Sony's New HMZ-T2 Personal 3D Virtual Reality Viewer

Sony trims the fat on latest Personal 3D Viewer headset

Along with its 84-inch 4K TV, Sony also chose IFA 2012 to unveil the latest version of its head-mounted Personal 3D Viewer. The successor to the HMZ-T1 we tried out at IFA last year, Sony claims the updated HMZ-T2 model boasts a sharper display, improved sound and is some 20 percent lighter, making it easier on the ol’ neck muscles.

HMZ-T2 (HMZT2, HMZT2W.CEK) : Overview : TV & home cinema : Sony

HMZ-T2 Personal 3D Viewer

A personal cinematic home entertainment experience

Twin OLED HD screens, cross-talk free 3D viewing, virtual 5.1 surround sound & adaptable headphones
  • Play movies and games in High Definition 2D & 3D
  • Watch bright, clear, cross-talk free OLED screens
  • View for hours with Auto Colour Temperature

Enter a world of immersive entertainment

Light and comfortable, the Personal 3D Viewer is a head-mounted display for High Definition 2D and 3D viewing with virtual 5.1 surround sound. Perfect for movies and gaming, its twin OLED screens display vividly sharp images to absorb you in a truly personal experience.

Sony revamps Personal 3D Viewer with HMZ-T2 | Electronista

The biggest strength of the original model was its 3D image, which because of its true stereoscopic 3D effect delivered by separate OLED displays for each eye meant a pristine, cross-talk free, 3D image. Eye fatigue is also further reduced with the introduction of an auto-color temperature adjustment that gradually lowers the image tone intensity from blue to red. Other technical improvements achieved include a 24p True Cinema mode for viewing films at the speed as they are displayed in movie theaters.

Sony gets in your face with upgraded personal 3D viewer | Crave - CNET

Who wouldn't want to get up close and personal with a couple of vibrant OLED screens?

The HMZ-T2's profile looks like some sort of robo-fish.


Wood Pulp, World's New Wonder Material

Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material - tech - 23 August 2012 - New Scientist

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.


So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

Nanocellulose: A cheap, conductive, stronger-than-Kevlar wonder material made from wood pulp | ExtremeTech

What’s brown and sticky, lightweight, flexible, stronger than steel, stiffer than Kevlar, and conducts electricity? Nanocellulose. Oh, isn’t actually brown and sticky either: it’s transparent.

Nanocellulose is a new wonder material that is simply plant matter that has been carefully smashed to pieces, and then reformed into neatly-woven nanoscale crystals and fibers. You generally start with wood pulp, remove any non-cellulose impurities (such as lignin) using a homogenizer, and then gently beat the mixture to separate each of the cellulose fibers. Depending on the exact process used, these fibers then form into a thick paste (pictured above) of needle-like crystals (2nm wide, hundreds of nanometers long, below left), or a spaghetti-like structure of cellulose fibrils (below right).

Nanocellulose - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nanocellulose or microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), is a material composed of nanosized cellulose fibrils with a high aspect ratio (length to width ratio). Typical lateral dimensions are 5–20 nanometers and longitudinal dimension is in a wide range from 10s of nanometers to several microns. It is pseudo-plastic. Moreover, nanocellulose exhibits the property of certain gels or fluids that are thick (viscous) under normal conditions, but flow (become thin, less viscous) over time when shaken, agitated, or otherwise stressed. This property is known as thixotropy. When the shearing forces are removed the gel regains much of its original state. The fibrils are isolated from any cellulose containing source including wood-based fibers (pulp fibers) through high-pressure, high temperature and high velocity impact homogenization (see manufacture below). Nanocellulose can also be obtained from native fibers by an acid hydrolysis, giving rise to highly crystalline and rigid nanoparticles (generally referred to as nanowhiskers) which are shorter (100s to 1000 nanometers) than the nanofibrils obtained through the homogenization route.

Forest Products Laboratory - USDA Forest Service


A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products. Using structural, chemical, and mechanical evaluation techniques, interdisciplinary teams of scientists continue to expand FPL's nanotechnology research program.


DNA Data Storage: The Ultimate Hard Drive

Book written in DNA code | Science | The Guardian

Scientists who encoded the book say it could soon be cheaper to store information in DNA than in conventional digital devices

Scientists have for the first time used DNA to encode the contents of a book. At 53,000 words, and including 11 images and a computer program, it is the largest amount of data yet stored artificially using the genetic material.


