Category Archives: gadget

Gecko-grip material aims to be the end of glue

Geckos have long inspired scientists and super-hero fans alike with their ability to scamper up vertical walls and cling to ceilings with a single toe. In recent years, people have attempted to create materials that match those spectacular abilities, in the hope of creating new advanced adhesives, or even car braking systems.

Now US chemists claim to have made one based on nanotubes that it is 10 times stickier than some gecko feet. Even more impressively, like a real gecko foot, it can also be easily unstuck with a tug in the right direction.

Gecko’s superhero toes are covered in microscopic hairs, known as setae, with even smaller branches at the tips, called spatulae.

These ensure that a gecko’s foot has a large surface area in contact with any surface, maximising the weak but ever-present attraction between adjacent molecules known as the van der Waals force.


3D Hologram Technology Allows Images to be Rewritten in Under a Minute

Rewritable holograms have become a reality, with this new technology developed by University of Arizona researchers. Using modified optical communications film, images can be rewritten in under a minute by changing the distribution of electrical charges rather than the entire laser-based structure itself.


Check out the source and watch the video.

Everything You Need to Know about Nvidia’s 3D Goggle Gamble

Take note, Rainier Wolfcastle, because these goggles may actually do something. Nvidia’s latest visual computing venture is a serious foray into stereoscopic 3D, a technology that has not found success among mainstream consumers (or even enthusiasts) in recent history. 3D movies and gaming at home have always been seen as gimmicky, a perception that can largely be attributed to the fact that you have to wear some pretty goofy glasses to experience the effect. In fact, past iterations of 3D stereographic technology (including efforts by the now-defunct company ELSA) have been especially troublesome because they required bulky headgear (that had to be tethered to your PC) that had a tendency to give gamers headaches after just a few minutes of use. Nvidia wants to reinvigorate the 3D stereoscopic market by developing its own glasses hardware and driver software, which they hope will avoid the pitfalls of previous efforts.

Do we have the technology to make stereoscopic 3D tech practical? And more importantly, is this something that, as a gamer, you’d be open to embrace?

You’re not going to be convinced unless you try these in person, which we did at last month’s NVISION festival. Nvidia gave us several opportunities to try out the tech, once during their CEO’s keynote address (on a cinema-size screen), on a 73” Mitsubishi DLP television, and also on a new 120Hz Viewsonic LCD display. The three-dimensional effect is definitely incredible, especially with the larger displays. We saw Call of Duty 4, Age of Empires III, and the racing game GRID demoed on these units, and each game was significantly enhanced with the use of 3D.


New E-Newspaper Reader Echoes Look of the Paper

The electronic newspaper, a large portable screen that is constantly updated with the latest news, has been a prop in science fiction for ages. It also figures in the dreams of newspaper publishers struggling with rising production and delivery costs, lower circulation and decreased ad revenue from their paper product.

While the dream device remains on the drawing board, Plastic Logic will introduce publicly on Monday its version of an electronic newspaper reader: a lightweight plastic screen that mimics the look — but not the feel — of a printed newspaper.

The device, which is unnamed, uses the same technology as the Sony eReader and’s Kindle, a highly legible black-and-white display developed by the E Ink Corporation. While both of those devices are intended primarily as book readers, Plastic Logic’s device, which will be shown at an emerging technology trade show in San Diego, has a screen more than twice as large. The size of a piece of copier paper, it can be continually updated via a wireless link, and can store and display hundreds of pages of newspapers, books and documents.

Richard Archuleta, the chief executive of Plastic Logic, said the display was big enough to provide a newspaperlike layout. “Even though we have positioned this for business documents, newspapers is what everyone asks for,” Mr. Archuleta said.

The reader will go on sale in the first half of next year. Plastic Logic will not announce which news organization will display its articles on it until the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, when it will also reveal the price.


Dutch paving stones clean air pollution

The University of Twente (UT) has devised a concrete capable of converting the nitrogen oxide from car exhaust–the source of smog and acid rain–into a nitrate, another chemical that will wash away in the rain.

When fertilizers are applied heavily, high levels of nitrates can enter the soil or water and be toxic to humans or livestock. Jos Brouwers from the University of Twente said that the nitrate production from its paving stones will be “harmless” and well below Dutch water standards.

The researchers came up with the air-purifying paving stones by tapping the properties of titanium dioxide, a chemical that catalyzes chemical reactions when exposed to light.

The top layer of the University of Twente paving stones contains the material mixed with concrete. So when sun shines, smog-producing pollutants will convert into nitrates and then wash away, keeping the stones surface clean in the process.

The university received a sustainability grant to test its invention in the municipality of Hengelo.

By the end of this year, researchers expect to complete construction of a road where one side is built with the specially coated paving stones. The other half will have tradition materials.


Intel Launches System-on-a-Chip Design “Tolopai”

Intel launched its new embedded x86 system-on-a-chip (SoC) today, and in doing so, moved a small step closer toward eventually competing head-to-head with ARM. Formally, the new SoC platform is known as the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor Family, but the project was code-named Tolapai, and that name trips off the tongue more readily. Tolapai isn’t just a new integrated SoC; it’s Intel’s first volley into a mobile and “embedded” market space that the company believes will grow enormously in the coming years. Unlike how ARM and other companies use the term, when Intel talks about “embedded systems,” the company isn’t just referring to point-of-sale terminals or industrial applications, but to a category of what it refers to as mobile Internet devices (MIDs).


Open source 3D printer copies itself

Open source 3D printer copies itself

Based in the Waitakeres, in West Auckland, software developer and artist Vik Olliver is part of a team developing an open-source, self-copying 3D printer. The RepRap (Replicating Rapid-prototyper) printer can replicate and update itself. It can print its own parts, including updates, says Olliver, who is one of the core members of the RepRap team. The 3D printer works by building components up in layers of plastic, mainly polylactic acid (PLA), which is a bio-degradable polymer made from lactic acid. The technology already exists, but commercial machines are very expensive. They also can’t copy themselves, and they can’t be manipulated by users, says Olliver.

RepRap has a different idea. The team, which is spread over New Zealand, the UK and the US, develops and gives away the designs for its much cheaper machine, which also has self-copying capabilities. It wants to make the machine available to anybody — including small communities in the developing world, as well as people in the developed world, says Olliver.

Accordingly, the RepRap machine is distributed, at no cost, under the GNU (General Public Licence).

Digital Tattoo Interface Turns Flesh Into An LCD

Digital Tattoo Interface Turns Flesh Into An LCD


Imagine this: your phone rings and you lift your sleeve and push a tattooed button on your forearm. Next thing you know there is a digital video of the caller, moving in full video on your arm. After you hang up the tattoo completely fades away to leave nothing but your bare skin.

The Digital Tattoo Interface is a Bluetooth device that is inserted into the skin via a small incision. After inserted as a tube, it unrolls as a flat silicon base. It rests between skin and muscle. Glucose and oxygen in your blood fuel the implant via an attached artery and vein.

A special tattoo on the surface of your skin would interact with the field created by the device. Touching it through your skin would make it react similar to a touch screen display. Implications are limitless. Telephones, TV, the Web and just about everything else we rely on could be literally embedded in your skin.

This thing doesn’t actually exist but is a gadget design for a competition. I could exist. In the future. Just not now. 😉