Sega’s Toylets give public toilet users

something to aim at in Japan

By Darren Quick

22:44 January 23, 2011


Most men at one time or another (hopefully when they were merely boys) have enjoyed a spot or two of “sword fighting” in school toilets – just to clear up any misconceptions members of the fairer sex may have about such activities, this involves the clashing of streams, not appendages. One of the unfortunate side effects of these duels can be fair degree of spray ending up where it isn’t supposed to, creating extra work for those whose job it is to keep such facilities clean. Now Sega is bringing restroom gaming into the 21st century with a video game that makes use of a pressure sensor built into the urinal to entice urinators to keep their pee on target.

The “Toylet” – its actual name – consists of a sensor in the bowl of the urinal that measures both the strength, length and location of the urine stream, and an LCD display located at head height. The four games on offer include “Milk from Nose”, which pits the player against the previous user in a competition for the strongest flow, “The North Wind and Her”, in which the user plays as the wind to lift up a woman’s skirt, “Graffiti Eraser” that sees the player try and clear a wall of graffiti on a wall with some high-pressure blasting and “Mannequin Pis” which tells you how much urine you’ve discharged. Players proud of the urinary achievements can even download their scores onto a flash drive.

While the comfort station consoles are designed to improve the aim of public toilet users by providing an incentive to stay on target, they could also provide Sega with an extra revenue “stream” through the displaying of advertisements on the console’s screen before the games.

Sega has installed the Toylets in four metro stations in – you guessed it – Tokyo, where they will be trialed until the end of January.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Researchers attempting to clone

a mammoth by 2017

By Tannith Cattermole

17:33 January 23, 2011


The last known mammoth lived around 4,500 years ago, but if scientists in Japan are successful then we might be able to meet one soon! Research to resurrect these awesome creatures was shelved when cell nuclei taken from a sample from Siberia were found to be too badly damaged, however a scientific breakthrough in Kobe successfully cloned a mouse from sixteen year old deep frozen tissue, and the research began again in earnest …

Mammoths are a species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, and closely related to modern elephants today. As anyone who’s been awed and amazed by a mammoth skeleton would know, some had long-curved tusks, and in colder regions, long shaggy hair. The last known mammoths died out 4,500 years ago, but in 1997 researchers at Kyoto University began to try and extract DNA from the tissue of a preserved mammoth carcass found in the Siberian permafrost.

Their efforts were thwarted however by damage caused by ice crystals that rendered the cells unviable. The breakthrough came in 2008 when scientist Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, developed a new technique, and successfully managed to clone a mouse from tissue that had been deep frozen for sixteen years.

Now emeritus professor Akira Iritani and his team at Kyoto University are making preparations to fulfill their goal of cloning a live mammoth. They successfully extracted mammoth egg cell nuclei without damage, and used elephant egg cells to fill the gaps.

“Now the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

In the summer, Iritani will travel to Siberia to search for good mammoth samples. There are an estimated 150 million mammoth remains in Russia’s Siberian permafrost, some whole frozen specimens, others in pieces of bone, tusk, tissue and wool. If he is unsuccessful he will apply to Russian scientists to give him a sample.

If a mammoth embryo is successfully cloned then it will be transplanted into a surrogate African elephant, the mammoth’s closest living relative. Then will follow a gestation period of 22 months, the longest of any land animal.

“The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently but now stands at about 30 per cent, I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years.” said Iritani.

There are other considerations however; “If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public,” Iritani told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “After the mammoth is born, we’ll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Scientists left baffled

as the official kilo loses weight

January 24, 2011 – 10:36AM
A computer-generated image of the international prototype kilogram, which is kept in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.A computer-generated image of the international prototype kilogram, which is kept in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.

Scientists say they are moving closer to coming up with a non-physical definition of the kilo after discovering the metal artefact used as the international standard had shed a fraction of its weight.

Researchers caution there is still some way to go before their mission is complete, but if successful it would lead to the end of the useful life of the last manufactured object on which fundamental units of measure depend.

At the moment, the international standard for the kilo is a chunk of metal, under triple lock-and-key in France since 1889.

But scientists became concerned about the cylinder of platinum and iridium housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, near Paris, after discovering it had mysteriously lost a minute amount of weight.

Experts at the institute revealed in 2007 that the metal chunk is 50 micrograms lighter than the average of several dozen copies, meaning it had lost the equivalent of a small grain of sand.

They are now searching for a non-physical way of defining the kilo, which would bring it in line with the six other base units that make up the International System of Units

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Ten intriguing Apple patents

to get excited about

January 20, 2011 – 11:08AM

This post was originally published on Mashable.com

Apple was granted 563 patents in 2010, some of which will show up in future products and might well change the consumer technology landscape just like the iPod, iPhone, App Store and now the iPad have.

