Botiful the Android Telepresence Robot

Botiful Is an Awesome Android Robot You Can Control via Skype | PCWorld

Imagine if you could talk to your family, kids or friends on Skype, while following them around, looking at whoever you want whenever you want, and walking around the room freely as if you were there. Sounds cool, right? Botiful, a prototype currently being funded on Kickstarter, integrates with Skype and carries your Android phone around, letting whoever you're talking to control it as they wish.

Botiful the Android telepresence robot (with video) - Accessories - News - HEXUS.net

The Botiful project information page suggests that Botiful is useful for;
  • Skype video calls and video conferencing
  • Baby monitoring
  • Playing remotely with your children
  • Safely inspect areas that are heard to get to, such as under the car
  • Social events, almost be there when you can’t be present
  • Visiting a place, while you are still at home
  • Entertain and see a pet remotely
When a friend or colleague accepts a robot enabled video call you can see the following overlay upon the video display with which to control Botiful’s body and head motion. Below the directional interface there are extra robot app icons displayed.

Botiful telepresence robot is extremely cute | Ubergizmo

Similar to a computer mouse that runs on wheels, the Botiful is more than just another spot for your smartphone to rest. Functioning as a standalone device, whenever one places a Skype video call over it with the user, the Botiful telepresence robot will work to its primary ability. The caller is able to check out all of the directional controls which enable them to manipulate the Botiful so that it functions as an active segment of the conversation. As the handset is held in place using a magnet, it will communicate over a Bluetooth connection. On-screen directional controls also allows users to move it around so that there are different perspectives to view from.

Botiful bot makes telepresence easy and affordable - Liliputing

If you back the project for $199 you get one of the first 150 Botiful bots for your very own. Techie folks interested in developing for the Botiful can get access to the SDK for pledges of $245 and up. The goodies get more interesting as you go up in price.

Currently, the project isn’t fully backed yet, though they’re almost halfway to the $90,000 goal. iPhone owners, don’t feel left out. If the project gets $100,000 in backing they’ll work on an iOS version, too.


NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS)

Space Launch System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a United States Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA. It follows the cancellation of the Constellation Program, and is to replace the retired Space Shuttle.


SLS is to take astronauts and hardware to such destinations as near-Earth objects like asteroids, Lagrange points, the Moon, and Mars. SLS may also to support trips to the International Space Station, if necessary. The SLS Program is integrated with NASA's Orion Program, providing a multipurpose crew vehicle. SLS will use the ground operations and launch facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Giant deep-space rocket passes key test - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - NBCNews.com

NASA's next-generation rocket, a behemoth of a booster expected to launch astronauts deeper into space than ever before, has passed a major design milestone, space agency officials announced Wednesday.

The new mega-rocket, called the Space Launch System, passed a series of reviews that laid out the technical, performance, cost and schedule requirements for the heavy-lift booster. The completion of the so-called System Requirements Review and System Definition Review allows program managers to proceed into the rocket's preliminary design phase, NASA officials said.

NASA - NASA's Space Launch System Passes Major Agency Review, Moves to Preliminary Design

The first test flight of NASA's Space Launch System, which will feature a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity, is scheduled for 2017. As SLS evolves, a three-stage launch vehicle configuration will provide a lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions beyond low Earth orbit and support deep space exploration.
An expanded view of an artist rendering of the 70-metric-ton configuration of NASA's Space Launch System. (NASA)

An expanded view of an artist rendering of the 130 metric ton configuration of NASA's Space Launch System. (NASA)

NASA - Multimedia - Video Gallery

Space Launch System: Future Frontier

Featuring NASA Marshall’s Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success & Teamwork (FIRST) employees and student interns, "Future Frontier" discusses the new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift launch vehicle and its importance to furthering NASA's exploration mission. NASA FIRST is the Agency's leadership program for promising young professionals. (NASA/MSFC)


The Smell of Space

What does space smell like? Astronauts say raspberries, rum and seared steak | Alaska Dispatch

Astronauts coming back from spacewalks have some surprising descriptions of what space smells like.

