US Army Developing Robotic Exoskeletons?

Whenever I hear a new piece of tech which is being developed with the aim of blurring the lines of real life and science fiction, I am curious, but it’s then sometimes followed by a groan when you realize it’s for the purposes of war, destruction and general super power posturing. A new Robotic Exoskeleton is being developed by yes the US army to assist in the training of soldiers and their shooting accuracy.

A gentleman by the name of Dan Baechle who is a mechanical engineer is testing MAXFAS, a mechatronic arm exoskeleton at the Army Research Laboratory in the United States. As you can see by the image below, this device contains a motor for the MAXFAS cable which is driven behind the wearer. This in turn pulls the cables that are attached to arm braces; the effect of this would be similar to a puppeteer who pulls strings to make certain objects move. The braces are constructed from carbon fibre; this is useful because it adds very little weight to the arm. Always amuses me when you’re handling a potentially lethal object but always remember to wear goggles.

By having sensors placed onto the braces it feels and corrects any shaking in the arm by sending signals to the motors. By doing this, the arm would be able to focus without the slightest of human tremors and therefore improves shooting accuracy at a faster rate, which is fantastic for the shooter, perhaps not so much for the target.

This design has the potential to be implemented outside of military circles, for example, if an individual has Parkinson’s disease and has a constant tremor, this might be able to help manage this. I also feel that perhaps the US government should lend its researchers and dev team to produce cutting edge tech with the aim of assisting the general public, after all, finances should be allocated for not only war but peace.

Thank You army.mil for providing us with this information

This Is Why New Software Comes With Old Flaws

You are probably wondering why we hear that legacy flaws are still present in new software. Well, the answer is simple. Developers have a habit of reusing old code for most of their projects and the code is not reviewed for all potential flaws, but rather the approach tends to be similar to the slang ‘if it works, then don’t try to fix it’.

This does not mean that developers are lazy. The approach is favourable even by top-notch programmers because of the tight deadlines they have to meet, so time will always be above everything else when shipping new software.

However, this comes at a hefty price. While we hear of many hacking incidents, only a few of them are complex enough to break even the most impenetrable systems. Most of them were done by exploiting the already ‘implanted’ flaws in all software products. Everything except the operating systems can be deemed ‘hackable’ by most people with some knowledge of hacking.

The flaws go so deep that even some government departments are at high risk. Security analyst found out that some software in government departments is still based on older programming languages. But is this the future of programming? Of course not.

Security analysts in the field say that the problems with legacy flaws may likely increase, but they don’t have to. The real problem is that, by focusing exclusively on shoving new software on the market, companies forget about security completely. A better approach here is to split project development into two major components, development and testing, which could work in parallel. This way, a lot of bugs could be fixed and major security bugs flagged before the software hits the market.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of nikopik

HBM Memory Overclocking to be Locked on Fiji

AMD released some awesome news earlier this week, they stunned us with a whopping range of 9, yes! Nine new graphics cards during E3 2015. At the top of the range there are 4 cards that will utilize the new Fijii gpu chip. Performance of any of the cards is under strict NDA until June 24th when the new Radeon R9 Fury X will be released. However AMD have released today some basic specs and features of the new tech.

One of the new features is the whopping 4GB of high bandwidth memory. AMD have released that the 4GB will be running at 500mhz on a 4096-bit wide bus. This means that at this clock speed it can hit a whopping 512GB/s in bandwidth!

The interesting part about this is that AMD is not going to let you overclock the memory on the cards when the first ones are released. AMD say that the new memory technology behind the Fiji architecture is too new and will provide more than enough bandwidth to use the cards at max utilization. This block by AMD may be lifted later on in the cards lifetime but for the time being it will only be the cards core clock that can be overclocked.

AMD have also compacted everything on the new cards as they have now joined the memory and the GPU itself into one large chip that sits on the board. I assume this is to help the card to get the phenomenal bandwidth that they state it can provide.

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X video card is the top range single-GPU Fiji card. This card is said to be stuffed full with 4096 Stream Processors running at 1050MHz. The card will have 64 Compute Units, 256 Texture Units and 64 ROPs. The Compute performance is 8.6 TFLOPS! The texture fill-rate is 268.8 GT/s, and the pixel-fill rate is 67.2 GP/s. Pretty high specs for a card that uses around 275 watts under normal load; The Fiji architecture has taken nearly 7 years to develop and is the first GPU to utilize high bandwidth memory,

I find it very strange that AMD have restricted the ability to overclock the memory in the new chips, but maybe it’s for the best. What do you think? Let us know!

Thank you to Legit Reviews for providing us with this information.

Man Builds Own Remote Control for Google Chrome

Jeff Bower decided that Google’s Chromecast accessory needed an upgrade, so he decided to go ahead and make his own remote control for this streaming USB device.

His remote was designed through a Raspberry Pi model B architecture, connecting it to a case and buttons. According to our sources, the total costing of this unit was around $55 US. with the programming being completed through the help of Pychromecast, which is a development kit designed for the Chromecast and Raspberry Pi technology.

