SNAP THEN FOCUS:

The Lytro camera has been launched, to go on sale in 2012. It's a short square tube with a fixed f/2 lens at one end and a touchscreen at the other. It has only 2 buttons: power and shutter. The camera includes an 8x optical zoom, and captures 11 million light rays of data. The Lytro is a light-field camera whose images you process on your computer to choose which point will be in focus. The light field sensor collects the colour, intensity, and direction of every light ray flowing into the camera, capturing a scene in 4 dimensions. You can also refocus pictures directly on the camera. The 8GB model stores 350 pictures. When can we get this in our smartphones?  Gizmodo has

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GLASSES IN THE ZONE: A new Heads Up Display called Sportiiiis from Canadian company 4iiii Innovations is designed for athletes. It attaches to your existing sunglasses and receives data wirelessly from devices such as a heart rate or cadence monitor. After processing the data it indicates to wearers via red, yellow and green LED lights and audio updates whether they're within a pre-configured optimum workout zone. That sounds non-intrusive so you can keep your eyes on the road. More at Gizmag and video Gizmag.

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OPEN SCOPE: The GLObal Robotic telescopes Intelligent Array, or GLORIA, is a free and open-access network of robotic telescopes. Anyone who has an Internet connection and a web browser will be able to access GLORIA and do research in astronomy by observing with robotic telescopes. The project will last 3 years and integrate 17 telescopes, with one apparently in New Zealand. It's not clear when the project will start operation. More details here.

HYBRID ROBOTS: The S2 robot from Meka Robotics resembles an Anime character with expressive puppy ears. The robot's eyes contain cameras and can move almost as quickly as human eyes. The movements are smooth, as befits a robot that may be used for human assistance. But with dogs ears. Science News Blog has more and there's video here.

BLINKING CHAIR: Some people who use wheelchairs can't use their arms to push the wheels, their hands to control a joystick, or even turn their head to operate a controller. Most can still use their facial muscles though. A Japanese research team is developing a controller that responds to winking the eyes hard enough to make the cheeks move, and clenching the teeth. A wink changes direction, while clenching the teeth stops or starts the chair. The team think they could incorporate the controls into a pair of glasses or goggles for commercial use. If they're going to use goggles, why not just detect eye movement and blinks? DigInfo News has details here and there's video here.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz