itwbennett writes "Using radio signals, MIT researchers can pinpoint someone's location — through a wall — with accuracy of +/- 10 centimeters. Fadel Adib, a Ph.D student on the project, said that gaming could be one use for the technology, but that localization is also very important. He said that Wi-Fi localization, or determining someone's position based on Wi-Fi, typically requires the user to hold a transmitter, like a smartphone for example. 'What we're doing here is localization through a wall without requiring you to hold any transmitter or receiver [and] simply by using reflections off a human body,' he said. 'What is impressive is that our accuracy is higher than even state of the art Wi-Fi localization.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Cadillac has officially unveiled its Tesla S alternative, but at $5,000 more than the Tesla, it may not be the cheaper option you've been looking for. 'Cadillac is touting the ELR's 8-inch touchscreen powered by its CUE infotainment system — which two years in is still a buggy mess — along with a range of safety and convenience features, including lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and a 24-hour concierge service to answer questions. There's also a "regen on demand" feature that allows the driver to boost the brake regeneration, slowing the vehicle and recouping energy by pulling on the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel. GM's bean counters are quick to point out that depending on what federal and state tax incentives buyers are eligible for, the net pricing could be as low as $68,495, but that's still a tough sell considering you're basically getting a Volt with more presence and less practicality.'"
Lucas123 writes "This past week at Ft. Benning, weaponized robot prototypes from four robotics companies — Northrop Grumman, HDT Robotics, iRobot Corp. and QinetiQ — demonstrated their abilities to traverse rugged terrain, fire machine guns and take out pop-up targets from a distance of 150 meters. 'They're not just tools, but members of the squad. That's the goal,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning. For example, the Northrup Grumman's CaMEL (Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover) can run for 24 hours on three-and-a-half gallons of fuel, and can be equipped with a grenade launcher, an automatic weapon and anti-tank missiles. The CaMEL also can identify targets from three-and-a-half kilometers away, using a daylight telescope or thermal imaging. The robots have also demonstrated their ability to be air dropped behind enemy lines or into remote terrain."
schwit1 writes "Like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA. Earlier this month, the UCSD chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at the Jacobs School of Engineering conducted a hot fire test for a 3D-printed metal rocket engine at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in California's Mojave Desert. This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA."
MojoKid writes "Over the past few years, a handful of mobile graphics companies have emerged but the top dog, by far, has been Imagination Technologies, with Qualcomm, Nvidia and ARM all picking up significant businesses of their own as well. But now, there's a new kid on the block — a company with a tiny, highly customized GPU, a number of recent design wins, and a strong product portfolio. Vivante got started in 2004 and started licensing its GPU designs in 2007. The company's early wins have been in Eastern markets, but this past year, it's begun to show up in devices intended for the West, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and Google's Chromecast. Vivante has taken a different approach to core design from most of the other companies that play in this space. All modern GPUs are explicitly designed to be modular and scalable. Typically what that means is that a company like Nvidia or AMD defines a single compute unit that can be duplicated throughout the GPU design. Vivante's GPUs are modular as well, but with a much finer level of granularity. Each of the three shaded blocks (3-D Pipeline, Vector Graphics Pipeline, 2-D Pipeline) can be segmented or stacked into various configurations. A GPU core, in other words, could contain more ultra-threaded shaders, or additional vector graphics engines, up to 32 cores in total. One of the advantages of this tiny, modular architecture is that you can clock the cores like gangbusters. According to Vivante, the 28nm high performance silicon variant of the Vivante architecture can clock up to 1GHz at full speed, but fall back to 1/64th of this in power saving mode, or roughly 16MHz."
formaggio writes "Team Austria was just announced the overall winner of the 2013 Solar Decathlon for their beautiful LISI House. With its elegant and innovative moving curtain facade, a simple form, and a strong emphasis placed on creating a seamless space that combines outdoor and indoor living, the stunning net-zero home is a versatile enough for life in both sunny California or the team's more temperate native land."
