View Full Version : The Technology Thread

2010-01-21, 01:07 PM
A thread for discussion of the cutting edge of technology! There's some fascinating stuff out there which we may be seeing soon. Know of anything you want to show us? Talk about the edge of science and technology which we're developing, and where it might end up taking us.

Rules: (If anyone thinks of any more, do suggest them. I feel inadequate compared to the other big discussion threads. :smalltongue: )
Keep away from anything with controversial moral concerns. Some elements of medical technology in particular have religious, moral, or political debates, and any such technology should not be brought up.
Link to at least one source, preferably a report or the site of those working on the project. Additional links which may be more understandable but less official, such as Wikipedia, might be nice to add.

I've got three things to start off with:
Gecko Tape:
Microscale adhesion on a minuscule scale. Gecko's can hang on a ceiling with one foot from the tiny hairs on their feet. Scientists at MIT have reproduced this effect to create a tape surface which is an incredibly strong adhesive. There are still a few issues: sometimes it gets matted, and we don't yet have a method of cleaning it so the tape isn't reusable (the gecko's are self cleaning).
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gecko_tape)
MIT Technology Review (http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/21990/?a=f)

The EyeTap: wearable computing and the potential for augmented reality brought to an achievable point. The glasses-like device takes a full view of the world with a camera which connects directly into a computer, presumably worn on the body. Then, it projects the image back out on the inside into your eyes, providing you with perfectly normal and full vision, but allowing not only recording of what you see, but enhancements of vision as well as whatever graphical overlays you want, to the extent of using it as a computer screen (or having three dimensional displays projected into your vision). Incredible potential for wearable computing and augmented reality. The device already exists, functional, albeit only built for one eye (prototypes are expensive, no need to make the same thing for both eyes when you're just testing). The project is being worked on at the University of Toronto.
EyeTap lab (http://eyetap.org/) and more detailed description (http://www.eyetap.org/research/eyetap.html).
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyetap)

Autonomous Vehicles:
A car or truck that can drive, follow lane-based traffic laws, follow speed limits and operate safely, maneuver in traffic and parking situations, take sharp turns and other driving maneuvers, change lanes and merge with traffic safely, queue correctly at intersections, and make three point turns, with no driver inside. And no remote control. And the ability to function without GPS. Oh, and not preprogrammed: the vehicles are given goals, not step by step instructions, and calculate the best path and drive it, taking traffic and all other urban concerns into account, with the ability to dynamically recalculate their course if they are blocked. And this isn't 'under development' or approaching theoretical technology: that is the list of capabilities for DARPA's Urban Challenge from 2007. A challenge which was completed successfully by six different teams with their own autonomous vehicle designs.
DARPA Urban Challenge (http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/index.asp)
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driverless_car)

Moff Chumley
2010-01-21, 11:11 PM
Dude. I want that EyeTap thing. :smallredface:

2010-01-21, 11:35 PM
Eyetap is a step below nanotech bio-computers embedded in our very nervous system.

I'll stick with Eyetap, I don't want my brain to BSOD.

2010-01-22, 12:06 AM
WiTricity is based on strong coupling between electromagnetic resonant objects to transfer energy wirelessly between them. This differs from other methods like simple induction, microwaves, or air ionization. The system consists of transmitters and receivers that contain magnetic loop antennas critically tuned to the same frequency.

Wiki linky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiTricity)
TED talk/demo video linky (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgBYQh4zC2Y)

They've also developed transmitters for electric cars powered in the same fashion that would be in your garage so you drive in and your electric car would charge without a plug. I really geek out over stuff like this. :smallbiggrin:

2010-01-22, 12:26 AM


Link is obviously NSFW, not for anyone under 18/21/whatever it is in your jurisdiction due to language content. If it needs to be removed, tell me.

The internet offers users a new level of anonymity.

Long story short:

I use 4chan.
I posted a thread on /x/. Just as threads here require titles, theirs require pictures.
I had no scary pictures (/x/ is for paranormal, not anything adult) and thus posted the first picture I found on my desktop, a picture of me, previously unreleased.
Somebody recognized me.
I obviously don't know who they are.
They left me a code:

8085: C]---->((( L THU

8085 > BOBS > BuildON Bake Sale
C]---->((( > physical directions from one building to the next.
L THU: Lunch Thursday

We both appeared, I had photographic evidence, however, timing difficulties meant we didn't see each other.

