US Develops Humanoid Robot Test Bed

The US has revealed a humanoid robot called Atlas that could result in intelligent machines helping in case of natural disasters.

humanoid robot‘Atlas’ humanoid robot

The two-meter tall robot was developed as a test bed for a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency challenge.

The DARPA challenge demands Atlas to complete eight tasks that it might need to do in case of emergency.

Six teams have only until December to create a software that will help Atlas complete its tasks.

Created to help military

Atlas was created by the Boston Dynamics robotics company, which has been developing and working on robots that can help the military.

Like a human, Atlas has two arms and legs and roams around by walking.

It can see using a stereo laser scanning system and has gripping hands created by two separate robotics firms.

Unlike humans, it has a high speed networking system built-in so it can communicate with its creators and send data back from disaster locations.

Teams participating in robotic challenge

The teams participating in the robotic challenge have only developed with virtual versions of Atlas.

Next stage of competition, algorithms and control programs for the virtual Atlas will be then transferred to the real thing.

The best performing teams that will win will receive funds to continue refining Atlas so it can conduct all eight tasks autonomously.

Apple Trying New Features on iPhones

apple-iphoneApple seems to be continuously surprising its consumers by testing out new features in iOS 7 for iPhones.

Apple, one of the leading information technology companies and the largest mobile phone maker worldwide, recently tested motion control features that will let users control their iPhones by moving their heads.  It works by using the front cameras of the unit to detect head movements.

This new feature of Apple allows users to make the left or right movement act to do different tasks such as returning to the main home screen, displaying notifications, opening the App switcher, decreasing and increasing volume, and a lot more.

Beneficial for the Disabled

Though navigating a phone interface through head movements appears time-consuming or pointless for some, these new feature are useful for people with limited mobility or different disabilities that make touch and voice interfaces difficult to use.

The new version of iOS mobile operating system is still in beta testing and Apple is making thorough polishing to make the new feature convenient for every user. On the other hand, motion control options are already available in some smartphones in the market.

Lost Photos Reveal Possible Clues About Earhart’s Last Days

earhartA New Zealand museum found lost photos of an island where many believe Amelia Earhart stayed after her plane crashed in the South Pacific in 1937.

Matthew O’Sullivan, the person in charge of photographs at the New Zealand Air Force Museum, discovered the rare pictures earlier this month.

A Mysterious Island

Richard Gillespie, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery’s executive director, said O’Sullivan found an unlabeled tin box in his archives. Inside were contact prints and a slip of paper that read “Gardner Island.”

This same island, now called Nikumaroro Island, is where many Earhart investigators believe Earhart stayed after her plane crash.

Originals Can Prove Things Quicker

Prior to O’Sullivan’s discovery, Gillespie already had copies of two photos taken during an expedition in 1938several months after Earhart’s disappearance. The 43 photos from O’Sullivan’s finds are all originals and have accompanying 5-inch negatives.

For Gillespie, this discovery is particularly exciting. He explains that pictures become less clear when copied several times over. “Having the originals means we’ll be able to see a lot of things we otherwise would have lost.”

Gillespie and his forensic team will travel to New Zealand on July 10 to investigate further using the photographs.

Researchers Create A New Battery Made From Wood

A new study from the University of Maryland suggested that wood could be the answer to cheap and sustainable energy in the future. According to the school’s website’s, a sliver of wood coated with tin could be a small and eco-friendly battery that could work for a long period of time.

The Inspiration

Acer_negundo_TreesLiangbing Hu, an assistant professor of materials science said the inspiration of the idea came from the trees. She added that wood fibers that make up a tree once held mineral-rich water, and so are ideal for storing liquid electrolytes, making them not only the base but an active part of the battery.

The researchers used materials that are a thousand times thinner than paper and sodium. They use these instead of lithium, a quality of rechargeable batteries and one that is more nature-friendly.

The Purpose

The wood batteries, however, will not be used in flashlights or cellphones. The batteries will be ideal for solar energy at power plants because of its low cost and common materials.

