MrSeb writes "Using BrainGate, the world's most advanced brain-computer interface, a woman with quadriplegia has used a mind-controlled robot arm to serve herself coffee — an act she hasn't been able to perform for 15 years. BrainGate, which is being developed by a team of American neuroscientists from Brown and Stanford universities, and is currently undergoing clinical trial, requires a computer chip to be implanted in the motor cortex of the patient, which it then transmits to a computer for processing. Like all brain-computer interfaces, the user must train the software — but once this is done, you simply think of a movement, and the software moves the robot accordingly. Moving forward, the researchers would like to miniaturize the system and make it wireless — at the moment, BrainGate users have a box attached to their head, and they're tethered to a computer — which is OK for robot arm use at home, but obviously doesn't grant much mobility. The work was partly funded by DARPA, with the hope of creating more advanced prosthetics for wounded war veterans." This comes on the heels of a 71-year-old man regaining motor function in his fingers after doctors rewired his nerves to bypass the damaged ones.
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jones_supa writes "RunCore announces the global launch of its InVincible solid state drive, designed for mission-critical fields such as aerospace or military. The device improves upon a normal SSD by having two strategies for the drive to quickly render itself blank. First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage. Second one is less discreet and lets the smoke out of the circuitry by driving overcurrent to the NAND chips. Both ways can be ignited with a single push of a button, allowing James Bond -style rapid response to the situation on the field."
Fluffeh writes "A recent study of over 1,000 folks for a paper published in Nature Climate Change has found that the average U.S. citizen is inclined to pay a premium to ensure that by 2035, 80% of U.S. power comes from clean energy. At random, respondents received one of three "technological treatments" or definitions of clean energy that included renewable energy sources alone, renewable sources plus natural gas, and renewable sources plus nuclear power. Delving into the socioeconomics, researchers found that Republicans, Independents, and respondents with no party allegiance were less likely by 25, 13 and 25 percentage points respectively to support a NCES than respondents that identified themselves as Democrats."
jd writes "2012 promises to be a fun year for hardware geeks, with three new 'Aptiv-class' MIPS64 cores being circulated in soft form, a quad-core ARM A15, a Samsung ARM A9 variant, a seriously beefed-up 8-core Intel Itanium and AMD's mobile processors. There's a mix here of chips actually out, ready to be put on silicon, and in last stages of development. Obviously these are for different users (mobile CPUs don't generally fight for marketshare with Itanium dragsters) but it is still fascinating to see the differences in approach and the different visions of what is important in a modern CPU. Combine this with the news reported earlier on DDR4, and this promises to be a fun year with many new machines likely to appear that are radically different from the last generation. Which leaves just one question — which Linux architecture will be fully updated first?"
Lucas123 writes "The upcoming shift from Double Data Rate 3 (DDR3) RAM to its successor, DDR4, will herald a significant boost in both memory performance and capacity for data center hardware and consumer products alike. Because of the greater density, 2X performance and lower cost, the upcoming specification and products will for the first time mean DDR may be used in mobile devices instead of LPDDR. Today, mobile devices use low-power DDR (LPDDR) memory, the current iteration of which uses 1.2v of power. While the next generation of mobile memory, LPDDR3, will further reduce that power consumption (probably by 35% to 40%), it will also likely cost 40% more than DDR4 memory."
MojoKid writes "AMD lifted the veil on their new Trinity A-Series mobile processor architecture today. Trinity has been reported as offering much-needed CPU performance enhancements in IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) but also more of AMD's strength in gaming and multimedia horsepower, with an enhanced second generation integrated Radeon HD graphics engine. AMD's A10-4600M quad-core chip is comprised of 1.3B transistors with a CPU base core clock of 2.3GHz and Turbo Core speeds of up to 3.2GHz. The on-board Radeon HD 7660G graphics core is comprised of 384 Radeon Stream Processor cores clocked at 497MHz base and 686Mhz Turbo. In the benchmarks, AMD's new Trinity A10 chip outpaces Intel's Ivy Bridge for gaming but can't hold a candle to it for standard compute workloads or video transcoding."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers Jon Moeller, Andruid Kerne, and a team from the Interface Ecology Lab at Texas A&M University showcased the latest ZeroTouch multi-finger sensing technology at ACM CHI, in Austin. ZeroTouch is a new spin on infrared sensing technology, which optimizes the sensor readout cycle for a linear array of modulated infrared light receivers. ZeroTouch also constitutes a precise free-air sensing technology (Kinect can be used as a complementary technology to sense depth). Researcher Bill Hamilton uses ZeroTouch integrated with Wacom Cintiq to showcase new embodied eSports interaction (video) for the open source Zero-K real time strategy game."
