Tech Universe: Friday 9 March

By Miraz Jordan

Nasa plans on launching five rockets in five minutes to study the high altitude jet stream. Photo / NASA
Nasa plans on launching five rockets in five minutes to study the high altitude jet stream. Photo / NASA

WHEN ROBOTS RUN: The Cheetah robot from DARPA has four legs and resembles a headless dog. It recently set a new speed record for legged robot running when it achieved around 30 km/h on a treadmill. The previous record of around 20 km/h was set in 1989. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year. In other news: they had legged running robots in 1989. Details at Darpa and video here.

TINY SCAFFOLDING: Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new interface for prosthetics that could allow nerves to be connected directly to artificial limbs. They start with electrodes on polymers and then add a special scaffold of thin evaporated metal or patterned multiwalled carbon nanotubes. That forms a neural interface that nerves can grow through. The challenge now is to make everything small enough. growing nerves is surely quite a trick in itself. Sandia National Laboratories has more details.

HIGH STREAMERS: This month NASA will launch five rockets from the east coast of the USA in approximately five minutes to study the high-altitude jet stream. The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment will release a chemical tracer at around 100 km/h above the Earth so scientists can see how the upper jet stream behaves. Two of the rockets will also measure the pressure and temperature in the atmosphere at the height of the high-speed winds. So that's five by five then. There's more at NASA's site.

EYE TRACKS: Tobii's IS-2S eye tracker is smaller, cheaper and draws less power than its predecessor. The eye tracker can be embedded in other products such as computer monitors and arcade games, or perhaps medical devices or lie detectors. I want my iPad to see when I'm ready to turn the page or scroll.
Engadget has more, and there's video
here.

APP WHISTLE: Sonic Notify triggers your smartphone to display a message or map, call up a web page or do something else when your phone receives a high pitched signal. The signal is inaudible to the human ear and can be broadcast from speakers or perhaps be embedded in a video. If your phone is within range it receives the signal and responds. Aimed at advertisers, this seems like a major incentive to turn your phone off while shopping. More details here.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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