Man Successfully Controls 2 Prosthetic Arms With Just His Thoughts
Dec19

Man Successfully Controls 2 Prosthetic Arms With Just His Thoughts

ShareBy Alexis Kleinman  via The Huffington Post A Colorado man can now control two prosthetic arms with his mind. Les Baugh lost both his arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago. But with the help Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), he’s able to control a set of Modular Prosthetic Limbs with his nerves. All he has to do is think about moving his arms, and they move. Nothing is permanently attached to him; Baugh wears what is called a “socket,” which connects the prosthetics to his body. The researchers measured the way his muscles and nerves react when Baugh thinks about moving his arms. Then, when he thinks about moving his arms and hands in a certain way, the prosthetics move. Baugh is the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear two Modular Prosthetic Limbs at once, according to the researchers. He’s spending a lot of time practicing different tasks. “Maybe I’ll be able to — for once — be able to put change in a pop machine and get the pop out of it,” Baugh said in a video about the breakthrough. “Simple things like that that most people never think of.” He can only use the arms in the lab for now, but someday he will have two of his own. “I think we’re just getting started at this point. It’s like the early days of the Internet,” Mike McLoughlin, the program manager at Johns Hopkins’ Revolutionizing Prosthetics, said in the video. “There’s just a tremendous amount of potential ahead of us, and we just started down this road. I think the next five, 10 years are going to bring some really phenomenal advancements.” Check out a video of Baugh and the researchers here: Via The Huffington Post   Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the...

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How Technology Brought Us Closer to the Future in 2014
Dec17

How Technology Brought Us Closer to the Future in 2014

ShareBY JASON DORRIER       DECEMBER 17 2014 As the year draws to a close, it’s worth glancing over our shoulder. What technologies and themes were brightest in 2014? Read on. (And keep in mind, attempting such a summation is ambitious to the extreme—let us know what we missed!) Illumina Breaks DNA Reading ‘Sound Barrier’  In January, Illumina announced that their latest DNA sequencing machine can transcribe 18,000 human genomes a year for $1,000 each—down from hundreds of millions a decade ago. The $1,000 genome enables broad genomic studies that may yield insights into the origins of disease. To date, some 225,000 genomes have been sequenced, and genomic pioneer Craig Venter believes we’ll sequence 5 million by 2020. Next steps include perfecting intelligent software to analyze all that data. Mars Ambitions, Reusable Rockets, and 3D Space Printers According to Elon Musk, billionaire space entrepreneur, humans have to become a multi-planetary species if we’re to survive. Musk hopes to begin colonizing Mars in the 2030s, but we’ll have to first reduce the cost of space travel. He believes reusable rockets, which the firm began testing in 2014, may slash launch costs by a factor of 100. Beyond cutting cost, space explorers need greater independence from the ground. Singularity University space startup, Made In Space launched, installed, and began testing the first 3D printer in orbit this year. Astronauts will use the printer to make tools and parts—kicking off space manufacturing and setting a 3D printing precedent for future space explorers. Wearables Struggle, Virtual Reality Attracts Big Bets Tech is officially searching for the next big computer interface, the next smartphone revolution. Despite high expectations, Google Glass struggled to find its footing. Glass is half price on eBay, lost its lead developer (and others), app developers are losing interest—and even Sergey Brin forgot to wear his at a big tech event. Though Glass is finding niche uses (hospitals, for example, are adopting Glass for use by surgeons), the lesson seems to be miniaturization isn’t sufficient for the mainstream. Design and practicality matter. Glass may need a redesign, a must-have use, or both. Other wearables also searched for the golden formula. Though everyone seemed to release a smartwatch, none wowed. A recent poll found only 20% of respondents wanted a smartwatch. The most common reason (51%) folks weren’t interested? They didn’t see the point. Apple weighed in with the much-anticipated Apple Watch. The watch is expensive and isn’t particularly novel (though well designed)—out next year, its success remains uncertain. Meanwhile, thanks to its virtual reality Rift headset (still under development), 18-month-old Oculus was acquired by Facebook for a whopping $2 billion. Google made its own VR contribution—a stripped down, smartphone-basedcardboard headset—while Oculus worked with Samsung to finish its more polished smartphone-based Gear VR goggles (now on sale). Will Oculus release their...

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New Method Points to Cheaper, More Flexible Wearable Computers
Apr18

