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Ten technologies to watch in 2003

January 3, 2003

Terabyte holographic storage, ubiquitous radio-frequency identity chips, affordable consumer robots, and larger/cheaper LCD displays are among the new technologies to watch this year.

Giving robots the gift of sight

January 1, 2003

Hans Moravec has completed work on a three-dimensional robotic vision system that can navigate offices and homes. It consists of stereoscopic digital cameras and 3D grid software that determines the robot’s distance from objects by noticing the different placement of the object in the two camera images and applying a geometric equation.

Genetically modified ‘protato’ to feed India’s poor

January 1, 2003

Genetically modified potatoes will play a key part in an ambitious 15-year plan to combat malnutrition among India’s poorest children. Researchers added the AmA1 gene to potatoes, with the result that they make a third more protein than usual.

More Than Good Intentions: Holding Fast to Faith in Free Will

December 31, 2002

When neurologists make patients’ limbs jerk by electrically zapping certain regions of their brains, the patients often insist they meant to move that arm, and they even invent reasons why. Neurologists call these erroneous, post hoc explanations confabulations, but Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a psychologist at Harvard, prefers the catchier “intention inventions.” He suggests that whenever we explain our acts as the outcome of our conscious choice, we are engaging… read more

New Billboards Sample Radios as Cars Go By, Then Adjust

December 29, 2002

A Sacramento-based entrepreneur has erected ten billboards with programmable video, text, and images that can be adjusted based on the stations that drivers are listening to.

The technology works by detecting radiation leakage that is emitted when antennas are tuned to specific radio stations.

Uzbek inventor creates eyesight substitute

December 27, 2002

A video signal received from an electronic eye and converted to sound and mechanical oscillations can be used as an eyesight substitute for the blind.

The device uses an electronic light sensor and emits sounds and vibrations according to the composition of the object. For example, the pitch of the sound becomes higher if the object is light in color and lower if the object is dark. Users can… read more

Sick? DNA Scanner Tells What Ails

December 27, 2002

A prototype diagnostic tool under development by two London companies offers rapid genetic analysis of infectious diseases, delivering results in a half hour rather than the usual two weeks with DNA labs.

The box takes a DNA sample directly from saliva. DNA is extracted from the sample and then multiplied in a miniature polymerase chain reaction, which clones DNA strands rapidly. Once enough DNA is present, it can be… read more

Smart coating for military vehicles being developed

December 26, 2002

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has received a U.S. Army contract to develop a nanotech-based smart coating that would enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. The vehicles could also change color on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage and rendering tanks, helicopters and military trucks virtually invisible.

The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives and thus make them safer for soldiers… read more

G.E. Research Returns to Roots

December 26, 2002

GE scientists hope to develop super-thin lighting and energy sources that could be rolled off printing presses like newspapers. And that could usher in an era of cheap, clean-burning lights, batteries, solar cells — and the beginning of plastic-based electronics.

Religious Sect Say It Will Announce the First Cloned Baby

December 26, 2002

The Raelians, a religious sect that contends that space travelers created the human race by cloning themselves, plan to announce today that the first cloned human baby has been born.

Shoes and sheets get wired

December 26, 2002

“Electrotextiles” woven with wires and electronic devices are being fashioned into speedometer shoes, chameleon curtains. singing shirts, and to measure footfalls, detect explosions and spot smuggling. “Soft keypads” allow wearers to control remote devices. And antennas can be woven in.

Gadgets could be next: clothes and woven-in sensors could record athletes’ heart rate, hydration and blood sugar levels.

Fuel Cells: Japan’s Carmakers Are Flooring It

December 26, 2002

On Dec. 2 in Tokyo, Toyota and Honda rolled out the world’s first commercially available cars running on hydrogen fuel cells. The current cost: $1 million per car; it will take at least 10 years to bring prices down to $100,000.

Ford expects to launch a fuel-cell compact in 2004. General Motors has three different fuel-cell prototypes; commercial models won’t be ready until 2010.

Butterflies point to micro machines

December 26, 2002

Micro air vehicles that mimick insects will soon be a reality, thanks to aerodynamics research using high-speed cameras in a wind tunnel to analyze how the animals moved through the air.

Laser leads nerve growth

December 26, 2002

A laser beam can guide nerve cells to grow in a particular direction, researchers have shown. The technique might help damaged nerves to regrow or could connect them to electronic implants, such as artificial retinas and prosthetic limbs.

Making Robots, With Dreams of Henry Ford

December 26, 2002

IRobot is perhaps the only company in the world that develops and sells robots to the military, researchers, large corporations, and consumers. Most robotics makers focus on just one segment, and 2002 has been a busy year for the company.

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