Monday, 30 April 2012

'Disney Mobile on docomo' Android smartphones

         Docomo in collaboration with Disney have unveiled the first two smartphones in their "Disney Mobile on docomo" smartphone brand.

"This is the F-08D, and like the P-05D, it features the magical world of Disney, but this model has lots of extra features. It supports mobile wallet and TV services, the infrared data connection, and it's also waterproof. So, for a brand collaboration model, it really gives you everything you need."

"The design features Mickey and Minnie silhouettes on the back. This phone comes with a tabletop holder, which also has a Mickey design. A big feature of this model is, Mickey Mouse appears in all kinds of places, like the menu screen, but without being too conspicuous."
"Take a look at this screen. The pattern lock shows Mickey's silhouette. M for Mickey is set, so you can unlock it like this. Having Mickey in places like that is a really big feature. I think it's great fun looking to see where Mickey is hiding."

The waterproof P-05D also features a dual-core processor and comes with one of four Disney branded jackets.

"This is the P-05D. Its main feature is that it's really slim and lightweight. This model is just 7.8 mm thick, and it only weighs 103 g. It has a 4.3-inch OLED display, so you get very vivid colors, and scrolling is also very smooth. So things like the Disneyland Electrical Parade live wallpaper look great, too."

"The Home key is designed like Mickey Mouse's head. You can also download original widgets, like an alarm clock, pedometer, and Disney weather forecast. So with this model, you can enjoy the world of Disney every day."

Water resistant coating for mobile phone circuit boards

        Daikin Industries is developing a coating, mainly for use on the circuit boards of mobile phones, that's resistant to water and moisture, environmentally friendly, and dries as a thin film.

This coating enables circuit boards to be protected against water and moisture, simply by dipping them in this fluorinated solvent. The coating dries in just one minute at room temperature, so it takes effect right away.

"This product isn't intended for full waterproofing, but for raising the baseline in waterproofing to everyday standards. So we're suggesting this coating as a way to reduce the risk of phones malfunctioning if they happen to get dropped in water."

"This product is made by dissolving a fluoropolymer in a fluorinated solvent. The fluoropolymer is nonflammable and has low toxicity. By using this solvent, which isn't subject to any particular regulations, we've achieved a coating that's environmentally friendly."

This kind of waterproof coating is achieved using a film just 0.1 micron to 1 micron thick. This is much thinner than with previous products, and the coating is effective even when used on a mesh, such as on speaker grills.

"For example, even if the phone has an earphone jack or connector, there's no problem with connection after coating, because this coating is such a thin film. It can be used for protection against water and moisture in applications where, until now, a thicker coating was needed."

"We're working to release this commercially around December this year. Meanwhile, by showing people samples like these, we'd like to find an even wider range of uses for this coating."


Next generation cargo ship with 50m high sails uses 30% less fuel

            The aim of the Wind Challenger Project is to substantially reduce fuel consumption by large merchant vessels. Under development by a group including members from the University of Tokyo, the idea is to utilize giant retractable sails, 20m wide by 50m high, to make maximal use of wind energy. The group has done simulations for shipping routes such as Yokohama-Seattle. The results indicate that hybrid ships with sails and engines could reduce annual fuel consumption by about 30% on average.

"Using today's technology, it's possible to make big sails, and to control them automatically. Also, navigation technology includes networked maritime information and weather forecasting, so ships like this can travel safely. Using wind energy, as in old-fashioned sailing ships, is actually feasible."

The angle of each sail is controlled individually, to obtain the maximum propulsive force. Also, each telescoping sail consists of five parts, so the sail can be contracted when the ship is at anchor or during rough weather conditions.

"The sails have a curved surface, and they need to be hollow, so they can expand and contract. So they don't use canvas, like conventional sails. Instead, they use aluminum and Fibre-reinforced plastic, which makes them rigid. In other words, with this concept, a ship has wings, like an aircraft."

Computer simulations and wind-tunnel tests using scale models show that this method is especially effective at saving energy if there's a crosswind. In other words, rather than taking the shortest route, this method makes it possible to travel faster and consume less fuel, by choosing an optimal route that takes account of wind strength and direction and the weather.

