New methods can 3D print high-strength aluminum alloys

Unweldable materials like aluminum alloys can now be fused using additive manufacture techniques. HRL Laboratories did this interesting demonstration. Read the rest

Quinn Norton on sexual assault, community response, and restorative justice

In the early 2010s, Quinn Norton (previously) was sexually assaulted by Robert Scoble (previously), a well-known technology exec and anti-privacy advocate while attending O'Reilly Media's FOO Camp, a private tech gathering that has a well-earned reputation as a safe and congenial space. Read the rest

A curiously incomplete history of the early years of DRM

Ernie Smith's Motherboard article on the early years of DRM gets into some fascinating stories about things like IBM's Cryptolope and Xerox PARC's Contentguard (which became a patent troll), Intertrust's belief that it is "developing the basis for a civil society in cyberspace" and the DeCSS fight. Read the rest

Here is Apple's self-driving car prototype

Here are new images of Apple's self-driving car technology (Project Titan) mounted on a Lexus RX350. That gear on the top is a rack of six LIDAR sensors that use lasers to collect spatial data about the vehicle's surroundings.

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Stephen Fry's lecture on a hopeful, cautious, excited vision of a better technological world

Stephen Fry's hour-long Shannon Luminary Lecture at Bell Labs tries to bridge the despair of a world where technology enables bullying, greed and surveillance; the optimism of the early hopes for the internet, and a hopeful vision of how we can minimize the former and maximize the latter. Read the rest

Even primitiver technology

You've seen Primitive Technology; now see Even Primitiver Technology. A fine spoof of an excellent YouTube series. Read the rest

Toddler stumped she can't work the 'touch screen' on her dad's Game Boy

Try and try as she may, this little girl just can't figure out how to play her dad's Game Boy Color. She really can't be blamed though, as she was born into a world where touch screens are the norm.

This reminds me of two things.

1. When my now-12-year-old daughter was about seven, I got a new laptop. I opened it, booted it up, and she immediately pawed the screen like it was an iPad.

2. It also reminds me of this viral video from 2011 of a baby trying to use a magazine like an iPad.

(reddit) Read the rest

Quantum computing’s terrifying promise

Hit Play, below, to hear a wide-ranging interview with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, whose shrewd bets include backing Elon Musk in ventures like Tesla and SpaceX. Steve and I talk a bit about Elon in our interview. But we mainly focus on quantum computing - a subject he knows cold from his decade and a half on the board of D-Wave Systems, the world’s largest quantum computing company.

This is the fifth episode of my podcast series (co-hosted by Tom Merritt), which launched here on Boing Boing last month. The series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my novel After On -- but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.

Quantum computing’s potential to reshuffle the technological deck has long fascinated me as a science fiction writer. Its maximum potential is immense – and indeed, rather terrifying (after conferring with quantum computing’s brainfather, David Deutsch, the New Yorker famously decreed that “With one millionth of the hardware of an ordinary laptop, a quantum computer could store as many bits of information as there are particles in the universe.”)

That potential is also almost completely unfulfilled for now. Major breakthroughs in the field could therefore impact our capabilities in highly volatile ways. And sudden, discontinuous change is catnip to anyone whose job involves setting tech-driven tales in the present day.

In our interview, Steve and I discuss the fundamental weirdness behind quantum computing’s potentially awesome power. When asked about that power’s source, physicists generally offer one of two answers, according to Steve. Read the rest

Researchers encoded a film clip in DNA and store it inside a living cell

In an astonishing step forward in biomolecular computing, Harvard researchers encoded a 19th century film clip in DNA and stored it inside living bacteria. Later, they sequenced the bacterium's genome and decoded the film. From IEEE Spectrum:

To get a movie into E. coli’s DNA, (neuroscientist Seth) Shipman and his colleagues had to disguise it. They converted the movie’s pixels into DNA’s four-letter code—molecules represented by the letters A,T,G and C—and synthesized that DNA. But instead of generating one long strand of code, they arranged it, along with other genetic elements, into short segments that looked like fragments of viral DNA.

