Google has always been at the pinnacle when it comes to innovative commercial products. First, it was Google Glass (for the not so technophiles here, glass is a wearable computer with a smartphone-like display that lets users text, browse the Web, take photos and run other apps, all hands free), now Google-owned Motorola Mobility appears to be aiming a few inches lower, working on a temporary electronic tattoo that would stick to the user’s throat. In other words, they has come up with an electronic tattoo that lets you communicate with your smartphone, gaming devices, tablets or any wearable tech. The idea is that wearer can communicate with their devices via voice commands without having to wear an earpiece or the Glass headset. Instead of actually speaking to Apple’s Siri or Google Now, you could merely think your voice command.
But hold on for a minute, as there is a bit more to the whole concept than might first appear. The tattoo they have in mind is actually one that will be emblazoned over your vocal cords to intercept subtle voice commands — perhaps even subvocal commands, or even the fully internal whisperings that fail to pluck the vocal cords when not given full cerebral approval. They have applied for a patent for this new technology, so we might just have to do all this Google style. If its good or bad, I’ll let you decide. The patent even states, “the electronic tattoo can also be applied to an animal as well.” I still can’t figure out what Google has in mind.
In images attached to the patent filing, the size of the tattoo appears to be between a postage stamp and a Band-Aid. Other possible uses include making both incoming and outgoing audio clearer. That could mean anything from making smartphone conversations clearer in a crowded room to being able to listen to music without earphones. Still, whether the e-tattoo becomes a reality for any consumer to buy is yet to be seen.
If you live in a normal household chances are that there is constantly some bickering going on about the house being too cold or too hot. Now, thanks to an ingenious bracelet invented by the students from Cambridge based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), every household member can regulate his/her own body temperature and be perfectly comfortable.
Wristify is a thermoelectric bracelet that regulates the wearer’s body temperature by sporadically blasting his or her wrist with hot or cold pulses. Thermoelectric cooling is governed by the Peltier effect, which describes heating or cooling caused by electric current flowing across a junction of two different conductors. Basically, as current traverses these junctions, one side heats up while the other side cools down. If you have a series of these junctions, and put a heatsink on the hot side, you can create a very effective heat pump.
Peltier coolers aren’t efficient, but they do have the advantage of having no moving parts or circulating fluids. All you need is a Peltier heating/cooling element, a heatsink, and a battery. Throw in a wrist strap, and that’s exactly what the Wristify is. In India, where hot weather regularly causes huge, cascading blackouts, the power grid is so stressed that it couldn’t possibly accommodate more air conditioning. Wristify could significantly improve the quality of life for these people.
I think this is going to be one of those breakthroughs in technology that can touch the hearts of millions, bringing tears of happiness to ones eyes. The world’s first bionic hand with the sense of touch is here. A team of researchers from Case Western University have made new prosthetic bionic hand, designed to be capable of using measurements from 20 sensor points to control ones grip. Amazingly, the sensor data is linked directly to the sensory nerves in the patient’s forearm. The control for the grip is then extracted myoelectrically and returned to the muscles in the forearm. “Our dream is to have Luke Skywalker getting back his hand with normal function,” researcher Silvestro Micera told TechNewsDaily, referencing the hero in “Star Wars” who gets an artificial hand after his real one is cut off.
This is the first time that such a variant of the bionic hand will be implanted into an amputee with high hopes that he will regain his sense of touch. The patient is scheduled to wear the bionic hand for some time over a month to see how his body adapts to the new presence. The results of this test is awaited. Everyone is still in high hopes as it is impossible to predict how the body will cope with such a permanent foreign attachment to it. Doctors & researchers say that if all goes well, fully working models would be available clinically in the next two years.
An answered prayer. A dream come true for many.
It can even have next generation applications.
It was fairly recently that scientists called Graphene as the new wonder material, not soon after, it’s time to give way for the new kid on the block – Stanene. According to a team of physicists led by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University. a single layer of tin atoms could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100% efficiency at the temperatures up to 100 degrees. It’s true, but the sad part is that, it still works only in theory.
Stanene is a wonder material that is known as a ‘topological insulator’, which simply means its interior is an insulator yet conducts electrons along its surface. By making the material only a single atom thick, the stanene is essentially just a surface, allowing it to conduct electricity with 100% efficiency. The most advantageous factor is that temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius is the operating temperatures of all computer chips. Stanene could well be the Silicon replacement we were looking for. But I should remind you, this still works only in theory, the final product is yet to be fabricated.
Shoucheng Zhang, a physics professor at Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, said, “Eventually, we can imagine stanene being used for many more circuit structures, including replacing silicon in the hearts of transistors. It could increase the speed and lower the power needs of future generations of computer chips, if our prediction is confirmed by experiments that are underway in several laboratories around the world.”
