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Robots learn to cut through clutter

Exploit creative "superhuman" capabilities
May 20, 2016

New software developed by Carnegie Mellon University helps mobile robots deal efficiently with clutter, whether it is in the back of a refrigerator or on the surface of the moon. (credit: Carnegie Mellon University Personal Robotics Lab)

Carnegie Mellon University roboticists have developed an algorithm that helps robots cope with a cluttered world.

Robots are adept at picking up an object in a specified place (such as in a factory assembly line) and putting it down at another specified place (known as “pick-and-place,” or P&P, processes). But homes and other planets, for example, are a special challenge for robots.

When a person reaches… read more

Using animal training techniques to teach robots household chores

May 18, 2016

Virtual environments in which trainers gave directions to robot dog. (credit: Washington State University)

Researchers at Washington State University are using ideas from animal training to help non-expert users teach robots how to do desired tasks.

As robots become more pervasive in society, humans will want them to do chores like cleaning house or cooking. But to get a robot started on a task, people who aren’t computer programmers will have to give it instructions. “So we needed to provide a… read more

Self-healing, flexible electronic material restores functions after multiple breaks

May 18, 2016

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A new electronic material created by an international team headed by Penn State scientists can heal all its functions automatically, even after breaking multiple times. The new material could improve the durability of wearable electronics.

Electronic materials have been a major stumbling block for the advance of flexible electronics because existing materials do not function well after breaking and healing.

“Wearable and bendable electronics are subject to mechanical… read more

A simple home urine test could scan for diseases

May 18, 2016

Prototype urinalysis device (credit: Gennifer T. Smith et al./Lab On A Chip)

Stanford University School of Engineering | This easy-to-assemble black box is part of an experimental urinalysis testing system designed by Stanford engineers. The black box is meant to enable a smartphone camera to capture video that accurately analyzes color changes in a standard paper dipstick to detect conditions of medical interest.

Two Stanford University electrical engineers have designed a simple new low-cost, portable urinalysis device that could allow patients… read more

IBM scientists achieve storage-memory breakthrough with PCM

PCM combines speed of DRAM and non-volatility of flash, providing fast, easy storage for the exponential growth of data from mobile devices, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing
May 16, 2016

For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated reliably storing 3 bits of data per cell using a relatively new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). In this photo, the experimental multi-bit PCM chip used by IBM scientists is connected to a standard integrated circuit board. The chip consists of a 2 × 2 Mcell array with a 4- bank interleaved architecture. The memory array size is 2 × 1000 μm × 800 μm. The PCM cells are based on doped-chalcogenide alloy and were integrated into the prototype chip serving as a characterization vehicle in 90 nm CMOS baseline technology. (credit: IBM Research)

Scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated — for the first time (today, May 17), at the IEEE International Memory Workshop in Paris — reliably storing 3 bits of data per cell in a 64k-cell array in a memory chip*, using a relatively new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). Previously, scientists at IBM and elsewhere successfully demonstrated the ability to store only 1 bit per cell in… read more

Machine learning outperforms physicists in experiment

May 16, 2016

The experiment, featuring the small red glow of a BEC trapped in infrared laser beams. (credit: Stuart Hay, ANU)

Australian physicists have used an online optimization process based on machine learning to produce effective Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) in a fraction of the time it would normally take the researchers.

A BEC is a state of matter of a dilute gas of atoms trapped in a laser beam and cooled to temperatures just above absolute zero. BECs are extremely sensitive to external disturbances, which makes them ideal for research… read more

Ingestible ‘origami robot’ lets doctors operate on a patient remotely

May 16, 2016

An "origami robot" unfolds itself from an ingestible capsule, and can be used to perform operations in the body (credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT)

MIT researchers and associates have developed a tiny “origami robot” that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by a physician via an external magnetic field, crawl across the stomach wall to operate on a patient. For example, it can remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound.

