theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Google has patented an image-capturing walking stick, which can boldly go where no Google Street View Car can. The walking stick has embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground. The patent also covers using canes and crutches in a similar fashion."
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DeviceGuru writes "Researchers at the Biorob lab at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), have announced a cat-like robot that is claimed to be the fastest quadruped robot under 30 kilograms. The Cheetah-cub Robot, which runs real-time Xenomai Linux on an x86-based RoBoard robot control board, mimics the biomechanics of a cat to increase the speed and stability of it quadroped legs, helping it achieve speeds of 1.42m/s. The goal of the still-early-stage project is to encourage research in biomechanics, with an aim toward building faster robots for search and rescue, or ground exploration. More info is available on EPFL's Cheetah page."
An anonymous reader writes "A German computer scientist is taking a fresh look at the 46-year old Amdahl's law, which took a first look at limitations in parallel computing with respect to serial computing. The fresh look considers software development models as a way to overcome parallel computing limitations. 'DEEP keeps the code parts of a simulation that can only be parallelized up to a concurrency of p = L on a Cluster Computer equipped with fast general purpose processors. The highly parallelizable parts of the simulation are run on a massively parallel Booster-system with a concurrency of p = H, H >> L. The booster is equipped with many-core Xeon Phi processors and connected by a 3D-torus network of sub-microsecond latency based on EXTOLL technology. The DEEP system software allows to dynamically distribute the tasks to the most appropriate parts of the hardware in order to achieve highest computational efficiency.' Amdahl's law has been revisited many times, most notably by John Gustafson."
An anonymous reader writes "Today in a blog post, NVIDIA's General Counsel, David Shannon, announced that the company will begin licensing its GPU cores and patent portfolio to device makers. '[I]t's not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices.' He cites the 'explosion of Android devices' as one of the prime reasons for this decision. 'This opportunity simply didn't exist several years ago because there was really just one computing device – the PC. But the swirling universe of new computing devices provides new opportunities to license our GPU core or visual computing portfolio.' Shannon points out that NVIDIA did something similar with the CPU core used in the PlayStation 3, which was licensed to Sony. But mobile seems to be the big opportunity now: 'We'll start by licensing the GPU core based on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture, the world's most advanced, most efficient GPU. Its DX11, OpenGL 4.3, and GPGPU capabilities, along with vastly superior performance and efficiency, create a new class of licensable GPU cores. Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we've gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes. As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.'"
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."
Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"
Qedward writes with an excerpt at TechWorld about a new project from Jon "Maddog" Hall, which is about to launch in Brazil: "The vision of Project Cauã is to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America. Hall explained that Sao Paolo in Brazil is the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere and has about twelve times the population density of New York City. As a result, there are a lot of people living and working in very tall buildings. Project Cauã will aim to put a server system in the basement of all of these tall buildings and thin clients throughout the building, so that residents and businesses can run all of their data and applications remotely."
WebGangsta writes "The rumor mill continues to grow closer and closer to reality, as The Verge is reporting the upcoming SERIES 5 TiVo will have 6 tuners, support OTA recording (an old TiVo feature being brought back), storage beyond the 2TB limit, and more. While some would say that TiVo today is nothing more than a Patent Holder (albeit a successful one), there's still a market for a cable box that doubles as a streaming player. Is hardware the future of TiVo, or should they go and just license their software to all? And don't get us started on those 'TiVo Buying Hulu' or 'Apple/Google buying TiVo' rumors... that's a different story for a different day."
MojoKid writes "Intel announced a set of new enterprise products today aimed at furthering its strengths in the TOP500 supercomputing market. As of today, the Chinese Tiahne-2 supercomputer (aka Milky Way 2) is now the fastest supercomputer on the planet at roughly ~54PFLOPs. Intel is putting its own major push behind heterogeneous computing with the Tianhe-2. Each node contains two Ivy Bridge sockets and three Xeon Phi cards. Each node, therefore, contains 422.4GFLOP/s in Ivy Bridge performance — but 3.43TFLOPs/s worth of Xeon Phi. In addition, we'll see new Xeons based on this technology later this year, in the 22nm E5-2600 V2 family, with up to 12 cores. The new chips will be built on Ivy Bridge technology and will offer up to 12 cores / 24 threads. The new Xeons, however, aren't really the interesting part of the story. Today, Intel is adding cards to the current Xeon Phi lineup — the 7120P, 3120P, 3120A, and 5120D. The 3120P and 3120A are the same card — the 'P' is passively cooled, while the "A" integrates a fan. Both of these solutions have 57 CPUs and 6GB of RAM. Intel states that they offer ~1TFLOP of performance, which puts them on par with the 5110P that launched last year, but with slightly less memory and presumably a lower price point. At the top of the line, Intel is introducing the 7120P and 7120X — the 7120P comes with an integrated heat spreader, the 7120X doesn't. Clock speeds are higher on this card, it has 61 cores instead of 60, 16GB of GDDR5, and 352GBps of memory bandwidth. Customers who need lots of cores and not much RAM can opt for one of the cheaper 3100 cards, while the 7100 family allows for much greater data sets."
