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11/09/2010

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Real-life gadgets for real-life superheroes

Yes, there are real-life superheroes. And no, we’re not just referring to firefighters, paramedics, and other heroic people who we’re used to seeing coming to the rescue of others. We’re talking about costume-wearing, identity-concealing, cool-name-having people who fight crime, pollution, or other evils in their own communities, on their own time, and at their own risk. Many of them actually patrol the city streets, ready to intervene if they see trouble brewing – and being ready includes having the right tools. Given that none of these people have Bruce Wayne’s budget, however, their gadgets tend to be less like Batmobile clones, and more like... well, read on and see for yourself. Read More




Apple’s iPad catalyzing disruptive change

It might seem a long time, but the Media Tablet marketplace did not exist until April this year. It soon became obvious that Apple's iPad had catalyzed yet another major computing trend – by Computex, almost every device manufacturer in the world had a tablet coming. Last month, Gartner Group predicted the 20 million sales expected in 2010 will grow an order of magnitude over the next four years. Now Gartner has gone a step further. “It is not usually the role of the CEO to get directly involved in specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is an exception,” says the report. “It is more than just the latest consumer gadget; and CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about it if they have not already done so.” Read More




BlackSheep add-on combats Firesheep session hijacking tool

Last month Seattle programmer Eric Butler exposed the weaknesses of open Wi-Fi networks with his Firesheep add-on for FireFox. The program intercepts browser cookies to identify users and allows anyone running it to log into sites such as Facebook and Twitter as the legitimate user. While Butler wanted to encourage the use of HTTPS to combat such vulnerabilities, users can now combat Firesheep with another Firefox add-on – BlackSheep. Read More




Revolutionary diode design cracks 50 year-old electronics speed barrier

Metal-insulator-metal (MIM) diodes might just be the technology that allows electronics achieve the next big leap in processing speed. Research into diode design conducted at the Oregon State University (OSU) has revealed this week cheaper and easier to manufacture MIM diodes that will also eliminate speed restrictions of electronic circuits that have baffled materials researchers since the 1960's. Read More




North American version of Mitsubishi i-MiEV to premiere at LA Auto Show

Mitsubishi will unveil the North American version of its i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) at the Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS) this week. This version of the i-MiEV will boast an enlarged body, new front and rear bumpers, airbags that detect passengers, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Active Stability Control (ASC) as standard. Read More




Turning freeways into electricity generating 'Solar Serpents'

With solar power plants requiring large areas which aren't usually available in or close to urban areas, Sweden-based architect Mans Tham proposes cities like Los Angeles take a different road – covering the city’s freeways in solar panels. His "Solar Serpents in Paradise" idea would see 24km (15 miles) of LA's Santa Monica Freeway covered in solar panels – with an average width of 40m (131 ft), that adds up to an area of 960,000 m2 (10,333 Sq Ft), enough space for 600,000 domestic panels, which could generate 150 GWh per year. That's more than enough to provide electricity to all the households of Venice, California. Read More




Jetman goes loop-the-loop

Switzerland’s Yves Rossy, better known as Jetman or Fusionman, has achieved another aviation first by performing two aerial loops using his unique jet-powered strap-on wing. Rossy made headlines in 2004, when he first achieved horizontal flight with his original carbon fiber wing, flying 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) over the Alps. He created an even bigger fuss in 2008, when he used his wing to fly across the English Channel. Then, just last year, he got a bit wet when he unsuccessfully tried to fly from Morocco to Spain. Now, however, he can add another success to his growing list. Read More




Hemp biofuel blazes competition

While the food versus fuel debate continues to put crop-based biofuel production on the back burners it might just be Cannabis sativa that blazes the competition. Researchers at University of Connecticut have found that industrial hemp has properties that make it viable and even attractive as a raw material, or feedstock, for producing biodiesel. Hemp biodiesel has shown a high efficiency of conversion (97 percent) and has passed laboratory’s tests, even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market. Read More




Designers rethink jet aircraft in the quest for shorter take-offs

What's wrong with this picture? If you said the engines are upside down, you'd be wrong. The odd engine placement is part of a cruise-efficient, short take-off and landing (CESTOL) aircraft concept from the Georgia Tech Research Institute which also sees mechanical wing-flaps replaced by high-speed blasts of air to generate extra lift. It's hoped that the development of such craft will make more airports available to fixed-wing jet aircraft by enabling take off and landing at steep angles on short runways, as well as reducing engine noise. Read More




Encryption set for a quantum leap

Quantum cryptography has been around since the 1980's but up until now only very small packets of information have been able to be encrypted at one time. Now a breakthrough that identifies the angle and rotation of photon particles is taking this technology to the next level. Read More




Morgan to re-issue classic Threewheeler and start production of fuel-cell powered LIFECar

Of all the quirky old British cars, perhaps none has more of a cult following than the Morgan Threewheeler. About 30,000 of the autos were manufactured at Morgan’s plant in Malvern, England between 1909 and 1953, with a number of others being produced under license by Darmont Morgan in France. The Threewheeler was no slouch in the performance department – it could maintain an average speed of 100 mph (161 km/h) on the race track, and one of the vehicles won the 1913 French Grand Prix. Now the Morgan Motor Company is re-releasing the car with its original looks and today’s technology. Read More




Autonomous vans reach China after 92 days on the road

Fancy a roadtrip? Don't have a driver? No problem! The team from VisLab have just completed a journey from across two continents in two autonomous vans – the longest single trip undertaken by an autonomous vehicle. Over the 8,000 miles (13,000km) there were only a few technical hiccups and it seems that border officials, the police, journalists and tired crew members were a bigger hazard than the tough road conditions. Read More




Motus lets users 'film' within any 3D environment

In the creation of the film Avatar, director James Cameron invented a system called Simul-cam. It allowed him to see the video output of the cameras, in real time, but with the human actors digitally altered to look like the alien creatures whom they were playing. The system also negated the need for a huge amount of animation – every performance was captured in all its blue-skinned, pointy-eared majesty as it happened, so it didn’t need to be created from scratch on a computer. Now, researchers from the University of Abertay Dundee have built on the techniques pioneered by Simul-cam to create a new system, that lets users act as their own cameraperson within a 3D environment. Read More




Toshiba's super-slim Blade SSD solution not just for Apple

Toshiba has announced that its new mSATA SSD storage solution, that was recently found inside Apple's new 11-inch Macbook Air, is being made available to other product developers. The super-slim Blade X-gale series comes in three capacity options and users can expect a fast read/write performance and a long life expectancy. Read More




STD self diagnosis via mobile phones on the way?

A consortium of scientists has been formed to try and stem the rise of sexually transmitted diseases (or infections as they are now called) that's said to be reaching epidemic proportions in the UK. As early diagnosis and treatment is essential in such matters, the team is creating a self-diagnosis system where results can quickly be displayed on a mobile phone or computer screen. The system could even automatically make an appointment at a clinic or direct the unfortunate sufferer to the nearest pharmacy, where treatment would be waiting. Read More




Born to be wired: DashLink iPhone/iPod Touch dock for Harley riders

Does the world need another iPhone/iPod Touch dock? The world of Harley riders just might, and the DashLink from Hell’s Foundry is here to meet that need. The DashLink replaces the stock fuel tank console on your Harley-Davidson with an integrated dock that securely holds your iPhone or iPod Touch, while keeping it charged and ready for use. Read More




World first 'super twisted' light boosts disease identification

Scientists have for the first time created "super twisted" light which can be used for more effective disease and virus identification. The process involves polarizing a light beam to create a kind of light corkscrew, then reflecting it off a gold surface to twist the vortex even tighter. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two conditions now being examined using this new technique. Read More

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