Showing posts with label Sensors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sensors. Show all posts

April 2, 2019

On Taste And Smell

Just wanted to share this saying (translated from Hebrew) that I like:
On taste and smell, there is no argument.

What tastes or smells good or bad to one person versus another is not up for debate. 

Each person has their own taste buds and odor senses.

Some people may be more or less sensitive to different tastes and smells. 

So there is no arguing there.

You either like or you don't like. 

That's your prerogative!

Don't make a big stink about it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2018

Radio-Activity

So earlier in the week, I had a great opportunity to visit the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). 

It was fascinating to see the reactor, control room, and all the cool experiments--not things you see every day, right? 

For safety, we had to wear devices that measured radioactivity and also go through machines that checked us afterward. 

When one person in our group went through the scanner, it went off with a red alert, and the poor individual obviously got really scared--like OMG is there some contamination on me or something.

But they went through again and it turned out it was just a false positive, thank G-d. 

I guess these really can be dangerous substances to work around, but still so marvelous how the scientists harness these neutron beams and direct them to all sort of fascinating scientific experiments. 

Being around all this science makes me think whether if I could do it all again--wondering aloud--whether I would pursue an education in one of these amazing scientific disciplines and work in the lab like a "mad scientist"--exploring and discovering new things and figuring out the mysteries of the universe and how the world really works. 

What a fun, fun field to work in!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Art by 4th grader, Phillip Kenney)
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May 31, 2018

Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.

I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.

One of them does work in contraband detection.

The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.

I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.

I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.

He says, "A cage will fall from the ceiling" and I'll be in big trouble.

Uh, we all laugh a little.

He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.

Oh sh*t, it comes up in the "red"--positive for cocaine.

Someone else says jokingly, "A little leftover from the weekend?"

I joke back, "Na, It's from this morning before work!"

Ha, ha, I think. 

It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine

I'm wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.

The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.

Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 

It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are--they are so unique and of the best in the world.

I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it's contraband on money. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 21, 2017

Navy Under Attack?

So there was another collision of a U.S. Navy Destroyer.

The Navy destroyer collided early today with an oil tanker off of Singapore. 

10 sailors are missing and there is significant hull damage. 

This is the 4th known accident just this year of our Navy vessels in Asia waters.

And previously I wrote incredulously about the last Navy collision with a massive container ship in June that resulted in 7 dead. 

How do U.S. Navy ships with the most advanced sensors, navigation, weapons, and command and controls systems in the world--that are supposed to be protecting us--just simply collide with other ships like toys in a bathtub?

These Navy ships are a vital projection of U.S. might, and are supposed to be able to keep the worst foes away and keep our dedicated men and women warfighters safe at sea--whether from bomb-laden terrorist attack speed boats to anti-access/area denial missiles and all threats from on, above, or below. 

Yet, they just keep crashing...

There was supposedly some buzz online about a stealthy new cyber weapon that is attacking our ships and making them useless and helpless pieces of (G-d forbid) floating junk at sea or perhaps enabling them to be hacked and electronically commandeered and controlled in order to crash them.

Either way, how many collisions does it take for this to become a concerning problem with our Navy's ability to manage the ships under their command and be ever war-ready. 

Our ships are a major element of our national strength and security, and loss of control implies a potentially great risk to our nation. 

We need our Navy and their tremendous people, assets, and expertise to safeguard our people, freedom, and democracy.

A few months ago, there was a hackathon to test the Navy's systems' security--and most certainly, this is a crucial type of test that we potentially face every day in real life.

These are challenging times for everything cybersecurity, so let's make sure we have all the capabilities we need and are fully up to the task to defend ourselves and take out our enemies--it's not just our Navy in the spotlight and at risk. ;-) 

(Source Photo: With attribution to CNN and adapted from here)
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July 31, 2017

Gorgeous Border Wall

Hey, I'm not for erecting walls when there is no need for them.

Who instead doesn't love to build bridges--full of peace and brotherhood, definitely. 

But after 9/11 and the ongoing, endless wave of global terrorism and serious threats that we are confronting (including from WMD), let's face it...we need secure borders.

This is called common sense security, and it's been highly regarded and employed throughout history and all around the world. 

That doesn't mean that good people don't come in...only that we have a thoughtful and effective way to work to filter the bad people out. 

Anyway, it seems that the bake-off of border wall prototypes has yielded this brilliant design.

If it's truly rugged and includes intelligent border security mechanisms such as sensors, surveillance cameras, biometrics, and so on, then this could be an awesome looking and functional option.

Time to stop the bickering and time to start moving forward with security. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to True Pundit) 
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August 17, 2016

Robots, They Are Coming

I was so excited by this photo in the Wall Street Journal today.