A three-strong team led by Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School has now demonstrated that the technology to store data in DNA, while still slow, is becoming more practical. They report in the journal Science that the 5.27 megabit collection of data they stored is more than 600 times bigger than the largest dataset previously encoded this way.

DNA: The Ultimate Hard Drive - ScienceNOW

To demonstrate its system in action, the team used the DNA chips to encode a genetics book co-authored by Church. It worked. After converting the book into DNA and translating it back into digital form, the team’s system had a raw error rate of only two errors per million bits, amounting to a few single-letter typos. That is on par with DVDs and far better than magnetic hard drives. And because of their tiny size, DNA chips are now the storage medium with the highest known information density, the researchers report online today in Science.

Don’t replace your flash drive with genetic material just yet, however. The cost of the DNA sequencer and other instruments "currently makes this impractical for general use," says Daniel Gibson, a synthetic biologist at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, "but the field is moving fast and the technology will soon be cheaper, faster, and smaller." [...]

Writing the Book in DNA : Wyss Institute at Harvard

The researchers used binary code to preserve the text, images and formatting of the book. While the scale is roughly what a 5 1/4-inch floppy disk once held, the density of the bits is nearly off the charts: 5.5 petabits, or 1 million gigabits, per cubic millimeter. "The information density and scale compare favorably with other experimental storage methods from biology and physics," said Sriram Kosuri, a senior scientist at the Wyss Institute and senior author on the paper. The team also included Yuan Gao, a former Wyss postdoc who is now an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Book converted to DNA then 'read' to show off bio-digital storage - Future of Tech on NBCNews.com

Drawbacks to a DNA hard driveDNA data storage still has a long way to go before it makes an appearance in the local Best Buy, however. Storing even a small amount of data is still costly. Kosuri and his colleagues' book cost them thousands of dollars to synthesize and sequence, Kosuri said, and it was less than a megabyte in size. Larger works would probably cost proportionately more to make, Lonardi said. Meanwhile, a $10 flash drive can store 16 gigabytes of data.

Kosuri's method is not rewriteable, so once some data has been stored, it can't be altered.


How Wet Mammals Shake to Dry

Wet Mammals Prove Masters of Shake 'n' Dry Technique | LiveScience

Furry mammals can shake themselves 70 percent dry in just a fraction of a second, according to new research. The study, which looked at the shaking speeds of 16 species of mammals, from mice to lions to bears, found that the smaller the animal, the faster it must shake to dry its fur.
"We think this has been evolving over millions of years of time to become so good," said study researcher David Hu, who studies biolocomotion at Georgia Tech. "Imagine if you could come out of the shower and, instead of using a towel, you could just press a button and in one-thirtieth of a second you're 70 percent dry."

Wet-Dog Shake

Why do mammals shake when wet? The simple answer, as you may guess, is to dry. Perhaps a better question is why an animal wants to be dry. According to our calculations, a wet animal could spend 20% or more of it’s daily food energy to evaporate water in its fur, if it cannot shake.

In our study we found the largest mammals such as bears, tigers, and large dogs shake about 4 times per second while small mice shake at more than 30 times per second!

Shaking mammals generate high centrifugal accelerations when spinning. A drop residing in a mammals fur will experience an acceleration many times gravity when ejected. We found that mammals can generate accelerations 10-70 times gravity in their fur when shaking.

Source: Wet-Dog Shake

Scientists do the wet-dog shake : Nature News & Comment

Understanding how animals shake themselves dry could help scientists to develop ways to rapidly shed water from man-made equipment. Hu hopes that devices can be engineered to incorporate elasticity similar to the all-important loose skin, and suggests that even the humble washing machine could learn a trick or two from the animal world about shedding water.


The Audi R8 e-tron Electric Supercar

Audi e-tron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Audi e-tron family is a series of electric and hybrid concept cars shown by Audi from 2009 onwards.

Audi R8 (road car) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Audi R8[4] (Typ 42)[6] is a mid-engine, 2-seater sports car,[4][7] which uses Audi's trademark quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.[4][8] It was introduced by the German automaker Audi AG in 2006.

