Zothecula writes "Not too long ago, brothers Randy and Michael Gregg were out on a hunting expedition. It was the day after deer season had ended, yet they spied a handsome animal bedded down in the snow. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity, they silently crept up on their quarry, raised their rifle, lined the deer up in the crosshairs ... and then took a picture through the scope with a mobile phone. That photo provided all the proof they needed that they had successfully stalked their prey, without bringing home an illegally-obtained carcass. It also inspired them to create the Kill Shot — a replica hunting rifle, that takes pictures instead of firing bullets." The Kill Shot isn't just for hunters. Think of how great this would be at sporting events or family reunions!
New submitter iroc_eater writes with news of an announcement from Dell that it plans to acquire SonicWall, a security services provider. "SonicWall’s technology detects and protects networks from intrusions and malware attacks, and helps protect data. Dell is buying services and software businesses as the PC market faces competition from smartphones and tablets. Last month, the company hired CA Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Swainson to oversee the software push, and today he said security is an important part of that strategy. 'My goal is to make software a meaningful part of Dell’s overall portfolio, so that means that this is not the last thing you’re going to see from us,' Swainson said."
MrSeb writes "Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today's cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. As it stands, almost every solar panel is made by slicing a 200-micrometer-thick (0.2mm) wafer from a block of crystalline silicon. You then add some electrodes, cover it in protective glass, and leave it in a sunny area to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. There are two problems with this approach: Much in the same way that sawdust is produced when you slice wood, almost half of the silicon block is wasted when it's cut into 200-micrometer slices; and second, the panels would still function just as well if they were thinner than 200 micrometers, but silicon is brittle and prone to cracking if it's too thin. Using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator, Twin Creeks has managed to create very thin (20-micrometer), flexible photovoltaic cells that can be produced for just 40 cents per watt; around half the cost of conventional solar cells, and a price point that encroaches on standard, mostly-hydrocarbon-derived grid power."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have managed to perfect 3D printing at the nanoscale. What may look like a grain of sand to the human eye could in fact be a detailed racing car model, a reproduction of a famous church, or London Bridge. The 3D printer relies on a laser beam directed by mirrors through a liquid resin onto a surface. It can print at 5 meters per second, which is a world record, and the end result is only a few hundred nanometers in size. The next hurdle: printing with bio-material so we can start making our own body parts/organs."
MrSeb writes "Electrical engineers and material scientists at MIT have created a fiber-borne laser that could be woven to form a flexible display that could project different 3D images in any number of directions, to any number of viewers. MIT's fiber is similar to standard telecoms fiber, but it has a tiny droplet of fluid embedded in the core. When laser light hits the fluid, it scatters, effectively creating a 360-degree laser beam. The core is then surrounded by layers of liquid crystal, which can be controlled like 'pixels,' allowing the laser light to escape from specific points anywhere along the length of the fiber. This means that you could have a display that shows one picture on the 'front' and another on the 'back' — or different, glasses-free 3D images for everyone sitting in front and behind. In the short term, the laser fiber is more likely to have a significant application in photodynamic therapy, an area of medicine where drugs are activated using light. Photodynamic therapy is one of the only ways to treat cancer in a relatively non-invasive and non-toxic manner. MIT's laser could be threaded into almost any part of the body, where the ability to produce pixels of laser light at any point along its length would make it a highly accurate device."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: "A new blob-like robot described in the journal Advanced Robotics uses springs, feet, 'protoplasm' and a distributed nervous system to move in a manner inspired by the slime mold Physarum polycepharum. ... Researcher Takuya Umedachi of Hiroshima University has been perfecting his blob-bot for years, starting with early prototypes that used springs but lacked an air-filled bladder. ... Umedachi modeled his latest version on the 'true' slime mold, which has been shown to achieve a 'human-like' decision-making capacity through properties emerging from the interactions of its individual spores (abstract). Slime molds appear to have general computational abilities, and you've probably heard that they can solve mazes."
An anonymous reader writes with a snippet from Hack a Day: "Clap On! Clap Off! was super awesome when The Clapper came out in the mid-eighties. Now [Mathieu Stephan] is trying to make the concept much more functional. He put together a controller that lets you knock on walls to control things around the house. It's called the Toktoktok project and uses small boxes to receive user input and control items like lamps and computers." As the project website points out, Stephan is keeping the project intentionally open.
