Helikite balloons can hoist emergency LTE network after natural disaster

'Helikite' balloons can hoist emergency LTE network after natural disaster

We know, we know, Google has the whole hot air balloon thing covered. But this idea is a bit different. It consists of a group of "helikites," or small load-bearing balloon-kite hybrids, which can quickly be launched to form a network of LTE or WLAN masts up to an altitude of 2.5 miles, providing data coverage following an earthquake or tsunami. A standalone rugged suitcase, or "Portable Land Rapid Deployment Unit," contains everything needed for activation in tough conditions. Researchers behind the project, including German R&D firm TriaGnoSys, have even found a way to integrate the temporary network with existing cell towers that remain in tact on the ground -- a feature that makes the system suitable not only for emergencies, but also for expanding mobile coverage during planned events in remote locations. Of course, the helikites would eventually drift apart and lose connectivity, probably after around four days depending on the wind, but these things never travel quite as far as you'd expect.

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Via: Technology Review

Source: EAI PSATS (PDF download)

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Researchers turn standard microscope into billion-pixel imaging beast

DNP microscopy blah blah blah

A team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology, led by Professor Changhuei Yang, have figured out a way to crank their microscopy up to 11. Usually, scientists are forced between a rock and a hard place: they can have high res images of small areas or low resolution pictures of larger fields. Using a strategy known as Fourier ptychographic microscopy, Yang's team was able to computationally correct a standard microscope's low res imagery, producing a billion-pixel picture. By adding an LED array to an existing microscope -- the only hardware tweak their $200 system calls for -- the researchers were able to stitch together a 20X quality image from a 2X optical lens. The information gleaned from the LED lights was corrected entirely on a computer, making it an exceptionally cost effective way to create high res microscopic images. The team's report, published by the journal Nature Phototonics, can be read in full at the source link below.

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Via: California Institute of Technology

Source: Nature Phototonics

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Tattletale tooth sensor tells your doctor if you’ve been smoking or overeating

DNP WiFi tooth sensor, y'all, because why not

It's official: humans suck at self-discipline so much, researchers thought it necessary to create a tooth sensor that detects if you're smoking or stuffing your face and can tell doctors about it. The National Taiwan University Team led by Hao-hua Chu recently tested prototypes by gluing them to eight people's dentures. Thanks to the device's accelerometers, it was able to differentiate between chewing, smoking, speaking and coughing 94 percent of the time. It would've been better if it could also distinguish healthy food from not, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. After all, the scientists first have to develop an onboard power source (the prototypes required external batteries) and mouth-safe Bluetooth connectivity to transmit data to smartphones. Also, the team wants to shrink the already-teensy sensor down so it can fit inside cavities or on crowns. We don't know about you, bu in the future we might choose between cavity-healing gel or these high tech fillings.

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Via: Motherboard, New Scientist

Source: National Taiwan University

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Alt-week 7.27.13: The blind pixel-painter, redirecting the sun and Saturn’s view of Earth

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

Altweek 72713 the blind Pixelpainter, redirecting the sun and Saturn's view of Earth

This week is all about being humbled. New images from NASA remind us how truly small we are, while a blind computer artist reminds us we could try harder. Perhaps the "easiest" feat this week is a village that is redirecting the sun for five months of the year. No biggie. This is alt-week.

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Ultra-thin e-skin could lead to advances in medicine, cool wearable computing (video)

DNP eskin

Remember the names Martin Kaltenbrunner and Takao Someya -- that way, you'll have someone to blame when kids start pointing and laughing at gadgets we consider high-tech today. Leading a team of University of Tokyo researchers, they have recently developed a flexible, skin-like material that can detect pressure while also being virtually indestructible. Think of the possibilities: with a thickness of one nanometer, this could be used to create a second skin that can monitor your vital signs or medical implants that you can barely feel, if at all. Also, temperature sensors could be added to make life-like skin for prosthetics... or even robots! Like other similar studies, however, the researchers have a long journey ahead before we see this super-thin material in medicine. Since it could lead to bendy gadgets and wearable electronics first, don't be surprised if your children call iPhones "so 2013" in the not-too-distant future.

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Via: iO9, ABC Science, New Scientist

Source: Nature

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Scientists create false memories in mice, cause rodent-style Inception

DNP Scientists create false memories in mice

A group of MIT researchers (we assume they're all Philip K. Dick fans) have successfully implanted false memories in the minds of mice, according to a study published in the journal Science. This "mouseception" experiment was designed to examine the phenomenon called false memory syndrome, in which the brain concocts recollections of events that have never happened. By manipulating the memory engram-bearing cells in the hippocampus, the research team convinced a few unsuspecting mice that they had experienced a shock to their feet when one had never actually occurred. One can only assume that after finessing this false memory implantation, the next logical step is going into the mice's dreams and stealing all their secrets. Christopher Nolan would be so proud. Or horrified. Jury's still out.

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Via: MIT Technology Review

Source: Science

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Hands-on with Disney Research’s AIREAL haptic feedback technology (video)

Handson with Disney Research's AIREAL haptic feedback technology video

If you're hoping to get some more tactile feedback out of augmented reality environments, the folks at Disney Research have devised the AIREAL system that could end up doing just that. The team is showing off the project at SIGGRAPH's Emerging Technologies space, so we made sure to stop by for a look and feel. As quick refresher, the technology reacts to the user's gestures by churning out a vortex of air to provide tactile feedback in real space -- thanks to an almost entirely 3D printed enclosure and a smattering of actuators and depth senors. In the demo we saw, hovering our hand just over a display summoned a butterfly.

Once it landed, that small bit of air offered up the physical sensation that it was actually touching us. As we moved closer to a virtual open window, wings went a flutter and the whole sensation increased a bit. Sure, what we saw was a fairly simple use scenario, but there are aspirations for this to enhance gaming experiences and other augmented environments (likely within the confines of a Disney park, of course) with the addition of haptic feedback. Looking for a bit more info? Consult the video after the break for just that.

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Plastic skin lights up on contact, may lead to touchscreens everywhere (video)

Plastic OLED skin lights up on contact

Flexible circuitry is frequently a one-way affair -- we've seen bendy displays and touch layers, but rarely both in one surface. UC Berkeley is at last merging those two technologies through a plastic skin whose display reacts to touch. By curing a polymer on top of a silicon wafer, the school's researchers found that they could unite a grid of pressure sensors with an OLED screen; they just had to remove the polymer to create a flexible skin. As the film-like material can be laminated on just about anything, it maylead to touch displays in places where they were previously impractical, or even very thin blood pressure sensors. It could also be easy to produce -- since the skins use off-the-shelf chip manufacturing techniques, commercial products are well within reach.

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Via: Phys.org

Source: UC Berkeley

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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: anti-mosquito sticker, a cancer-identifying scalpel and the world’s largest offshore wind farm

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

DNP Inhabitat's Week in Green TKTKTK

Urine and cellphones don't mix -- just ask anyone who has ever dropped their phone in the toilet. At least that's what we thought before learning that a team of UK scientists has created the world's first pee-powered cellphone, which is based on microbial fuel cells. In other renewable energy news, the Peruvian government is providing free electricity to over 2 million of its poorest citizens by harvesting energy from the sun, and China just became the world's first country to install 3 GW of utility-scale solar. Wind power is also on the rise as CalTech researcher John Dabiri figured out a way to make cheaper, more efficient wind farms inspired by schools of fish, and construction began this week on the world's largest offshore wind farm on the Fukushima coast. And in an unusual paring of renewable energy and architecture, Morphocode has designed a futuristic-looking loft that is nestled on top of an offshore wind turbine.

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