By Christina Janansky
As citizens of the 21st century, we have the technological world at our feet.
And that world of technology may soon be in the palms of our hands.
At the 2013 CHI conference in Paris, a team of computer scientists from the University of Bristol’s Department of Computer Science introduced a series of shape-shifting smartphones called “Morphees.”
Morphees, according to an article in Discovery News, are “Transformer-like” mobile devices that can condense several technological devices into one. While Morphees are still in their primary stages, future models will be able to shift shapes to accommodate your everyday needs. This can range from normal cellphone activity to a using the device as a gaming console.
And just when you thought cellphones couldn’t get any fancier…
Researchers have developed six new prototypes of Morphees and are hoping to finalize a device in the near future. These prototypes were made out of a variety of materials including plastic, paper and wood. Prototypes also contained shape-changing materials and shape-memory alloys.
Although these materials seem hardly fit for a smartphone, researchers have tested numerous materials to develop potential concepts for future models.
Along with a variety of materials, the research team is also considering different shapes for the product. In order to give these devices more affordance –- or, in other words, the capability of an object to tell you how it would like to be used — researchers are entertaining a doorknob-like shape, which will fit nicely in a cupped hand and allow the holder to turn, push or pull it.
While the concept is still in its primary stages, we can look forward to a new generation of gadgets that will transform we utilize our everyday activities.
By Christina Janansky
Suffering from a fresh breakup?
Fearsome of dying alone?
Worried you will replace your loneliness with dozens of cats?
Well, no need to fear— the new “girlfriend coat” is here.
The girlfriend coat— a new development by a team of students at the University of Tsukuba in Japan— won’t ever cheat on you or leave you!
According to a Discovery News article, you simply put the hooded toggle coat on and fasten its lime green nylon belt around your waist. The coat contains a mechanical device on the back of the waist that tightens the belt to simulate the feeling of a hug.
Interesting? Yes. Strange? Most definitely.
It gets even creepier: the jacket also has an audio component. The wearer of the girlfriend coat simply plugs in a set of headphones. When the coat “hugs” it also emits a female voice that says “I’m sorry! I’m late!”
In Japan, the girlfriend coat is actually called the “Riajyuu Coat,” which is Japanese slang for “someone who is pleased with their life outside the Internet.”
No— this is not a joke, though developers laughed at themselves at the creation, as seen in the video.
However, the girlfriend coat won’t hit the markets just yet. As of now, the girlfriend coat remains a concept device and is not for sale.
So hold onto your loneliness and find yourself a cuddle buddy until then.
You can check it out in this YouTube video:
By Christina Janansky
Nowadays, losing something in your wallet is just as easy as losing the wallet itself.
We have gift cards, credit cards, business cards, debit cards, student IDs, licenses, membership cards (and maybe even some cash, if we’re lucky). Needless to say, our wallets are constantly overflowing with an array of different things. Where’s the convenience in that?
Well according to an article on gizmag.com, thanks to a new development by Carnegie Mellon researchers, future consumers may never need their wallets again— all they’ll need is their fingerprints.
The new system called “PayTango” scans shoppers’ fingerprints, retrieves their payment information from a database and allows them to purchase items. The system was designed to consolidate students’ various cards into a single— and simple— payment method.
Using PayTango is easy. At the checkout, a registered user simply places his or her fingers on the scanner. The scanner then uses the shopper’s fingerprints to access his or her personal account. Then PayTango bills the cost to the consumer’s preferred card or payment method.
The university has already implemented PayTango in its own dining halls after a successful pilot test last year. However, developers are hoping to extend the benefits of this breakthrough to other college campuses, retail stores and gyms across the nation.
Signing up for PayTango is nearly as simple as using it. With the touch of the scanner and 20 seconds time, anyone can register. First the user places his or her index and middle finger on the biometric scanner. After the device scans the person’s fingerprints, he or she swipes a credit card through the device and enters a phone number to make a personalized account.
The PayTango can register any card with a magnetic strip—this includes gift cards, debit cards and a variety of others.
That’s right—no more mountains of MasterCards or collections of four birthdays’ worth of gift cards. A shopping addiction could be at the convenience of your fingertips.
Here’s a video of the PayTango in all of its simplistic glory, via gizmag.com:
By Christina Janansky
If you were a multibillionaire, what would you do with your money?
Well if your name was Clive Palmer—an Australian billionaire who has made his fortune in mining—you might build a life-sized replica of the Titanic and prepare it for sailing. You might also order more than 100 life-sized robotic dinosaurs from China to create the world’s largest dinosaur exhibit.
Yes. This man is seriously building the “Titanic II”—which expects completion in 2016—and a park of giant, robotic dinosaurs.
Rumors of Palmer’s dinosaur exhibit stemmed in early August, in which he initially denied. But now the eccentric Aussie has officially released his plans to turn his North Australian resort into a robo-Jurassic Park.
In a March 30 edition of Discovery News, Palmer reported that he plans to acquire 165 “animatronic dinosaurs” total, with 100 expected to arrive by the end of April. These dinosaurs—some of which stand seven meters tall and weigh 1.2 tons—will be able to move their chests, wag their tails and blink their eyes. He already has two of these massive robots at his Palmer Coolum Resort, named Bones and Jeff.
Sure it’s awesome—anyone with half of a soul loves dinosaurs. But why spend billions on it?
Well according to Palmer in a Discovery News report: “I want to spend the money I’ve got before I die.” So, naturally, he builds a robotized Jurassic Park and a real-sized Titanic.
Seems reasonable enough.
By Christina Janansky
It’s hard enough to flip through a Victoria’s Secret catalog or Calvin Klein ad without thinking: “How could society ever expect us to look like that?”
But the question becomes all too real when out shopping; you know—when you see the six-foot tall, size 00 mannequin in the window modeling ‘doll-sized’ clothing. (I mean, come on! who actually looks like that?)
Well according to a recent article by Science Daily, thanks to researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and their new invention, “iDummy,” we no longer have to compete with these plastic models.
With the simple click of a computer mouse, the iDummy—short for “intelligent dummy”—can match your body type by simultaneously changing its dimensions and size. So rather than being disappointed that that dress looked better on the mannequin than it did on you, now you can see what it’ll look like on your precise body type before hitting the dressing room.
The iDummy, which is controlled through a computer using a Graphic User Interface (GUI), is also compatible with Bluetooth technology. Developers told Science Daily that this technological combination makes the iDummy ideal for clothing design. The iDummy will help designers more accurately fit various body types prior to mass production.
The new mannequin will also aid in customized clothing design. Clients of designers will be able to enter their size dimensions and measurements on their computers and send them to the designers and companies.
Developers also foresee iDummy as an important educational device, in which aspiring fashion designers and students can fit different styles of clothing to a wide array of body types. The mannequin also automatically rotates 360 degrees, allowing designers to observe every angle of the clothing.
Seriously, what can’t this thing do?
While the iDummy won’t be found in your local department stores just yet, researchers expect their “breakthrough” technology to debut in the clothing industry sometime soon.
By Christina Janansky
Before we all had iPods and iPhones, we had MP3 players, Walkmans and CD players.
Music has definitely become an integral part to everyone’s everyday life and we often use it to convey our emotions and life events.
We use songs, artists and playlists to, more or less, create the “soundtracks of our lives.”
And now, thanks to Tokyo based company Neurowear, we can access these “soundtracks” just by feeling a certain emotion or thinking a particular thought, according to a recent Discovery News article.
The company’s newest invention—a pair of headphones more fondly known as “Mico”—cues feelings from your subconscious and appropriately matches songs to them.
The bulky white prototype had its world premier at this year’s SXSW—a conference that converges original music, independent films and emerging technology—in Austin, Texas between March 8 and 13. And, while the headphones are still in the prototype phase, Neurowear told Discovery that they plan to put pairs on the market sometime in the near future.
The current model looks like a normal pair of headphones—except for the awkward electroencephalograph (EEG) sensor that comes out and around the wearer’s forehead. This sensor is used to scan the wearer’s brain patterns.
Once the headphones—which are plugged into a smart device with an accompanying app—detect the wearer’s emotions, the software selects an appropriate “neuro-tagged” song from a large Neurowear database.
After the app has detected the mood and signaled a corresponding song, its earpieces light up during song play and even illuminate certain images. According to the Discovery New report, they might even light up with “ZZZ” when the wearer is fatigued. The new invention is definitely strange (though totally cool), but Neurowear is notorious for such unusual products. A couple years ago, the project team created Necomimi a brain-scanning headband that uses moving motorized cat-shaped ears to reflect the wearer’s emotions.
And if the motorized cat ears can become a successful product, I’m sure we’ll be seeing the Mico on the market sometime soon.
By Christina Janansky, Staff Writer
As college students of the 21st century, we’re constantly typing, texting and tapping on the 15 different technological devices we all now own.
Screens are getting bigger, buttons are getting smaller and nearly every device utilizes sensitive touch-screen technology.
This is just one reason why computer scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created an alternative to texting. They hope this new method—which was reported in Discovery News on March 4—will minimize typing errors and make communication more convenient.
The new method is called “air-writing” and it is exactly what it sounds like— writing letters in the air.
Computer scientist Christoph Amma and his colleagues designed a special glove system for air-writing that contains accelerometers and gyroscopes. These sensors can recognize hand movements and detect the letters the wearer is drawing in the air.
Once the glove is done interpreting the “air-drawn” letters, it transcribes them into digital letters and wirelessly enters them into an email, text, or other app.