R8 e-tron

The Audi e-tron concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. Similar in appearance to the R8, but slightly smaller, it is powered by four independent electric motors,[28] two mounted within the centre of the front axle and the other two within the rear axle, each produces 79 PS (58 kW; 78 bhp) and 1,125 newton metres (830 lbf·ft) of torque. It produces a total of 317 PS (233 kW; 313 bhp) and a sceptical 4,500 newton metres (3,319 lbf·ft) of torque. However the proposed torque rating is the torque measured at the wheels, not at the output shaft—as is the industry standard, the true torque rating being around 678 newton metres (500 lbf·ft).

First video of Audi R8 e-tron setting Nürburgring record | Fox News

Back in June Audi set the fastest lap time of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife for a produced-based electric car using its upcoming R8 e-tron. The final time for the electric supercar, which was piloted by German race car driver Markus Winkelhock, was a brisk 8:09.099.
Today we have a video of the epic achievement, showing the R8 e-tron covering the 12.92 miles of the Nürburgring both from inside and outside the cabin. One of the highlights of the video is the sound of the car (or lack thereof), with tire and wind noise proving dominant over the whine of the electric motors.

Audi USA News : Home

From motorsport to series production: the digital rear-view mirror

- Intelligent camera/monitor system ensures an ideal view
- New technology goes into series production with the Audi R8 e-tron
- Successful debut in the Audi R18 Le Mans race car

Audi is set to make driving even safer with a new technology: the digital rear-view mirror delivers brilliant images and is due to enter small-scale production in the Audi R8 e-tron at the end of this year. This model – like the current Le Mans winners – has no rear window and hence no conventional rear-view mirror. Its high-tech successor is the digital rear-view mirror – a camera/monitor system.


'Meshworm' a Soft Autonomous Robotic Earthworm

Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm - MIT News Office

Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Snails and sea cucumbers also use this mechanism, called peristalsis, to get around, and our own gastrointestinal tracts operate by a similar action, squeezing muscles along the esophagus to push food to the stomach.

Now researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed.

Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says such a soft robot may be useful for navigating rough terrain or squeezing through tight spaces.

Meshworm: The worm-like robot that can survive a hammer blow | Digital Trends

Researchers created the “artificial muscle” using nickel and titanium, producing a soft, flexible, mesh-like tube that stretches and contracts with heat.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Meshworm is its ability to withstand some pretty rough treatment. Clobber most robots with a hammer and it will likely result in some sparks, puffs of smoke and a major malfunction. Clobber Meshworm and it just continues crawling along as if nothing’s happened – as demonstrated in the video below. It can also survive someone stepping on it.

DARPA Funds MIT's Soft Meshworm Biomimcry Robot

Resilient Robots for the U.S. Military

Meshworm has the ability to survive a frightening degree of misuse, and that provides one clue into DARPA’s interest in the new technology.

As described by writer Jennifer Chu, the field of soft robotics is of growing interest to engineers. With little or no need for bulky hardware, soft robots are more durable and lend themselves to miniaturization more easily than their mechanical counterparts.

In terms of military purpose, soft robots like Meshworm could be air-dropped, launched or thrown over relatively long distances, land without damage, and set about crawling silently around, squeezing through tight openings and conducting surveillance.

Scientists Create Worm-like Robot That Can Inch Along the Ground

The Meshworm uses peristalsis, contracting and expanding different muscle segments, to inch across the ground. Image via MIT

But there might well be more benign uses as well. Kellar Autumn, a professor at Lewis and Clark College who studies biomechanics in robotics, told MIT that devices similar to the Meshworm could someday be useful for a wide range of applications, including both consumer technology and medical devices such endoscopes, implants and prosthetics. “Even though the robot’s body is much simpler than a real worm—it has only a few segments—it appears to have quite impressive performance,” Autumn said. “I predict that in the next decade we will see shape-changing artificial muscles in many products, such as mobile phones, portable computers and automobiles.”


Apple's Holographic Display Concept

Why Apple Will Turn to Holograms - Businessweek

[...] here is a prediction—Apple devices will soon project holograms like you’ve never seen. This is not mere speculation, but insight based on Apple’s patents, recent acquisitions, and the business imperative to do something to break free of the tablet clutter.