Lucas123 writes "Consumers appear more willing to use a self-driving car from a leading technology company, such as Google, over an auto manufacturer like Ford or Toyota, according to a new study from KPMG. Based on polls of focus groups, technology companies scored highest among consumers, with a median score of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest level of trust. Premium auto brands received a score of 7.75, while mass-market brands received a score of 5. Google is the brand most associated with self-driving cars, according to the study, while Nissan lead the mass auto producers in recognition for autonomous technology; that was based on its pledge in August to launch an affordable self-driving car by 2020. 'We believe that self-driving cars will be profoundly disruptive to the traditional automotive ecosystem,' KPMG stated." I suspect that when autonomous cars start arriving for ordinary buyers, there will be a lot of co-branding, as there is now for various car subsystems and even levels of trim.
An anonymous reader writes "Neal Stephenson's ambitious sword fighting Kickstarter Clang has run into financial troubles, and part of the reason is down to new controller that was required — the extra investment reportedly scared away investors. Sometimes though, games can help usher in a whole new type of controller, and create new ways to play. From Pong's easy dials, which helped bring the video game into the home, to Ape Escape's twin thumbsticks and Doodle's Jump savvy use of the accelerometer on the iPhone, some games have hit the critical mass necessary to establish a new input as a way to play. So what's next?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the 600 3D-printed objects on display at a new London Science Museum exhibit is a Terminator-lookalike prosthetic arm designed by a 3D printing research group at the University of Nottingham, to demonstrate how printers can create both strong structural pieces, multi-directional joints and electronics to power touch sensors as part of a single process. "It's a mock-up but it shows circuits that sense temperature, feel objects and control the arm's movement," according to Richard Hague, director of the university's Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group. The design is a step up in complexity from Robohand, an open-source engineering project launched in 2011 to design printable prostheses for those who have lost fingers or hands. The project posted many of its designs, including a full set of anatomically driven mechanical fingers, online for free download. Other manufacturers are exploring how robotics can best intersect with the human body and its need for replacement parts: pieces from 17 manufacturers went into "The Incredible Bionic Man," a full-body robotic prostheses assembled from artificial organs, limbs and other parts to demonstrate the current state-of-the-art for a Smithsonian Channel documentary due to air Oct. 20. The robot is 6'7, and able to stand and take a step with assistance; it contains a functioning heart, kidney, arms, legs, eyes and other parts. It also has a prosthetic, mobile face designed as a replacement for people who have lost noses or other features to accidents or disease."
sciencehabit writes "One unintended effect of the U.S. federal shutdown is that helpful press officers at government labs are not available to provide a reality check to some of the wilder stories that can catch fire on the Internet. They would have come in handy this week, when a number of outlets jumped on a report on the BBC News website. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, it reported, had passed a 'nuclear fusion milestone.' NIF uses the world's highest energy laser system to crush tiny pellets containing a form of hydrogen fuel to enormous temperature and pressure. The aim is to get the hydrogen nuclei to fuse together into helium atoms, releasing energy. The BBC story reported that during one experiment last month, 'the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel — the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.' This prompted a rush of even more effusive headlines proclaiming the 'fusion breakthrough.' As no doubt NIF's press officers would have told reporters, the experiment in question certainly shows important progress, but it is not the breakthrough everyone is hoping for."
Lucas123 writes "A solar power array that covers three square miles with 3,200 mirrored parabolic collectors went live this week, creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes in Arizona. The Solana Solar Power Plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, was built at a cost of $2 billion, and financed in large part by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The array is the world's largest parabolic trough plant, meaning it uses parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on moving structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat. A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather."
PengPod is running a crowdfunder to create a GNU Linux/Android tablet, the PengPod 1040. This is their second such product; the first was mentioned on Slashdot last year. PengPod has pledged to make all source and tools used to build the images available, so users can build their own OS top to bottom to guarantee that it's free of NSA tracking. The PengPod has previously found some success as a low-cost touch platform for industrial/commercial control systems and is partnered with ViewTouch, the original inventors of the graphical POS to offer PengPod1040s as restaurant register systems. The feature that the developers seem keenest to emphasize is that the PengPod is built to run conventional desktop Linux distros without special hacking required; Android is the default OS, but it's been tested with several others (including Ubuntu Touch) listed on their Indiegogo page.
