Transparent gel speaker plays music through the magic of ionic conduction (video)

Transparent gel speaker plays music through the magic of ionic conduction video

It may be hard to believe, but that transparent disk in the photo above is actually a fully functioning speaker. A team of researchers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have pioneered a never before seen application of ionic conductivity by creating a see-through artificial muscle that can produce sounds spanning the entire audible spectrum. While ionic conduction isn't a novel idea, it's been considered impractical due to the fact that ionic materials react poorly to high voltage. The team, which included postdoctoral research fellows Jeong-Yun Sun and Christoph Keplinger (pictured above), circumvented that obstacle by placing a layer of rubber between two sheets of transparent conductive gel, allowing the system to work with both high voltage and high actuation, two qualities necessary for sound reproduction. Theoretically, soft machine technology such as this can be used to do much more than play Grieg's Peer Gynt, particularly in the fields of robotics, mobile computing and adaptive optics. To watch it in action, check out the video after the break.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Science, Harvard

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This is the Modem World: The brain modem is here

Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

DNP This is the Modem World The brain modem is here

Consider this headline: "Researcher controls colleague's motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface."

This. Happened.

University of Washington nerds put an electrode-speckled cap on Rajesh Rao and attached it to a computer that was connected to the internet. They then put Andrea Stocco in another room on the other side of the University of Washington campus, plopped another electrode cap on him and connected that to a computer.

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Ford studies space robots to improve communication with connected cars

DNP Ford finds inspiration for improved safety in space robots

Ford has joined forces with Russia's Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University for a three-year research project aimed at improving vehicle connectivity, with inspiration coming from an unlikely source: space robots. By studying the way robots interact, Ford hopes to develop its cars' communications systems so that tasks like contacting emergency services after an accident will be performed even if the vehicle is damaged or the data connection is lost. What's most fascinating are the so-called "mesh networks" which allow robots to maintain a flow of information amongst themselves and with their controllers on Earth and aboard the International Space Station in the event of a disrupted connection. This knowledge could prove useful to Ford in terms of improving emergency response protocols as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communications. To learn more, check out the video and press release after the break.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Ford

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Nanowire sensor converts pressure into light, may lead to super-sensitive touch devices (updated)

Nanowire sensor converts pressure into light, may lead to supersensitive touch devices

Outside of pen input, pressure sensors don't get much love these days. However, Georgia Tech has just built an extremely accurate sensor that could give pressure-based devices their due. When a user pushes down on the new invention, its grid of zinc-oxide nanowires emits light that's captured by fiber optics underneath at a very sensitive 6,300DPI. The combination of high resolution with light-speed responsiveness could lead to touch surfaces that capture far more detail than we're used to. While computing interfaces are clearly prime candidates for the technology, Georgia Tech also sees potential uses in pressure-based fingerprint readers and even devices that simulate touch with skin-like behavior. We've reached out to the school for more information regarding its long-term plans, but it already anticipates improving the sensors with more efficient manufacturing techniques. Take a closer look at the sensor after the break.

Update: We've since had a chance to follow up, and we're told that commercialization is likely five to seven years ahead.

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Source: Georgia Tech

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Alt-week 8.10.13: The Mini Lisa, going ape and how Google Glass will turn you into an ant

Alt-week takes a look at the best science and alternative tech stories from the last seven days.

Altweek 81013 The Mini Lisa, going ape and how Google Glass will turn you into an ant

Science and art truly meet with the smallest Mona Lisa you'll ever see. Meanwhile, other scientists are taking primatology to the pool. Possibly of more concern, however, is how a game for Google Glass could finally confirm our destiny as mere worker ants in our technological future. This is alt-week.

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The Perseid meteor shower returns, peaks Sunday and Monday nights

The Perseid meteor shower returns, peaks Sunday and Monday nights

Hey nerds, get some fresh air this weekend: there's gonna be hunks of burning rock falling from the sky.

Image courtesy of Roberto Porto

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Source: Wired

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Researchers’ robotic face expresses the needs of yellow slime mold (video)

DNP Slime mold robopocalypse yall

Apparently, slime mold has feelings too. Researchers at the University of the West of England have a bit of a history with Physarum polycephalum -- a light-shy yellow mold known for its ability to seek out the shortest route to food. Now, they're on a quest to find out why the organism's so darn smart, and the first in their series of experiments equates the yellow goo's movements to human emotions. The team measured electrical signals the mold produced when moving across micro-electrodes, converting the collected data into sounds. This audio data was weighted against a psychological model and translated into a corresponding emotion. Data collected when the mold was moving across food, for instance, correspond to joy, while anger was derived from the colony's reaction to light.

Unfortunately, mold isn't the most expressive form of life, so when the team demonstrated the studies results at the Living Machines conference in London, they enlisted the help of a robotic head. Taking cues from a soundtrack based on the mold's movements, the dismembered automaton reenacts the recorded emotions with stiff smiles and frowns. Yes, it's as creepy as you might imagine, but those brave enough can watch it go through a cycle of emotions in the video after the break.

[Image credit: Jerry Kirkhart / Flickr]

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Via: The Verge

Source: New Scientist

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Alt-week 8.3.13: giant robot ‘crabsters,’ walking planes and a year on Mars

Alt-week takes a look at the best science and alternative tech stories from the last seven days.

Altweek 8313 giant robot 'crabsters,' walking planes and a year on Mars

We didn't intend for there to be a theme this week, but there is. It's been all about unusual craft this last seven days. Whether it's nature-inspired sea drones, interplanetary exploration, or walking planes, ground control isn't calling Major Tom, it's gone way weirder that. This is alt-week.

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Watch live: Japanese space launch sends Kirobo up to the ISS (video)

You love robots, and you love rocket launches... right? So, you're going to want to watch the double whammy this afternoon we're guessing. That cutesy little Kirobo fella is making his way up to the ISS, and you can see it unfold live, right here, with coverage starting at 3:00pm ET. So, grab a sandwich and get comfortable. Though, we can't promise Kirobo will be making an actual appearance, stranger things have happened.

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Source: Space

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