In November 2010, Apple patented a three-dimensional display system that would “mimic a hologram” without requiring special glasses. The patent narrative is fascinating, noting that one current market gap in screen technology is the ability of a device to project stereoscopic 3D images to multiple viewers at the same time.

Apple patents 3D display with holographic images and Kinect-like gesturing - SlashGear

Under this patent, the virtual items in this 3D space can include nearly any object that can be grasped and manipulated within the virtual space, including sheets of paper, hand tools, paint brushes, pencils, pens, knives, scissors, etc. Any manipulation of these virtual objects or controls can also be further reinforced with audio feedback, such as clicking sounds for virtually rotating knobs, flicking switches, or pressing buttons.

Apple patent reveals plans for holographic display - Telegraph

Apple also proposes using 3D imaging technology to track the movements of multiple viewers and the positions of their eyes so that the direction the image is deflected by the screen can be subtly adjusted to ensure the picture remains sharp and in 3D. The patent claims this technology would also create images that appear to be holographic because of the ability to track the observers movements.


"As well as watching 3D movies, Apple's system would have a ton of applications in science, engineering, design and education, while 3D iPhones and iPads would be killer.

"It's easy to imagine things like amazing 3D textbooks and instructional videos. 3D gaming on an iPad would be an incredibly immersive gaming experience."

Apple said it does not comment on patents.


World’s First Solar-Powered Nation

Tokelau To Be World's First Solar-Powered Nation -

The small nation of Tokelau in the South Pacific will be entirely powered by solar energy by the end of 2012, reports 3News in New Zealand, making it the first nation in the world to do so.

More than 4,000 solar panels are being installed on the three atolls that make up the nation – Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu – and will supply all the energy needed by its 1,400 residents. The first atoll to go completely solar, Fakaofo, is scheduled to have its diesel generators turned off next week. “It’s been quite a milestone week for us, we now have all the solar panels erected, 1584 solar modules, all the batteries are in place,” said mechanical engineer Dean Parchomchuk from Powersmart Solar, which is responsible for the panel installations.

Tokelau : A Tourism, Travel, and Information Guide : Basecamp International

Introduction to Tokelau:

Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand consisting of three coral atolls in the South Pacific: Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. These atolls lie approximately mid-way between Hawaii and New Zealand and about 500 km north of Samoa.

Formerly known as the Union Islands, the name 'Tokelau Islands' was adopted in 1946 and then shortened to 'Tokelau' in 1976.

The roughly 1500 hardy inhabitants of Tokelau, unofficially known as Tokelauans, are thought to have settled the islands more than a thousand years ago- thus, they are generically recognized as being Polynesians (and darn proud of it) - and this pride fits well with their culture...
Simply put, Tokelau culture IS Polynesian culture.

Tokelau To Shed Diesel Dependence In Favour Of Solar... | Stuff.co.nz

Lead contractor Powersmart Solar is helping Tokelau replace its diesel generators - which burn about 200 litres of fuel daily - with 4032 solar panels, 392 inverters and 1344 batteries.

Powersmart Solar director Mike Bassett-Smith said the company was proud to be leading the project because of the impact it would have on the well-being of the people of Tokelau.


The solar power systems will be capable of providing 150 per cent of the annual electricity demand without increasing diesel demand.

Companies from all over the globe tendered for the project and it was a "big win" for the Mount Maunganui-based company, Bassett-Smith said.

Tokelau to become world's first solar-powered country - Story - Environment/Sci - 3 News

Workers from Kiwi company Powersmart Solar are just a week away from converting the atoll Fakaofo from being diesel powered to solar powered.
“It’s been quite a milestone week for us, we now have all the solar panels erected, 1584 solar modules, all the batteries are in place,” says mechanical engineer Dean Parchomchuk.


