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9 year old boy born without ears has them created from ribs

Kieran Sorkin was born with no ears due to a rare condition called microtia, but surgeons in the UK were able to make him a pair using a little bit of rib cartilage. Kieran’s new ears were modelled on his mum’s.

The surgery is cosmetic, not to improve hearing, but it brings huge psychological benefits.

"I want people to stop asking me questions", said Kieran from Hertfordshire. "I’d like just to look like my friends.

"I’d also like to be able to wear sunglasses and earphones."

Kieran’s mum Louise Sorkin said: “He’s a very sociable boy and has longed for this operation for years.

It definitely has put a huge smile on his face - and on mine, too…

Tags science future 3D printing engineering biological engineering tissue engineering

Transformer robot to be sent into space

A team of engineers used little more than paper and Shrinky dinks™ — the classic children’s toy that shrinks when heated — to build a robot that assembles itself into a complex shape in four minutes flat, and crawls away without any human intervention. The advance, described in Science, demonstrates the potential to quickly and cheaply build sophisticated machines that interact with the environment, and to automate much of the design and assembly process. “…they could be sent up to space and then assemble themselves remotely once they get there. They could take images, collect data and more,” says Sam Felton from the development team.

Tags robot automation future tech revolution science

A new Turing Test?

So earlier this year a computer fooled humans into thinking it itself was human. “Hurrah!” The whole world shouted in excitement. Then it turns out that all that this particular contest had shown was that a piece of software had gotten fairly adept at fooling humans.

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Now a new artificial intelligence contest is offering a US $25,000 prize to an AI that can successfully answer what are called Winograd schemas, a type of specially constructed question that is easy for a human to answer but a serious challenge for a computer. Can this approach become a better way of testing for human-level AI? 

Read more here.

Tags tech robotics AI Turing test science

The real price of palm oil
A few years ago we travelled to Borneo to observe Orangutans in the wild. These animals are gracious and gorgeous, and no threat to anyone. It is heartbreaking to know that we are the biggest threat to them.  
Across Borneo and Sumatra, nearly 80 percentof orangutan habitat has been lost to palm oil production in the past 20 years. At this rate, it is estimated that the orangutan population will be extinct within a span of 25 years. 
This Orangutan was found next to a palm oil plantation and then taken in to be kept as a pet.  International Animal Rescue found it and took it into its care.  A representative of the organisation said that adult orangutans are often killed – and even eaten – while their babies are taken and kept or sold as pets. If deforestation didn’t happen, the orangutans would have everything they need within the forest to survive and they wouldn’t have to stray onto agricultural land in search of food.

The real price of palm oil

A few years ago we travelled to Borneo to observe Orangutans in the wild. These animals are gracious and gorgeous, and no threat to anyone. It is heartbreaking to know that we are the biggest threat to them.  

Across Borneo and Sumatra, nearly 80 percentof orangutan habitat has been lost to palm oil production in the past 20 years. At this rate, it is estimated that the orangutan population will be extinct within a span of 25 years

This Orangutan was found next to a palm oil plantation and then taken in to be kept as a pet.  International Animal Rescue found it and took it into its care.  A representative of the organisation said that adult orangutans are often killed – and even eaten – while their babies are taken and kept or sold as pets. If deforestation didn’t happen, the orangutans would have everything they need within the forest to survive and they wouldn’t have to stray onto agricultural land in search of food.

Tags orangutan deforestation palm oil Orangutan Foundation animal rescue

 Source onegreenplanet.org

How scientists turned bubble wrap into test tubes

here is a clever idea: 

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A team of scientists led by George Whitesides injected liquids into the air-filled pockets of bubble wrap with syringes and sealed the holes with nail hardener. They successfully ran anemia and diabetes tests on the liquids. They also could grow microbes such as E. coli in the blisters, which is important for detecting contamination in water samples. “The bubbles of bubble wrap, therefore, can be used for storing samples and performing analytical assays, a function that has the potential to be especially beneficial in resource-limited regions, and in very cost-sensitive applications,” they conclude.

The bubble wrap is available almost everywhere around the world, is inexpensive, doesn’t generate sharp edges when broken (like glass containers), is easily disposed of by burning and is flexible. The interiors of the bubbles also are sterile, so there’s no need for costly autoclaves that have to be plugged in—a huge plus for the nearly 2 billion people around the world who do not have regular access to electricity.

