Imagine you work in a manufacturing plant where your job is to hang a car door on a hinge with the help of a large robot. You're using a lever to guide the bot to the precise drop-off location, so you need to be close enough to see what you're doing. Chances are, you want this bot to be as intelligent as possible, unless of course you're willing to risk life and limb for some kind of disability pay.
In 1964, legendary writer of science fiction and science fact Isaac Asimov visited the World's Fair, where a General Electric pavilion chronicling advances in electric appliances inspired him to imagine how that progress might continue into the future. So Asimov sat down and penned his vision of life in the year 2014, 50 years in the future at that point.
Asimov has awed me since I was a small child reading a pop-up book inspired by his work in robotics, but I read this particular essay of his for the first time on my way to the International Consumer Electronics Show this year. There, much like Asimov 50 years ago, I was inspired by all the tech on display to look both back toward Asimov's heyday and further into the future.
It's fascinating to note how some of Asimov's predictions from 1964 are dead-on, while others still seem like absolute fantasies we may not even see by 2064. One of the things I concluded after rereading Asimov's essay post-CES is that predictions tell us more about the time in which they were made than anything else. … Read more
If robots are really going to take over the world, they'll first need to search the Internet for extra-long-lasting batteries and cool-looking campaign ribbons to decorate their brave warrior drones.
And now that they're getting their own "Wikipedia for robots," they can. OK, they might not be able to swap information on armor-piercing ammunition, but robots will be able to share know-how on at least some topics keen to the cybermind.
Meet RoboEarth, an online international database for robots looking to learn new skills from their fellow automatons. Created by scientists at Philips, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and four other European universities, RoboEarth is initially meant to target the growing number of household and caregiver robots aimed at the world's aging populations. … Read more
When it comes to living things that glow, a plant is probably your best bet for a low-maintenance conversation piece to have in your home. It's much easier to deal with than a jellyfish, or even a glow-in-the-dark cat. Bioglow is preparing to offer its bioengineered Starlight Avatar autoluminescent ornamental houseplants to the public.
Other glowing plant companies have popped up (notably the Glowing Plants project on Kickstarter), but Bioglow has been leading the movement ever since molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky created what the company calls the first light-producing plants and published his findings in 2010.… Read more
LAS VEGAS -- With the unveiling Wednesday of Suitable Technologies' Beam+, telepresence robots are becoming more affordable for many of the people who need them most.
Over the last few years, a range of companies have built telepresence robots -- devices that roll around, connecting people remotely through the use of video screens and microphones. But until now, many of the robots have been too costly for all but a few people, and have mainly belonged in the corporate world.
The global bee population has been in serious decline for some years, and scientists are devoting serious effort to trying to figure out why. There are a number of proposed causes for Colony Collapse Disorder, whereby worker bees suddenly vanish from a colony -- chiefly pesticide use, parasites, malnutrition, and disease -- and although it's strongly theorized that a combination of these factors is at play, no one really knows for sure.
Scientists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are trying a novel approach to understanding the phenomenon. Just like geolocation tags can now be worn by pets, CSIRO's team, led by Paulo de Souza, is attaching tiny sensors to the backs of bees to monitor where they go. … Read more
As if heart surgery isn't a big enough deal on its own, performing it on very young patients can bring added risk -- namely, the necessity of multiple surgeries to replace nondegradable surgical materials that don't effectively adapt as the patient grows up.
Now, researchers say they've developed a new type of surgical glue that addresses all the drawbacks of previous adhesives and is a "much simpler technology and a new paradigm for tissue reconstruction," co-senior author and biomedical researcher Jeffrey Karp said in a news release. The findings were reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. … Read more
Virgin Galactic, the joint venture between Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments, says its third test flight was a success.
Chief pilot Dave Mackay was at the helm of the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) conducting its third successful supersonic test, Virgin Galactic announced Tuesday. In addition to ensuring the spaceship could reach supersonic speed, the team tested SS2's reaction control system and thermal protection on the tail booms.
Here's what Virgin had to say about the test flight:Today's flight departed Mojave Air and Space Port at 7:22 a.m. PST with the first stage consisting … Read more
When Daniel Omar was 14, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. While tending his family's cows, the South Sudanese government dropped a bomb on rebel forces nearby, and the boy lost both his arms. But his first thoughts did not focus on his own misfortune: "I'm going to make such hard work for my family in the future," he told TIME reporter Alex Perry in the spring of 2012. "If I could have died, I would have."
Daniel's story was enough to prompt philanthropist Mick Ebeling, co-founder and CEO of research firm Not Impossible Labs, to head to the Nuba Mountains and meet Daniel in person. Ebeling had already worked on a project using 3D printers to build prosthetics for kids in South Africa. He was so moved by Daniel's plight that he turned to a world-class team of thinkers and doers, including the inventor of the Robohand, an MIT neuroscientist, a 3D printing company in California, and funding from Intel and Precipart, to see how they could help Daniel and kids like him. He called it Project Daniel.… Read more
For most of us, getting the flu is a pain. We feel bad, we miss work, then we move on with our lives. But for some, the flu is deadly -- and symptoms tend to be most severe in kids younger than 2.
So researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health set out to determine whether text-messaging pregnant women reminders to get the seasonal flu shot would provide a boost in adherence rates. Turns out it does, at least among "urban, low-income" pregnant women.
Reporting in a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health … Read more