The researchers also discovered that the wood was supple enough to enable the sodium-ion battery to last 400 charging cycles. This figure is as high as the most sustainable nano-batteries out there. Lithium batteries, on the contrary, are often too stiff and brittle to handle the shrinking and swelling that occurs when electrons are stored and used.

Pilot Plans 90 US-Canada Border Crossing For 90th Birthday

pilotMost birthday celebrations for the elderly relatives involve a birthday cake but not this one. The relatives of John Lawton will be gazing towards the heavens on his 90th birthday, Monday, June 3, 2013.

Lawton is not dead, though. Instead, he is planning to fly his Cessna 172 and attempt to make 90 flying passages across the US-Canadian border.

“Somehow, I got a wild idea that I needed to do something different for my birthday,” says Lawton, who has been a pilot for 56 years.

From a Ohio airport he bought after a stint at the former Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory in Buffalo, Lawton has set his sights on a watery stretch of the US-Canada border along the Niagara River, just north of Buffalo, New York.

He says that apart from giving him a good view of the border, Lawton says the spot is also special to him. It is where he had what he calls the closest call of his flying career. He recalls it was a disorienting, dark, and snowy flight home from a business meeting in Syracuse in December 1956. He had to make an emergency, unannounced landing at the nearby Buffalo Niagara International Airport, which was closed then due to heavy snowfall.

During his birthday attempt, though, Lawton expects clear skies when he takes off from that same airport Monday, and spends around one to two hours, performing a series of tight, nearly aerobatic, figure-eight patterns to cross the border again and again, all while flying at an altitude of 3,500 feet and onboard his four-seat plane.

Lawton’s non-pilot daughter, Brenda, will accompany him as his son, a pilot, will stay on the ground so no one can question who will be really at the controls.

GPS Can Help Improve Tsunami Early Warnings, Says Researchers

tsunamiA German team of experts said that GPS satellite-based positioning could provide faster and more accurate early warning systems for tsunamis. They believe the technology could have improved alerts issued when the devastating tsunami hit Japan in 2011.

The team from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said that satellite navigation technology could offer detailed information on an occurring earthquake. GPS sensors placed around the coastlines of vulnerable countries could make highly precise measurements of how underwater tremors shift the ground.

Lead researcher Dr. Andreas Hoechner explained that the information GPS picks up could be used to reconstruct the source of earthquakes and to calculate its magnitude. The process of transmitting the information would just take few minutes, allowing alerts to be issued quickly.

The study was published in Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Sciences.

Extending the Life of your Laptop Battery

Modern businesses require efficient standalone or custom charger for different applications. Laptops are among the most popular and widely used portable devices today. People use them at home, in the office, and everywhere. Knowing the importance of proper use and care is important to keep laptop batteries working for as long as possible.

Some users, however, don’t pay attention to their battery’s life. It became normal to see them using their laptops without batteries. They just plug the computer using a power adaptor. Laptop users should know how to extend the life of their batteries. These useful ideas will help them achieve this objective.

Don’t Drain It

Using every single remaining power of a laptop’s lithium ion battery actually strains and weakens it. Doing this frequently will shorten the battery’s lifespan. The good news is users can avoid this problem. Most modern laptops shut down even before the battery is empty.

Use Reliable Chargers

Modern technology provides more charging options for almost all devices or applications. The use of a custom or semi-custom charger is now popular among companies and individuals. Laptop owners should only use high quality and reliable chargers to ensure best results. Multi-bay chargers are among the most widely used type today. They allow multiple laptop battery charging, and are ideal for schools, hospitals, and businesses.

Keep It Cool

Heat affects the battery and reduces its life span. Users should make sure the vents are unblocked when they use their laptops. Placing them on a raised stand that allows for sufficient airflow will keep the batteries cool. Cleaning the vents regularly is also helpful.

Give It a Break

Like any other device, your computer particularly its battery needs time to rest. Give it a break by removing it when you’re working exclusively on AC power. Never remove the battery, though, while the computer is on. This will possibly crash the system and damage the hardware. Inserting a battery into a running laptop is likewise not advisable. It is ideal to remove or reinsert it only when the computer is off or hibernating.

Caring for your battery is easy when you’re well informed. Click here to learn more about battery care, charging, and maintenance.