Every year, 3,500 swallowed button batteries are reported in the U.S. alone. Frequently, the batteries are… read more

White House to study benefits and risks of AI, ways to improve government

May 13, 2016

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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has announced plans to co-host four public workshops to spur public dialogue on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and to learn more about the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence, according to Ed Felten, a Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

These four workshops will be co-hosted by academic and non-profit organizations; two will also be co-hosted by the… read more

‘Primitive’ quantum computer outperforms classical computers

May 13, 2016

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Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Western Australia have demonstrated a practical use of a “primitive” quantum computer, using an algorithm known as “quantum walk.” They showed that a two-qubit photonics quantum processor can outperform classical computers for this type of algorithm, without requiring more sophisticated quantum computers, such as IBM’s five-qubits cloud-based quantum processor (see IBM makes quantum computing available free on IBM Cloud).

Quantum… read more

Moogfest 2016: the synthesis of future music, technology, and art

Themes: Afrofuturism, Art and Artificial Intelligence, Hacking Sound (Systems), Instrument Innovators, Radio & the Radiophonic, Technoshamanism, Transhumanism
May 13, 2016

MOOGFEST 2016

Moogfest 2016, a four-day, mind-expanding festival on the synthesis of technology, art, and music, will happen this coming week (Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22) near Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, with more than 300 musical performances, workshops, conversations, masterclasses, film screenings, live scores, sound installations, multiple interactive art experiences, and “The Future of Creativity” keynotes by visionary futurist Martine Rothblatt, PhD. and virtual… read more

A robot with human-like grace and precision

Teleoperated system can thread a needle, pick up an egg
May 11, 2016

A hybrid hydrostatic transmission and human-safe haptic telepresence robot (credit: Disney Research)

A human-safe lifelike telepresence robot with the delicacy and precision needed to pick up an egg without breaking it or thread a sewing needle has been developed by researchers at Disney Research, the Catholic University of America, and Carnegie Mellon University.

The secret: a hydrostatic transmission that precisely drives robot arms, offering extreme precision with almost no friction or play.

The hybrid transmission design also makes it possible… read more

Google open-sources natural language understanding tools

May 11, 2016

(credit: Google)

Google has just released two powerful natural language understanding tools for free, open-source use by anyone. These tools allow machines to read and understand English text (such as text you type into a browser to do a Google search).

SyntaxNet is a “syntactic parser” — it allows machines to parse, or break down, sentences into their component parts of speech and identify the underlying meaning).… read more

Your smartphone and tablet may be making you ADHD-like

Is digital information overload also killing our capacity for contemplative, abstract thought --- permanently altering the wiring and circuitry of our brains?
May 10, 2016

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Smartphones and other digital technology may be causing ADHD-like symptoms, according to an open-access study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI ’16, the Human-Computer Interaction conference of the Association for Computing Machinery, ongoing in San Jose.

In a two-week experimental study, University of Virginia and University of British Columbia researchers showed that when students kept their phones on ring or vibrate and with notification… read more

This five-fingered robot hand is close to human in functionality

Machine learning algorithms allow it to master new tasks autonomously
May 10, 2016

This five-fingered robot hand developed by University of Washington computer science and engineering researchers can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation -- like spinning a tube full of coffee beans -- on its own, rather than having humans program its actions. (credit: University of Washington)

A University of Washington team of computer scientists and engineers has built what they say is one of the most highly capable five-fingered robot hands in the world. It can perform dexterous manipulation and learn from its own experience without needing humans to direct it.

Their work is described in a paper to be presented May 17 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.… read more

Scientists digitally mimic evolution to create novel proteins

May 10, 2016

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Here’s an innovative idea: create new proteins by simply “sewing” together pieces of existing proteins. That’s exactly what researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have done to design new “cellular machines” needed to understand and battle diseases.

Published today in the journal Science, the new technique, called SEWING, was inspired by natural evolutionary mechanisms that also recombine portions of the 100,000 different known… read more

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