A common argument against electric vehicles is that they'll increase demand for carbon-producing electricity and cause brownouts during peak times. But what if plug-ins could actually prevent these outages by sending electricity from their batteries back to the grid?
It's an interesting concept dreamed up by engineers at the University of Technology Sydney. Combining their research on plug-in hybrids and electrical grids, they've developed "Switch," a plug-in Toyota Prius that acts as a sort of an energy reservoir that can give back to the grid whenever needed.
The Switch uses a 4.1 kWh lithium ion battery stored in the trunk to store extra electricity that is theoretically purchased during cheaper off-peak times. The extra battery also helps power the Prius' existing NiMH battery pack and raises fuel economy to 118 mpg. … Read more
Ever since I had my first taste of an English Channel crossing on a hovercraft and puking my guts out, it's been a mighty long wait to see a more personal form of flying saucer materialize for public use. Now, thanks to Entecho, we could someday join the Jetsons zipping around in a world teeming with air cars.
Aside from wondering if these are as fun as bumper cars at carnivals if one accidentally knocks another flying pod off its axis, Entecho's application utilizes fan-forced flight. Huge hidden blades spin to give the craft lift, with the skirt … Read more
Sikorsky Aircraft is offering a bit of a look at its X2 helicopter concept.
The X2 Technology design is intended to showcase a range of possibilities for advancing what a helicopter can do--most notably, how fast it can fly. Sikorsky aims eventually to use its X2 demonstrator to push helicopter cruising speed to 250 knots, or nearly twice as fast as today's machines, such as its Blackhawk.
Sikorsky said Monday that it is "progressing" toward that high-speed milestone. It is showing off the Light Tactical Helicopter design at this week's Army Aviation Association of America annual … Read more
It sounds like an Astroturf campaign for the upcoming computers-gone-bad movie "Terminator: Salvation," but in fact New Scientist magazine is being completely serious when it asks if the Internet itself could soon become "self-aware." The article explains:
In engineering terms, it is easy to see qualitative similarities between the human brain and the Internet's complex network of nodes, as they both hold, process, recall, and transmit information.
Fortunately for anyone worrying about how to best serve our new robot overlords, the article points out that even if this does come to pass, it won't, &… Read more
The 2009 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is the hottest ticket in town for the second year in a row. Apple quietly posted notice that the conference had sold out on its WWDC site earlier this week. The conference, buoyed by the success of the iPhone, sold out in 2008 as well.
WWDC will be held in San Francisco between June 8-12. Most believe that Apple will reveal more information about the iPhone 3.0 SDK, the iPhone OS 3.0, and the Mac OS X Snow Leopard at the conference.
Some rumors also suggest that we'll see an … Read more
For decades, slightly cheesy sleight-of-hand artists around the world have promised that "you won't believe your eyes!" before demonstrating ageless moves handed down from generation to generation.
Now that an ever-accelerating cascade of eye-popping visual technology such as augmented reality has threatened to steal some of the magic dust from old-fashioned magicians, along comes a pasteboard prestidigitator who folds augmented reality into his own YouTube-ready routine.
Is this, ladies and gentlemen, magic of the future?… Read more
A new touch-screen tabletop computer display brings together the unlikely combination of technologies popularized by Apple and Microsoft.
It's called the Scalable Multitouch display, and its touch technology is similar to the iPhone, but it would scale up from handheld device size to dimensions more like those of Microsoft's Surface. The prototype measures just 19 inches right now, but it aspires to cover an entire 50-inch tabletop one day.
The Scalable Multitouch has been in development at Moto Labs in San Francisco for the past two years, and on Tuesday the company released an updated video (below) as a peek of what it's working on.
Like Microsoft's Surface, the Scalable Multitouch display is intended to be used as a group workspace where information on the screen can be manipulated by hand. But Moto Labs CEO Daniell Hebert says what his company is doing is different than Microsoft and others because it does not use cameras or projectors underneath the surface of the display to project images. And by nixing the inner camera/projector, it allows the display to be thin--perhaps some day as thin as the LCD screen you're likely reading this on.
The display instead uses multitouch technology--which means you can use more than one finger as an input device. Moto Labs likes to say that you can use as many fingers to control the device as you want, and that you're only limited by the number of fingers you have on each hand.
The device also employs capacitive touch--same as the iPhone--in which a finger touching a sensor grid (just below the screen) causes a change in signal. That relays exactly where on the screen the finger is. But while the iPhone uses a solid solution known as ITO (indium tin oxide), Moto Labs employs a grid of super-thin wires that pick up on the signals from each finger.
The thin-wire grid is used right now in single-touch displays, but has yet to be used on multitouch, and that's where Moto Labs' work on the inner electronics and the software to take advantage of multitouch comes in. … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--When Swiss developers designed the QB1 robot, they weren't going for human-like looks or cute puppydog mannerisms.
Instead, they're hoping QB1 will hook people in on a more meaningful level--by providing a handy music-suggestion service--and thus giving the robot continuous exposure to data stemming from real human interaction.
Artificial intelligence "systems need to learn in the real world, from real people. You cannot program them with knowledge from the real world," said Frederic Kaplan, CEO and co-founder of QB1 developer OZWE.
The QB1 was showcased to the public last weekend at Swissnex, an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland here that's dedicated to bridging knowledge in science, education, art, and innovation between Switzerland and North America.
QB1 is what Kaplan calls a "robotic object"; people interact with it through gestures. In its first application, QB1 is loaded with a kind of disc jockey feature because that invites people to spend time with it.
Kaplan got this idea out of his experience working for 10 years with Sony's world famous dog-like AI robot, Aibo.
"What was frustrating was that nobody was interacting with it long-term. There are so many objects in your house, so why interact with an object that is only for pleasure?" he said. And as Aibo needed time with humans to learn, this was a fundamental problem.
"The limit for AI is not computing power, it's getting experience," Kaplan said. So QB1 tries to steal your time doing something useful, playing your music. The AI system incorporated into QB1 has about five different strategies to intelligently predict what music you want to listen to at the moment. … Read more