Tech Universe: Friday 23 March

By Jo Burzynska, Miraz Jordan

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Pinot noir from Central Otago is considered hot stuff in the world of wine. Photo / Thinkstock
Pinot noir from Central Otago is considered hot stuff in the world of wine. Photo / Thinkstock

MILK MACHINE: There are some cities in the UK, France and northern Spain where you'll find an unusual vending machine that moos at you. The vending machines accept your Euro coin and dispense farm fresh milk into a container you supply. Sounds healthier than a fizzy drink dispenser. CubeMe details. Check out the video.

STAND ALONE: An alternative to a wheelchair for a paraplegic is the TEK Robotic Mobilization Device from Turkey. The wheeled device allows the user to stand, sit and bend over while holding them securely with supporting belts. The electric device means the user is mobile, and in fact it fits in smaller spaces than a wheelchair. The user easily enters the device while it's in front of them, and they can move it from a parking place to where they need it with a remote. All it needs now is a better name. TEK Robotic Mobilization Device has more.

Check out the video here.

MAPPING BODIES: The Bodymetrics Pod is designed for clothing shoppers. A shopper steps into a cubicle where 8 Kinect for Windows sensors arranged in a circle scan their body. 5 seconds later, proprietary software produces a 3D map of the customer's body. The customer can then use that 3D map to shop for jeans and find the pair that fits best. Bodymetrics has plans to help people use the system at home to map their bodies then shop online for clothing, trying on garments virtually. And with any luck aggregated data could lead manufacturers to improve the fit of their designs. Microsoft explains.

PHOTO DIFFS: How can you determine that two photos are the same, when one has been resized or otherwise altered? This is a huge problem for law enforcement and other agencies trying to eliminate images of child sexual exploitation from the Internet. Microsoft's PhotoDNA technology has at least part of the answer. The technology calculates the particular characteristics of a given digital image, creating a hash value which is like a digital fingerprint. Where this system differs from others is that it can still match images, even after they've been altered. The system can also quickly and reliably find similar images from amongst billions of images. This goal's good but the technology has some scary implications. For more visit Microsoft. Video can be found here.

TALKING THROUGH STONE: Researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University used nearly massless neutrino particles recently to send a message, literally. The neutrinos passed at almost the speed of light through 240 metres of stone to spell out a word at the other end. Neutrinos can penetrate almost anything they encounter, so this could open up communications channels in places where it's nearly impossible now. One example is for submarines trying to communicate over long distances through water. Another may be for communicating with astronauts on the far side of the moon. Don't get your hopes up for a neutrino based smartphone though. This test was carried out at Fermilab because it takes massive amounts of high-tech equipment to communicate a message using neutrinos. The stumbling block is always the infrastructure. Visit Rochester University for more info.

Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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