NASA is set to end the 30-year space shuttle program next month with the final mission of Atlantis, but the craft may help extend the life of satellites orbiting Earth, thanks to a handyman robot.
Atlantis will carry a unique robotic experiment during the 12-day STS-135 mission to the International Space Station.
The Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) is designed to help figure out what's needed to refuel satellites in space. As NASA describes it, "RRM is expected to reduce risks and lay the foundation for future robotic servicing missions in microgravity."
The experimental platform will attach to the exterior of the ISS, where remote-controlled maintenance robot Dextre will practice gassing up satellites that are not designed to be refueled. To accomplish that, it would have to get past the seals that typically close a satellite's fuel compartment permanently. … Read more
With millions of implantable medical devices in the U.S. alone, and some 300,000 more people receiving them worldwide every year, the need to protect these wireless devices from being hacked is increasingly urgent.
Wearers might soon be better protected, thanks to new work out of MIT and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, so long as they don't mind walking around in invisible shields.
The system the research team will be proposing at the Association for Computing Machinery's Sigcomm conference in Toronto this August uses a jamming transmitter small enough to be worn as a watch or necklace.
The device would essentially be authorized to access the implant and send encrypted instructions to the transmitter (the team calls this the "shield"), which would in turn decode the encryption and relay the instructions to the implant.
Using a device that is separate from the medical implant is key for a few reasons: it allows for post-encryption in devices that are already implanted; it enables authorized emergency responders to simply remove the patient's shield in the event of emergencies; and it doesn't require the size of the implants to increase to accommodate and power the shield.
The new system expands on a technique recently developed at Stanford University that allows for sending and receiving signals in the same frequency band. In typical wireless technology, using the same frequency band interferes with the signal, but by employing three antennas positioned precise distances apart, one band can now be used.… Read more
Don't you hate it when ATMs refuse to do what you want, like give you cash in an emergency when you're overseas? Well, prototype ATMs in Russia come with built-in lie detectors that can reject customers who aren't telling the truth.
Major retail bank Sberbank is testing out an ATM that can automatically process credit card applications. It incorporates a voice-analysis system that can determine when someone is lying.
Sberbank has set up the prototype at its Branch of the Future showpiece branch in Moscow. The machine takes passport, fingerprint, and face scans, and asks questions such as "Are you employed?" and "At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?"
Speech Technology Center developed the software, which can detect nervousness and distress just like a polygraph. It measures the tone and pacing of speech to detect involuntary changes.
The algorithms were partly based on police interrogations in which the subjects were found to be hiding the truth. … Read more
Some people believe the future is something to look forward to. And, indeed, there is some evidence that, for a small number of people--especially those who work at Facebook--that might well be true.
However, there are certain aspects of futuristic technology that might make you blanch a little over as you contemplate the difference between what you are now and what you might become.
For example, Airbus has today been in London presenting some of its more advanced dreamings about the future of air travel. They seem to revolve around a plane that has a see-through fuselage, no first class, … Read more
CHICAGO--Cable giant Comcast is teaming up with Skype to offer its subscribers video calling on their TVs, in a move that could bring more affordable video conferencing to the home.
On the eve of the Cable Show here, the companies today announced that Comcast will be offering the Skype service through the TV to its broadband subscribers. The companies are still working out all the details of the service, and they're expected to begin testing it in the next few months. The Cable Show is an annual conference and trade show, where cable operators from around the country gather. … Read more
Should celebrity chefs be worried? Willow Garage's PR2 robot is cooking up a storm, what with chocolate chip cookies at MIT and now Bavarian breakfasts in Germany.
Researchers at Technical University Munich recently paired PR2 with Rosie, a two-armed robot that has a Kinect 3D sensor like PR2. The robo-couple enacted a charming household scene of shopping for ingredients and cooking together.
In the vid below, the robots are seen preparing a Bavarian breakfast of Weisswurst sausages. PR2 retrieves objects from a shelf in a shopping simulation, then uses a bread slicer to cut up a baguette. It doesn't seem like PR2 uses the shopping goods when cooking, however.
Meanwhile, Rosie puts the Weisswurst in a pot, boils them, and places them on a plate for PR2 to serve with the bread. The demo, prepared by Munich-based CoTeSys (Cognition for Technical Systems), gets a round of applause by onlookers.
Area 51 is one of the most enduring mysteries and sources of speculation in American history.
Located inside the Nevada Test and Training Range, the flat, dry lake bed known as Groom Lake has been the home to some of the nation's most advanced espionage and weapons technology, hair-raising tales of Cold War brinksmanship, and possibly much worse, according to a new book about the top-secret military base.
In the course of her research, she interviewed dozens of men who worked or lived at Area 51 and are only now talking to one another and the public about their time there. She also interviewed one anonymous source who suggested a deeply dark side of the research conducted at Area 51: human experimentation and psychological warfare (and, of course, a high-level cover-up).
I interviewed Jacobsen, along with Jim Friedman, who was a senior field administrator at Area 51 for 13 years, and TD Barnes, a radar specialist who lived and worked at Area 51, in Nevada near the edge of the enormous testing range and base. We drove up to the gate at Area 51, talked at length about the planes and other technologies developed there and dug into the controversy surrounding the most shocking parts of Jacobsen's book.
The interviews and footage originally aired on CBS' "The Early Show," and these three videos are extra footage and longer interviews about the topics covered in the book. First, a journey down the long Nevada highway and desolate dirt road that leads to the back gate at Area 51: the most intimidating gate you've ever seen. When we got there, there was broken glass on the ground, an ominous camera gazing down at us, and absolutely no one in sight. But I could feel the weight of eyes on me with every moment we were there (and I expected a blow-dart in the back at any second!). … Read more
Two iPhone 4s will be on board NASA's final shuttle mission next month.
According to Odyssey Space Research, it has developed an iPhone app, called SpaceLab for iOS, that will be used on the International Space Station for several months this year to conduct space research. The iPhones will get to the ISS on the Atlantis space shuttle.
While in space, those in the International Space Station will complete four experiments. According to Odyssey, a "Limb Tracker" experiment will involve taking pictures of the Earth with the iPhone, and "matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay." That experiment, the organization said, will help to "yield an estimate of altitude and 'off-axis' angle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth's center."
In addition, the iPhone 4 will be used in a "sensor calibration experience" that will help to improve the accuracy of future iPhone measurements. The iPhone's gyroscope and accelerometer will be employed to determine the latitude and longitude of the spacecraft.
Finally, the researchers will use the iPhone to measure radiation effects on the smartphone while in space.
To bring earthlings in on the fun, Odyssey has launched its application in Apple's App Store. Users can buy the app for 99 cents and perform the same experiments with information simulated "to account for the presence of gravity."
NASA's aging Voyager spacecraft, more than three decades outbound from Earth and approaching the outermost limits of the solar system, may be seeing signs of what scientists believe are huge magnetic bubbles churning at the interface between the sun's influence and interstellar space. The unexpected bubbles, shaped like sausages more than 100 million miles across, likely affect how high-energy cosmic rays pass into the inner solar system and may shed light on how stars interact with their galactic environments.
"It's exciting. We're learning new things almost every day," Voyager project scientist Ed Stone said.… Read more