The fine folks at MakerBot have impressed us enough with their Mario-themed RC racers and self-replicating 3D printers, but now the collective is looking to save mother nature with Project Shellter. Turns out, there’s a housing shortage in the oceans. Harvesting of shells has left many hermit crabs with no option but to take up residence in bottle caps and other debris they can squeeze their soft bodies into. MakerBot’s Miles Lightwood, has decided to crowdsource designs for artificial shells that hermit crabs can live in. Right now Lightwood is testing different shapes, materials and colors, looking for the combination that the critters will find most attractive. The shells are not intended to be placed in the wild — putting plastic into the sea wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly. Instead, the artificial domiciles are meant for domestic use, reducing the number that must be harvested for pets. You can get updates on the project from its Facebook page (at the more coverage link) and submit your own designs to Thingiverse, just make sure to tag them “shellter.”
Project Shellter: crowdsourcing 3D-printed homes for hermit crabs originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 10:46:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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When they’re not busy carving handsets out of teak (or rockin’ out with their pupils), the folks over at NTT DoCoMo apparently focus their efforts on saving the environment. Next year, the Japanese provider will begin outfitting its expansive cellphone tower network with ten “green transmission stations,” to be powered by an artillery of biofuels, wind and solar energy. This kind of infrastructure would obviously bring a smile to the face of ol’ Mama Nature, but it could also help mitigate the adverse effects of power outages and elfin insurgents. And for that, we should all be grateful.
NTT DoCoMo to power cellphone towers with renewable energy, tenderness originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 11 Jul 2011 20:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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Sit back, relax and grab a cold one, because you’re about to take an aerial tour of the Serengeti, courtesy of that flying drone you’re staring at. Developed by Microdrones, this MD4-100 quadrotor was recently sent off to Kenya, where it gathered footage for a TV nature documentary produced by TBS Japan. By hovering over the terrain, the craft was able to get relatively up close and personal with zebras, elephants and other wildlife, without creating the same kind of disturbance that heavy duty, camera-laden trucks can wreak. Presumably, that’s because the animals have no idea what to make of a flying robot, though part of us wants to believe there’s some sort of full-circle, techno-evolutionary dynamic at work here, momentously bringing bot and beast together in some sort of pre-apocalyptic symbiosis. But that’s just us. Hover past the break to see the video for yourself.
Continue reading Microdrones’ flying robot films African wildlife, finds peace with nature
Microdrones’ flying robot films African wildlife, finds peace with nature originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 03 Jun 2011 08:39:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
We’ve seen some rather nightmare-inducing robots inspired by insects, but, once again, the folks at Germany’s Bielefeld University have managed to turn something inherently creepy into a rather lighthearted affair. HECTOR, or hexapod cognitive autonomously operating robot, was designed to help its creators understand how exactly real animals manage to move so gracefully. Physically speaking, HECTOR sports six legs, with 18 joints in total, that protrude from an exoskeleton made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Its legs are given a rather life-like range of motion provided by a special set of “elastic joint drives” and a series of “biologically inspired” algorithms, and its exoskeleton can carry a load weighing 30 kilograms — the robot itself weighs a mere 12 kilograms. What’s more, HECTOR’s built to learn from its experiences. Okay, so a three foot robotic insect that can carry nearly three times its weight does sound kind of creepy in retrospect, but HECTOR really does have some smooth moves. You can see for yourself in the video after the break.
Continue reading HECTOR insect-inspired hexapod walking robot is a smooth operator (video)
HECTOR insect-inspired hexapod walking robot is a smooth operator (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 19 Apr 2011 03:17:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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We’ve heard plenty of stories over the past few years about tagging animals with RFID chips, but we’ve never been particularly keen on the idea. Well, now a team of researchers has come up with a much less invasive way of tracking individual animals — specifically zebras — by essentially using their stripes as barcodes. StripeSpotter, as it’s known, takes an isolated portion of a photograph of a zebra and slices it into a series of horizontal bands. Each pixel in the selection is then fully converted into black or white, and the bands are in turn encoded into StripeStrings, which eventually make up a StripeCode that resembles a barcode. All this information is stored in a database that allows researchers to directly identify particular animals without ever having to get too close. StripeCode may be a zebra-centric application for now, but its developers see it making a mark across the food chain with the inclusion of other distinctly patterned beasts, like tigers and giraffes. Animal tracking hobbyists can get their own free copy of the application by clicking on the source link below.
StripeSpotter turns wild zebras into trackable barcodes originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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A professor at MIT claims to have Mother Nature beat at her own game. Dr. Daniel Nocera says his invention is ten times more efficient at photosynthesis than a real-life leaf, and could help to bring affordable alternative energy to developing countries. Described as an “advanced solar cell the size of a poker card,” the device is made of silicon, electronics, and inexpensive catalysts made of nickel and cobalt. When placed in a gallon of water under direct sunlight, the catalysts break the H2O down into hydrogen and oxygen gases, which are then stored in a fuel cell — the energy produced is apparently enough to power a single house for a day. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen scientists try to one-up nature, in fact, we’ve seen solar-powered leaves before, but this thing actually looks poised for the mass market — Nocera signed a deal with Tata in October. Full PR after the break.
Continue reading MIT professor touts first ‘practical’ artificial leaf, signs deal with Tata to show up real plants
MIT professor touts first ‘practical’ artificial leaf, signs deal with Tata to show up real plants originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 28 Mar 2011 15:54:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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Could the Magic Mouse be replaced by an even more “magical” input device? It might, if a just-published Apple patent application ever results in an actual product. Described simply as a “computer input device including a display device,” the application clearly details a mouse that would have both a touch-sensitive surface and a built-in display. That, the application suggestions, could open up a whole range of new input possibilities, including using the mouse as numeric keypad, a phone, a personal digital assistant, or a graphics pad, to name just a few. What’s more, the nature of the collimated glass used for the mouse would also apparently allow it to display a magnified image of anything underneath, and the images displayed would seemingly appear to be directly on the surface on the mouse, and not appear to be under the glass (we’re not talking about a regular capacitive touchscreen on a mouse here). Of course, all of this is still just a patent application, and Apple has a long, long string of those that have yet to result in anything — still, something about this one strikes us a bit more likely than, say, a head-mounted iPhone display.
Apple patent application details magical mouse with a built-in display originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 21 Jan 2011 17:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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This Wednesday we’ve got a collection of wallpapers that look out into the distance, admiring nature—whether it’s photographed or illustrated.
Getting a nice shot of the moon is a hard thing to do, but it’s definitely beautiful when you succeed. This is one excellent example and makes for a great wallpaper, too.
Submitted by Aditya G.
This point in Angeles National Forest has since burned in a fire, but it is forever preserved as your next wallpaper.
For those of you who prefer your nature to be more of the illustrated variety, David Lanham provides this seascape featuring a lucky piece of coral? Why is it lucky? I have no idea, but according to Lanham’s description it seems to be because you found it.
Fortunately this desktop calls itself twilight in the more literal sense and isn’t rampant with angsty teenage vampires. The calm lake provides a serene desktop for those of you who need to relax (particularly you angsty teenage vampires).
Great photos don’t always make for great desktops because they’re too detailed or complex. This cityscape by Andrea Ciambra sits entirely in the bokeh (the out of focus part of the photo) providing you with the beauty of the city sans the distraction.
Got any great wallpapers you’d like to see for a future Wallpaper Wednesday? Email me a link
with “Wallpaper Wednesday” in the subject line.
You can contact Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Send an email to Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Set Your Desktop to a Place Off in the Distance Wallpaper Wednesday
If you’re looking to get your motion-controlled gaming fix, there are plenty of ways to go — cameras, electromagnets and accelerometers, for starts — but most figure you’ll buy a single peripheral, a few plastic accessories, and call it a day. That’s not the Aiken way. North Carolina startup Aiken Labs wants to sell you a set of tiny boxes that you can stick on any body part or toy you own, each with a full inertial measurement package (three-axis accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope) inside. The boxes connect to a base station over 802.15.4 wireless that doubles as a USB recharging unit for the lot, and you can connect up to eight modules to track 24 degrees of freedom at a time. It’s not an elegant solution, to tell you the truth, particular given the hacked-together nature of the prototype devices we saw on the CES 2011 floor, but we love the idea of simply affixing a box to a helmet to get instant head-tracking support in our favorite PC titles. Investor Chris Aiken tells us a starter set will ship for about $300 with two sensors and the base station in the second quarter of this year — additional sensors should run $100 each — and you can see what it looks like in a video right after the break.
Continue reading Aiken Labs shows off modular motion-sensing game kit, we give it a swing (video)
Aiken Labs shows off modular motion-sensing game kit, we give it a swing (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 11 Jan 2011 08:22:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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, motion controller
, motion sensing
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Since everybody out there is trying to go green, we can understand that the use of paper is a sensitive subject to many, especially if you’ve got wasteful habits. Perhaps a concept printer such as this Eco Printer might be the solution that many folks are dreaming about. This printer is designed to use special ink that is composed of photographic materials that disappear when exposed to UV radiation. This means that unimportant documents can be easily printed and erased, offering you a blank sheet of paper to print on again, increasing the lifecycle of paper. Mother Nature would be proud.
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