New submitter mmmmdave writes "My parents love to Skype with my kid. My kid loves to mash laptop buttons and drool on the screen. And because we don't want to spend forty minutes every night holding the laptop outside of baby arms' length, we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy. I'm sure there's a much cheaper option than sticking an iPad on the wall; what's more, non-touchscreen is probably better, so my daughter can't hang up the calls. Any ideas?"
lukehopewell1 writes "A Penn State robotics student has gone to the effort of building a working, automated turret from the video game series Portal. Powered by a webcam, Arduino boards and hacked up USB-missile launchers, this is one serious piece of kit that is just as adorable as its in-game counterpart. "
Hugh Pickens writes "Tim Heffernan writes that when 'The Fifty,' as it's known in company circles, broke down three years ago, there was talk of retiring it for good. Instead, Alcoa decided to overhaul their 50,000-ton, 6-story high forging press, now scheduled to resume service early this year. 'What sets the Fifty apart is its extraordinary scale,' writes Heffernan. 'Its 14 major structural components, cast in ductile iron, weigh as much as 250 tons each; those yard-thick steel bolts are also 78 feet long; all told, the machine weighs 16 million pounds, and when activated its eight main hydraulic cylinders deliver up to 50,000 tons of compressive force.' The Fifty could bench-press the battleship Iowa, with 860 tons to spare, but it's the Fifty's amazing precision — its tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch—that gives it such far-reaching utility. Every manned US military aircraft now flying uses parts forged by the Fifty, as does every commercial aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing making the Jet Age possible. 'On a plane, a pound of weight saved is a pound of thrust gained—or a pound of lift, or a pound of cargo,' writes Heffernan. 'Without the ultra-strong, ultra-light components that only forging can produce, they'd all be pushing much smaller envelopes.' The now-forgotten Heavy Press Program (PDF), inaugurated in 1950 and completed in 1957, resulted in four presses (including the Fifty) and six extruders — giant toothpaste tubes squeezing out long, complex metal structures such as wing ribs and missile bodies. 'Today, America lacks the ability to make anything like the Heavy Press Program machines,' concludes Heffernan, adding that 'The Fifty' will be supplying bulkheads through 2034 for the Joint Strike Fighter. 'Big machines are the product of big visions, and they make big visions real. How about a Heavy Fusion Program?'"
Velcroman1 writes, quoting Fox News: "For sale: manufacturing and office facility with 411,618 square feet, state of the art electrical, air, and power distribution systems — and a troubled past. As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Solyndra is reportedly very close to landing a buyer for its mammoth, high-tech production plant in Fremont, Calif. The listing agent recently gave Fox News a tour of what the new owners will get for their multi-million dollar investment. Now the once-bustling offices, conference rooms, and cubicles are eerily quiet as the facility is 'decommissioned,' according to Greg Matter with Jones Lang LaSalle realty. One wonders about the conversations held, and emails written, in the corner office formerly occupied by CEO Brian Harrison."
Nate the greatest writes "I'm sure you've heard about the color E-ink screen which was rumored to be used on the next Kindle. As of today, E-ink no longer has that market niche to themselves. Plastic Logic held a press conference in Russia this morning where they unveiled a new color screen that uses their plastic-based screen tech. The resolution is low (75ppi), but if the video is any sign, then this might be a better screen than the 9.7" Triton color E-ink screen used on the Jetbook Color. And that's not all Plastic Logic showed off this morning; they also developed a frontlight for their screen, and they can play video at 12 frames per second. But best of all, they cut one of their screens in half just to show that it could still work."
McGruber writes "The Rochester (NY) Democrat-Chronicle has the interesting story of the Eastman Kodak Co.'s Californium Neutron Flux Multiplier, which was housed in Building 82 of Kodak Park in Rochester, NY. The multiplier contained 3½ pounds of highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium. Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, as well as for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique. From the article: 'When Kodak decided six years ago to close down the device, still more scrutiny followed. Federal regulators made them submit detailed plans for removing the substance. When the highly enriched uranium was packaged into protective containers and spirited away in November 2007, armed guards were surely on hand. All of this — construction of a bunker with two-foot-thick concrete walls, decades of research and esoteric quality control work with a neutron beam, the safeguarding and ultimate removal of one of the more feared substances on earth — was done pretty much without anyone in the Rochester community having a clue.'"
An anonymous reader writes "It was inevitable that Intel launching the 22nm Ivy Bridge processors would lead to Apple using them in its laptops and desktop machines. While Apple never leaks details early, someone using pre-release hardware has managed to upload details of the new machine to Geekbench's database. We can definitely expect a Core i7 Ivy Bridge MacBook Pro and iMac later this year."
MrSeb writes "A group of American researchers from MIT, Indiana University, and Tufts University, led by Erin Treacy Solovey, have developed Brainput — a system that can detect when your brain is trying to multitask, and offload some of that workload to a computer. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is basically a portable, poor man's version of fMRI, Brainput measures the activity of your brain. This data is analyzed, and if Brainput detects that you're multitasking, the software kicks in and helps you out. In the case of the Brainput research paper (PDF), Solovey and her team set up a maze with two remotely controlled robots. The operator, equipped with fNIRS headgear, has to navigate both robots through the maze simultaneously, constantly switching back and forth between them. When Brainput detects that the driver is multitasking, it tells the robots to use their own sensors to help with navigation. Overall, with Brainput turned on, operator performance improved — and yet they didn't generally notice that the robots were partially autonomous. Moving forward, Solovey wants to investigate other cognitive states that can be reliably detected using fNIRS. Imagine a computer that increases the size of buttons and text when you're tired, or a video game that slows down when you're stressed. Your Xbox might detect that you're in the mood for fighting games, and change its splash screen accordingly. Eventually, computer interfaces might completely remold themselves to your mental state."