"These sails cost about US$2.5 million each, but they can reduce fuel consumption by over 25%. In that case, the cost of these sails can be recovered in 5-10 years. We've finished our basic research, so over the next two years, we'd like to build a half-size prototype, to check that this structure is practical. Ultimately, we're aiming for a sea voyage from 2016 onward."


Spherical Flying Machine Developed by Japan Ministry Of Defense

               This is the world's first spherical flying machine developed by the Research Department at Japan's Ministry of Defense.

This machine can hover like a helicopter, and take-off and land vertically. But because it works like a propeller plane standing vertically, it can fly forward at high speed using wings, which a helicopter can't do. This machine also has three gyro sensors, so even if it hits an obstacle, it can maintain its attitude and keep flying through automatic control.

"Because the exterior is round, this machine can land in all kinds of attitudes, and move along the ground. It can also keep in contact with a wall while flying. Because it's round, it can just roll along the ground, but to move it in the desired direction, we've brought the control surfaces, which are at the rear in an ordinary airplane, to the front."

"In horizontal flight, the propeller provides the propulsive force, while the wings provide lift. For the machine to take off or land in that state, it faces upward. When it does so, the propeller provides buoyancy. At that time, too, the control surfaces provide attitude control. After landing, the machine moves along the ground using the control surfaces and propeller."

"In our aircraft R&D, we have a plane that can stand up vertically after flying horizontally. But the problem with that plane is, take-off and landing are very difficult. As one idea to solve that problem, we thought of making the exterior round, or changing the method of attitude control. That's how we came up with this machine, to test the idea."

"All we've done is build this from commercially available parts, and test whether it can fly in its round form. So its performance as such has absolutely no significance. But we think it can hover for eight minutes continuously, and its speed can go from zero, when it's hovering, to 60 km/h."

This flying machine weighs 350 g, is 42 cm in diameter, and is made of commercially available parts costing a total of around US$1,400. As it can take off and land anywhere, it's hoped that this machine will be able to reach places that were hard to access by air before, for use in rescue and reconnaissance.

Sharp Freestyle Aquos Ultra-light LCD TVs

                       Sharp has developed a new range of thin, ultra-light LCD TVs. The Aquos Freestyle TVs come in four sizes, from 20" up to 60", and due to new production methods and a reduction in parts their weight has been significantly reduced.

As the tuner is now separate from the TV and transmits data via a wireless connection, the TV can be placed anywhere in a room where there is a power outlet.

"This new TV is very light and slim, and it also has a very thin bezel, so we've called it the Freestyle AQUOS. The idea is that you can put it in all kinds of places."

"The Freestyle AQUOS is 30-50% lighter than previous models. Because Sharp manufactures both panels and LCD TVs, we can integrate all stages of production. So we've combined the panel design with the TV design, to ensure that this model has as few parts as possible. That's how we've made the Freestyle AQUOS so lightweight."

The 40" Full HD TV now weights only 8.5kg, almost 6kg less than the previous model, and the 60" model weighs 21kg, a 22kg reduction.

All TVs feature wireless LAN and the AQUOS City network service, which lets users watch movies, TV shows and other video content from a range of online providers.

Sharp's Smart Familink Android smartphone application can be used to send photos and videos from the phone to the TV.

"Now that TVs can be used in rooms without antenna access, customers can put a TV in many more locations. For customers who have somewhere they wanted to put a TV but couldn't, the Freestyle AQUOS may meet the need for a TV that can be used anywhere there's a power socket."

The 40" and 32" versions will be released in Japan on September 15, and the 60" and 20" versions on October 28. Prices range from around US$1000 to US$4,900.

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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Robots or Human ??

Actroid-F Robot Gets A Brother And An Eye Implant

        AIST has developed a male version of its android robot Actroid-F, which was first shown to the public last year. These human-like robots imitate the movements of the people they are watching, and are currently being placed as observers in hospitals, to see how patients feel in their presence.

