TweakTown NewsRefine News by Category:
If you stay up late enough to watch Jimmy Fallon on The Late Show, you know Fallon is a pretty big geek and likes his tech. Intel was on his show last night showing off mind reading technology that it was a part of.
The tech isn't as out there as it sounds and Intel can't read you mind. The tech uses MRI imaging along with machine learning techniques to translate brain activity letting a computer figure out what people are thinking.
Our wrap-up of emerging technology news this week starts with some significant developments from the world of aviation. An MIT led research team has presented a radical aircraft concept called the D "double bubble" which promises a 70 percent improvement in fuel economy, reduced noise, lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and the ability to use shorter runways. The design is part of a NASA project which looks forward to what we can expect to see in the skies around the year 2035.
Computers will eventually out-think, out-perform and out-drive humans and this clip of autonomous supervehicle Stanley performing a spectacular James Bond-style parking manoeuvre shows just how far we've come.
While not quite as spectacular, another innovative slice of automotive tech we have covered this week might turn out to be just as significant. It's the D-Drive infinitely variable transmission and as Loz Blain explains in our in-depth video, it could have huge implications in everything from cars, motorcycles...
The human race needs to clean up its act when it comes to producing and consuming energy and several groundbreaking technologies have come to light at Gizmag.com this week which could lend some serious weight to the cause.
U.S researchers have discovered an inexpensive new catalyst that promises to significantly reduce the costs of producing hydrogen, while across the Atlantic scientists have found a way to store surplus electricity from wind and solar systems as natural gas. Our own waste is also set to find its way into the grid, with a pilot project in the U.K that aims to produce biomethane gas from human waste for use in kitchens and heating.
There's also been some movement on the kinetic energy front - the nPower PEG portable generator which recharges your phone, media player or camera as you move about in your daily life has hit the market and a piezoelectric generator small enough to be embedded in the sole of a shoe has also surfaced.
On the green transport front, Volkswagen has unveiled an electric bicycle that folds to the size of a spare tyre and Lexus has announced details of its own e-bike Concept which we first spied tucked away at last year's Tokyo Motor Show.
So where will all this green energy be going? One technology that will definitely chew through some juice this year is 3D television. While it's been a big hit in cinemas of late and it's now well on its way into our living rooms, 3D technology is also set to appear on huge posters that can be seen from the other side of the street (without special glasses) and come June, U.K. newstands will host the world's first 3D newspaper.
In taking another swipe at Intel, NvIDIA's own VP Bill Daily has felt the need to express his opinion on why he feels Moore's Law is pretty much dead in the water and parallel computing (using a GPU, surprise surprise) is what will save the future of computing.
For those of you who have no idea what Moore's Law is, this stemmed from a paper that was published by Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel) 45 years ago which is basically a prediction that the transistor count per area on a circuit would double every 2 years (later decreased to 18 months).
With die shrinks becoming more problematic, Bill Daily does have a point in saying that the serial process oriented workings of a CPU is inevitably reaching a limit, but putting NVIDIAs GPUs up on a pedestal and shouting out the word CUDA is hardly the answer either.
Microsoft Research works on all sorts of features and offerings that often never see the light of day. The company is showing off a new input method using pen and touch that it calls "Manual Dexterity" that looks promising.
Today most devices can either accept input from pen or from touch, but not both. The new Microsoft concept does both and the combination works very well.
I can certainly see this input being used on future machines. I like the demo of the person moving things around with their hand while writing on things with the pen, it's cool. Check out the video below.
Using the power of the sun to generate electricity is something that is in use in some commercial products already. Lots of research is being put into making more efficient solar panels to enable us to harvest more of the suns free energy for all sorts of devices.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have unveiled the world's first circuit that can be powered by light. Right now, the amount of power the circuits generate is far from enough to power consumer electronic devices, but the researchers believe that may change.
As technology improves, the researchers see the devices being able to power all manner of electric devices and serve other purposes as well. If the researchers can get more than the 10% of the photovoltaic cells on a slide to work, they could generate more power. In the future a one amp, one volt circuit could measure the diameter of a human hair and only an inch long.
Wow, only a couple of days after we told you that Carbon Nano Tubes could be used to make more efficient solar panels, a group at MIT have put in for a patent on using CNT "springs" to make longer lasting batteries.
These batteries would not be similar to the current crop of LiON batteries except for their ability to hold a charge when not in use.
You see CNTs do not lose, resist or otherwise affect the electrons in them. In terms of a transistor or another part of a CPU circuit it means no leakage and more efficient (pronounce faster) transfer of power.
For batteries this means that what you put in them stays there regardless of the length of time or environment around them. Imagine a battery that could hold its charge for 10 years while unused. Of course, as with all single molecule carbon structures you can expect about 6-10 years before you see it on the shelves.
Have you ever sat back and wondered just what direction computing is going? Over the last few days I have had some time to think about it and to be honest I think we are right on the verge of something big.
Intel just pushed Lynnfield out the door, AMD just kicked out DX11 GPUs and a fully DX11 driver package. nVidia is pushing Tegra while Microsoft, Linux and Apple are working on the move to a fully 64-bit computing world.
We are seeing systems becoming more and more simple instead of complex. Lynnfield brought the PCI-e controller for graphics into the CPU cutting out much unneeded data transfer between the CPU, GPU and Northbridge. The next step in this evolution is right around the corner as Clarkdale and Arrondale get their coming out party at IDF.
While the GPU is moving to the CPU at Intel AMD is busy finding new ways to leverage their (previously) highly under optimized and unused Stream Processor. They have also fashioned the GPU into a video splitter, something that required additional and expensive hardware in the past.
From the software side we see newer and faster operating systems. Both Microsoft and Apple have revamped their current offering with speed and functionality in mind.
Still, while all of these current products make 2009-2010 one of the best years in computing that I can remember in the 15-plus years I have been in IT, they are only the beginning. After all both Intel and AMD are working on new CPUs with more cores, co-processors (in addition to the GPU) GPUs are beginning to take over some of the higher-level computing functions for things like rendering and advanced computations. Software is moving closer and closer to a singular core with layered virtual operating system sitting on top. Each of these would have access to the hardware through a virtualization layer that would not use emulation but real paths. This means you could conceivably have multiple operating systems running live on your system without losing performance. All of these things are not only possible but actively being built as I write this.
We can expect amazing things starting in 2010, things that were only wild dreams when I was busy banging away on a loud, slow 2x86 computer with DOS and WordStar. I have not been this excited about being in IT since I built my first HeatKit computer in the early 80s.
The day that robots take over the world is near. I can see it now, it will be just like the book by Michael Crichton that later became the movie WestWorld. Oh wait I have not even told you what I am talking about. Ok, here are the scary details.
Recently at Australia's Tourism Futures conference Ian Yeoman talked about resorts where robots would service guests, catering to their every need.
This is exactly the sort of thing that was prophesied by the prolific Crichton. Yeoman was quoted as saying;
"Robotics will become important, because you're going to have labour shortages in the future,'' he said Even robot "prostitutes'' that would not pass on diseases such as HIV could make an appearance."
Which on the surface may sound like a lot of fun, but give me the creeps. Thankfully these types of resorts probably won't be around until sometime in 2050 so we have time to prepare.