MojoKid writes "Odds are, if you've purchased anything that uses Flash memory in the last 20 years or so, you already own a piece of SanDisk technology. The company has been in Flash storage since the late '80s and manufactures products used in everything from smartphones to digital cameras. Even though it enjoys a long history in the Flash memory business, SanDisk is perhaps not as well known for its Solid State Drive (SSD) solutions for desktop and mobile PCs. However, SanDisk recently expanded their product stack with new, high-performance SSDs that leverage the company's own NAND Flash memory and Marvell's popular 88SSS9187 controller. The new drives are SanDisk's Extreme II family of SSDs targeted performance enthusiasts, workstations professionals and gamers. The initial line-up of drives consists of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB models. Performance specifications for the three drives come in at 545MB/s – 550MB/s for reads with write performance from 340MB/s to 510MB/s, depending on density. In the benchmarks, SanDisk's Extreme II SSD showed it has the chops to hang with some of the fastest drives on the market from Samsung, Corsair and OCZ."
Iddo Genuth writes "Videographer Tom Antos developed an advanced DIY camera stabilizer which can hold almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera steady for video photography. Although this surely isn't as sophisticated (and super expensive) as the professional MVI M10 handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, its still quite impressive especially when you consider it only costs a few hundred dollars rather then tens of thousands — that is if you feel like building it yourself." Antos' design takes advantage of stabilized gimbal systems made for hanging cameras on remote-controlled helicopters, and does a very impressive job for its price.
colinneagle writes "Researchers at Chiba University in Japan have developed a robot that could frustrate teenagers worldwide with its impressive air hockey skills. What's remarkable about this air hockey-playing robot, which is not the first of its kind, is that it can sense human opponents' playing styles and adapt to defend against them. The key is how the computer controlling the robot views its opponent — at a speed of 500 frames per second. From there, the robot uses a three-layer control system to determine motion control, when it should hit the puck, defend its goal or stay still, and a third that determines how it should react to its opponent's playing style."
Zothecula writes "While quick charging technology installed at strategic points along a planned route might be a good fit for inner city buses, it's not going to be of much use to electric vehicles that stop infrequently. Volvo sees our future long-haul trucks and buses drawing the juice they need from the road itself, making large onboard batteries a thing of the past. 'The two power rails/lines run along the road's entire length. One is a positive pole, and the other is used to return the current. The lines are sectioned so that live current is only delivered to a collector mounted at the rear of, or under, the truck if an appropriate signal is detected. As an additional safety measure, the current flows only when the vehicle is moving at speeds greater than 60 km/h (37 mph). "The vehicle is equipped with a radio emitter, which the road segments can sense," explains Volvo's Per-Martin Johnansson. "If an electric vehicle passes a road segment with a proper encrypted signal, then the road will energize the segments that sense the vehicle.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "One year and seven months after beginning construction, Facebook has brought its first datacenter on foreign soil online. That soil is in Lulea, town of 75,000 people on northern Sweden's east coast, just miles south of the boundary separating the Arctic Circle from the somewhat-less-frigid land below it. Lulea (also nicknamed The Node Pole for the number of datacenters in the area) is in the coldest area of Sweden and shares the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, according to a local booster site. The constant, biting wind may have stunted the growth of Lulea's tourism industry, but it has proven a big factor in luring big IT facilities into the area. Datacenters in Lulea are just as difficult to power and cool as any other concentrated mass of IT equipment, but their owners can slash the cost of cooling all those servers and storage units simply by opening a window: the temperature in Lulea hasn't stayed at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours since 1961, and the average temperature is a bracing 29.6 Fahrenheit. Air cooling might prove a partial substitute for powered environmental control, but Facebook's datacenter still needed 120megawatts of steady power to keep the social servers humming. Sweden has among the lowest electricity costs in Europe, and the Lulea area reportedly has among the lowest power costs in Sweden. Low electricity prices are at least partly due to the area's proximity to the powerful Lulea River and the line of hydroelectric dams that draw power from it."
MojoKid writes "Dell recently introduced their Alienware X51 series of small form factor gaming PCs but until now, squeezing in components that were powerful enough for the enthusiast gamer was a significant thermal challenge. Intel's recent Haswell Core processor release, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 670 series graphics cards have changed the game considerably though. The X51 R2 is shaped similar to to an Xbox 360 Slim, and though it's slightly larger, it would be right at home in a living room setting. Alienware is also bundling Steam Big Picture mode installations with systems as well. Performance-wise, with its latest CPU and GPU upgrades, the system is over twice as fast as the first generation X51, again thanks to Haswell and upgraded NVIDIA GeForce graphics. The console-sized PC is capable of running virtually any current gen DX11 title at full 1920X1080 HD resolution and high image quality settings."