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Android

Google I/O 2014 Begins [updated] 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the hot-off-the-presses dept.
Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on. Judging from the booths set up in advance of the opening (like one with a sign announcing "The Physical Web," expect some of the stuff that gets lumped into "the Internet of Things." Watch this space -- updates will appear below -- for notes from the opening keynote, or follow along yourself with the live stream, and add your own commentary in the comments. In the days to come, watch for some video highlights of projects on display at I/O, too. Update: 06/25 17:41 GMT by T : Updates rolling in below on Android, wearables, Android in cars, Chromecast, smart watches, etc.Keep checking back! (Every few minutes, I get another chunk in there.)
Cloud

Sigsense is Making Interchangeable, Modular Sensors (Video) 21

Posted by Roblimo
from the someday-will-we-be-as-interchangeable-as-our-tools? dept.
Their main claim: "Sigsense Sensors are field-switchable sensing modules which replace the current generation of single purpose instruments. All Sigsense Sensors connect to the Sigsense Wireless Dock through a common interface. This portability and convenience allows workers to always carry the right instrument for the job." In other words, a technician in a food manufacturing plant doesn't need to carry a humidity-measuring tool, a multimeter, a signal strength meter, and four or five other measuring tools, to the point where he's got a backpack full of instrumentation or a rolling a cart full of measuring devices. That technician can now (in theory) carry a single, wireless sensor body, and put the sensors he needs on it as easily as you change heads on an electric hair trimmer. Check their blurb on AngelList for more about what this company is up to, and note that they are going way beyond making one measurement at a time. They're talking about collecting instrument data, along with tracking technicians, and sending all this data to the cloud, where you can do with it as you wish. But not today. The website says they will have products available "soon." (Alternate Video Link)
Medicine

Otherlab Working on a 'Fundamental Jump' in Technology for Exoskeletons (Video) 36

Posted by Roblimo
from the was-it-a-man-or-was-it-a-robot? dept.
"Otherlab," says their projects page, "is a private Research and Development company with a number of core competencies. We welcome industrial partnerships and commercialization partners. We have worked with dozens of companies globally from small start-ups to multi-nationals and Fortune 500 businesses. We develop enabling new technologies through an emphasis on prototyping coupled to rigorous physics simulation and mathematical models. We develop our own design tools because it's lonely at the frontier and to create new things and ideas, you often have to create the tools to design them." | One of their projects is building low-cost, inflatable exoskeletons that can be used as prosthetics or -- one presumes -- as strength multipliers for people who have working limbs. This is the project today's interviewee, Tim Swift, is working on. (Alternate Video Link)
Government

Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC 308

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Lawrence Lessig's list of achievements and areas of influence is not small. He's co-founder of the Creative Commons, but it is his Mayday PAC however that has garnered the most attention recently. The crowdfunded "Super PAC to end all Super PACs" was launched in May with the goal of raising money to elect candidates who would pass campaign finance reform. It raised over $1 million in the first 13 days and has the support of some influential people. With the help of matching contributions, Mayday hopes to raise $12 million by the end of June. Lessig has agreed to answer any questions about the PAC that you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
Biotech

Modular Science is Building Hardware and Software for Lab Automation (Video) 6

Posted by Roblimo
from the biology-research-on-an-organic-shoestring dept.
Modular Science is something Tim Lord spotted at last month's O'Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco. Its founder, Peter Sand, has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. He's scheduled to speak at this year's OSCON, and his speaker blurb for that conference says, "He is the founder of ManyLabs, a nonprofit focused on teaching math and science using sensors and simulations. Peter also founded Modular Science, a company working on hardware and software tools for science labs. He has given talks at Science Hack Day, Launch Edu, and multiple academic conferences, including SIGGRAPH." And now he's also been interviewed on Slashdot. Note that there are plenty of lab automation systems out there. Peter is working on one that is not only "an order of magnitude cheaper" than similar devices, but is also easy to modify and expand. It's the sort of system that would fit well not just in a college-level lab, but in a high school lab or a local makerspace. (Alternate Video Link)
Transportation

It's Not a Car, It's a Self-Balancing Electric Motorcycle (Video) 218

Posted by Roblimo
from the two-wheels-good-four-wheels-bad dept.
Two gyros under the seat keep this vehicle standing up at a stop, which is easier on the driver's legs than putting a foot down the way you do while riding most motorcycles. And no vroom-vroom sound, either. This is an electric motorcycle. The prototype you see in the video gets up to around 20 MPH, but production models are supposed to hit 100 MPH, and go as far as a Tesla S on 1/6 the juice. So little tiny batteries are all the Lit C-1 needs to drive (up to) 200 miles with the gyros spinning merrily away -- keeping the C-1 upright even in crashes, as a simulation in this Lit Motors YouTube video shows. They claim to have more than 200 pre-orders against a projected retail price of $24,000, which is not shabby for a company that hasn't made a single production vehicle so far. (Alternate Video Link)
Technology

3-D Printing with Molten Steel (Video) 104

Posted by Roblimo
from the let's-get-together-this-weekend-and-melt-some-steel dept.
Steve Delaire is making a 3-D printer that uses steel instead of plastic. Specifically, he's using TIG welding to build up layers of steel, just as most 3-D printers build up layers of plastic. He says he's "still working it out," but eventually hopes to use 3-D welding to make larger than life art pieces that are strong enough to be placed safely in public areas such as parks, where children are likely to climb on them. Steve's blog is called Molten3D, and it's a diary of his work, including the problems he encounters and how he overcomes them. He's not the only one doing metal 3-D printing; a Texas company has even made a printed metal gun. So there's plenty of people working in the field of what we really should call "additive manufacturing" instead of "3-D printing." But whatever you call it, every year we see this kind of process being used to make stronger and more complicated shapes, using an ever-increased variety of materials in ways that have been developed since this seminal paper, Liquid Metal Jetting for Printing Metal Parts, was written in 1997. (Alternate Video Link)
Technology

A Seriously High Speed Video Camera (Video) 62

Posted by Roblimo
from the there-is-no-such-thing-as-too-much-speed dept.
Mike Matter was showing off his edgertronic (named after Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton) high speed video camera at O'Reilly's inaugural Solid conference, when Tim Lord happened by his little show booth and started interviewing Mike with his normal speed camcorder. While Tim's camcorder shoots 720p at 30 or 60 frames per second, the edgertronic video camera shoots 720P at 700 frames per second, and can shoot lesser resolutions at up to 18,000 frames per second. But the big breakthrough here isn't performance. It's price. Most high-speed video cameras cost $20,000 to $50,000 (or even more), while Mike's edgertronic starts at a mere $5,495.00. This is still a little steep for hobby photographers, but is not bad for a tool used by professionals. And Kickstarter? You bet! Last year Mike raised $170,175, which was much more than his $97,900 goal. Now he's busy making and shipping cameras, working so many hours that he doesn't have time for his own photography. But sometimes that's the way life goes, and Mike seems to be handling it well. (Alternate Video Link)
Transportation

Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the get-on-your-mechanical-pony-and-ride dept.
This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)
Games

Interviews: Ask "The King of Kong" Billy Mitchell About Classic Video Games 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Robotics

John Hawley and His Dr. Who-Inspired Robot K-9 (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-dog-is-doggier-than-your-dog dept.
By day John Hawley is a mild-mannered open hardware evangelist for Intel. But after hours he is the master of K-9, a robot dog he works on a little at a time. Yes, this is a Whovian thing, which is why John's K-9 looks so much like the Doctor's. But K-9 is also a pretty good dog on his/her own. No vet bills, no constant hunger, no barking at feral cats in the middle of the night, obeys every command... so maybe Dr. Who and John Hawley have the right idea when it comes to canines. Except.... aww.... my dog, Terri the Terrorist Terrier, just licked my hand. What a sweetie! Terri may not take orders from a hand-held remote, but she has a lot of other fine characteristics, including affection. K-9 is very cute in a squared-off, mechanical way, though. Hard to resist, despite a lack of soft fur and no tongue for licking his/her master's hand. (Alternate Video Link)
Technology

A Quadcopter Development Platform (Video) 30

Posted by Roblimo
from the up-up-and-away-in-my-beautiful-quadcopter dept.
Not everybody at a Maker Fair (or even Faire) is there to get kickstarted or to make a billion of whatever it is they're displaying. Ned Danyliw is one of the non-kickstarter people: an electrical engineering student displaying a quadcopter development platform he hopes can bring the cost of a quadcopter prototype down to $50 or so, or about the same price as a toy quadcopter. You can follow Ned's work step by step and see all the code at his blog, Burnt Transistors. (Alternate Video Link)
Hardware Hacking

Interviews: Ask Andrew "bunnie" Huang About Hardware and Hacking 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus (5) writes Andrew "bunnie" Huang holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT and is one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world. He is a contributing writer for MAKE magazine, and has worked on a number of projects ranging from autonomous robotic submarines to peel-and-stick electronics. We recently covered one of his latest projects, an open source hardware laptop called Novena which features entirely NDA-free components. Bunnie has agreed to take a break from his work and hack away at any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Hardware

Security DVR + iNet + X10 = Easy Home Automation (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-home-is-so-smart-it-won't-let-me-in-the-door-unless-I-bring-it-beer dept.
25-year electronics veteran Conrad Lee noticed that commodity multi-channel security DVRs have both more channels than a typical household needs and more capabilities than their makers advertise -- at least, with some creative re-use of their video feeds. With a home-grown controller hooked up to an otherwise unused video channel, a run of the mill security DVR can be used as a command center for household items, like lights, locks, thermostats, cameras, or whatever else you think of) by means of controls both old-fashioned (the ubiquitous X10 devices, some of which you probably have stashed in a drawer) and new (Z-wave). He showed off his system at last month's Maker Faire -- take a look (video below) at what his clever hardware re-use makes possible, and at Lee's controller. It means giving up one (relatively) inexpensive channel, to gain capabilities that would cost quite a bit more in a ready-built system, like smart-phone control and pan/tilt control for cameras. (Alternate Video Link)

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