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     Volume 5 Issue 97 | June 2, 2006 |

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Robot Mimics Human
Honda Research Institute Japan (HRI) president Tomohiko Kawanabe flashes a V-sign while a robot hand also shows a V-sign after Japanese auto giant Honda and ATR developed a new Brain Machine Interface for manipulating robot using brain activity signals in Tokyo. The new technology, developed for the nursing robot or ASL patients, observes activity of human brain and operates robots or machines in real-time.

Motorbikes geta special glow
The next time a motorbike passes you on the road at night it may be a little easier to spot, thanks to a new way of coating vehicles with a glow-in-the-dark film. The phosphorescent polymer film, developed by Yamaha of Japan, absorbs sunlight and then releases the energy at night as a soft glow. The feature could help make it safer to drive small, vulnerable vehicles in the dark.In phosphorescent materials, incoming UV light excites electrons to a state that they depart from very slowly, emitting visible light as they do so over many hours. Yamaha has developed a vacuum pressure process that sticks an even, thin layer of phosphorescent plastic film to irregularly shaped fenders, engine covers and cowlings.

iPod-Compatible Sneakers From Apple And Nike
Apple is teaming up with Nike to cross-promote sneakers and iPods. The footwear and earwear giants are soon launching a new line of iPod-compatible sneakers, plus a wireless pedometer-cum-connection-kit that pumps exercise feedback into runners' ears. "Faster, fat ass!" The Nike+iPod cross promotion encourages runners to buy a new pair of Nike+ sneakers, which have a little pocket for a wireless sensor. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit also includes a small receiver that plugs into the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod. Out on the road, the sensor sends data about time, distance, and pace to the iPod, which provides unspecified "workout-based voice feedback" while you run. Presumably, it's encouraging. Back at home, the iPod uploads the exercise data to the Mac or PC, and syncs with iTunes and the NikePlus website which records runs and sets goals. In addition, the site will allow runners to challenge each other to "virtual races" and download time- or distance-based workout routines. It will also offer sporty iMixes "chosen and introduced by top athletes."

Caught by sound
A hidden trap that detects how fast vehicles are going just by listening to them as they pass could catch speeding drivers unawares. The system, being developed by the University of Tennessee and the Battelle Institute in Oak Ridge, uses microphones hidden by the roadside to measure the speed of passing vehicles. It does not emit telltale radiation, unlike radar or laser-based devices, so it cannot be picked up by dashboard detectors. Once the microphones have detected and recorded the sound of a passing vehicle, digital filtering removes background noise to leave only the sound of the engine. Software then calculates the vehicle's speed by measuring the engine sound's Doppler shift - the change in a sound's pitch as its source moves past an observer. The system, revealed by recently filed patents, has been developed with funding from the US Department of Energy.

Gecko-like robot scampers up the wall
Geckos can climb up walls and across ceilings thanks to the millions of tiny hairs, or setae, on the surface of their feet. Each of these hairs is attracted to the wall by an intermolecular force called the van der Waals force, and this allows the gecko's feet to adhere. Stickybot, developed by Mark Cutkosky and his team at Stanford University in California, has feet with synthetic setae made of an elastomer. These tiny polymer pads ensure a large area of contact between the feet and the wall, maximising the van der Waals stickiness. The Pentagon is interested in developing gecko-inspired climbing gloves and shoes. Cutkosky says a Stickybot-type robot would also make an adept planetary rover or rescue bot.

CDMA mobile phones gets a boost
Indian actress Tanushree Dutta poses with the newly launched Samsung Wideo CDMA mobile handset in New Delhi. Samsung Wideo, India's first wide screen CDMA phone, comes with a one mega-pixel rotating camcorder, MP3 player, video streaming, 45 MB pen drive memory and will be available in Indian markets for USD 480.


Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


Source: AFP, New Scientist, Wired and Webindia123


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