Tag Archives | Inventions

Dolphin Translator Relays First Word

dolphinsCan we handle what dolphins have to tell us? CNET News reports:

Scientists at the Wild Dolphin Project (WDP) who have been developing a dolphin translator may have succeeded in getting their software to work.

WDP director Denise Herzing was swimming in the Caribbean with a pod of dolphins she has been tracking for 25 years, wearing a prototype of a dolphin translator called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT), developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Thad Starner, when one of the dolphin’s whistles was translated as the word “sargassum” — a type of seaweed.

Humans have for some time been communicating with dolphins on a rudimentary level. The animals are capable of responding appropriately to commands and learning to recognise symbols.

The whistle picked up by CHAT, translated into human speech, was not a whistle from the dolphins’ natural repertoire. Instead, Herzing and her team invented a series of whistles and ascribed them to certain things — one of which was sargassum — and trained the dolphins to repeat the whistles when they encountered those things.

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The Wendy Carlos Multiphonic Keyboard And The Museum Of Imaginary Instruments

The altogether delightful Museum of Imaginary Instruments features not-quite-yet-real musical devices that hover at the boundaries of physical law and the human senses. Take, for instance, electronica pioneer Wendy Carlos’s dream keyboard of the new era:

Wendy Carlos is best known as a pioneer of the synthesizer who reached mass audiences with soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). While never-before-heard timbres were a stunning feature of these works, Carlos also pursued another avenue opened up by synthesizers: the development of new tunings. Based on a design by R. H. M. Bosanquet from 1875, her proposed generalized keyboard divided the octave into 53 equal steps, strategically arranged so as to make all regular divisions of the octave playable. Carlos wrote. Alas, like the shift to meantone Carlos expected to see as digital synthesizing equipment became more common, the keyboard was not to be.

multiphonic keyboard

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Nikola Tesla’s Mechanical Men

Tesla boatIt’s mooted by Jon Turi at Engadget that Nikola Tesla, as ever ahead of his time, designed the first military drone, although he’s quoted as saying himself, “You do not see there a wireless torpedo; you see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which will do the laborious work of the human race”:

…Tesla once said, “The world moves slowly, and new truths are difficult to see.” It was his way of responding to the crowd’s stunned disbelief upon viewing his scientific wizardry at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1898. Using a small, radio-transmitting control box, he was able to maneuver a tiny ship about a pool of water and even flash its running lights on and off, all without any visible connection between the boat and controller. Indeed few people at the time were aware that radio waves even existed and Tesla, an inventor often known to electrify the crowd with his creations, was pushing the boundaries yet again, with his remote-controlled vessel.

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Polish Company Developing A Star Wars-Style Hologram Phone

Leia Display Systems is working on reducing the size of their impressive hologram-video machines to the point where you will make three-dimensional phone calls. Via the Mirror:

A Star Wars-style phone which allows users to see 3D hologram images of the person on the other end of the line has been pioneered by experts at Leia Display Systems, a Polish company named after the film’s heroine.

To make a call, the person sits in front of a camera which has two lenses and a microphone. The two images formed by the lenses are streamed through to the person on the other end. A hologram machine then projects them onto a screen of water vapour.

“At the moment, our holograms are made using machines that are more than six feet high but we are designing smaller versions. We hope to sell hologram telephone devices within the next five years,” Chief executive Marcin Panek said.

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A UFO Detector With Magnetometer For Detecting Magnetic Anomalies

detectWant to give a holiday gift that can uncover the secrets of the universe? Why not go with this UFO detector of questionable legitimacy for sale on Amazon:

UFO sightings are reported all over the planet by thousands of people. The real question is whether UFO’s are interstellar vehicles visiting Earth? Most UFO sightings can be classified as misidentified aircraft, planets or other aerial phenomena, but not all of them. A small percentage of UFO sightings can’t be explained by any known aircraft or natural phenomena.

Over the years real UFO sightings have reported simultaneous electromagnetic disturbances. The UFO Detector is designed to sense these electromagnetic disturbances and signal their detection flashing 16 LED’s simultaneously and beeping.

The elegantly designed transparent plastic case is a handsome sculptured conversation piece that’s allows one to see the electronics inside the case. Suitable for display on a desk, shelf or bedroom dresser. Uses a 6V wall transformer (included).

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Sony Files Patent For “SmartWig”

smartwigIf technology did not already make you feel insane enough, Engadget reports that Sony wants you to wear a wig that gives you GPS directions and vibrates when you receive an email:

Sony’s trying to patent what it calls a “SmartWig.” The application describes a standard wig that could “be made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair or any kind of synthetic material,” with a circuit board hidden among those luscious locks.

That board can talk to a “second computing device” wirelessly — such as a phone or even a pair of smartglasses — and actuators embedded in the hairpiece could “provide tactile feedback to the user.” In other words, the wig could vibrate when you receive emails and the like. The wig-chip could also include GPS and an ultrasound transducer, with different regions buzzing to give navigation cues.

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Rebuilding Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car

Dymaxion car photoThe legacy of Buckminster Fuller, one of America’s greatest minds of the 20th century, lives on, largely due to the dynamic Buckminster Fuller Institute and its annual Challenge, which awards cash prizes to inventors working in the same vein as Bucky. Others work independently to complete Bucky’s ideas, including Jeff Lane, who is building a Dymaxion car, based on Fuller’s 1933 prototype. David K. Gibson reports for BBC Autos:

Some concept cars influence decades of automotive engineering. Some concepts never catch on. Some simply catch fire.

The Dymaxion car, designed by the visionary US architect and all-round polymath R Buckminster Fuller, may be the rare prototype for which all of these things are true.

“It’s full of unique and different technologies,” says Jeff Lane, director of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. “It was a failure commercially, but it tried lots of different things that have had big influence on car design.” It was a big enough influence on Lane that, 80 years later, he’s in the final stages of recreating Fuller’s first prototype.

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Motorola Patents Neck Tattoo That Acts As Device-Connected Microphone

tattooEver wish that everything you ever said could be recorded? Me neither. Discovery notes:

According to a patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Motorola has a technology that tattoos a microphone onto a person’s throat. The microphone, which comes with a power supply, an antenna, a receiver and an optional display, would pair with mobile devices over Bluetooth.

Most likely, the “tattoo” would be an extremely thin electronic device that adheres to a person’s skin, as opposed to being woven into it.

Because the microphone is on the throat, it would pick up vibrations from the person’s voice box when she spoke. The close proximity of mic to sound would eliminate background noise that would typically interfere with a call or a voice command.

There’s more. Motorola’s throat tattoo will double as a lie detector. According to the patent: “…The electronic skin tattoo 200 can further include a galvanic skin response detector.”

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U.S. Military Will Have ‘Iron Man’ Suit Prototype In 12 Months

As disinfonauts well know, any cool invention from science fiction will eventually become science reality, Iron Man suits are on the way reports the Los Angeles Times:

Army Capt. Brian Dowling was leading his Special Forces team through a steep mountain pass in eastern Afghanistan when insurgents ambushed his patrol, leaving two of his soldiers pinned down with life-threatening wounds.

After a furious firefight, the two men were rescued, but that episode in 2006 would change Dowling’s life.

Now employed by a small defense company, he is part of a crash effort by U.S. Special Operations Command to produce a radically new protective suit for elite soldiers to wear into battle — one with bionic limbs, head-to-toe armor, a built-in power supply and live data feeds projected on a see-through display inside the helmet.

They call it — what else? — the “Iron Man suit.”

“We’re taking the Iron Man concept and bringing it closer to reality,” said Dowling, referring to the Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineer who builds a rocket-powered exoskeleton, turning himself into a superhero.

The Special Operations Command began soliciting ideas for the suit this year from industry, academia and government labs, and has held two conferences where potential bidders, including Dowling’s company, Revision Military, demonstrated their products. Military officials say they are trying to produce a working prototype within the next 12 months. But no contracts have been signed, and the Pentagon has not ventured to make a cost estimate…

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Military To Use “Spy Rocks” For Surveillance

spy rocksThere’s no one around to hear us but that rock sitting over there. Wired UK reports:

At the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, DC, Lockheed Martin showcased developments in their surveillance technology called SPAN (Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network), a “covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network” that can provide “unobtrusive, continuous surveillance” in units so small they can fit in a rock.

SPAN is a mesh network of self-organizing sensors that, when triggered, can cue a camera or an unmanned aerial vehicle to further study an area, or summon an engineer when a pipeline or bridge structure is in danger or fractured.

Lockheed touts the “field-and-forget” technology as providing maximum coverage at minimal costs, claiming that the sensors can remain in the field for years at a time without maintenance, powered by solar technology. The defense contractor is hoping to sell its spy rocks for surveillance, border protection, pipeline monitoring and bridge security, among other things.

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