According to reports, this unit functioned well with Chromecast apps such as Google Play movie store – with Bower stating that unfortunately the remote didn’t function correctly with third-party apps.

Bower discussed his build and findings on his personal Google+ page, commenting on facets of development and Netflix compatibility:

“When I tested against Google Play and Plex content (the majority of my viewing) it worked great, but as I dug deeper into the implementation I realized that Plex only works because of a custom file describing the commands (Plex is nice like that). Netflix is another story entirely, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the clear that can be captured and they’ve got a habit of locking out third party controls.”

Image courtesy of BGR and ebower.

Revolutionary Chemical Iris Could Bring Smaller Cameras to Smartphones

A normal iris has physical blades which move in order to change the amount of light entering the lens. More light enters when wider and less when closing down. The same principle is applied to cameras found in some smartphones nowadays too. A new chemical iris however tends to change the way our cameras on smartphones work. It is said that the new iris drops the need for physical blades and in turn reduces the overall size of a camera module. The miniaturization of bladed cameras is really quite tricky, since the module still requires the need of a actuator to move the blades.

Researchers in Germany have apparently solved the problem of creating miniaturized cameras with the help of a new iris which uses transparent chemical rings, giving it the ability to become opaque when a voltage is applied to it. The iris is said to measure in at just 55 micrometers thick, granting smartphones the ability to house much smaller and thinner camera modules. The design is said to feature two glass substrates pressed together with an iridium tin oxide layer on each side. A thin layer of electrochromic polymer is also said to be present on both glass substrates, formed into rings that create the chemical iris.

It is said that the iris needs only 1.5V to turn opaque, an ideally low voltage for smartphones and other mobile devices. A research paper states that a 1,200 mAh battery grants enough power to maintain the iris-state for about 60,000 hours. Having the aperture a perfect circle rather than shaped by overlapping blades will also give a more pleasing effect on the shallow depth of field effect and deliver smoother bokeh.

The new iris is said to still be in its early stages, but the researchers stated to help develop it even further since the new technology could deliver more flexibility and also bring the full manual controls seen on professional camera to mobile photography.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet

Prototype MIT Project ‘Sensory Fiction’ Lets You Feel a Book’s Emotion

The movie theaters have seen all effects get enhanced, from audio and video, to 3D and special effects, but the plain old book has only seen its years weigh heavy on their pages as they get passed on from one hand to another. But researchers from MIT’s Media Lab have found a way to develop a new experience for the reader of printed words, having a project named “Sensory Fiction” in the works.

The concept involves wearing a vest covered in sensors and actuators that uses vibration to simulate shivering or an increased heart rate, local heating to change your skin temperature and pressure from airbags to convey tightness and loosening. This vest is paired with a book, which also has LEDs to create ambient lighting which will show specific lights and colors altogether with each page and feeling it is supposed to express.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/84412874[/vimeo]

No ordinary book, this version of the award-winning sci-fi novel ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged In’ can sense what page you’re currently reading, and feed that information to a control unit mounted on the back of the vest to create vibration, pressure, or heat in sync with story beats. It is said that just by reading ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged’ should be enough to provoke an emotional response from most, but the researchers hope the vest-and-book combo can enhance a reader’s experience through external stimuli.

As Sensory Fiction is only in prototype stages, there’s no telling if the team has achieved its lofty goal yet, however the concept at least poses some interesting questions as to the future of immersive storytelling.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of The Verge

Chip Which Mimics Human Brains Revealed

According to Fudzilla, there is some news that a chip which works like a human brain has been developed. According to the French Tribune, the chip will appear in the shops in 2014. Scientists say that this chip will enable the computers to mimic human brains and with the help of this novel device computers will also be able to learn from their own mistakes.

It is confessed by the researchers that this newly designed chip will be able to connect with wires and will also mimic biological synapses. In this completely new as well as digital age, these new brain-like computers will most probably have the ability to beat as well as tolerate errors. These chips will also potentially make the term “computer crash obsolete,” the tribune said. These chips have been designed by the scientists in order to function identical to the biological nervous system of the human beings.

Larry Smarr, one of many research centres devoted to developing these new kinds of computer circuits, said, “We’re moving from engineering computing systems to something that has many of the characteristics of biological computing”. Curiously no one has said where this chip is being made, what is being called or when it will be in the shops. We guess the French press was as short staffed as we were over Christmas.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Over 1,600 Devs, 120 Speakers, 7 Keynotes At This Years Develop Conference

On Tuesday 9 July, over 1,600 developers are set to descend on Brighton as the industry comes together for the eighth annual Develop Conference. The three day conference will host over 90 sessions covering the whole spectrum of games development. 120 speakers will debate the biggest issues and trends in the industry, from Neil Brown’s session on PlayStation 4, to developments in touch-screen technology, discussions about Kickstarter and funding, global markets and even a session on cyber-psychology.

Lee Schuneman, studio head at Microsoft Lift London, will open the Evolve Conference on Tuesday before Mark Cerny, president of Cerny Games, will give the Develop Conference opening keynote entitled Changing the Game: Developing into the Next Generation. In total, there are nine tracks and seven keynotes over the three days.

Outside the conference, Develop will be hosting its biggest expo yet. Attendees can meet some of the biggest names in the industry including Dolby, Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment, Unity, Unreal Engine and Valve, as well as discovering some of the newest talent in the Develop Conference Indie Showcase.

Centrally located within the expo, the Indie Showcase highlights ten unpublished, independently-developed games selected by a judging panel of industry experts. Delegates have the chance to get hands on with the games and vote for their favourite through the People’s Choice vote.

Full information on the conference sessions and speakers together with who is exhibiting at the expo can all be found on the new mobile event app, sponsored by Microsoft, which can be downloaded from www.developconference.com.

The Develop Conference isn’t just about the content, but the people you meet in and around the conference. For example, the all-new and improved Networking Bar and Lounge, sponsored by Unreal Engine, is based just next to the expo, while around town there’s the Guardian Pub Quiz on Monday and the Ice Breaker Welcome Drinks and GamesAid Charity Poker tournament on Tuesday, the Develop Expo Booth Crawl on Wednesday, and the conference winds down on Thursday with the Close of Conference Beers sponsored by Dolby.

“With only a week to go, we’re delighted with both the quantity and high quality of content we are offering our delegates,” commented Andy Lane, managing director of Tandem Events. “We’re lucky to have some fantastic keynotes and great sessions, which will offer invaluable information for every type of developer – from the smallest indies to established studios. I’m really looking forward to welcoming everyone down to Brighton next week.”

Develop in Brighton Conference, 9-11 July 2013 – www.developconference.com

Image courtesy of Develop.

The Develop Conference (Brighton) Announces 10 Games Shortlisted For Indie Showcase

Running on 10-11 July within the Develop Expo, the Indie Showcase which is sponsored by Unity, highlights unpublished, independently-developed games selected by a judging panel of industry experts. The process has taken into consideration graphics, gameplay, tech achievement and originality of each game with the panel also choosing the overall Indie Showcase winner, to be announced on Thursday 11 July.

Delegates to the conference can play all ten games in the Indie Showcase area and vote for their favourite Showcase game in the People’s Choice Award. To complement these two awards, an Editor’s Choice award will be given out for the second year running.

“The quality of the entries into the Indie Showcase this year has been nothing short of astounding,” commented chairman of the Indie Showcase judging panel, Adam Green. “The ten shortlisted titles represent the best of what was already an exceptional bunch of games submitted.”

“It was fantastic to see the new, imaginative things the indie community are working on, with everything from highly emotionally impactful narrative titles, new takes on old genres and much more. I have no doubt the Develop Conference and Expo delegates are going to have a lot of fun checking out these top-10 as there are some truly awe inspiring titles among them!”

“For the third year in a row, the response to the Indie Showcase has been incredible and it is a real testament to the creativity of indie developers.” commented Andy Lane, managing director of Tandem Events. “We had a record number of submissions so thanks to everyone who submitted a game – you made it a tough job for the judges to whittle the list down to these ten.”

“We’re delighted to have Unity on board as sponsors for another year, and everyone involved is excited to see the industry reaction when they have a chance to play them at Develop in a few weeks.”

The shortlisted games for the Indie Dev Showcase 2013 sponsored by Unity are:

Ibb and Obb by Sparpweed – a PS3 game designed around cooperative play where two players find themselves in a world split in two.

Catch-22 by Mango Down – a relaxing and frustrating one-button arcade game for iPad in which the goal is to reach a high score by picking up orbs without crashing into yourself.

Drop that Candy by Greenfly Studios – Puzzle based iOS title where sweets are trapped behind a vending machine which need to be freed in the least number of moves.

Icycle: On Thin Ice by Damp Gnat – Dennis, the sole surviving naked cyclist is back for more love lorn trauma in this web based sequel to the 2009 apocalyptic platform puzzler.

Momonga Pinball Adventures by Paladin Studios – Playing as a cute Japanese dwarf flying squirrel, this iOS title allows players to roll like a ball, float through the skies, complete challenges and battle enemies.

Tengami by Nyamyam – an atmospheric iOS adventure game set in a Japanese pop-up book. Lone wanderer players explore a beautiful pop-up book world and manipulate it to solve puzzles and make progress.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter by Seaven Studio – A PC puzzle-platformer adventure where after an unknown events, Ethan gets touched by meteorites giving him the power to pause time.

Gunpoint by Suspicious Development – Gunpoint is a PC stealth puzzle game that lets you rewire its levels to trick people. Play as a freelance spy, breaking into high security buildings with a device called the Crosslink.

Epic Eric by 232 Sudios – a single button iOS physics-based action puzzler, flinging the knight from cog to cog in his never-ending quest to save the princess from her uncanny ability to get stuck at the top of locked towers.

That Dragon, Cancer by Josh Larson – That Dragon, Cancer is a web based point-and-click adventure game that acts as a living painting; a poem; an interactive retelling of Ryan and Amy Green’s experience raising their son Joel, a 4-year-old currently fighting his third year of terminal cancer.

Thankyou Develop for providing us with this information.