Monthly Archives: August 2013

Transparent gel speaker plays music through the magic of ionic conduction (video)

Transparent gel speaker plays music through the magic of ionic conduction video

It may be hard to believe, but that transparent disk in the photo above is actually a fully functioning speaker. A team of researchers at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have pioneered a never before seen application of ionic conductivity by creating a see-through artificial muscle that can produce sounds spanning the entire audible spectrum. While ionic conduction isn’t a novel idea, it’s been considered impractical due to the fact that ionic materials react poorly to high voltage. The team, which included postdoctoral research fellows Jeong-Yun Sun and Christoph Keplinger (pictured above), circumvented that obstacle by placing a layer of rubber between two sheets of transparent conductive gel, allowing the system to work with both high voltage and high actuation, two qualities necessary for sound reproduction. Theoretically, soft machine technology such as this can be used to do much more than play Grieg’s Peer Gynt, particularly in the fields of robotics, mobile computing and adaptive optics. To watch it in action, check out the video after the break.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Science, Harvard

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Google quietly acquired smartwatch maker WIMM Labs

Google quietly acquired smartwatch maker WIMM Labs

Ok, so here’s the deal: WIMM Labs was one of the earliest entrants into the smartwatch space, way back in 2011. While the Android-based WIMM One failed to set the consumer market on fire, it apparently caught Google’s eye. In the summer of 2012, the company put a simple message up on its site declaring that it had entered an exclusive partnership with an unnamed entity for its technology and would thus be ending sales of its devices. Now it appears that partner was Google — a Mountain View spokesperson just confirmed the acquisition to us.

The company’s immediate plans for WIMM are not yet public but, according to GigaOM, most of the staff stayed on board and are now working with the Android team. The obvious use would be in developing Google’s own rumored smartwatch product, which would likely incorporate many of WIMM Lab’s SDKs and existing platform tools. However, it’s worth noting that the company doesn’t consider itself merely a maker of app-running timepieces, but a manufacturer of wearables in general. We wouldn’t be shocked if some of WIMM’s tech and experience was put to good use in Glass.

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Engadget Podcast 358 – 08.30.13

Engadget Podcast 343 - 05.10.13

Ballmer’s set to retire from Microsoft within 12 months, so naturally Brian, Peter and Terrence spent half the episode placing bets on a successor. Aside from that, the trio took some time to discuss our new Peripheral Vision series, Nintendo’s 2DS, the latest e-readers from Kobo and the OLPC XO kid’s tablet.

Hosts: Brian Heater, Terrence O’Brien, Peter Rojas

Producer: Joe Pollicino

Hear the podcast:

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Oregon Scientific's Meep! X2 kid's tablet gets gutted at the FCC

Oregon Scientific's Meep! X2 kid's tablet gets gutted at the FCC

Since it’s been nearly a year since Oregon Scientific’s MEEP! kiddy tablet arrived on the scene, it makes sense that we’re due for a refresh. We did see a listing for the MEEP! X2 pop up earlier this month, but the device’s arrival at the FCC is the first concrete sign that the slate will arrive stateside. The documents reveal that the unit packs a microSD slot, HDMI-out, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, while French site Maginea claims that it will feature a 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex A9 CPU, a 7-inch 800 x 480 display, 1 GB RAM and 4GB of built-in storage. Naturally, we can’t confirm the legitimacy of those last specs, so enjoy this gallery of teardown images instead. %Gallery-slideshow76557%

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Source: FCC

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Can you out-old-school these Expand Throwbackers?

Can you outoldschool these Expand Throwbackers

We’ve already received a slew of exciting entries in the #ExpandThrowback contest we launched around a week ago. Turns out we’re not the only ones who hoard old technology to embrace memories of a life before local TV could be streamed over a WiFi connection. For those not up to speed, here’s the deal: Our Expand NY event is coming this November 9th and 10th, and we’re on the lookout for the coolest vintage tech. Help us find it, and you could end up with a trip to Expand NY on us, or a gift card to help finally update that old technology.

Read on to find out how to win a trip to Expand NY…

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 reportedly landing on Three UK September 16th, Sony Xperia Z1 coming September 24th

Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z1 reportedly landing on Three UK

The two most anticipated smartphones of next week’s IFA show, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z1, haven’t been officially announced, but neither manufacturer has made any secret of their existence. So, we aren’t at all surprised to see that the two devices are starting to become common knowledge amongst the employees at various carriers. An anonymous tipster who claims to work for Three UK has sent us images of an internal doc which shows when the carrier will begin selling the pair of devices, with the Note 3 arriving on the 16th of September and the Z1 following on the 24th. Even if this is accurate, we still can’t be sure Three will be the first to launch them — nor can we account for any potential delays — but it’s at least a solid indicator that the phones will arrive sooner rather than later. We don’t have much longer to wait before we find out, but it’s something to chew on over the weekend.

[Thanks, Anonymous]

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This is the Modem World: The brain modem is here

DNP This is the Modem World The brain modem is here

Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

Consider this headline: “Researcher controls colleague’s motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface.”

This. Happened.

University of Washington nerds put an electrode-speckled cap on Rajesh Rao and attached it to a computer that was connected to the internet. They then put Andrea Stocco in another room on the other side of the University of Washington campus, plopped another electrode cap on him and connected that to a computer.

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Let the god games begin: 22cans' Godus beta available on Steam Early Access September 13th

Let the god games begin 22cans' Godus beta available on Steam Early Access September 13th

A collective effort pulled back Curiosity’s curtain early this summer, and now it’s nearly time to play god. On September 13th, 22cans and Peter Molyneux will make the beta release of Godus, the studio’s latest “experiment” in god gaming, available via Steam Early Access for PC and Mac. The early release will cost eager overlords $19.99 and allow them to “sculpt every inch of a beautiful world,” and, of course, destroy those worlds in multiplayer battles with other virtual gods. The Kickstarter-backed nod to Molyneux’s Populous reached its funding goal in December of last year with the promise of PC, Mac and mobile compatibility and continued his focus on the video game as social experiment. Final release details are still under wraps but you can see an updated trailer after the break.

And for more Molyneux, check out our interview from E3 2013.%Gallery-slideshow77099%

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Source: 22cans, Steam

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Editor's Letter: Color commentary

DNP Editor's Letter Color commentary

In each issue of Distro, Executive Editor Marc Perton publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

There’s a very good chance you’re reading this on a tablet. Distro is, after all, first and foremost, a tablet magazine. There’s also a reasonable chance you’re reading this on a computer. Distro works on Windows 8; we have a platform-neutral PDF version; and most of what we publish in Distro also appears on Engadget. There is, however, almost no chance that you’re reading this on a color e-book reader (no, not a color tablet; an e-paper reader). And that’s too bad.

In this week’s Distro, Sean Buckley tells the story of color e-paper, a once-promising technology that simply couldn’t make it in a tablet-centric world. Despite years of development work and the tantalizing promise of high-resolution, daylight-readable, low-power displays, color e-paper was rendered an also-ran once the iPad began gaining popularity and low-cost Android tablets followed suit. Major e-reader makers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, all released their own color tablets — at prices below their $300-plus color e-ink competitors. That strategy wasn’t without its fallout; B&N eventually got out of the tablet market, and Kobo continues to struggle …read more