoImNotNineVolt writes "Coin, a Y Combinator-backed startup, has started accepting pre-orders for a device as slim as a standard piece of payment plastic that can hold eight credit, debit, and gift cards in its dynamic magnetic stripe. Paired with the Coin smartphone app via Bluetooth low energy, card details can easily be swapped in and out of the device. A minimalist user interface on the device itself allows the owner to toggle between the loaded cards and then swipe just as they would their ordinary card. All card details are encrypted (both on the device and in the smartphone app), and the device's on-board battery is expected to last for two years of typical usage. No support for chip&pin (EMV) yet, so this may have limited utility outside of the USA. They expect to start shipping in summer of 2014."
An anonymous reader writes "At a press event in Stockholm, Sweden today, Skype confirmed it is evaluating the addition of a typing suppression feature to its desktop clients that will automatically filter the sound of your fingers hitting the keys. Unfortunately, the Microsoft-owned company isn't ready to ship the functionality yet, despite it being available in the company's enterprise-focused Lync tool."
mahiskali writes with this interesting news via the EFF's Deep Links "The new Renault Zoe comes with a 'feature' that absolutely nobody wants. Instead of selling consumers a complete car that they can use, repair, and upgrade as they see fit, Renault has opted to lock purchasers into a rental contract with a battery manufacturer and enforce that contract with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions that can remotely prevent the battery from charging at all. This coming on the heels of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership IP Rights Chapter leak certainly makes you wonder how much of that device (car?) you really own. Perhaps Merriam-Webster can simply change the definition of ownership."
miller60 writes "How do you cool a high-density server installation inside a high rise in Hong Kong? You dunk the servers, immersing them in fluid to create an extremely efficient HPC environment in a hot, humid location. Hong Kong's Allied Control developed its immersion cooling solution using a technique called open bath immersion (OBI), which uses 3M's Novec fluid. OBI is an example of passive two-phase cooling, which uses a boiling liquid to remove heat from a surface and then condenses the liquid for reuse, all without a pump. It's a slightly different approach to immersion cooling than the Green Revolution technique being tested by Intel and deployed at scale by energy companies. Other players in immersion cooling include Iceotope and Hardcore (now LiquidCool)."
sfcrazy writes "In a surprising and unexpected move, Google and its partners have removed the recently launched HP Chromebook 11 from shelves. Users were complaining about the issues with the trackpad and performance of the laptop." Specifically (as also reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer), some of the laptops have been reported to overheat.
MojoKid writes "The seemingly never-ending onslaught of new graphics cards as of late continues today with the official release of the AMD Radeon R9 270. This mainstream graphics card actually leverages the same GPU that powered last-year's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. AMD, however, has tweaked the clocks and through software and board level revisions updated the card to allow for more flexible use of its display outputs (using Eyefinity no longer requires the use of a DisplayPort). Versus the 1GHz (GPU) and 4.8Gbps (memory) of the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, the Radeon R9 270 offers slightly lower compute performance (2.37 TFLOPS vs. 2.56 TFLOPS), but much more memory bandwidth--179.2GB/s vs. 153.6GB/s to be exact. AMD and its add in board partners are launching the Radeon R9 270 today, with prices starting at $179. The Radeon R9 270's starting price is somewhat aggressive and once again puts pressure on NVIDIA. GeForce GTX 660 cards, which typically performed lower than the Radeon R9 270 are priced right around the $190 mark. Along with this card, AMD is also announcing an update to its game bundle, and beginning November 13 Radeon R9 270 – R9 290X cards will include a free copy of Battlefield 4. NVIDIA, on the other hand, is offering Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Assassins Creed – Black Flag, plus $50 off a SHIELD portable gaming device with GTX 660 and 760 cards."
rtoz writes "MIT researchers have found that adding genetically modified viruses to the production of nanowires will boost the performance of lithium-air battery used in electric cars. The key to their work was to increase the surface area of the wire, thus increasing the area where electrochemical activity takes place during charging or discharging of the battery (abstract). The increase in surface area produced by their method can provide a big advantage in lithium-air batteries' rate of charging and discharging. Unlike conventional fabrication methods, which involve energy-intensive high temperatures and hazardous chemicals, this process can be carried out at room temperature using a water-based process."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "At the start of this year, President Obama nicely summed up the grandiose promise of 3D printing — or rather, the hype surrounding it. In his State of the Union address the president suggested the fledgling technology could save manufacturing by ushering in a second industrial revolution. That shout-out inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts pointing out — rightly enough — that despite its potential, 3D printing is still in its infancy. It's not the panacea for the struggling economy we want it to be, at least not yet. Apparently the naysayers weren't enough to kill the 3D-printing dream, because, with support from the federal government, MakerBot announced its initiative to put a 3D printer in every school in America. The tech startup and the administration are betting big that teaching kids 3D printing is teaching them the skills they'll need as tomorrow's engineers, designers, and inventors." Caveat: Makerbot no longer produces open hardware, and they are pushing proprietary Autodesk software and educational materials as part of the free 3D printer. Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.
muterobert writes with an article about a new head mounted virtual retinal display (technology last covered ages ago). The folks over at Road to VR took a look at an engineering prototype; from the article: "The Avegant HMD uses a virtual retinal projection display consisting of a single LED light source and an array of micro-mirrors. This differs from normal screens in that with a VRD there is no actual screen to look at. Instead, a virtual image (in the optical sense) is drawn directly onto your retina. . ... 'At one point I was looking at a sea turtle in shallow coral waters. Sunlight was beaming down from the surface and illuminating the turtle's shell in a spectacular way — it was one of the most vivid and natural things I've ever seen on any display. The scene before me looked incredibly real, even though the field of view is not at immersive levels.'"
MojoKid writes "At APU13 today, AMD announced a full suite of new products and development tools as part of its push to improve HSA development. One of the most significant announcements to come out the sessions today-- albeit in a tacit, indirect fashion, is that Kaveri is going to pack a full 512 GPU cores. There's not much new to see on the CPU side of things — like Richland/Trinity, Steamroller is a pair of CPU modules with two cores per module. AMD also isn't talking about clock speeds yet, but the estimated 862 GFLOPS that the company is claiming for Kaveri points to GPU clock speeds between 700 — 800MHz. With 512 cores, Kaveri picks up a 33% boost over its predecessors, but memory bandwidth will be essential for the GPU to reach peak performance. For performance, AMD showed Kaveri up against the Intel 4770K running a low-end GeForce GT 630. In the intro scene to BF4's single-player campaign (1920x1080, Medium Details), the AMD Kaveri system (with no discrete GPU) consistently pushed frame rates in the 28-40 FPS range. The Intel system, in contrast, couldn't manage 15 FPS. Performance on that system was solidly in the 12-14 FPS range — meaning AMD is pulling 2x the frame rate, if not more."