News, Technology

Million of public domain photos turned into beautiful time lapse videos by Google

Skyscraper timelapse using photos taken from the same viewpoint by different people. The photos were discovered and stitched together by an automated process. Image: YouTube

There are millions and millions of photos under the public domain, and no doubt for some these can be nothing short of a gold mine. For instance, some scientists could find them most useful to compare things like glacial retreat or deforestation with what we’re seeing today or with results generated by models. Shifting through such a catalog is no easy feat, though.

Almost mockingly, Google not only shows that this isn’t half as challenging as it may seem, but also manages to turn image processing and sorting code into spectacular works of art. Using millions of photos scrapped from social networks like Flickr or Picasa, Goggle engineers made an algorithm that stitches them together to make 10,000 timelapse videos. Some are so accurate that you wouldn’t think for a moment each frame is actually a photo taken by some random, different person. Quite amazing, and a nice demonstration of what can be achieved in the future using other, much older data sets.

News, Technology

Robot learns by doing. Starts off plain stupid, then grows smarter – just like us

The BRETT assembling a toy airplane. Image: YouTube

Using a novel deep learning algorithm, a team at UC Berkeley demonstrated a robot that learns on the fly and performs various tasks that weren’t pre-programmed. It starts off shy and clumsy, but eventually gets the ahead of it. For instance, after it stomped a bit around its environment, when given a new task, but with no further instructions, the robot learned by itself to assemble LEGO bricks or twist caps onto pill bottles.

News, Technology

Don’t write Blackberry off yet: CEO says they’ll be making money from phones again

The blackberry passport

It’s striking how a company like Research in Motion (RIM) went under the radar so fast, considering it used to completely dominate the smartphone market only a couple of years ago. Heck, Blackberry used to be synonymous with a smartphone, granted there was little competition back then. Then the iPhone came out in 2007. Spoosh! In just one year, the

Inventions, Technology

The future is now: meet the world’s first throw-and-shoot camera

lily-worlds-first-throw-and-shoot-camera-6

Meet Lily. I think Lily’s pretty awesome – after all, she’s the world’s first throw-and-shoot camera. All you have to do is throw it in the air, and it just starts following you and shooting. It’s waterproof, it’s compact, it can take both HD photos and videos, and it lands in your hand after flying up to 20 minutes.. Check out

News, Technology

The first mind-controlled leg prosthesis is amazing!

ossu-prosthesis

A freak accident from his childhood in Iceland caused Gudmundur Olafsson’s right ankle to collapse. After 28 years of living in pain and more than 50 surgical operations he decided to amputate his lower leg entirely. For years, he wore the Proprio Foot – a prosthetic motorized ankle developed by an Icelandic company called Ossur which can automatically adjust the angle of the foot using its built-in sensors. Now, Olafsson prosthesis got a major upgrade: his new Proprio is controlled subconsciously by electrical signals sent from his brain to special sensors directly embedded in his muscles, all via the nerves in the muscle itself. Then a decoded signal is sent to a control unit which directs all the fine moving parts that make up his new, robotic leg. All his intentions are translated seamlessly by the sensors and Olafsson, now 48, can walk almost entirely like a normal person. “The first time, to be honest, I started to cry,” said Olafsson.

News, Technology

Teledildonics is here: sex toys linked to virtual reality

virtual reality porn

Don’t make that face. It’s not like you didn’t see it coming, after all with each technological step forward porn has always shared the ride. Among the oldest surviving examples of erotic depictions are Paleolithic cave paintings and carvings. Prints became very popular in Europe from the middle of the fifteenth century, and because of their compact nature, were very suitable for erotic depictions that did not need to be permanently on display. An earthier eroticism is seen in a printing plate of 1475-1500 for an Allegory of Copulation where a young couple are having sex, with the woman’s legs high in the air, at one end of a bench, while at the other end a huge penis, with legs and wings and a bell tied around the bottom of the glans, is climbing onto the bench. The oldest surviving permanent photograph of the image formed in a camera was created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826, porn likely soon followed there after. Imagine what happened once film came along. Nevermind the internet. Though the Oculus Rift is still in beta, and only a handful of developers own one, virtual reality is certain to change how people enjoy porn.

Physics, Technology

Scientists develop tunable liquid metal antennas

Antenna, feed, and reservoir. Credit: Jacob Adams

For the first time, researchers have discovered how to control liquid metal inside antennas using voltage. This could add increase functionality to antennas, allowing them to perform more functions and have greater tuning flexibility. Researchers have been interested in liquid metal antennas for years now, but the main drawback was the fact that you could only tune them with an

Health & Medicine, Technology

Watch this robotic surgical system stitch a grape

da vinci surgery

With grace and steady robotic clippers, this high-end remote controlled surgical system was used to stitch a piece of skin back over the exposed flesh of a grape. Like a pro, the Da Vinci Surgical System – named after the famous renaissance genius who first inspired working robots – can be seen in this amazing video putting the final touch, tying a knot, then using its scissor-hand to cut the loose thread. Job done!

News, Space, Technology

ISS astronauts could use laser cannon to blast off hazardous space junk

There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris in orbit. Image via Wikipedia.

Astronauts onboard the ISS may soon get a new “toy” – a space laser cannon to blast off space debris that might threaten the space station. Even a tiny scratch or dent could cause massive problems, and with us putting more and more stuff in space, the risk of damage constantly increases too.

News, Technology

Military wants to use swarms of disposable “Cicada” drones: dropping flies behind enemy lines

Cicada, the "paper airplane with a circuit board". Image: © AFP Laurent Barthelemy

A mini-drone that fits in the palm of your hand could give the military an upper hand on the battlefield by providing key intelligence readings. Hundreds of these small, plastic drones could be dropped off a flight and left to scatter across the battlezone. Though they don’t have any engines, these “Cicada” drones are equipped with sensors that help adjust the gliding pattern, directing the drone towards a dropzone with an accuracy within a couple of feet. These are hard to spot since they easily disguise as a bird from afar and once behind the lines can use their sensors and microphones to spy on enemy positions. These can also prove very useful for civilian missions, most notably for gathering meteorological data.