Apple patent expert Jack Purcher of Patently Apple has been monitoring the company’s patents since 2006. Mashable asked him why he thought Apple is such an innovative company.

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“Many have asked me why I think that Apple is more innovative than others. I usually answer that question the same way each time,” says Purcher. “I’m not sure that they are on a technical level. The difference is that Apple has an inspired leader and CEO who, for decades, has had a real vision of where technology should go.”

Mashable has taken a look at some of Apple’s recent patent applications to see what exciting developments might be in store for the future – as any one of these patents could be the next step in Steve Jobs’s master plan or vision. As Purcher puts it:

“Jobs’s vision for the digital lifestyle a decade ago is still on a roll. It’s innovation at its finest. But it began with a vision – and that’s the difference.”

1. iBike

Apple’s smart bike concept is like the Nike+ running system, but for those on two wheels. In addition to seeing pertinent data from you (heart rate, etc.) and the bike (speed, distance, etc.) on your iPod or iPhone, the system could be used as a tool for group communication when biking with others.

2. Wand remote

2. Wand Remote

Is gesture control the next big thing to follow touch? It seems Apple might think so with this patent for the Apple TV that sees the home entertainment gadget shipped with a Wiimote-like motion controller. Besides managing the on-screen cursor via movement, the “remote wand” could be used to browse through and control media.

3. Solar-powered iPhone

Is gesture control the next big thing to follow touch? It seems Apple might think so with this patent for the Apple TV that sees the home entertainment gadget shipped with a Wiimote-like motion controller. Besides managing the on-screen cursor via movement, the “remote wand” could be used to browse through and control media.
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3. Solar-Powered iPhone

Apple has come up with a way – in theory anyway – of adding solar tech to its portable devices without spoiling the all-important aesthetics. By integrating the photocells into the touchscreen, future iPods, iPads and iPhones could soak up the power of the sun via their displays, making for greener gadgetry.

4. Touchscreen iMac

Apple has come up with a way — in theory anyway — of adding solar tech to its portable devices without spoiling the all-important aesthetics. By integrating the photocells into the touchscreen, future iPods, iPads and iPhones could soak up the power of the sun via their displays, making for greener gadgetry.
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4. Touchscreen iMac

This clever concept gives the desktop PC iPad-esque functionality. While the monitor is upright, it’s a common iMac running Apple’s full operating system controlled with a mouse, but flip it horizontally and it switches to the iOS and the touch controls take over.

5. iKey

This clever concept gives the desktop PC iPad-esque functionality. While the monitor is upright, it’s a common iMac running Apple’s full operating system controlled with a mouse, but flip it horizontally and it switches to the iOS and the touch controls take over.
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Chances are your iPhone has already replaced your compact camera, MP3 player and handheld gaming console, but Apple could take the convergence a step further and replace your keys. The Cupertino company has patented the idea that your iPhone could unlock your car and home with a proximity-based PIN code system.

6. iHeadset

Chances are your iPhone has already replaced your compact camera, MP3 player and handheld gaming console, but Apple could take the convergence a step further and replace your keys. The Cupertino company has patented the idea that your iPhone could unlock your car and home with a proximity-based PIN code system.
5. iKey
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6. iHeadset

This is one patent we could definitely see coming to market. Apple has designed a Bluetooth headset with standalone media playback functionality. This could well be a future version of the iPod Shuffle – small, wearable and, thanks to the Bluetooth features, multi-tasking.

7. Shareable apps

This is one patent we could definitely see coming to market. Apple has designed a Bluetooth headset with standalone media playback functionality. This could well be a future version of the iPod Shuffle — small, wearable and, thanks to the Bluetooth features, multi-tasking.
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How would you like to be able to beam your latest App Store download to a buddy? Apple has come up with the idea of an “application seed” system whereby developers could choose to make their apps shareable via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It’s a fantastic concept for content providers who are looking to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Additionally, trial version options could be a great word-of-mouth money maker.

8. Video game comic books

How would you like to be able to beam your latest App Store download to a buddy? Apple has come up with the idea of an “application seed” system whereby developers could choose to make their apps shareable via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It’s a fantastic concept for content providers who are looking to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Additionally, trial version options could be a great word-of-mouth money maker.
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If you want to relive that last level of Mass Effect that you aced, Apple might offer a way to do so in the future. This unusual patent allows you to describe your progress through a video game, record it, and then turn it into a book or e-book in comic style.

9. Magnetic lenses

If you want to relive that last level of Mass Effect that you aced, Apple might offer a way to do so in the future. This unusual patent allows you to describe your progress through a video game, record it, and then turn it into a book or e-book in comic style.
8

iPhotography is hot, and its potential is limited only by hardware restrictions. Although Apple has steadily improved the iPhone’s camera, it’s still just a point-and-shooter. This patent describes a way of enhancing a portable device’s camera functionality with a magnetic zoom or macro lens attachments.

