Brainy Robots Start Stepping Into Daily Life - New York Times

Brainy Robots Start Stepping Into Daily Life - New York Times: "Robot cars drive themselves across the desert, electronic eyes perform lifeguard duty in swimming pools and virtual enemies with humanlike behavior battle video game players.

These are some fruits of the research field known as artificial intelligence, where reality is finally catching up to the science-fiction hype. A half-century after the term was coined, both scientists and engineers say they are making rapid progress in simulating the human brain, and their work is finding its way into a new wave of real-world products.


ScienceDaily: Team Invents Fast, Flexible Computer Chips On Plastic

ScienceDaily: Team Invents Fast, Flexible Computer Chips On Plastic: "Team Invents Fast, Flexible Computer Chips On Plastic

New thin-film semiconductor techniques invented by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers promise to add sensing, computing and imaging capability to an amazing array of materials.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Student Hao-Chih Yuan holds a sample of a semiconductor film on plastic. (Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Historically, the semiconductor industry has relied on flat, two-dimensional chips upon which to grow and etch the thin films of material that become electronic circuits for computers and other electronic devices. But as thin as those chips might seem, they are quite beefy in comparison to the result of a new UW-Madison semiconductor fabrication process detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

Sigma's USB/audio hub

Sigma's USB/audio hub: "Filed under: Peripherals
Japanese gadget maker Sigma have come up with a slightly different take on the lowly USB hub, adding audio capabilities to the mix. In addition to three USB 2.0 ports, the device includes jacks for headphones, speakers, and a microphone, along with a button that'll let you switch between them on the fly. What's more, if Google's translation tools are to be trusted, it appears that the device effectively acts as a sound card as well, which may be good for some people, but probably not those who've invested in a high-end card for their PC. On the upside, the device doesn't require any drivers, although it'll only work with Windows.

Rethinking Ads on Plastic Bags, Part II

Rethinking Ads on Plastic Bags, Part II: "So, you have probably seen all those already, but I thought I'd pull them together for reference. The post will be updated as more designs come in.

A bag for something call Blush (a magazine?).
A design for Panadol painkiller.
A bag for Panten shampoo.
A 'help children with autism' bag.


Molecular DNA Switch Found To Be The Same For All Life

Molecular DNA Switch Found To Be The Same For All Life: "Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have shown that the core machinery for initiating DNA replication is the same for all three domains of life -- Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya.

Build your own iPod Hi-Fi

Build your own iPod Hi-Fi: "Filed under: Household, PeripheralsThe iPod Hi-Fi could be considered a tad profligate (or at least a bit superfluous), but that doesn't suggest it's not desired by the iPod faithful. For those of you who've lusted after Apple's big white boombox but just couldn't produce the coin required to own your own, we've got a solution for you. A clever DIY'er has taken a pair of old school Mac Classic cases and constructed his own version of an iPod sound system; the self-proclaimed Hi-Fi mini performs similar duties, but has a few choice extras omitted from the original: external speaker hook-ups, 'real' stereo separation, and the not-quite-RIAA-approved 'Dr Mesh,' installed in the unit's former floppy drive slot to prevent others from symbolically stealing songs 400k at a time. We have no idea the sound quality of these things, but and one-upping Apple at their own game with a dash each of irony and retro has to be worth something, right?


Painton semiconductor outperforms chips

Painton semiconductor outperforms chips: "Researchers at the University of Toronto have created a semiconductor device that outperforms today's conventional chips -- and they made it simply by painting a liquid onto a piece of glass. The finding, which represents the first time a so-called 'wet' semiconductor device has bested traditional, more costly grown-crystal semiconductor devices, is reported in the July 13 issue of the journal Nature.


The Bumpbrella

The Bumpbrella: "July 9, 2006 If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know the dangers – a crowded city footpath on a wet day during rush hour. Dodging hundreds of probing, rapier-like and potentially eyeball-piercing umbrella tips is not fun and thanks to RKS Design, it’s now avoidable. The Bumpbrella is an inflatable umbrella that utilizes a bicycle pump mechanism in the handle. By pumping, it inflates into an umbrella that one can see through, thereby protecting you against the elements and from getting poked by another umbrella. While we're on the subject of RKS Design, the company web site is worth a look if you're into innovative thought - from measuring cups that would enhance any kitchen through to guitars that are used by the likes of Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Wood and Dave Mason, RKS is an impressive outfit.

Simply Stunning

Simply Stunning: "NASA Releases Movie of STS-121 Solid Rocket Booster Separation As Viewed From A Camera On A SRB

NASA has released a stunning movie taken of Space Shuttle Discovery as it drops its Solid Rocket Boosters taken by a camera located on one of those boosters.


USB mini paper shredder

USB mini paper shredder: "Filed under: Misc. GadgetsSo you're the type who must be ready to purge all trace of your existence at a moment's notice, eh? Then check it secret agent man, 'cause USB Geek, as only they can, are offering the USB mini Paper Shredder and, uh, letter opener for those of you given a number without a name. Capable of throating 4.8-inch wide paper and shredding it to 0.13-inch bits, this pup can be powered off USB or even 4 x AA batteries when you need a bit more disposal oomph. Get your $32 pre-order in now 'cause odds are, you won't live to see tomorrow.