Tech Universe: Thursday 7 March

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

LONDON AT LARGE: A new picture of London has appeared: it's a 320 gigapixel panorama compiled from 48,640 individual images shot over a period of 3 days and processed over a period of 3 months. If printed at normal resolution, the photo would be 98 metres long and 23 metres high — almost as big as Buckingham Palace. It beats Street View, that's for sure.

SURGERY GAMES: During keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery doctors insert tiny video cameras and instruments into your body so they can operate without having to make a large incision. That requires quite some deftness, and the ability to work while watching a screen. Surgeons have to be able to translate a 2D image on a screen into 3D movements. One study in Italy had surgeons play Wii games for 5 hours per week. In later tests on a laparoscopy simulator the surgeons who played the games outperformed a control group who didn't. The researchers say these results suggest that motion-sensing gaming consoles could supplement surgical training at a very low cost.

Next time you're in for an op check whether the surgeon is a video gamer.

A LEG UP: In Japan elderly or disabled people may be better able to move around thanks to the Hybrid Assistive Limb now certified for use there. The power-assisted pair of legs is a nursing-care robot that detects muscle impulses to anticipate and support the wearer's body movements. The exoskeleton is made from metal and plastic and is already being used in some 150 hospitals and other facilities. Those are two good legs to stand on.

COOLING FIELDS: Heat is a major limiting factor with computer chips, but researchers at the Carnegie Institution found a new efficient way to pump heat using crystals even on the nanoscale. They started with ferroelectric crystals that are electrically polarised in the absence of an electric field. When they applied an electric field they caused a giant temperature change in the material, pumping heat away. Mind you, in a computer that heats still needs to go to somewhere — laps may stay warm for a long time yet.

GOGGLE SPOT: The Brilliantservice headset from Japan gives you augmented reality through a set of goggles. The goggles cover both eyes with 720p see-through displays and use the Viking OS to provide face recognition, painting and the ability to open apps. A camera over the nose makes it possible to recognise gestures. The prototype is still only in its early stages and is not intended to come to market. Instead the company's looking for headset manufacturers who want to use their OS. Next up: augmented reality OS wars?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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