E. coli is naturally programmed by its own DNA to grab errant pieces of viral DNA and store them in its own genome—a way of keeping a chronological record of invaders. So when the researchers introduced the pieces of movie-turned-synthetic DNA—disguised as viral DNA—E. coli’s molecular machinery grabbed them and filed them away.

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AR and VR poised to climb out of the "trough of dillusionment" on Gartner Hype Cycle

The Gartner Hype Cycle places emerging technologies on a rising-falling-rising curve.

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Samsung and Foxconn to back cable-free phone tech by Tony Fadell of iPod and Nest fame

Tony Fadell is best known "one of the fathers of the iPod" at Apple, and as the former CEO of Nest. We've agreed to forget that he led the Google Glass division for a while, too. Today, news broke that the serial inventor and investor is now working with companies including Samsung Electronics and Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry, to develop new technology that would allow mobile phone devices to “transfer large amounts of data without using wires or WiFi connections.”

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Millennials have discovered antennas will give them free TV channels

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that millennials have learned how to get free TV with a simple antenna, for a one-time cost of about $20. Us old-schoolers have known of this ancient wisdom since, well, forever but have neglected to pass down to the young'uns.

But the crazy thing is that it's not just young folks, the Journal consulted an industry group who estimate about a third of all Americans don't realize that local channels are free:

Let’s hear a round of applause for TV antennas, often called “rabbit ears,” a technology invented roughly seven decades ago, long before there was even a cord to be cut, which had been consigned to the technology trash can along with cassette tapes and VCRs.

The antenna is mounting a quiet comeback, propelled by a generation that never knew life before cable television, and who primarily watch Netflix , Hulu and HBO via the internet. Antenna sales in the U.S. are projected to rise 7% in 2017 to nearly 8 million units, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group.

There is typically no need to climb on a rooftop. While some indoor antennas still look like old-fashioned rabbit ears, many modern antennas are thin sheets that can be hidden behind a flat TV or hung like a picture frame.

And, these modern ones are paintable... (?!)

Of course, if the commercials are getting to you, there's always this alternative:

Thanks, Laura!

Rabbit ear image via Amazon, smashed TV gif via Giphy Read the rest

A quick and handy guide to audio file formats

The fine folks at Techquickie put together a quick overview that takes the mystery out of the dizzying array of audio file formats, including when to use what and brief histories of the most common types. Read the rest

Dr. Octopus getting real with this robotic contraption

MetaLimbs is a robotic system that provides the wearer with an extra pair of arms. The mechanical arms are controlled by the user's legs, feet, and toes. The researchers from Keio University and the University of Tokyo will present their work at next month's SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles.

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Watch how maple syrup harvesting has gone high-tech

Buckets hanging on maple trees may have worked great 200 years ago, but modern producers use a system like the internet: a series of tubes! Read the rest

New ultra-high resolution printer makes colors from nanostructures

Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark demonstrated a new nanotechnology-based printing technique that produces long-lasting color images on plastic at resolutions up to 127,000 dots per inch, many times more detailed than traditional laser printers. The system uses a laser to alter the structure of nanoscale structures on the plastic material. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a human hair is around 60,000 nanometers in diameter.) The nanoprinting technique could also lead to new kinds of 3D displays or invisible watermarks. From New Scientist:

The surface of the plastic is shaped so that it has lots of tiny pillars, one roughly every 200 nanometers. A thin film of the element germanium is then spread over the plastic. Heat from a laser melts the germanium on each pillar, morphing its shape and thickness. As a result, it reflects a specific color. The coating protects the shapes of the newly carved nanostructures.

Resonant laser printing of structural colors on high-index dielectric metasurfaces (ScienceAdvances) Read the rest

How iPhones helped Elon Musk crush Detroit

Way back in 2011, major American automakers were slow to realize that "companies in Silicon Valley have for some time been looking at cars just like another mobile device or app." When the disruption, hit, it hit hard, writes Nick Bilton: Read the rest

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