Tech Universe: Friday 16 March

By Miraz Jordan

Microsoft Research's Wearable Multitouch Projector. Photo / Supplied
Microsoft Research's Wearable Multitouch Projector. Photo / Supplied

TOUCH PAPER: Microsoft's Wearable Multitouch Projector is still an experiment in turning any surface at all into a touch screen. It mounts a depth sensing camera and pico projector on a person's shoulder then projects an image on a surface such as a wall or a pad of paper. The wearer can then interact with the projected image as if it were any touch screen. The rig's rather big and clumsy for now, but the researchers believe it could be miniaturised. Once you can wear this like a pendant or brooch it could really catch on. There's more at Microsoft Research and video here.

SAILOR BOT: Fire on board a ship is a very bad thing, and can be hard to fight because of narrow passageways and ladders. That's why the US Naval Research Laboratory is developing a humanoid Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot. The robot includes includes a camera, gas sensor, and stereo IR camera to allow it to see through smoke. It will be able to handle fire suppressors and throw propelled extinguishing agent technology grenades.

It will also be able to walk, balance and traverse obstacles. The battery though will only last for 30 minutes of firefighting. Which all sounds extremely demanding. More at the Naval Research Laboratory.

DESPERATE MEASURES: Kiribati is home to 103,000 people, but their homes on the nation's 33 coral atolls are threatened by rising sea levels. The highest point in the country is only 2 metres above sea level. That's why they're considering creating a new home — on an artificial island. The floating island is similar to an offshore oil platform and costs $2 billion. GMA News.

FLAT BATTERY: NEC's Organic Radical Battery is only 0.3mm thick.
That's thin enough to use in flexible ereaders or even credit cards. The battery is flexible, quick to charge and has a high power output. The ORBs are capable of 2,000 display screen updates, 360 consecutive flash firings and 35 location transmissions on a single charge. The battery is manufactured in a way that integrates circuit boards with batteries. Battery powered credit card huh? More details here.

3D SPEED: Two-photon-lithography is high-precision 3D printing at a nanometer scale. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have found a way to print tiny structures very quickly, using a special liquid resin, hardened at precisely the correct spots by a focused laser beam. Initiator molecules anywhere inside the resin are activated if they absorb two photons of the laser beam at once. Those molecules induce a chain reaction in other components of the resin, creating a solid, even if it's not on the surface. Precisely tuned movable mirrors do the trick by guiding the focal point of the laser beam, making the printing process thousands of times faster than previously. The scientists are now developing biocompatible resins for medical use. Lasers can be quite frightening actually. Vienna University of Technology and there's video here.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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