YuMi, an industrial robot by ABB, is adroitly writing Chinese calligraphy. 

If you look at the photo and think for a moment, the notion of the robot doing and the person watching is truly prophetic of how we are evolving technologically and as a species. 

Yumi is made by ABB, a leading robotics company headquartered in Switzerland, that on one hand has over 300,000 robots installed worldwide, but on the other hand needs only 4,600 employees in 53 countries to produce all these fantastic and productive droids.  

This robot is a work of not just incredible science and engineering, but of art and beauty. 

It's sleek black and white build with two incredibly agile arms and hands plus a viewing camera, enables it to do small parts assembly or even fine calligraphic work. 

YuMi stands for "You and Me" working together, collaboratively. 

While we surely will work together, the flip side is that with robotics, some people (who don't make the transition to STEM) may not be working much at all. 

But of course, the positive side is that we are looking at an incredible capacity to do more and better with less! 

Leaving the innovation to humans, and the assembly and service to the bots, the bar will be raised on everything--both good and bad.

We will build greater things, travel and explore further, and discover ever new depths of understanding and opportunities to exploit.

But we will also edge people out of work and comfort zones, and be able to engage in new forms of conflict and war that only the power and skill of (semi-) autonomous machines could inflict. 

The robots are here, however, they are coming in much greater numbers, capabilities, and impact then we can currently fully comprehend. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via WSJ)
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May 20, 2016

What Beauties

What beauties these purple flowers are?

Tall on the thin green stem. 

And then ballooning and budding out into these futuristic spherical lattice-shaped flowers. 

Almost like soft clouds that we can reach out and touch (and touch too hard, and the flowers just fall off into the breeze).

But think again with technical imagery and these can be an advanced interconnected living neural network that with "big data" can solve all our information and artificial intelligence needs. 

Each flower computing, sensing, processing, analyzing, and problem-solving. 

A swarm of living and dying nodes and sprouting forth again with a natural processing function. 

A gorgeous flower, but you can imagine it as so much more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 12, 2016

Oculus Rift Has My Attention

This picture is an older version of Oculus Rift--larger, heavier, more clunky than the streamlined version coming out this April for $599.

Zuckerberg's Facebook announced the purchase of Oculus virtual reality (VR) in March 2014.

I can't think of another piece of consumer technology that I want to try out more than this. 

Initially for immersive 3-D experiences in all sorts of entertainment, including gaming, movies, television, and more. 

But soon to follow are use cases for virtual meetings, classrooms, doctor's appointments, and anything requiring our interaction and communication. 

Hush-hush is the more intimate use for things like virtual sex. 

Also, there are opportunities for augmented reality where physical reality is supplemented with computer sensory input making your real-experience that much richer and informed.

With the Oculus Rift, I imagine myself immersed on a safari in Africa, flying into the reaches of space, relaxing at the most beautiful beaches, praying at the Western Wall, fighting my way through first person shooter and action adventures, and reliving biblical and other major historical events.

I don't see VR for myself as an escape from reality, so much as being able to experience many more of life's realities and possibilities out there. 

My only fear is that as VR gets better and better, it becomes easier and easier to fall away from our challenges in the real world, and just live inside a mask with a controlled environment where our virtual choices and experiences seem all too convenient and real. ;-) 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Weston High School Library)
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December 30, 2014

Security, In the Blink Of An Eye


Very short, but cool video of this spooky kinetic art that I took today.

It is by artist, Tim Tate and it's called The Guardian.

We talked about putting this right in front of the door when you walk into the house.

Keeping an eye on things:

1) G-d
2) Spirits of our ancestors
3) Guards
4) Smith and Wesson 
5) Dogs very hungry
6) Gates, doors, and other barriers
7) Surveillance cameras
8) Sensors and alarms
9) Traps and tripwires
10) This cool art piece

Hope you enjoy! ;-)
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September 17, 2014

Super Military Sentry


Awesome robotic sentry being deployed by South Korea along the DMZ.

Ubergizmo reports that the Samsung SGR-A1 costs just $200,000 and supports all weather detection, a 5.56 mm machine gun, grenade launcher, surface to air missiles, and has an illuminator, laser range finder, heat infrared and motion detection, and can track multiple targets. 

Moreover, the human operator remains safe at a remote command location, while this robot at the front line targets the enemy at over 2 miles away. 


I would think this needs to be augmented with a bunker, camouflage, and/or additional sophisticated anti-air defense system to protect these stationary devices or perhaps add some mobility to these. 

Can you think of other countries that could benefit in protecting their borders from terrorists and military incursions with such a robot? ;-)
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August 22, 2014

Smart Electronic Skin

I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or "smart skin."

Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 

Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in "temperature, strain, and movement" and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 

As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  

When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2014

Information Where We Look


I like this short video on advances in Augmented Reality by Applied Research Associates (ARA).

ARA supports DARPA's Urban Leader Tactical Response Awareness and Visualization (ULTRA-Vis) program--to develop Augmented Reality (AR) for our soldiers. 

Augmented Reality is "Virtual icons, avatars, and messages overlaid accurately on the real world."

The purpose is to know"where you are and where objects are around you" and to "access information simply by looking at them."

The interface is a heads-up wearable display, rather than an smartphone or tablet. 

The AR integrates GPS, terrain information, commercial data, and sensors.

Further, you and others using this technology will be able to tag and share data in what I would call Social Reality (a mixture of social computing and augmented reality). 

Here your world of information is augmented by other's AR views shared with you.

AR offers an enormous opportunity to make our world far richer with information everywhere we look, rather than just when we look it up. 

For it to be ultimately successful, the display will need to be worked in as an embed or overlay on our actual eyes (like a contact lens), rather than worn like Google Glass.

For the non-soldier, not every open field needs augmented reality--in fact, it would sort of spoil the natural beauty of it--but it sure won't hurt to be able to turn it on, at will, to see which flowers are blooming and perhaps, whether there just might be a snake out there too.  ;-)
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May 5, 2014

Healthcare Where You Need It


Great new medical examination device from Tyto Care.

Handheld, mobile, cloud-based solution for performing a basic medical examination, anywhere--either remotely guided by an online physician or using the 3D avatar on the device itself for conducting a self-examination.

The device looks like the one in the doctors office that checks your ears, but it also has sensors to listen to your heart and lungs, and for viewing your eyes, throat, and skin, and for taking your temperature. 

The results can be read by the end-user or sent to a physician for review and diagnosis. 

When your not feeling well or aren't sure what's wrong--isn't great to have the convenience to have your vitals checked from wherever you are and the self-sufficiency to even get and see your own basic medical stats. 

In a time where we are under more stress to get adequate medical care due to families made up of dual working parents, jobs that are 24/7, and a declining ratio of medical professionals to patients--the Tyto seems like a breakthrough that can help us get checked and get help, anytime and place. 

Now, we just need to get our medical practitioners online and in regular remote communication with their patients--so the traditional office visit and emergency room aren't the only options for being seen. ;-)
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April 15, 2014

Futuristic Highway


Some really great ideas here for the highway of the future.

These are the inspiration of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde.

To save energy and increase safety, there are four concepts presented:

- Glow in the dark road markings (i.e. lane dividers) with photo-luminescent paint that charges during the day and lights up at night.

- Weather symbols on the road with temperature-responsive paint, so for example, when the temperature falls below a certain level, the roads show snowflake symbols to indicate that they may be icy. 

- Motion-interactive lights on the highway that light up when cars approach and are powered by the draft of the moving cars. 

- Induction lanes that can charge car batteries as they run along them and reenergize the cars for further travel. 

Already, there is a 500 meter stretch of road in Oss, Netherlands with the glow-in-the-dark road markings--these are almost radioactive green in color and give a futuristic Tron look to the roads.

Now the question is when can we get these high-tech upgrades for I-495? 

What an awesome high-tech display befitting our nation's capital and maybe it would help with traffic as well!  ;-)
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March 17, 2014

Time To Spread The Magic

So I'm not the biggest fan of Disney theme parks -- maybe that is not a popular thing to write.

But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they're not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you're getting (not). 

Let's see, a day at Disney or day at the beach--uh, I'll take the beach any day!

But Disney is doing something magical these days. 

Bloomberg Businessweek reports how Disney's new MagicBands are using technology to make the theme park experience more convenient, even if not more fun. 

The MagicBands are like an all-in-one electronic link between you and Disney:

- No need for an admission ticket, because the MagicBand does that.

- Reserve your favorite rides, use your wrist band. 

- Hotel room keys, that's right the band unlocks your door.

- Shopping at Disney kingdom, the band functions as your debit/credit card. 

- Being greeted by name or wished a happy birthday, the bands make your experience more personal.

What's more Disney uses the bands for "big data" analytics--for capturing your likes and preferences for rides, restaurants, food, and souvenirs--and this adds up to customer service enhancements like restocking shelves, opening up reservations, expedited queues, and even targeted mail and text messaging/advertising. 

The bands have radio frequency identification tag/chips (RFID) as well as GPS sensors, so Disney knows who you are, where you are, and even much of what you're doing. 

Spooky from a privacy standpoint--sure, you are really sitting there exposed in just about every way. 

But this technology has arrived, not just at Disney, but via embedded RFID in your smartphones or your body someday soon. 

The synthesis of man and machine...the mystery is gone in the magic kingdom, but maybe the service gets better. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 16, 2014

How Our Colony On Mars Will Get Built


Absolutely amazing development in robotics...

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University researchers have developed autonomous robots inspired by termites or ants. 

They can build complex structures by working in a group or swarm.

Each robot is independent, yet by being programmed with the target structure, they work harmoniously together to build the structure without further guidance. 

They have sensors along with a set of rules that enable them to interact with each other and the environment to get the job done. 

They can even build stairs to enable themselves to get to higher levels of the structure and add the next set of building bricks. 

The robots are 8" by 4.5" with pinwheel tires for traction and are powered by off-the-shelf motors.

"Each robot 'walks around the structure until it sees something that needs to be done and then does it...they can recognize errors and correct them.'"

Perhaps, the robots can not only learn from the termites, but we can learn from the robots. ;-)
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October 10, 2013

Halo Arrives To Our Warfighters


So excited about the Army's experimental Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS). 

This is really our fast, strong, and agile fighting force of the future. 

The integration of technologies for the individual warfighter, including sensors, exoskeleton body armor, weapon systems, communications, and monitoring of health and power makes this an unbelievable advance. 

I think the MIT research on magnetorheological fluids--which convert from liquid to solid body armor in milliseconds (sort of like Terminator 2) with a magnetic field or electric current (controlled, so the enemy doesn't bog down the forces) is a true game changer for balancing agility and force protection. 

In the future, I believe these suits will even incorporate capabilities to drive, dive, and fly. 

This will complement unmanned swarms of dumb drones with intelligent human fighters that will take the battlefield on Earth and beyond. ;-)
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September 24, 2013

Cancel Out Those Tremors


This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson's Disease. 

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself. 

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor. 

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more. 

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson's patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.
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September 2, 2013

Warrior Augmentation

I love the direction DARPA is going in with robotic exoskeletons for our warfighters. 

Helping soldiers perform their jobs easier, more capably, and with less injury using human augmentation is good sense. 

Military men and women often carry weight in excess of 100 pounds for long distances and perform other tasks that challenge human physical endurance.

Creating a durable "soft, lightweight under[or over]suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve soldiers ability to efficiently perform their missions" is an smart and achievable goal, and one that would give us great advantage in the battlefield. 

The timeframe of 2012-2016 is an aggressive deadline to form the mix of core technologies, integrate them, and develop a wearable prototype. 

I think the goal of having this be "potentially wearable by 90% of the U.S. Army population" is notable as not something that is for just special forces or unique missions, but rather something that can medically protect and make for a superior fighting force for all of our men and women. 

This is really only the beginning of human augmentation with sensors, storage, processors, and robotics to make our warriors fight with the best that both man and machine has to offer. It's not a fight of man versus machine, but of man and machine. 

Seeing and hearing farther and with more clarity, connecting and communicating timely and under all conditions, processing loads of data into actionable information, fighting and performing mission with superior skills (strength, speed, dexterity, and endurance) and integrated weapon systems, guiding warriors to their targets and home safely--these are goals that man-machine augmentation can bring to reality. 

And of course, the sheer medical and rehabilitative benefits of these technologies in caring for the sick and disabled in society is enough to "pedal to metal" drive these efforts alone. 

Like on the prescient show from the 70's, The Six Million Dollar Man, "We can rebuild him. We have the technology...Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster."

And I would add healthier and more deadly! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to DARPA and Boston Dynamics)


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July 2, 2013

Dirty Little People

Popular Science had some scary germy statistics about how few people wash their hands well when coming out of the bathroom.

Take a guess?

Only 5%!

And that's based on almost 4,000 people they observed--but how many would've washed correctly if they thought no one was watching?

The dirty stats (while under observation):

- 23% didn't use soap.

- 15% of men and 7% of women didn't even use water.

- Average washed for just 6 seconds! (CDC says you need at least 20 seconds with soap and water to kill germs)

From what I've seen, unless their is a touchless water faucet and automatic towel dispenser, not too many people wash their hands--they don't want to get them dirty by touching the same bathroom devices that the other people just touched.

Another no-no for people is touching the bathroom door handle--more germs!

What do some people do--they use (wads of) toilet seat protectors to pull the door open--then guess what's missing for the next guy or gal?

Most public bathrooms are disgusting--if everyone could just have their own, they would keep it clean out of self-interest and maybe wash their hands a little more too. 

Next time we have a recession and need to invest in "shovel ready" infrastructure projects to keep America working--how about we build some (read lots!) clean bathrooms and throw in the automatic wash features, pretty please. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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