So, he posts the next clue tomorrow afternoon. He'll leave clues around campus until I figure out where to meet him and who he is.

What we know:

It's a student. (He had to remake a test).
It's mostly like a guy. Just because it's 4chan.
They go to my school.
They know my friends, but not in a creepy way.
They're smart enough to make a code.
They're either in BuildON or know someone in it, because the bake sale was not advertised at all, and they thought it would have been.
They like anonymity, so anybody claiming to be that person is not that person.
The person is crafty, probably a ninja, into parkour, and knows the secrets of Berkeley High.
His codename is Bob S., for all intents and purposes, because BOBS = BuildON bake Sale, and is unrelated to his name.

It's technology related because before the Internet, was true anonymity really available? Sorta, but this made the going ons way more public and collaborative. People on the board and in the thread helped me figure out the riddle, and I used the Internet to IM people about people that the mystery man could be.

However, Anonymous as a whole is its own identity. When I asked my friends for info about members of BuildON, I wasn't explicitly asking people if they were members, I was having my work done anonymously, because they were going to ask their friends "out of curiousity" and report back.

And no, I'm not Bob S. in the thread.

(And yeah, a lot of people don't like the group Anonymous for a variety of reasons, so really, this isn't about Anonymous but anonymity on the net in general)

2010-01-22, 01:50 AM
Yeah, big fan of the EyeTap myself. Take one of those, this (http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/keyboards-mice/8193/) laser projected keyboard or its equivalent, and one of the several (I believe all still prototype) varieties of rings which function as a computer mouse, and you've got all the equipment to run a computer. Throw in highly advanced wireless transmitting and you can connect to a computer you have at home, or just get a minuscule wearable computer running something like Chrome which needs almost no power in the hardware because it's all cloud computing based. Yeah. That's about what I'm going for.

Ooooh, I love wireless electricity. Didn't know there was a corporation running it as a major concept though, that's great, it means we'll likely see reasonable commercialization getting more and more available. (Also, I love that the wikipedia page has see also: Nikola Tesla. :smallbiggrin: )

@Pocketa: not exactly? It's more focused on development of technology, or at least that's what I intended. Anonymity on the internet and its effects is a whole fascinating social topic by itself though, yeah.

2010-01-22, 02:20 AM

One Laptop Per Child initiative (if that's the term) by MIT.


"Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future."

I really like a lot of MIT's stuff that is aimed for younger students. I'm totally into the movement of getting kids interested in math, science, and engineering at an early age (and yes, even the liberal arts, seeing as I teach kindergartners through second graders to read for hours a week). As a kid, my parents gave me run of the house computers (partitioning ftw), including internet access, administrative privileges (at least for my partition) for installation and modification, and 3 computers of my own to take a part and learn about with a book (they were nonfunctional and would have gone to an e-waste center otherwise, so no harm, no foul).

But tons of kids in my school (and at the school I tutor at) don't know what to do with the technology around them. They don't realize that they could start a psychological experiment leading to a breakthrough just by studying text messaging patterns, or that the fact that there is a ton of freeware out there (and demos!) means that they can create beautiful, groundbreaking things (programs, artwork, videos, etc.). Meanwhile, there are groups of factory workers in China that are able to cooperate and use one cellphone with a basic texting plan to keep in contact with their makeshift unions in groups of 50 or more sharing just one device (per segment of 50, that is).

This project is very important because we've seen the affect of microloans and microfinancing in India. Currently, Amazon runs Mechanical Turk, a website that will pay people pennies to do web-based chores, such as take a survey, click a link, etc. If somebody in India did 24 tasks a day (1 per hour or 4 per hour for 6 hours) for 5 cents a task, they would make $438 dollars a year, which isn't a lot to us, but it's about the same as their current income, and their unemployment rate is 7.2% already. If we are able to help (not train) people in other countries so they can use technology effectively, we'll be able to help their economy grow and stabilize, possibly in a better way than if we were to give them aid package after aid package. Teach a kid to type...

The only disappointment was that not enough funding was put into this and currently, there are $100 laptops on the market, but that was after this project was started. My friend has one (he's an engineer) and he fiddles around with it, doing Russian stuff. He might get me one for my birthday.

And for those that don't know, the way it works is that the average consumer can buy the laptop, but they're actually buying 1 for the price of 2: they're charged double so one can be donated to a child abroad. So he didn't just pluck it out of some kid's hands.

If anyone ever read Diamond Age and enjoyed it too, they can probably understand why I'm excited about this. Although the Diamond Age was about a book, rather than a laptop, the capabilities of the OLPC are arguably closer to the specifications of the book in DA than, say, a Kindle, or comparable reader.

2010-01-22, 07:57 PM
In the future, hackers will break into our EyeTaps and make us see things that aren't there, so that we will get really creeped out. First a large animal indigenous to somewhere very far away will not be noticed by your friends, then small children will play jump rope right in front of you and people will ask you why you moved out of the way. As soon as you think you're completely insane, Rick Astley will perform Never Gonna Give You Up live in front of your eyes. You will have to take them off and give them to the people at the store.

2010-01-22, 08:25 PM
Eyetap looks awesome, makes me think of Shadowrun :D
Man, there would be so many uses for that sort of thing, so many AWESOME uses.

Hmm, I suppose posting an article about railguns would break the rule about controversial moral concerns wouldn't it?

Moff Chumley
2010-01-22, 08:42 PM
Doesn't matter, do it anyway. :smallamused:

2010-01-22, 08:43 PM
I don't like the idea of autonomous vechicles, how can we trust a machine to instantly know the ins and outs of every road in real time?

2010-01-22, 08:53 PM
Doesn't matter, do it anyway. :smallamused:

Navy, railguns, make boom.
Its cool because the 32 Megajoule (http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,160195,00.html) version is so powerful it is actually capable of damaging itself when fired. It is a terrifying weapon. eventually they think they can make it faster and as accurate as a tomahawk cruise missile. Not to mention that it fires from so far away the ship is pretty much safe from retaliation.
While I don't advocate using the weaponry, its a freaking railgun. Being the sci-fi fan I am, it is awesome.

Blog post about it (http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/07/01/17/1746252/Navy-Gets-8-Megajoule-Rail-Gun-Working?art_pos=1)
link to the original article. (http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/012007/01172007/251373)

2010-01-22, 08:55 PM
I don't like the idea of autonomous vechicles, how can we trust a machine to instantly know the ins and outs of every road in real time?

Well, since a well-built system would be able to identify changing road conditions roughly a billion times faster than a human driver and have the proper response to those conditions locked into it.. I'd trust them quite well, meself.

2010-01-22, 08:58 PM
I think that in the near future, parents will implant GPS chips in their children so they can keep track of them at all times. Dogs already have microchips to help track down the owner if lost and I can absolutely see parents doing this to their kids. It's a bit Orwellian for my tastes but that's the way our society is moving.

Maximum Zersk
2010-01-22, 09:14 PM
I think that in the near future, parents will implant GPS chips in their children so they can keep track of them at all times. Dogs already have microchips to help track down the owner if lost and I can absolutely see parents doing this to their kids. It's a bit Orwellian for my tastes but that's the way our society is moving.

Some parents (Especially some of the newer ones (Not to offend anyone here or anything)) ARE that overprotective. To me, it seems kind of odd to be that protective.

Eyetap sounds awesome. Geckotape also.

By the way, anyone heard of the 3d projection technology they've been working on in labs? It's amazing, and has way better graphics then what they show in star wars and stuff. Instead of being blue with those static-lines, They look like video game graphics. It is amazing. And they've been working on it for a while now.

I'll post up more information when I find it.

2010-01-22, 09:15 PM
I think that in the near future, parents will implant GPS chips in their children so they can keep track of them at all times. Dogs already have microchips to help track down the owner if lost and I can absolutely see parents doing this to their kids. It's a bit Orwellian for my tastes but that's the way our society is moving.

I think you are a little late to the party. (http://gpsmagazine.com/2008/05/the_ultimate_gps_child_trackin.php) :smalltongue:

2010-01-28, 09:09 AM
This thread is too cool to let die.

And, to contribute my thoughts, I think Gecko Tape is the coolest one of the listed inventions. After all, the others are, at least several years in the future. Gecko Tape seems to be a product right now.

And who wouldn't want to wall-climb? :smallbiggrin: