We caught a glimpse of this Japanese flying sphere a while ago but now Japan's Ministry of Defence have given it an official outing. The sphere weighs 350 grams and is 42 cm in diameter. It can hover, fly against walls, land and roll, and achieve speeds up to 60 Kph. Made from commercially available parts, it costs around US$1400.
A larger version could spark some serious UFO sightings. ScienceNews Blog. Video here
WALKIES: BlueBiped, the Passive Walking Robot has no motors, no sensors, no power source, yet in a test last year it was able to walk around 15 Km in 13 hours. The robot is a set of aluminium legs with the same weight and proportions as human legs. Created by Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan the legs are given a slight push and they can walk with a human gait, using their own weight, down a slight slope. Like humans, the robot walks by falling forwards. Well, that's walking taken care of. ExtremeTech.
SHOE TRACKS: Folks in the US will soon be able to buy shoes that include an embedded GPS device. They're intended for people with Alzheimer's so their carers can track them easily if they wander off.
It's not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer's to go for a walk, become confused and get lost, sometimes with fatal results. Software will allow alerts if the shoes go past an arbitrary perimeter. People with Alzheimer's may remove bracelets or other tracking devices as they may be suspicious of them. Given that we often see news reports about people with Alzheimer's who are missing, let's hope shoes like this really do save lives. The Boston Globe.
GLOVES ON: Touchscreens are all good, until it's cold. In cold temperatures the tech itself may not respond well and generally won't work if the user's wearing gloves. A new capacitive touch panel from SMK Corp takes care of both problems. It's intended for use in car navigation systems and can handle temperatures from -30 to +85°C. It's designed to be highly sensitive — enough to detect a touch through a glove. If your car's that cold or that hot you'll have much bigger problems than operating the nav system. Tech-On!
THE 60 PER CENT: By 2015 the United Nations are hoping that 60 per cent of everyone in the developed world and 50 per cent of people in developing nations will be using affordable broadband. Their research has shown that currently 20 per cent of the world's population are internet users.