We've been waiting years for smartphones to gain built-in projectors. What's not to like about your phone being able to project a 50-inch display?
There are a few projector phones on the market--outside the U.S.--but the predicted flood has been slow to materialize. That could be changing, thanks in part to a speck of glass not much larger than a grain of sand.
One reason phone projectors have been just out of reach is that they have to be bright to be seen well, and projecting a lot of light takes a lot of power. So while it's possible to put a tiny powerful projector into a phone, doing so involves trade-offs.
The grain-size speck of glass, a lens from Japanese component maker Alps Electric, transmits more light than previous lenses, which means fewer trade-offs. A projector using the lens requires less power to put out a given amount of light. When component makers address efficiency like this, watch for more phone makers to take the plunge.… Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--A powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket roared to life today and launched NASA's solar-powered Juno space probe on a five-year voyage to Jupiter, the first step in a $1.1 billion mission to look for clues about the origins of the solar system in the hidden heart of its largest planet.
"What we're really going after are some of the most fundamental questions of our solar system--how Jupiter formed, how it evolved, what really happened early in the solar system that eventually led to all of us and the terrestrial planets," said Scott Bolton, the principal investigator. "These are really basic questions: who are we, where did we come from, how did we get here?
"We're kind of going after this recipe of how planets are made. We're getting the ingredients of Jupiter, we're going to understand what the structure is like inside, how was it built, and that will give us guidance as to what happened in that early time that eventually led to us."
The towering 197-foot-tall Atlas 5, equipped with five solid-fuel strap-on boosters for extra power, ignited with a ground-shaking roar at 12:25 p.m. EDT, generating 2.5 million pounds of thrust and instantly pushing the spacecraft away from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was only the second launch of a five strap-on Atlas 5, the most powerful version offered by United Launch Alliance.
Liftoff was delayed 51 minutes to resolve two technical issues and to make sure a boat that strayed into the launch danger zone cleared the area.
Climbing away atop a brilliant plume of fiery exhaust, the rocket accelerated through the sound barrier 34 seconds after liftoff, arcing away to the east and putting on a spectacular lunchtime show for tourists and area residents. The strap-on boosters burned out and peeled off about a minute later and the first stage shut down and fell away as planned four and a half minutes after launch.
The rocket's hydrogen-fueled Centaur upper stage then carried out a six-minute burn to boost the spacecraft into a temporary parking orbit. A second nine-minute Centaur firing 31 minutes later accelerated Juno to 25,000 mph, or 7 miles per second--interplanetary escape velocity--and three minutes later, the 4-ton spacecraft separated from the Centaur to fly on its own.… Read more
Automotive blog Jalopnik got a tip this week that one of Google's autonomous cars, a Prius, got in a fender bender near the search giant's Mountain View campus. Google issued a statement noting that the car was being driven by its human pilot when the accident occurred.
The Google Prius and another Prius were involved in a minor collision, although there are no details as to which driver might have been at fault. When Google revealed that its autonomous cars had been road testing in California a few years ago, it acknowledged that there had been one minor accident, but that the other car was at fault. During its testing of the cars, a driver has been at the wheel, ready to take over if the self-driving systems should fail.
Google should be able to confirm the details of this recent accident using the Prius' computer logs. If its sensors were turned on, they should paint a picture of what was happening around the car. Additionally, its systems would show if it was being driven manually, with details such as speed, braking, and wheel turn. … Read more
Combine the words "vibrator," "touch," and "heightened sensitivity," and the subject is obvious, right? A tricked-out glove that heightens your sense of touch.
The glove, developed by Georgia Tech researchers, includes a tiny vibrator that sits on the side of your finger. Turn the vibrator so low that you don't quite notice it vibrating, and voila, your fingertip is more sensitive to touch.
Prototype tests showed that the heightened-sensitivity glove enabled people to sense lighter touches and distinguish sensory points that were closer together than they could without it. People correctly distinguished among different fineness levels of sandpaper 15 percent more often with the glove.
The glove could help surgeons and others who rely on a fine sense of touch, and it could help people with an impaired sense of touch.… Read more
A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars has detected signs of what appear to be seasonal flows of salty water on the surface of the red planet during warmer summer months, an "eye-opening" finding that could help scientists target future missions to look for signs of microbial life in the frigid soil, researchers said today.
"We have found repeated and predictable evidence suggesting water flowing on Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist with NASA's Mars Exploration office.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2005 and conducting continuous observations of Mars since November 2006, spotted the … Read more
Boeing will use United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets for initial test flights of the company's proposed CST-100 manned spacecraft, a seven-seat capsule being developed for commercial missions to and from government and private-sector space stations in low-Earth orbit, company officials announced today.
John Elbon, vice president and program manager of Boeing commercial crew transportation systems, said four test flights of the CST-100 spacecraft are envisioned, assuming continued NASA funding, including an on-the-launch-pad abort test in 2014 that will not require a booster.
The other three flights will use a version of the Atlas 5 that includes one solid-fuel … Read more
They vacuum our floors and help fight our wars, but robots always seem to be just over the horizon. They're never as commonplace as we expected.
Still, that hasn't stopped prognosticators from predicting that robots will be the automobile of the 21st century, or that robots makers are now where Microsoft was in the late 1970s. The markets for industrial and service robots are already worth billions of dollars each, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) data.
Robotkind certainly got a major boost this week when electronics giant Foxconn, which makes everything from iPads to LCD TVs, announced that it's replacing some of its human workers, which number more than 900,000, with more than a million robots.
Of course, we all wish we'd bought shares in Microsoft and Google early on. That's the kind of thinking that led Frank Tobe, author of The Robot Report blog, to look into the sector and try to identify publicly traded robot makers that have growth potential.