Doofus writes "The Washington Post has a profile of Roger Fidler, who 'invented' the tablet computer in the 1990s, while working as a visionary for newspaper firm Knight-Ridder. He is now embroiled in the Apple/Samsung legal war, as an expert witness. Fidler admits that other prior art influenced him, such as the tablets being used as computing devices in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior prior art."
theodp writes "The rich are different; the geek rich are different-er. The WSJ's Emily Glazer reports that when Richard Garriott de Cayeux threw a costume party the night before his wedding in Paris, his 82-year-old mother — too frail to travel from her Las Vegas home — still dressed up as an Indian princess and attended the party using a $9,700 personal-presence robot from Anybots Inc. At the wedding reception the next day, Mama Garriott shook her robootie on the dance floor, encircled by kids and family. Telepresence robots aren't just for the likes of Sergey Brin anymore — companies like VGo, Xaxxon, Willow Garage, and iRobot have introduced personal-presence robots that range in price from $270 for a simple model to $50,000 for a machine that allows doctors to diagnose illnesses remotely. And, as an old NY Times article noted, they can also make fine Robot Overlords."
First time accepted submitter Sez Zero writes "Google and ASUS have been collaborating on a co-branded 7-inch Android tablet, with a launch as early as May, according to sources, challenging low-cost rivals and the iPad with a $199-249 price tag. The fruits of the partnership, whispered to the runes readers at DigiTimes by industry sources, will take on the NOOK Tablet and the Kindle Fire, with ASUS selected for its willingness to flex to Google's requirements."
DeviceGuru writes "Although generally overshadowed by the iPad 3 debut, Apple also introduced the third incarnation of its Apple TV streaming media players this week. Sporting a revamped icon-based UI, the third-generation Apple TV doesn't add much to its predecessor beyond a truly-HD 1080p video output mode. Although Apple TV is still not supported by an Apple Apps Store plug-in apps ecosystem, its new UI (available as a free update for 2nd-generation Apple TVs) does seem to imply that this capability is coming soon. Meanwhile, Roku is gearing up for a $50M IPO, so this cord-cutting story is far from over."
waderoush writes "The venture backers behind Lytro, the Silicon Valley startup that just released its new light field camera, say the device will upend consumer photography the way the iPhone upended the mobile business. This review takes that assertion at face value, enumerating the features that made the iPhone an overnight success and asking whether the Lytro camera and its refocusable 'living pictures' offer consumers an equivalent set of advantages. The verdict: not yet. But while the first Lytro model may not an overnight success, light field cameras and refocusable images are just the first taste of a revolution in computational photography that's going to change the way consumers think about pictures."
asavin writes "Ng Tze-chuen, a 59-year-old dentist, is teaming up with Egypt's former antiquities minister to explore the Pyramids of Giza. To do this, he's invented a tiny insect-sized robot with dental forcep-inspired grips on the top. This will be used to travel between the cracks on two mysterious doors blocking a tomb."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from IEEE Spectrum's Nanoclast blog: "One of the fundamental problems with fuel cells has been the cost of producing hydrogen. While hydrogen is, of course, the most abundant element, it attaches itself to other elements like nitrogen or fluorine, and perhaps most ubiquitously to oxygen to create the water molecule. ... Now researchers at University of California, San Diego have developed a quite different approach to mimicking photosynthesis for splitting water molecules by using a 3D branched nanowire array that looks like a forest of trees. ... The nanowire forest [uses] the process of photoelectrochemical water-splitting to produce hydrogen gas. The method used by the researchers, which was published in the journal Nanoscale (abstract), found that the forest structure of the nanowires, which has a massive amount of surface area, not only captured more light than flat planar designs, but also produced more hydrogen gas."
garthsundem writes "I disagree with this article's opening line: 'Within a decade, personal robots could become as common in U.S. homes as any other major appliance.' Haven't we been promised this since the 50s? But I'm fascinated by the rest — how do you teach humans to teach robots? Or, more precisely, how can you teach robots to teach humans to teach robots? The idea that designers can put a flexible platform in a robot, allowing users to determine functionality, is pretty interesting. The lead researcher for this project said, 'People are not so good at teaching robots because they don't understand the robots' learning mechanism. It's like when you try to train a dog, and it's difficult because dogs do not learn like humans do. We wanted to find out the best kinds of questions a robot could ask to make the human-robot relationship as 'human' as it can be.'"