Tags science tech innovation medicine research product design everyday innovations

 Source acs.org

Pelty ceramic and glass bluetooth speaker is powered by wax candles

This is an interesting idea, but I doubt it will get much traction. Make up your own mind here is the lo-down:

Based on the peltier effect, where thermal energy generated by heat is transformed into electric energy, this wireless speaker is powered exclusively by wax candles. Known as pelty, the device features a minature TEG (thermo electric generator) and is housed within an artisanally-crafted glass and ceramic vase, which are engineered to maximize the power generated by the system. Designed without cables or batteries, the portable unit can also be brought virtually anywhere. To see more click here to get your hands on one as the project is currently seeking funding on indigogo.

 

Tags science tech future music innovation product design

 Source designboom.com

The solar powered smart bench
A new initiative in Boston is bringing Soofas, solar powered benches that can not only charge your gadgets, but also monitor air quality and sound levels, to several city parks in a pilot program 
The Soofas, called “smart urban furniture”, were developed by Changing Environments, a spinoff of MIT Media Lab, and are capable of charging mobile gadgets via two USB ports, thanks to a solar panels and the free energy of the sun. And while they’re charging phones and powering Facebook updates, they’re also gathering environmental data about air quality and noise levels nearby, and uploading them to a public map online.

The solar powered smart bench

A new initiative in Boston is bringing Soofas, solar powered benches that can not only charge your gadgets, but also monitor air quality and sound levels, to several city parks in a pilot program 

The Soofas, called “smart urban furniture”, were developed by Changing Environments, a spinoff of MIT Media Lab, and are capable of charging mobile gadgets via two USB ports, thanks to a solar panels and the free energy of the sun. And while they’re charging phones and powering Facebook updates, they’re also gathering environmental data about air quality and noise levels nearby, and uploading them to a public map online.

Tags MIT tech solar power future

 Source treehugger.com

The robot farmers are here

This is here is a robot farmer called WP5. It is picking sweet peppers and can also test the soil and prune plants. 

It was developed by CROPS a large-scale integrating FP7 EU project aiming to develop automation and robotics for sustainable crop and forestry management.

Farm robots are increasingly capable of autonomously performing complex tasks including plowing, plant and soil surveillance, and even the harvesting of fruit and vegetables.

Thanks to a combination of cheap sensors and computer vision, machines are capable of more freely navigating and performing other complex tasks. The tech uses a combination of infrared sensors and stereoscopic cameras to drive autonomoustelepresence robots in hospitals and allow advanced industrial bots to recognize, differentiate, and pick irregular shapes like haphazardly stacked boxes.

The WP5 is hardly the only robot used in farming. The automation of farming will see a combination of bots such as drones, self-driving tractors and wine-bots. 

Jason Dorrier on Singularity Hub says: "Robots are best suited to tasks that are monotonous, dangerous, and repetitive. Long ago, they invaded the factory floor—it’s high time they made a foray into farm work." I couldn’t agree more. 

Tags robot science future tech robotics farming agriculture

Your day dreaming days are over!

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A mind wandering detecter could be commercially available for use in a few months time.  

Developed by scientists in University of Notre Dame in Indiana the software tracks a person’s eye movements with a commercial eye tracker. The system figures out if the person’s mind is on the task by observing specific features in the way the eyes move, such as how long they fixate on words, where the eyes move next, their overall movement patterns and other contextual cues.

If it thinks the user is no longer concentrating, the system can pause the session, notify the reader, highlight the content or even display the missed content in a different format. "This can lead to improved learning," says D’Mello. "For high stakes tasks such as military or aviation, this can prevent catastrophic disasters."

Opinion: The aspect of improving cognitive focus and performance certainly are strong selling points. The considered use of this kind of system in offices and schools for example could very well prove to be productive. I would hate however for it to rob us of our day dreams though. It’s part of what makes us who we are - human. 

Tags science tech future machine intelligence

Smart rooms to track your every move

The MIT Tech review which has reported on this first said this system matters because smarter office buildings could fundamentally change the way we work. I am not so sure I agree with that in this instance. It’s one thing for a building to react to your motions by opening doors and turning on lights for example; and quite another thing for someone else to be privy to your actions. 

Here is the scoop:

A startup from Boston called Robin has developed a system that let’s you track your co-workers in your office or anyone else for that matter. 

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With Robin’s software, when employees walk into a room, their smartphones alert a wireless transmitter using Bluetooth LE. They can then share certain predefined information with colleagues, which might be different for, say, a conference room than for a kitchen. When someone walks into a meeting, for instance, everyone else at the table could automatically have access to the person’s name, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, and perhaps a shared presentation on Dropbox. The system currently works with iBeacons, wireless network sensors developed by Apple to alert iOS devices when they’re in particular locations, and a few other Bluetooth LE devices.

Already in piloted in a limited number of locations this system predicts its success that people already volunteer so much information about themselves that they might be okay with it. 

Tags science tech privacy future big brother