10. MacBooks with built-in projectors

iPhotography is hot, and its potential is limited only by hardware restrictions. Although Apple has steadily improved the iPhone’s camera, it’s still just a point-and-shooter. This patent describes a way of enhancing a portable device’s camera functionality with a magnetic zoom or macro lens attachments.
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This exciting idea could see future Apple laptops coming with built-in projectors. Just think how handy it would be to be able to share what’s on your laptop screen – whether that’s a movie or a presentation – with a group of others by simply clicking a mouse.

Spourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

TERRAIN GUIDANCE SYSTEM FOR WHEELCHAIRS

Many of the greatest civilian innovations can be traced back to military origins. Penicillin, radar, satellites and the Internet, just to name a few. So it is not uncommon for technologies developed for fighting wars to be found to have wider applications. The following idea is an example of this adaptation and is inspired by the important need of disabled veteran soldiers for independence and mobility. By using terrain sensing control systems designed for the guidance of autonomous vehicles on the battlefield, researchers have begun developing a system that will allow wheelchair users to access more areas than ever before.

Certain terrain types that able bodied people take in their stride can be difficult or even impossible for those in a wheelchair to navigate. Steep hills or ramps, mud, snow, and uneven ground can be dangerous obstacles for a disabled person. Researchers at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering are working on technology able to detect hazardous terrain and automatically adjust control settings of an electric-powered wheelchair to allow a safer transit without the need for assistance.

“This technology will provide electric-powered wheelchair users with an increased degree of independence that may significantly increase their ability to participate in recreational and functional activities,” Army Major Kevin Fitzpatrick, director of Walter Reed’s wheelchair clinic, said.

Inspiration for the research began when Professor Emmanuel Collins, director of Florida State University’s Center for Intelligent Systems, Control and Robotics, heard a presentation by Professor Rory Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and chairman of Pitt’s rehabilitation science and technology department. Cooper has used a wheelchair since receiving a spinal cord injury in 1980 during his service in the Army. In his presentation, Cooper noted the need for terrain sensing electric-powered wheelchair assistance. The two began developing the idea and along with collaborators at the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center, the concept started taking shape.

“I’m inspired by the idea of applying technology originally meant for the battlefield to improve the quality of everyday life for injured soldiers and others,” Collins said.

Automatic terrain-sensing controls for military robotic vehicles, and four-wheel-drive automobiles have now been on the market for almost a decade. Collins adapted a device known as a laser line striper, originally developed for military use for use in the project. The end result is a system that enables electric-powered wheelchairs to detect hazardous terrain and implement safe driving strategies avoiding wheel slip, sinkage or vehicle tipping.

Collins said that, to his knowledge, no one else is working on this type of application. He estimated that if the team obtains commercial backing the technology could come to fruition in about five years.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center has observed the promise in this research and has provided funding and guidance. The project now forms part of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology sub-portfolio within the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center’s Advanced Prosthetics and Human Performance research papers

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Polymer coatings have self healing qualities

Materials that can repair themselves are generally a good thing, as they increase the lifespan of products created from them, and reduce the need for maintenance. Biorenewable polymers are also pretty likable, as they reduce or even eliminate the need for petroleum products in plastic production, replacing them with plant-derived substances. Michael Kessler, an Iowa State University associate professor of materials science and engineering, and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, is now attempting to combine the two.

Self-healing materials generally incorporate microcapsules containing a liquid healing agent, and catalyst elements, which are embedded within the material’s matrix. As cracks form within the matrix, the microcapsules rupture, releasing the healing agent. As soon as that agent encounters the catalyst, it hardens into three-dimensional polymer chains, thus filling and securing the cracks. Such technology has been used not only to create self-healing plastics, but also self-healing concrete.

Since 2005, Kessler has been working with Iowa State’s Prof. Richard Larock on the development of biorenewable polymers made from vegetable oils. Larock is the inventor of a process wherein bioplastics can be created that consist of 40 to 80 percent inexpensive natural oils – these plastics reportedly have very good thermal and mechanical properties, are good at dampening noises and vibrations, and are also very good at returning to their original shape when heated.

Kessler is now trying to create self-healing versions of these same plastics.

One thing he has deduced so far is that a healing agent for a tung oil-based polymer works too fast. Kessler and his colleagues are now working on slowing down the reactive process of that agent, while also developing biopolymer-friendly encapsulating techniques, and bio-based healing agents.

The big challenge, he says, is to match the 90 percent healing efficiency of standard synthetic composites.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

The CB6000 chastity belt for naughty men

Who’s been a bad boy?