According to The Atlantic, some say the smell reminds them of seared steak, or maybe something metallic. Some describe it as sweet, like raspberries or rum.

What Space Smells Like - Megan Garber - The Atlantic

Our extraterrestrial explorers are remarkably consistent in describing Space Scent in meaty-metallic terms. "Space," astronaut Tony Antonelli has said, "definitely has a smell that's different than anything else." Space, three-time spacewalker Thomas Jones has put it, "carries a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell."

Space, Jones elaborated, smells a little like gunpowder. It is "sulfurous."

Add to all those anecdotal assessments the recent discovery, in a vast dust cloud at the center of our galaxy, of ethyl formate -- and the fact that the ester is, among other things, the chemical responsible for the flavor of raspberries. Add to that the fact that ethyl formate itself smells like rum. Put all that together, and one thing becomes clear: The final frontier sort of stinks.

Second EVA Highlights Flight Day 7 - YouTube

Spacewalkers Steve Bowen and Al Drew installed and swapped out several pieces of equipment and repaired or removed thermal insulation outside the International Space Station. They also "filled" a special bottle with space for a Japanese education payload. The bottle will be part of a museum exhibit for public viewing.

HSF - International Space Station

The Smell of Space

Few people have experienced traveling into space. Even fewer have experienced the smell of space.


It is hard to describe this smell; it is definitely not the olfactory equivalent to describing the palette sensations of some new food as "tastes like chicken." The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.

Space smells like seared steak, hot metal, astronauts report (+video) - CSMonitor.com

Astronauts who have gone on spacewalks consistently speak of space's extraordinarily peculiar odor.

They can't smell it while they're actually bobbing in it, because the interiors of their space suits just smell plastic-y. But upon stepping back into the space station and removing their helmets, they get a strong, distinctive whiff of the final frontier. The odor clings to their suit, helmet, gloves and tools.

Fugitives from the near-vacuum — probably atomic oxygen, among other things — the clinging particles have the acrid aroma of seared steak, hot metal and welding fumes. Steven Pearce, a chemist hired by NASA to recreate the space odor on Earth for astronaut training purposes, said the metallic aspect of the scent may come from high-energy vibrat

NASA Asks Chemist to Make the Smell of Space: Discovery Space

Scent of Space Being Recreated by Chemist

NASA recently asked Steve Pearce, a chemist at Omega Ingredients and Maverick Innovations, to reproduce and bottle the smell of outer space.

Astronauts returning from lengthy spacewalks consistently report a strange odor that dances the lines between seared steak, piping-hot metal and arc welding smoke. To acclimate their astronauts to it during training, NASA has asked chemist Steve Pearce to reproduce this "smell of space."


Puralytics SolarBag 3L -- Reusable Sunlight Activated Water Purifier

Puralytic Solar Bag | The Filtered Files

Puralytics, a privately funded technology company located in Beaverton, Oregon is pioneering a new photochemical technology for water purification. They are building solutions to improve filtration for the global water challenges by combining the latest technological innovations with advanced engineering. The invention of the Solar Bag uses an effective and simple process for water purification.
The Puralytic Solar Bag has a backpack with handles that makes it easy to transport water to and from an available water source. Once the bag is filled with any water through the inlet debris filter, the bag is placed in the direct sunlight. It can either lie flat or hung from a tree or post. Once purified, the Solar Bag can be dispensed by a valve into a canteen or pot as required. By harnessing the power of the sun to purify water, the Puralytics Solar Bag will deliver clean drinking water that meets the World Health Organization (WHO) standards in remote areas.

Bag versus bottle? Puralytics’ new approach to pure portable water | SmartPlanet

It takes about three hours for the SolarBag to produce 3 liters of fresh water in direct sunlight (four to six hours if it is cloudy). It can be used several times per day, and Puralytics said the bag can be reused hundreds of times before it needs to be replaced.

The SolarBag exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for water purifiers, according to Puralytics. “The versatility and performance of the SolarBag makes it the best water purifier on the market for remote and emergency applications,” said Mark Owen, found and CEO of Puralytics. “It’s light, simple to use, easily transportable and reliable.”

Puralytics :: Pure Water

The Details

Sunlight, even on a cloudy day, activates our new, powerful purification capability, embedded in our nanotechnology coated mesh insert. This activates the 5 photochemical processes that purify water and reduce or destroy contaminants found in virtually all water sources.

Treats up to 9 liters of water per day. Reusable hundreds of times.

Easy to Use

Fill bag with water from any fresh water source using supplied cloth filter.

Place the SolarBag in an area open to the sky. Wait 2 - 3 hours on a sunny day, or 4 - 6 hours on a cloudy day or if the source water is tea-colored.

Enjoy your safe, purified water! Again, and again, and again...

TEDx The Future of Water - YouTube

In "The Future of Water" a TEDx talk presented at Oregon State University on April 17, 2012, Puralytics CEO Mark Owen presents the water crisis, defines that the conventional solution to this crisis - municipal water purification - does not and can not supply SAFE water to the world's people, and calls for the development of a new breed of intelligent, decentralized water systems using new technologies.


Textile Energy Storage from Cotton T-Shirts

BBC News - T-shirts developed that could charge mobile phones

Scientists at the University of South Carolina have found a way to use a cheap T-shirt to store electrical power.
It could pave the way for clothes that are able to charge phones and other devices.

Experts predict that new technologies including roll-up smartphones and laptops will be on the market soon.

T-Shirts That Can Charge Mobile Devices - PSFK

Xiaodong Li and Lihong Bao from the University of South Carolina have published a paper in Advanced Materials on how to turn a cotton T-shirt into a source of electrical power, which could provide a way to charge mobile devices on the go.

Their flexible energy storage device was created by soaking a T-shirt in a solution of fluoride, then drying and baking it at a high temperature. The surfaces of the fibers were converted from cellulose to activated carbon, while retaining flexibility. The T-shirt could then act as a supercapacitor and was able to store an electrical charge.

University of South Carolina - News

But Li and Bao took the material even further than that. They then coated the individual fibers in the activated carbon textile with “nanoflowers” of manganese oxide. Just a nanometer thick, this layer of manganese oxide greatly enhanced the electrode performance of the fabric. "This created a stable, high-performing supercapacitor," said Li.

This hybrid fabric, in which the activated carbon textile fibers are coated with nanostructured manganese oxide, improved the energy storage capability beyond the activated carbon textile alone. The hybrid supercapacitors were resilient: even after thousands of charge-discharge cycles, performance didn't diminish more than 5 percent.

"By stacking these supercapacitors up, we should be able to charge portable electronic devices such as cell phones," Li said.

Li is particularly pleased to have improved on the means by which activated carbon fibers are usually obtained. "Previous methods used oil or environmentally unfriendly chemicals as starting materials," he said. "Those processes are complicated and produce harmful side products. Our method is a very inexpensive, green process."


The E-Volo Volocopter

Blade Runner: 18-Rotor "Volocopter" Moving from Concept to Prototype: Scientific American

Inventor and physicist Thomas Senkel created an Internet sensation with the October 2011 video of his maiden—and only—test flight of a spidery proof-of-concept 16-rotor helicopter dubbed Multicopter 1. Now the maker of the experimental personal aviation craft, the European start-up e-volo, is back with a revised "volocopter" design that adds two more rotors, a serial hybrid drive and long-term plans for going to 100 percent battery power.

e-volo | What is a Volocopter?

The e-volo volocopter is a completely novel, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft, which cannot be classified in any known category. The fact that it was conceived of as a purely electrically powered aircraft sets it apart from conventional aircraft.

Through the use of its many propellers, the volocopter can take off and land vertically like a helicopter. A considerable advantage, apart from the simple construction without complex mechanics, is the redundancy of drives. This enables the safe landing of the volocopter even if some drives fail.