According to the original report, Amma’s model currently has an 11 percent error rate. However, once the system learns to recognize the user’s personal writing style, that number drops to 3 percent.
The glove system currently interprets gestures and recognizes nearly 8,000 words (and, if it’s not as inconvenient as it sounds, it could prevent a whole lot of premature arthritis).
For now though, the model is fairly large and inconvenient. But Amma is hopeful: he told Discovery News that he’s looking for more compact sensors to insert in a wristband or a smartphone.
By Christina Janansky
There have been some strange smelling inventions of the 21st century.
Burger King’s “Flame,” a charred beef-scented perfume.
The vomit- and fart-scented scratch-and-sniff stickers.
The “Leather Jacket” Crayola scented crayon.
But this one might take the cake: a space-scented candle.
ThinkGeek—a toy company and the mastermind behind the new invention—worked with NASA to create the most realistically spacey scent possible, according to an article on SPACE.com.
You might be wondering what space even smells like. Given it doesn’t have much of an atmosphere, you’d think it have no smell at all.
Well apparently space has a distinct—and somewhat unpleasant—smell to it.
Some astronauts described the smell of space as an “acrid” aroma thought to be the result of “atomic oxygen adhering to their spacesuits,” according to the article in SPACE.
However, most people don’t—not such a huge surprise. Taking this into consideration, the candle’s creators threw a hint of lavender into the mix to make the product more marketable.
Although space travel for the average—yet incredibly wealthy—person is on the horizon, chances are you won’t make it to Mars, Jupiter or the Moon.
But thanks to ThinkGeek, you don’t even have to leave your bedroom to enjoy the smells of space.
The cosmic “Space” candle is part of a four-pack candle set, including a Nirvana-inspired “Teen Spirit,” a cinnamon scented “Retro Arcade” and a Lord of the Rings inspired “Middle Earth” scent.
By Christina Janansky
Do you love video games?
How about beer?
If the answer’s “all of the above,” then Durham-based advertising agency, McKinney, has the perfect game for you. It’s called ‘The Last Barfighter’ and the winner gets a full cup of beer.
The custom 2D game—which is played on McKinney’s hand-made ‘Beercade’ machine—was created as a promo for Big Boss Brewing Company, located in Raleigh, NC.
The machine—which is the first beer-dispensing arcade game ever—is equipped with two joysticks and two Big Boss taps where coin slots would usually be.
In the two-player game, players choose one of five characters, all of which are based off of Big Boss’s five most popular beers: Hell’s Belle, Bad Penny, Angry Angel, Blanco Diablo and High Roller.
Using punches and kicks (as well as some unusual moves including fire throwing, unicorn horn impaling and butt slaps), duelers compete for three consecutive fighting rounds until the winner is poured one of Big Boss’s most popular brews.
Apparently the graphics aren’t too great, but who cares? You win beer instead of cheesy tokens and cheap plastic toys.
Although the Beercade has made the brewery its permanent home, the game is traveling to fairs, festivals and events all around the country.
Perhaps one day there will even be Beercades in every bar across America. But for now, the machine is only a cheap promo (So if you’re too impatient to wait for a Beercade near you, you might want to book your spring break ticket to North Carolina).
Check out the trailer for the game:
By Christina Janansky
How long did you wait to pick up your brand new iPhone5?
And how soon did you misplace the seemingly weightless smartphone for the first time?
Well, for all of you technology fanatics out there, there’s good news.
(And for those of you who lose your phone every five minutes, there’s some bad news).
Taiwanese company Polytron Technologies just demoed an “invisible” smartphone prototype made entirely out of a special type of glass, according to a Feb. 6 mobilegeeks.com report.
So if you’ve broken your already-fragile iPhone, you might want to ignore this.
While the new prototype is still undergoing development, executives of Polytron told The Times of India that the new transparent phone will hit markets by the end of the 2013. Until then, manufacturers are seeking hardware components for the phone and for a compatible operating system.
The prototype uses a type of patented wiring and opaque glass that becomes transparent when an electrical charge is applied. According to Mobile Geeks, Polytron’s Polyvision Smart Glass technology contains liquid crystal molecules that are randomly oriented when the phone is turned off. This makes the body an opaque white. When turned on, these liquid crystals line up, making the glass magically appear clear.
Although not included in the current prototype, the new smartphone will have a camera, speaker, microphone, battery and microSD card, all of which will be nearly transparent.
However according to the online UK tech publication The Register, Polytron isn’t the only company exploring the possibility of a transparent smartphone.
Apparently Japanese-based companies like NTT Docomo and Fujitsu displayed a similar Android-based prototype with a double-sided touch-screen capability.
So while Harry Potter’s invisible cloak and Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy’s invisible boat-mobile are far from reality, an “invisible” phone may be in your hands before you know it.