Our publisher Mike ran into this device at the Adult Entertainment

Expo in Las Vegas. It took him a good five minutes to work out

what it was for. “This is fascinating,” he thought to himself, “and it

really needs to be written up.

But certainly not by me.” So I’m not sure whether to take it as a

compliment or a measure of my character that he immediately

sent the story my way … anyway, in the interests of transparency,

I wish to point out before we get started that the only chastity

devices I have ever used have been my looks and my personality

– and even those powerful tools haven’t been very effective.

What Mike was looking at was the CB-6000 chastity belt for men.

Built from medical grade polycarbonate plastic, it’s a complicated

looking cage that fits around and over a gentleman’s tackle,

rendering the entire lunchbox more or less ornamental, except

for bathroom trips.

Both the shape and the way it locks on are designed to keep things

on the down-low, shall we say – or as Mike put it, “If you cracked a

trouser boner while wearing one of these, you’d do yourself

a serious injury.”

Certainly, when you hear the term “chastity belt” the female

version tends to spring to mind first, medieval devices that

were reportedly built by crusading knights to make sure their

wenches remained unplundered in their absence. But you’d

have to agree a male version makes just as much sense –

we lads certainly haven’t done a lot over the years to earn

the ladies’ trust, on average.

But the strange irony of the CB-6000 – and devices like it –

is that they’re designed to prevent sexual pleasure,

but they’re used … more or less … for sexual pleasure.

Submissive fellas seem to find great excitement in the idea

of power exchange – locking their tockleys in boxes,

giving the keys to their dominant partners and walking

around all day dangling a weighty reminder of who’s their daddy.

But the devices are marketed mainly at the ladies –

to quote the website (which is kept remarkably safe for work), ”

This is an extremely powerful and effective relationship device.

Become his fantasy once again.

He will think you are the sexiest thing in this world.

Wearing the chastity device can be extremely erotic …

after he has been in it for a short period of time,

he will again start kissing, caressing,

and basically be completely turned on by you.

He will worship the ground you walk on.

Men love power and knowing you have exchanged

this power will bring him to his knees.”

There’s something a little sad about the idea that

some men will only show tenderness to their partners

if they’re denied an easier source of sexual release –

but then, there’s something a little sad about a lot of

the ways we humans operate.

Of course, this sort of thing doesn’t have to be used for

kinky thrills or relationship fixes. I can vividly remember

a couple of embarrassing predicaments in the earlier

years of high school, in which I’d have given my right arm

for a technological solution like this – at least,

if that right arm wasn’t holding an exercise book over my crotch.

Ah, the memories.

The CB-6000 costs US$159.95. You can get it in clear plastic,

or if you don’t like that “bulldog with its face up against

a window” look, there’s a few color options.

For the outdoorsy gent, there’s a camouflage version;

you’ll never know where it went. If you like the idea of

sporting a terminator willy, go for the polished chrome.

Or my personal favorite – remind yourself of what

you’re missing out on with the wood finish.

Who's been a bad boy?


Visitors to last year’s World 2010 Expo in Shanghai might have noticed that the outer walls of the Italian pavilion were kind of… DIFFERENT. Although they felt solid, and looked like concrete when viewed from an angle, light was able to pass through them. How could it be possible? They were made from what the Italcementi Group refers to as “transparent cement,” and has trademarked as i.light. It’s definitely a unique substance, as it blurs the line between wall and window.

  • Italcementi's i.light in place at the Italian pavilion at Expo 2010 (Photo: Italcementi)
  • The Italcementi i.light research team (Photo: Italcementi)
  • Italcementi's i.light in place at the Italian pavilion at Expo 2010 (Photo: Italcementi)
  • Italcementi's i.light in place at the Italian pavilion at Expo 2010 (Photo: Italcementi)

The material was created specifically for the pavilion, as architect Giampaolo Imbrighi wanted a building with transparent walls. While the exact fabrication method hasn’t been fully divulged, Italcementi states that it involves “an innovative cement/admixtures mix design.” That mixture reportedly bonds well with thermoplastic polymer resin, which is inserted into a matrix of 2-3 mm holes running through the width of each panel.

There are approximately 50 holes in each 500 x 1,000 x 50 mm (19.7 x 39 x 2 inch) panel, resulting in an overall transparency of about 20 percent – the pavilion also included semi-transparent panels, which had a transparency of 10 percent created by “modulating the insertion of the resins.”

Past attempts at similar materials have included placing fiber optic cables through a concrete mixture, although the Italcementi researchers claim that their product is much less expensive to produce, and allows light to enter from a greater number of angles.

Although i.light has yet to be made available for commercial use, it has already been suggested that buildings made with the material could save electricity that would otherwise be required for daytime lighting.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha