Medicine

Cheap At $40,000: Phoenix Exoskeleton Gives Paraplegics Legs to Walk With 37

Fast Company highlights the cheap-for-the-price Phoenix exoskeleton, created by University of California Berkeley professor (and Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory director) Homayoon Kazerooni and a team of his former grad students at SuitX, a company Kazerooni founded in 2013. Set to sell for $40,000 when it goes on sale next month, the Phoenix sounds expensive -- except compared to the alternatives. For paraplegic patients, there are a handful of other powered exoskeletons, but they cost much more, and are engineered for more than the modest goals of the Phoenix, which allows only one thing: slow walking on level ground. That limited objective means that the rig is light (27 pounds), and relatively unobtrusive. Kazerooni says that he'd like the price to go down much further, too, noting that all the technology in a modern motorcyle can be had for the quarter of the price. A slice: [The] only driving motors in Phoenix are at the hip joints. When the user hits a forward button on their crutches, their left hip swings forward. At this moment, the onboard computer signals the knee to become loose, flex, and clear the ground. As the foot hits, the knee joint stiffens again to support the leg. This computer-choreographed process repeats for the right leg. As it happens, this hinged knee joint has another benefit. If the wearer hits something midstep, like a rock or a curb, a powered knee would blindly drive the leg forward anyway, likely leading to a fall. The hinge naturally absorbs such resistance and allows the wearer a chance to compensate.
Data Storage

Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage 227

AmiMoJo writes: Last year Amazon started offering unlimited cloud storage for photos to customers who subscribed to its "Prime" service. Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service. A 1.44GB test image containing an executable file uploaded at over 250Mb/sec, far faster than typical cloud storage services that are rate limited and don't allow extremely large files.
Bug

Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows? 148

Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?
Government

MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (computerworld.com) 181

Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.
Input Devices

Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops (thestack.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Data Storage

Barracuda Copy Shutting Down (barracuda.com) 52

New submitter assaf07 writes: I received a notification [Monday] that Barracuda's excellent online storage option Copy will be shuttting down in May. A blog post by Rod Matthews, VP of Storage at Barracuda gives the usual business doublespeak excuse. Having used Google's Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Spideroak, I am very disappointed to lose Copy as its native Linux, Android, IOS, and Windows clients are/were wonderful.
Transportation

Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric (arstechnica.com) 51

Ars Technica reports that Morgan, idiosyncratic maker of idiosyncratic cars, is about to make a move that might seem surprising, in light of the company's tradition of conservative design. "Yes," says the article, "you'll be able to buy a wood-framed electric car in 2019." From the article: The Morgan Motor Companyâ"best known for still using postwar styling and wooden body frames for some of its carsâ"will have a full hybrid and electric range within the next three years. The British car maker is going to invest $8.6 million (£6 million) to develop hybrid and electric powertrains for all the models in its range by 2019, working in conjunction with Delta Motorsport and Potenza technology.
Power

Utility Targets Bitcoin Miners With Power Rate Hike (datacenterfrontier.com) 173

1sockchuck writes: A public utility in Washington state wants to raise rates for high-density power users, citing a flood of requests for electricity to power bitcoin mining operations. Chelan County has some of the cheapest power in the nation, supported by hydroelectric generation from dams along the Columbia River. That got the attention of bitcoin miners, prompting requests to provision 220 megawatts of additional power. After a one-year moratorium, the Chelan utility now wants to raise rates for high density users (more than 250kW per square foot) from 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Bitcoin businesses say the rate hike is discriminatory. But Chelan officials cite the transient nature of the bitcoin business as a risk to recovering their costs for provisioning new power capacity.
Robotics

World's First Robotic Farm To Produce 11 Million Heads of Lettuce Per Year (inhabitat.com) 161

MikeChino writes: Japanese company SPREAD is preparing to open the world's first robot-controlled farm. The facility is designed to produce 11 million heads of lettuce each year, and it's expected to ship its first crop in Fall 2017. The new 47,300 square feet Vegetable Factory in Kansai Science City will also reduce construction costs by 25 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.
Transportation

EasyJet May Trial Hydrogen Fuel Cells For Taxiing (thestack.com) 150

An anonymous reader writes: Low-cost airline easyJet is discussing plans to install hydrogen batteries as part of a proposed zero emission fuel system, which would power its aircraft during taxiing. The budget service revealed designs for a hybrid plane this week, and said that it would begin trialling the technology later this year. The system will involve embedding a hydrogen fuel cell on board the aeroplanes, with the energy captured from the brakes on landing able to power the jet on the ground. As the only waste product from a hydrogen cell would be fresh, clean water, Ian Davies, head of engineering at easyJet, also suggested that this could be used to refill the planes' water systems during the flight, providing a water source for passengers to drink and for flushing toilets.
AMD

AMD Launches Enthusiast A10-7860K APU, New Mainstream CPUs and Wraith Cooler (hothardware.com) 81

MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
The Internet

How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet (ibtimes.co.uk) 153

An anonymous reader writes: Contacting your internet provider to complain about slow browsing speeds is a tiresome chore which none of us enjoy, but one man has found a solution. He has configured a Raspberry Pi computer to automatically tweet a complaint to Comcast when his internet falls below 50Mbps, well below the 150Mbps he pays for. Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?
Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 179

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Data Storage

Triple M.2 NVMe RAID-0 Testing Proves Latency Reductions 73

Vigile writes: The gang over at PC Perspective just posted a story that looks at a set of three M.2 form factor Samsung 950 Pro NVMe PCIe SSDs in a RAID-0 array, courtesy of a new motherboard from Gigabyte that included three M.2 slots. The pure bandwidth available in this configuration is amazing, breaching 3.3 GB/s on reads and 3.0 GB/s on writes. But what is more interesting is a new testing methodology that allows for individual storage IO latency capturing, giving us a look at performance of SSDs in all configurations. What PC Perspective proved here is that users often claiming that RAIDs "feel faster" despite a lack of bandwidth result to prove it, are likely correct. Measurements now show that the latency of IO operations improves dramatically as you add drives to an array, giving a feeling of "snappiness" to a system beyond even what a single SSD can offer. PC Perspective's new testing demonstrates the triple RAID-0 array having just 1/6th of the latency of a single drive.

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