Adapting to the App Age

The future of advertising is mobile. You’ll need to move as fast as the users, as advertising undergoes tremendous change. With storage and bandwidth increasing significantly, smartphones and tablets are becoming the main personal and business computer.

Take a good look at your site. Sure, your website might look great on a desktop or laptop. But how does it look on the different sizes of screens for smartphones and tablets? Chances are it might not look as good as on laptop screens. This is why you need to make your website adaptive and design it for mobile platforms. Conduct HQ, one of the leading creative digital companies in Australia, shares how companies need to address the mobile revolution.

The Need for Adaptive Website

Try this little experiment to have a better idea why a traditionally designed website doesn’t work for mobile devices. Visit your company’s website using a laptop. Make the window smaller until it’s about the size of a smartphone screen. How does it look? You’ll see that it doesn’t look good at all and probably not useful either.

If your website is adaptive, the text will automatically reformat and the pictures will move accordingly to fit smaller screen sizes. The menu will also adapt so your website and content will work on any device. The good news is that through the expertise of application development companies in Sydney, your website will look great regardless of screen size. Now is the time to create an adaptive site. You can have an app designer take your current look and make it adaptive, or you can start over and design a new website.

Design for Mobile First

Designing for mobile first forces you to decide on what should stay and what should go. You have to re-evaluate your site’s content. By putting it on a smaller screen, you’ll need to decide what your potential customers really need to make a buying decision.

There’s no doubt that mobile is here to stay. Researchers expect that mobile Internet usage will double again this year. More smartphone users download new apps daily and in-app purchases continue to increase. The opportunity for Facebook to change affiliate app marketing further is approaching. Now, who’s going to lead and make the most of this opportunity?

Conduct HQ specializes in web, iPhone, and iPad applications. Call 1300 368 277 or visit their website to learn how the company can help improve your mobile app design.

Users Faces Service Issues For iCloud

icloudUsers of Apple’s iCloud services experienced technical problems for several hours Tuesday morning.

“Users might have incorrectly received an authentication error when attempting to use iCloud,” Apple says on its status page. “Setting up a new iCloud account from an eligible device may have been temporarily unavailable.”

Apple’s Game Center showed problems with user sign-ins reoccurring at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, after issues earlier in the morning had been resolved. The company says that between 4:20 a.m. and 8:25 a.m., “some users [were] affected.” It also acknowledges that iTunes Store, Apple ID and Game Center were affected as well.

When asked to provide more details on the service issues, Apple did not respond. Although the company improved its Services, Stores and iCloud status page late last year, the company still does not publish more information about the cause of its service outages.

Thomas Claburn of Information Week provides more information about the story.

Google Maps Conquer World’s Tallest Mountains

Google, with its famous feature Google Maps, is taking the Street View option to new heights after it announced Monday, March 18, that it will start offering interactive galleries of some of the world’s highest peaks.

google mapsThe new gallery features four famous mountains from around the world: the snowy Base Camp at Mt. Everest in the Himalayas in Asia, the dormant African Volcano Mount Kilimanjaro, Europe’s Mount Elbrus, and Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua.

Google Maps users can drop by the various base camps or the sights along the mountain trails. There is also a feature that, with just a few clicks, lets individuals explore 360-degree panoramas and trace the path of several mountain trails.

“It feels like you’re walking through the gates of hell because there are mule skeletons sticking out of the ground,” said Dan Fredinburg on Mt. Aconcagua. Fredinburg is a member of the Google team that photographed all four mountains.

“It was this out-of-this-world experience of entering into an environment where not many people go and knowing we were going to bring back that experience for others to see.”

Fredinburg is actually a technical program manager for Google’s privacy and security team, but is regarded as a Google Adventurer. He and other colleagues express their love for the extreme outdoors by organizing visits to the world’s highest mountains that started more than a year ago. During the planning of one of their expeditions, a colleague suggested they use the trip as an opportunity to work with the Google Maps team.

“The goal as a team is to make sure we had the opportunity to provide users with maps that are more accurate and usable,” says Fredinburg. “Different adventurers and people who want to explore from the comfort of their homes have the opportunity to explore and see these different corners of the world.”