adeelarshad82 writes "Acer officially announced its new Chromebook, C720. The C720 is 30% thinner (at 0.75 inches thick) and lighter (at 2.76 pounds) than Acer's previous Chromebook, C7. The C720 Chromebook has an 11.6-inch anti-glare widescreen, with a 1,366-by-768 resolution. Acer claims seven second boot times and up to 8.5 hours of battery life. The C720 comes with 4GB of DDR3L memory and uses an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Haswell technology. The system also has 16GB of local SSD storage along with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to get to Google's cloud-based storage. Like previous Chromebooks, the C720 Chromebook is constantly updated with the latest version of the Chrome OS and built around the Chrome browser." One thing this machine lacks is the most intriguing feature of the new ARM-based (and lower-power) Chromebook 11 from HP: charging via Micro-USB.
itwbennett writes "PC maker Lenovo accidentally posted manuals on its website showing an Android laptop called the IdeaPad A10. Lenovo spokesman Chris Millward said the company had planned on making an official announcement for the device, and that 'the product has not been canceled. It will be going out to the market.' Launch dates and pricing to come, but specs show that it could be a budget product."
Lucas123 writes "Engineers at Disney Research in Pittsburgh have developed an algorithm that creates the illusion of a 3D surface on touch screens. Using electrical impulses, the touch screen technology offers the sensation of ridges, edges, protrusions and bumps and any combination of those textures. While Disney is not alone in developing tactile response touchscreens, its researchers said the traditional approach has been to use a library of 'canned effects,' that are played back when someone touches a screen. Disney's algorithm doesn't just playback one or two responses, but it offers a set of controls that make it possible to tune tactile effects to a specific visual artifact on the fly. 'Our algorithm is concise, light and easily applicable on static images and video streams,' the researchers stated." This summer Disney unveiled AIREAL, a system designed to give tactile sensations to people using motion control devices.
An anonymous reader writes "A day after TEPCO workers mistakenly turned off cooling pumps serving the spent pool at reactor #4 at the crippled nuclear plant comes a new accident — 6 workers apparently removed the wrong pipe from a primary filtration system and were doused with highly radioactive water. They were wearing protection yet such continuing mishaps and 'small mistakes' are becoming a pattern at the facility."
ananyo writes "Fusion unleashes vast amounts of energy that might one day be used to power giant electrical grids. But the laboratory systems that seem most promising produce radiation in the form of fast-moving neutrons, and these present a health hazard that requires heavy shielding and even degrades the walls of the fusion reactor. Physicists have now produced fusion at an accelerated rate in the laboratory without generating harmful neutrons (abstract). A team led by Christine Labaune, research director of the CNRS Laboratory for the Use of Intense Lasers at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, used a two-laser system to fuse protons and boron-11 nuclei. One laser created a short-lived plasma, or highly ionized gas of boron nuclei, by heating boron atoms; the other laser generated a beam of protons that smashed into the boron nuclei, releasing slow-moving helium particles but no neutrons. Previous laser experiments that generated boron fusion aimed the laser at a boron target to initiate the reaction. In the new experiment, the laser-generated proton beam produces a tenfold increase of boron fusion because protons and boron nuclei are instead collided together directly."
An anonymous reader writes "More than 90% of nuclear regulators are being sent home due to the Federal Government shutdown, as the agency announced today that it was out of funds. Without Congressional appropriations, the nuclear watchdog closes its doors for what appears to be the first time in U.S. history. CNN reports that while a skeleton crew remains to monitor the nation's 100 nuclear reactors, regulatory efforts to prevent a Fukushima-like incident in the United States have ceased."
iONiUM writes "Samsung today unveiled the Galaxy Round phone with a curved 5.7" display. It comes with a hefty $1,000 USD price tag. This is a follow-up to the 55" curved TVs it began selling in June, and is most likely an intermediate form in the development of fold-able phones. Considering the recent LG announcement of mass OLED flexible screen production, it seems we are getting close to flexible phones. One question I wonder: will Apple follow suit? So far there has been no indication they are even attempting flexible/bendable screens."