New Method Points to Cheaper, More Flexible Wearable Computers

ShareBY CAMERON SCOTT   APRIL 18  2014 It could be easy to conclude, eyeing the number of Fitbits, Fuel bands and competitors in a roomful of people in London, New York or San Francisco, that wearable computing has already arrived. But wearables are at the stage personal computers were back in the days of floppy disks. To take but one problem: The wristbands that aim to monitor body processes don’t have a stable connection to the body. Flexible electronic componentry is one plausible solution, making it possible for wearable electronics to sit directly on the skin as an adhesive patch, for example. University of Illinois materials scientist John Rogers has pioneered flexible electronic patches in a series of influential papers. The trouble is, it’s taken years to amass the manufacturing refinements and economies of scale that make computer chips cheap enough for many of us to own several computerized devices, and using the new flexible parts would scuttle cost savings. So Rogers is now proposing a Plan B: a wearable electronic patch that incorporates standard silicon chips. The patch uses a microfluidic construction with wires folded to allow it to bend and flex around the rigid off-the-shelf chips. The patch doesn’t need wires for power, either, because it relies on a resonant inductive coupling charger. “Our original epidermal devices exploited specialized device geometries. But chip-scale devices, batteries, capacitors and other components must be re-formulated for these platforms. There’s a lot of value in complementing this specialized strategy with our new concepts in microfluidics and origami interconnects to enable compatibility with commercial off-the-shelf parts for accelerated development, reduced costs and expanded options in device types,” Rogers said in a news release. The latest patch is essentially a thin elastic envelope filled with fluid. The chip components sit suspended on tiny raised supports; tightly folded wires connect the electronics components, including power inductors, sensors and transmitters to track and communicate health data. Folded like origami, the wires can unfold in any direction to accommodate twisting and stretching of the patch while the chips remain in place. Cheaper than nanotechnology-based electronics patches, the computerized patch works as well as clunky conventional sensors like those used for EKG and EEG monitoring and picks up less noise than consumer fitness trackers, according to a recent study co-authored by Rogers and Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University and published in the journal Science. The researchers hope that it’s a magical combination that will let doctors get better data sooner, enabling them to provide better diagnoses. “If we can continuously monitor our health with a comfortable, small device that attaches to our skin, it could be possible to catch...

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Singularity University to launch 50 million venture fund to tackle the world’s grand challenges

ShareSigne Brewster Forward-looking startups will have a chance at $50 million later this year when Singularity University, an education center and accelerator based at Mountain View’s NASA Ames Research Center, launches its first venture fund. The university will begin raising capital during the second quarter of 2014, according to managing director of new venture development Sandy Miller. The fund will focus on companies launched by SU students, alumni and faculty. Everything SU does is tied to pursuing “exponential technologies:” tools that are developing so fast that small teams of people can now use them to accomplish tasks that once required a large company. Examples include robotics, biotech and nanotechnology. SU challenges these fields to put their work toward solving major world problems like poverty, education and security. SU has used these principles to populate its accelerator, which is separate from the venture fund, with an interesting mix of companies; an approach it will apply to the fund as well. “The (accelerator) companies have to use an exponential technology as part of their product solution in markets, applications that are addressing at least one or more of the grand challenges,” Miller said in an interview. “Being one or more years ahead of the market, that’s something that I see working with some of the companies in our portfolio.” SU was started in 2008 by X Prize founder Peter Diamandis and Google director of engineering Ray Kurzweil. It has grown to encompass educational programs aimed at executives and graduate students and the accelerator. Getaround, Made in Space and Modern Meadow are among the participating startups. It also has a new program that pairs its startups with established companies like Lowe’s, Coca-Cola, Unicef and Hershey’s. Miller said said that while the accelerator currently only accepts companies associated with its alumni, it plans to begin accepting outsiders in six to nine months. While interest in exponential technologies is growing, they can still face a harder time finding funding than an Instagram-type startup. Their final goal can be years away. But Miller emphasized that many find commercial prospects earlier than they thought. Modern Meadow, for example, which eventually plans to print edible meat, is already looking into markets for 3D printed leather “A lot of things are changing far faster than most of us realize and we’re living in a world that has problems and capabilities that will not be solved by the infrastructure from hundreds and thousands of years ago that we’re currently using,” CEO Rob Nail said in an interview. “There’s a critical need for us to be aware of how technology is shifting our lives and the world we live in, but also there’s a gigantic opportunity to take advantage of those...

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Amazon Sees Delivery Drones as Future
Dec03

Amazon Sees Delivery Drones as Future

ShareScott Mayerowitz, AP Business Writer  This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Amazon says it will take years to advance the technology and for the Federal Aviation Administration to create the necessary rules and regulations, but CEO Jeff Bezos said Sunday Dec. 1, 2013, there’s no reason Drones can’t help get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. (AP Photo/Amazon) Amazon.com said it’s working on the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project in its research and development labs. But the company says it will take years to advance the technology and for the Federal Aviation Administration to create the necessary rules and regulations.   The project was first reported by CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday night, hours before millions of shoppers turned to their computers for Cyber Monday sales. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a primetime interview that while the octocopters look like something out of science fiction, there’s no reason they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Bezos said the drones can carry packages that weigh up to five pounds, which covers about 86 percent of the items Amazon delivers. The drones the company is testing have a range of about 10 miles, which Bezos noted could cover a significant portion of the population in urban areas. While it’s tough to say exactly how long it will take the project to get off the ground, Bezos told “60 Minutes” that he thinks it could happen in four or five years. “Technology has always been a double edged sword. Fire kept us warm and cooked our food but also was used to burn down our villages,” said Ray Kurzweil, a technology entrepreneur and futurist. Kurzweil’s 2005 book “The Singularity is Near” argues that the age of smarter-than-human intelligence will arrive in the not-so-distant future. “Drones will deliver packages and provide improved mapmaking and monitoring of traffic, but will introduce similar privacy concerns,” he said. Kurzweil noted, however, that security cameras are already in most public spaces, not to mention the ubiquitous camera phone. Unlike the drones used by the military, Bezos’ proposed flying machines wouldn’t need humans sitting in a distant trailer to control them. Amazon’s drones would receive a set of GPS coordinates and automatically fly to them, presumably avoiding buildings, power lines and other obstacles along the way. Amazon spent almost $2.9 billion in shipping last year, accounting for 4.7 percent of its net sales. Drone delivery faces several legal and technology obstacles similar to Google’s experimental driverless car. How do you design a machine that safely navigates...

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