The first true touchscreen was unveiled in 1974, and the resistive touchscreen was patented in 1977 and is still used today (although capacitive touchscreens have taken over now). It’s been close to four decades, don’t you think it’s time for an upgrade? First it was Leap Motion that caused a stir in the industry, but it didn’t rise to expected levels. Now, Intel has joined the league, and when Intel plays the game, they dominate. Perceptual computing—the next big wave of technology—is about to hit, bringing with it the promise of very engaging computing experiences.
Perceptual Computing (PerC) is an organization within Intel Corporation which focuses on next-generation, natural user interfaces such as touch, gesture, voice, emotion sensing, biometrics, and image recognition. The organization is funded by a $100 million grant from Intel Capital. Intel have provided developers with their own Intel Perceptual Computing SDK. Developers are now working to make computers as cognitive about their surroundings as we are so they can process much of the information around them and arrive at a logical conclusion based on a user’s intent. Extracting information from the environment will include data points such as the directionality of the voice (for example, is the user talking to the computer or to a friend nearby?), the ambient background noise, facial recognition for automatic user selection (and security), 3D maps of the environment for object and gesture recognition, and more.
Intel had demonstrated how it would work. Cameras sensed the position of fingers, and spun virtual lightning between them. A user’s hands could be used to tickle a virtual child. And in another demo, Eden played the game Portal 2 by waving his hands and orally commanding the computer to drop a Companion Cube. Finally, Eden demonstrated a new version of the Nuance virtual assistant, co-developed by Intel and Nuance and running on top of Intel’s Atom and Core silicon.
Intel has been the biggest player in terms of technology and innovation in the industry. Whether this will be the future of computing, we will find out. Soon.
Phonebloks is a Thunderclap project started by Dutch Engineer David Hakken that might just be the next big thing in the mobile industry. A phone only lasts a couple of years before it breaks or becomes obsolete. Even if just a part of it failed us, we’ll have to make it an expensive paper weight. Phonebloks is all about solving this problem, in an unusual, yet innovative and possibly viable way. Phonebloks is made of detachable bloks. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; if it’s getting old just upgrade. David Hakken has publicized this project as an attempt to reduce e-Waste.
And guess what it has a store all for itself. The Blokstore. It’s like an app store for hardware. In the store you buy your bloks, read reviews and sell old bloks.
Motorola has shown keen interest in Phonebloks. The company’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team went public with its one-year-old Ara Project (it’s own version of upgradable smartphones) after agreeing earlier this month to partner with Phonebloks. Now with Hakken as its new face, Motorola’s Ara project aims to bring some substance to Hakken’s arguable pipe dream, and “do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software.”
Motorola Project Ara
Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, told CNN that while the Phonebloks concept is ‘well-meaning’ he suspects it will never become a reality: “the main reason that the Phonebloks will not hit the market as it will cost more, be bigger and heavier, and be less reliable. By the time it could be brought to market, the problem that engendered it will be gone.”
He might be right, but there’s always two sides to a coin.
Why I think it could work?
- People love customizing their phones! The time of software upgrades, rooting & jailbreaking could be history.
- If it’s physically possible, it might be bigger than the huge leap forward Capacitive touch screens were, when they first arrived.
- As a student, we can get tight on the pocket, we could settle for the default and upgrade later!
Why I think it might not work?
- The phone could get too bulky
- It might succeed as a concept, but to surpass the impact that the iPhone or Galaxy’s have in day to day work might be too much of a task.
- Google Play is a key factor to the success of Android. As for the Blokstore, a store with a very small number of bloks could lead its way to doom. I don’t think there could be bloks enough to satisfy consumer needs.
- It will be as expensive as hell.
Let’s see where it goes from here.
Project Loon is Google’s R&D project aiming to provide internet access to rural and remote areas. Balloon-Powered Internet for Everyone is what Google aims at doing. Project Loon balloons travel around 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere, almost twice as high as airplanes and the weather. The balloons are guided by the slow and steady winds in the stratosphere. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network. People connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth.
Project Loon started pilot testing in June 2013 in New Zealand. A small group of Project Loon pioneers tested the technology in Christchurch and Canterbury. Thirty balloons were launched from New Zealand’s South Island, and beamed Internet to a small group of pilot testers. The final outcome was that the balloons were able to get a range of about 40 km with rather constant speeds in the lower broadband regions. A lot of other findings were made and Google is now working on improving the Loon.
A Google official stated that India is among the countries that have showed an interest in implementing Project Loon. Google’s Project Loon has been received with criticism and awe alike. Project Loon is a source of hope for a lot of Indians. While there is no word on when Loon will reach India, I do hope it’s soon enough. The success of this project depends on how the regulators in India greet it because the project will be requiring spectrum, which is firmly regulated in the country. The usage of radios and spectrum will be a touch task to tackle in the country.