India's Aakash Tablet the ‘World’s Cheapest Computer’ Upgraded

Aakash (tablet) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aakash is a series of Android-based tablet computers produced by British company DataWind.[2] It is manufactured by the India-based company Quad, at a new production centre in Hyderabad,[3] with a planned trial run of 100,000 units.[4] The tablet was officially launched as the Aakash in New Delhi on 5 October 2011. The Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development announced an upgraded second-generation model called Aakash 2 in April 2012.[5]

The Aakash is a low-cost tablet computer with a 7-inch touch screen, ARM 11 processor and 256 MB RAM[6] running under the Android 2.2 operating system. It has two universal serial bus (USB) ports[4] and delivers high definition (HD) quality video.[6] For applications, the Aakash will have access to Getjar, an independent market, rather than the Android Market.[4][7]

Test-driving the 'World's Cheapest Computer' - NYTimes.com

The Aakash-2 will be available to Indian students through 20,000 colleges and 416 universities in the country, at a subsidized price of 1,132 rupees, or about $21. The commercial version of the product will cost between 3,499 rupees and 4,299 rupees


The front is entirely made up of the shiny, seven-inch-long capacitive touch screen, an improvement over the original Aakash, which had a resistive touch screen. (A capacitive screen is more responsive and allows for the use of more than one finger to navigate). Navigation on the Aakash-2’s screen was simple and fast, needing only a light touch.


The prototype India Ink looked at also allowed users to add a SIM card. This means that the tablet can double up as a phone, but this function is not available on all the upgraded versions. The Aakash-2 will come in two versions: one with a SIM card and one without, with the latter having a second USB port.


The two versions are being introduced simultaneously to see which better suits students, said a senior official from the Ministry of Human Resources Development who is working on the project.
Sample tablets will soon be sent to students for testing and feedback, a process the ministry officials said should be concluded in the next few months.

BBC News - India upgrades 'world's cheapest tablet' Aakash

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The Perfect Sandcastle

How do you make the perfect sandcastle? A little water can give you a five meter high castle

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — All children who build sandcastles on the beach know that in addition to sand you also need to add a little water to prevent the structure from collapsing. But why is this? In an article which appeared today in Scientific Reports from the publishers of Nature, researchers from the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Institute of Physics (IoP) answer this question.

The function of water in sandcastles is to form small 'bridges' which make the grains of sand stick together, thus increasing  the solidity of the structure. The researchers show that the optimum amount of water is very small (only a few per cent). If this optimum concentration is used, sandcastles reaching five metres in height can be built.

The Science of Building the Perfect Sandcastle

While it might sound flippant, building the best structures out of sand is a tricky civil engineering problem. That's why a team of scientists, led by Daniel Bonn from the Laboratory of Physical Statistics in Paris, set to a complex series of experiments involving theoretical and practical modelling of sand castles.

By testing different levels of sand wetness, they studied how columns of sand buckled as they were built higher and higher. Eventually, they found that there's an optimum sand wetness: you should be aiming to have a liquid volume fraction of 1 percent. That means that, by volume, you need to combine 99 parts of perfectly dry sand with 1 part water to build the ultimate castle. The result is published by Nature.

How to construct the perfect sandcastle : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

How to construct the perfect sandcastle  
Maryam Pakpour,   Mehdi Habibi,   Peder Møller   & Daniel Bonn  
Scientific Reports  2, Article number:  549  doi:10.1038/srep00549
Received  11 June 2012  Accepted  17 July 2012  Published  02 August 2012

Just a bit of water enables one to turn a pile of dry sand into a spectacular sandcastle. Too much water however will destabilize the material, as is seen in landslides. Here we investigated the stability of wet sand columns to account for the maximum height of sandcastles. We find that the columns become unstable to elastic buckling under their own weight. This allows to account for the maximum height of the sand column; it is found to increase as the 2/3 power of the base radius of the column. Measuring the elastic modulus of the wet sand, we find that the optimum strength is achieved at a very low liquid volume fraction of about 1%. Knowing the modulus we can quantitatively account for the measured sandcastle heights.
Figure 1: Sandcastles with diameters 2 cm and 7 cm.

The physics of sand castles: Just add water | The Economist

An easy way to achieve the right amount of water, Dr Bonn suggests, is to tamp wet sand in a mould (open at the top and the bottom) with a thumper at least 70 times, as he did in his experiments.

As for the design itself, unsurprisingly, the wider the base the taller the castle. According to calculations, using ideally moist sand, a column with a three inch diameter could rise as high as two metres. At 12 metres, the current world record for the tallest sandcastle, set by Ed Jarrett in 2011, used a base of roughly 11 meters. If Dr Bonn is right, sand engineers could in principle beat that with a castle thrice the height upon the same foundation.