Tech Universe: Monday 29 October

By Miraz Jordan

Oh the hassle of having to control a touchscreen using fingers. Photo / Thinkstock
Oh the hassle of having to control a touchscreen using fingers. Photo / Thinkstock

LOOK HERE: If tapping the screen of a tablet computer is too much for you try the EyeDock from The Eye Tribe. It adds an inexpensive webcam and infrared LED to the device. The software pinpoints which icon you're looking at on the screen then operates the software for you. That could open up some interesting educational uses. The Eye Tribe details. Video here.

COMING UP VEGES: Traditionally farms need a lot of space, covering hectares of land. In places like Singapore though land is in very short supply and most vegetables are imported. So how about if a farm could go up instead of out? Singapore's first commercial vertical farm grows vegetables in troughs on the sides of aluminium towers up to 9 metres tall. The 3.65 hectare farm produces 0.5 tonnes of vegetables from 120 towers, but the growers aim to ramp up to 2 tonnes from 300 towers in the next year. Imagine if the walls of every skyscraper included a farming layer.

Channel News Asia has more. Check out the video.

NOT AN MP3 PLAYER: Back in 1878 was the first time anyone ever recorded a human voice and played it back. The achievement belonged to Thomas Edison, using tinfoil. The physical recording was so fragile though that we haven't been able to listen to it since. So scientists carefully photographed the tinfoil to create a 3D image, then used software to reconstruct the groove and model what a stylus would do. Ultimately they were able to create the sound waves as though the physical recording were played back. Hear Thomas Edison reading a nursery rhyme. Science Space Robots explains. Here's the video.

SHINE A LIGHT ON CANCER: Delivering a chemotherapy drug directly to a cancer cell while also heating the cell is an effective way to deal with cancer. Targeting the correct cells without cutting open the person is tricky though. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital think they're on the right track with gold nanorods that can be controlled by near-infrared light. The self assembled nanorods hold a chemotherapy drug that works on cancer cells. When the nanorods reach their destination a light makes them release the drug and heat up nearby cells. The research work is in its early stages, but holds promise for future non-invasive cancer treatments. Presumably the cells aren't to deep inside the body if the light's to reach them. Brigham and Women's Hospital elaborates.

ROBOT BY WIRE: Researchers are pretty skilled these days at creating robots that can walk and balance. But mainly they achieve these feats of balance on solid ground. The Primer-V4 robot walks a tightrope — a 4mm diameter cable stretched 1 metre above the floor. The robot uses its arms for balance, while its solid flat feet have a slot for the tightrope. What next? Robots on the trapeze? Robots Dreams has further info. Video here.

Miraz Jordan,

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