E-Volo | (VIDEO) E-Volo, after proof of concept let’s talk about production, VC Evolution! | Hybrid cars, green vehicles, electric bike: TechnologicVehicles.com, showroom and news

More than a one-off prototype, Thomas Senkel who founded the company has big ambitions, after presenting the prototype of the VC Evolution 1P at Aero shiw in Friedrichshafen he recently received the Innovation Award from the Lindbergh Foundation (LEAP), therefore the development of a production models is underway.

His flying machines are dubbed Volocopter, the 2-seater could emerge first, the VC Evolution 2P for which E-Volo announces a top speed of 100kph and 1 hour of range. The production model could be launched within 2 to 3 years after the test and development phases.


Keep 32 Molecule Provides Cavity-Proof Teeth

Dental News | Oral health | New molecule means cavity proof teeth

Scientists have created a new molecule that may make teeth cavity-proof and may change dental care forever.

The new molecule, named Keep 32, after the 32 teeth in a human mouth, can wipe out bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds.

Keep 32 molecule discovered, kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay | Geek.com

It’s not actually sugar that causes cavities, it’s the bacteria Streptococcus Mutans. This bacteria metabolizes the sugar in your mouth and turns it into lactic acid which then attacks your tooth enamel. When that happens your teeth become vulnerable to decay and cavities can form. So, if you remove Streptococcus Mutans from the equation you stop the decay from happening.

Jose Cordova, a researcher at Yale University, along with Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile, have discovered a new molecule called Keep 32 that kills Streptococcus Mutans. The pair already have a patent pending and now want to begin human trials to prove it works. That should take no more than 18 months if they find funding.

Chilean Scientists Discover Solution to Cavities | I Love Chile: The Most Important Source of Chilean News

“The molecule has the potential, not only to be harnessed into a gum, but also in products like tooth paste, mouthwashes, toothpaste sheets, candies, overnight dental gel, and other products that stay in the mouth for at least 60 seconds,” explained Erich Astudillo, CEO of Top Tech Innovations, the firm that sponsored the discovery.

“In Chile, we’ve been looking for financial backing for two years.  No one was interested in putting resources into R&D,” he commented.
After unsuccessfully seeking investors in Chile, the researchers joined forces with the Founder Institute to improve their business model and look for sources of capital internationally.

“At the moment, we’re having conversations with five parties who are interested in either investment or buying our patent. This will involve moving abroad to complete product development,” he explained.


Biologically Accurate Walking Robot Legs

BBC News - 'Most realistic' robot legs developed

US experts have developed what they say are the most biologically-accurate robotic legs yet.

Writing in the Journal of Neural Engineering, they said the work could help understanding of how babies learn to walk - and spinal-injury treatment.
They created a version of the message system that generates the rhythmic muscle signals that control walking.

A UK expert said the work was exciting because the robot mimics control and not just movement.

RNSL University of Arizona

RNSL: Robotics and Neural Systems Laboratory

We are interested in understanding biological movement, vision and intelligence.

We use non-traditional methods. We build simulations or models of systems in software and test them in hardware to try to understand their biological counterparts. This requires the integration of a large amount of information across the biological sciences and then the implementation of electrical and mechanical engineering techniques.

A secondary goal is to advance robotic theory. We often try to translate understanding derived from biology into new robotic methods that offer solutions to real world problems.

U of Arizona Researchers Build Bipedal Robot

Dr. M. Anthony Lewis, Director of the Robotics and Neural Systems Lab at the University of Arizona, and Theresa J. Klein (PhD student) have been working on a biarticulate muscle leg model. In a paper published in 2008 (available at the lab’s website), they describe how motors pulled on stiff, tendon-like Kevlar straps to reproduce the action of key muscle groups. 
Their new biped robot features an improved leg design that models even more muscles. And it’s already walking (though it relies on a babywalker-like support for balance). It stands 55 cm (22″) tall with the legs fully extended and weighs approximately 4.5 kg (10 lbs).

Leggy Robot (Almost) Moves Like Jagger | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Like many roboticists, Lewis and Klein looked to nature for inspiration. Humans have a central pattern generator (CPG) in their spinal cord’s lumbar region. The CPG is a neural network producing rhythmic signals that allow the body to generate the step cycle needed for locomotion. The CPG creates and controls these signals based on information it gathers from the legs, which indicate, for example, the slope and solidity of a surface as they walk.

Lewis and Klein’s robot features the simplest form of a CPG—just two neurons that fire signals alternately to produce a rhythm, as well as load sensors that determine force in the limb when each leg presses against a stepping surface. This setup is similar to the mental mechanism that allows human babies to learn to walk—a pair of neurons enables their little legs to work in rhythm with practice.

Each leg of the university’s robot consists of a hip, knee and ankle moved by nine muscle actuators. Muscle contraction is mimicked by rotating the motor to pull on Kevlar straps. Each muscle strap features a load sensor that models a tendon in a human leg, sensing muscle tension when a muscle is contracted and sending signals to the brain about how much force is being exerted and where.


LifeWatch V: Android-based Healthcare Smartphone

LifeWatch V: Android-based Healthcare Smartphone Packed with Medical Sensors

LifeWatch AG (Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland) has presented the LifeWatch V, a feature-packed healthcare smartphone for patients and health conscious consumers. At its core, the LifeWatch V is a pretty standard Android-based phone. However, what sets it apart is the presence of a plethora of medical sensors powering seven health tests, combined with wellness-related applications and cloud-based services. The health tests are operated by placing a finger on one of the sensors, allowing users to measure, track and analyze their medical measurements, take corrective action, plan meals, activities and more.

Tests Overview | LifeWatchV

The LifeWatch V not only tests ECG, body temperature, blood glucose, heart rate, oxygen saturation, body fat percentage and stress levels (heart rate variability). It contains health tests and apps, test result delivery, historical data analysis and even physician connectivity.

LifeWatch V News, Videos, Reviews and Gossip - Gizmodo

You'll still want to keep up regular doctor visits if you are dealing with a medical condition since devices like these are usually far less accurate when compared to dedicated hospital equipment. But with full data connectivity it means you can keep your medical practitioner abreast of your condition between checkups. And more importantly, it minimizes the number of medical-related smartphone accessories you have to tote around.


Excalibur Almaz: Fly Me to the Moon

Company promises flights to the moon aboard recycled Soviet space station - CSMonitor.com

The moon may soon be a tourist destination for millionaires with Excalibur Almaz, a British spaceflight firm, preparing to sell $150,000 tickets aboard a 1970s Soviet space station retrofitted with new thrusters

Excalibur Almaz

Excalibur Almaz plans to use its Salyut-Class Spacecraft and RRVs as an orbital and cislunar transportation system. These components unlock the potential to accomplish the most ambitious private space missions to date. Cislunar missions will explore the limitless, cyclical orbital pathways that lead to a vast array of destinations including the moon, near-Earth asteroids and gravity-stable destinations called Libration (or Lagrange) Points. These orbits will take travelers farther from Earth than any human has ever traveled before. EA can also take travelers close to the lunar surface. Asteroids could eventually be visited, explored and mined. These exciting mission profiles will inspire humanity to live, work and thrive in space!

Space Tourism's Next Destination May Be the Moon | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Moon trips would begin as early as 2015. Dula said last month that his company could sell in the neighborhood of 30 tickets over the following decade for a a $4.5 billion haul, making half of its investment back in the first three years alone.

Excalibur Almaz plans to insert the space station cores into low Earth orbit atop a Proton rocket, while using the Soyuz-FG rockets that ferry crews up to the ISS to take passengers in Almaz RRVs up into space. The company is also open to using alternative rockets for its manned flights, such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Once in low Earth orbit, the Almaz spacecraft would dock with the space station cores, which would serve as the long-haul vehicles for the trip to the Moon and back. The reusable Almaz capsules would come along for the trip and then be used to travel back down to Earth.