            "We often get asked why we made a female robot, so we decided to make a male version as well. Mechanically, the two robots are the same, and if you take the wigs off, the faces are the same, too. We've created the male appearance using a wig and cosmetics. We think this makes Actroid-F a good test platform for comparing the impressions made by male and female robots."

           Actroid is a series of robots developed by Kokoro. These robots have a very human-like appearance and range of motions, yet they have only 12 degrees of freedom, mostly in the face. This feature makes the Actroid system much smaller and lighter than ordinary robot systems. Now, by placing cameras in the retinas of the robots, AIST has enabled the robot to direct its line of sight toward a subject.                                                    

                 "Because these robots look human, they have a very strong presence. I think their psychological impact on people is much bigger than with robots that are simply shaped like people, or animal-shaped robots. When this robot went to a hospital for a month during a trial, we felt lonely, as if someone had moved out. Another factor is the sense of immersion this robot gives. When it imitates your movements, you gradually feel it's become your alter ego. When the robot's being photographed, you feel as if you're being photographed. You don't get that kind of feeling of togetherness with other robots."

              " It's often said that the more human a robot looks, the more small differences make people feel uneasy. In our research, when we use this robot in the field, we check that it matches its surroundings and doesn't look out of place. When we tested the robot in a hospital, we asked 70 subjects if having an android there made them feel uneasy. Only 3 or 4 people said they didn't like having it around, and overall, quite a lot of people said they felt this robot itself had an acceptable presence."

                 From now on, as well as continuing the hospital trial, AIST would like to see if this robot could be helpful in other ways; for example, talking with elderly people to help prevent mental decline, and improving communication skills among children with developmental disorders.

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145-inch Ultra High Definition plasma display


NHK has announced a 145-inch Ultra High Definition plasma display, with 16 times the resolution of a regular Full HD display. This follows the 85-inch LCD display announced by NHK last year.

This prototype was co-developed with Panasonic. It has almost 34 million 0.417 mm square pixels, 7,860 horizontally and 4,320 vertically, and a frame rate of 60 fps.

This display uses a new drive system to stabilize the picture throughout the panel, by scanning several pixels simultaneously in the vertical direction. Even in a panel with about 4,000 scan lines, this achieves a stable picture without flickering.

"Even when viewed from 1.6 m away, this Ultra High Definition display makes you feel as if you're looking at a real scene. It doesn't use 3D technology, but the picture is so realistic, you feel truly immersed in the scene."

This is the world's first Ultra High Definition plasma display. As the pixels of a plasma display are self-emitting and the display therefore doesn't require a backlight, it has superior viewing angles, responsiveness and color reproduction.

"One major feature of this 145-inch Ultra High Definition display is that it gives a very even image at such a high resolution. Another big feature is, because it's Ultra High Definition, it efficiently shows 8K x 4K pictures, which have a huge pixel count."

"At present, we think this system will be used in commercial settings first, such as theaters, rather than in the home."

This new plasma display will be on show to the public from May 24-27, at NHK's Science & Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo.


Surgeon Claims to Have Found the ‘G-Spot’

             Eureka! A retired professor of gynecology is claiming to have found anatomical proof of the existence of the “G-spot,” the quasi-mythical erogenous zone that is said to bring on vaginal orgasms in some women.

In a paper published this week in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Adam Ostrzenski describes a sac-like structure roughly one-eighth of an inch in diameter, located on the front wall of the vagina. Ostrzenski, the director of the Institute of Gynecology in St. Petersburg, Fla., identified the cluster of tissue during a layer-by-layer dissection of the vaginal wall of an 83-year-old Polish woman who had died 24 hours earlier.

If confirmed in future research, this finding could shine a light on female sexual function and even open the door to surgical enhancement of the G-spot, Ostrzenski says. Next month, he’s planning to travel back to Poland to conduct additional dissections and study the tissues in more detail. The structure may look different in younger individuals, and its location and size is likely to vary from woman to woman, he says.

( Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex and Sexual Health)

Experts not involved in the research are skeptical that this is a notable or relevant discovery, however. The structure Ostrzenski describes may well be a network of blood vessels that contributes to sexual arousal, but it almost certainly does not explain the entire G-spot phenomenon, says Dr. Emmanuele Jannini, a professor of endocrinology and sexology at the University of L’Aquila, in Italy.

“The G-spot is not just a spot; it’s something much more complex,” says Jannini, who has used ultrasound to search for the G-spot in his own research. “Something is there. We may call it a G-spot or not — it doesn’t matter.”

Ostrzenski’s paper, moreover, does not contain any information on the deceased woman’s medical history or sexual function, so it’s impossible to know whether she experienced the vaginal orgasms associated with the G-spot, says Dr. Amichai Kilchevsky, a urologist at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn.

“I’m not sure what this is contributing,” Kilchevsky says. “To study this you need to use a live human being, or something like a functional MRI that will actually look at the blood flow in the brain. We still have a good amount to learn about the functional anatomy of female arousal.”

( I’ve Never Had An Orgasm. Are Some People Just Incapable?)

The G-spot is named for Ernest Gräfenberg, a German gynecologist who described an “erotic zone” on the front wall of the vagina, along the urethra, in the International Journal of Sexology in 1950. Anecdotal reports about an area in the vagina that swells and produces pleasure when stimulated date back much further, at least to the time of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu sex manual and guide to life.

“It’s a physiological phenomenon that has been noticed by women through the centuries,” Ostrzenski says. In the paper, he writes that the structure he identified contains tissue that resembles erectile tissue.

Since Gräfenberg’s time, studies using methods ranging from dissection to electrical stimulation have suggested that many women do have an area in the vagina that, when stimulated, can cause a powerful orgasm. This area is likely an internal extension of the clitoris, Kilchevsky says. The penis has a similar extension, he adds, and in both men and women these extensions become engorged with blood during stimulation.

( 12 Secrets to Better Orgasms)

In the past, sexual health experts have worried that media coverage of the G-spot phenomenon would lead women to feel inadequate if they can’t achieve an orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone. “The reality is that not all women do have vaginal orgasms, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kilchevsky says.

Jannini, too, stresses that women who do not experience vaginal orgasms are “absolutely normal.” While some women’s physiology may enable them to derive heightened sensation from a G-spot-like structure, for all women the clitoris is the primary vehicle for sexual pleasure, he says.

“It is very, absolutely bad to try to hysterically look for the G-spot,” Jannini says. “Looking for the vaginal orgasm is the best way to lose the vaginal orgasm.”

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Saturday, 28 April 2012

ISS Soars Above Beautiful Auroras,Lightning and Stormy Weather Back On Earth

For your morning viewing pleasure, we bring you another beautiful video of one of the rarest views in the universe — Earth lit up from below as the International Space Station soars 220 miles above.

The video contains a series of time-lapse sequences captured by the crew of Expedition 30 aboard the ISS. It starts over the southern United States and moves toward the American West and into Canada; then you see central Europe toward the Middle East, starting at 21 seconds in. There are amazing lightning storms, rains over Africa, the southern aurora over the Indian Ocean, a setting moon — and even Comet Lovejoy makes an appearance.

The song is called “Walking in the Air,” by Howard Blake, in case you're wondering.

NASA posts these videos on occasion, and although they may be similar, each is so unique that I stop what I'm doing and stare. Especially when the spangled arm of the Milky Way shows up on the horizon, serving as a reminder that our planet really is so very small.

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Design Depot's Power Pylons We'd Like To See

 How awesome would it be if electrical pylons looked like this?

Sure there's a little more steel involved, but it's a damn sight easier on the eyes than what we've got going now.

Sadly it's just a concept rendering, done by Russian creative collective Design Depot, and not the real deal. The proposal apparently has something to do with the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, which are scheduled to be held in the Russian city of Sochi.

Sorry we can't provide more details, but Design Depot's website is in Russian, and our Russian (read: Google Translator) is a bit rusty. If any of our Russian-speaking readership wants to take a gander at the original and shed some more light, please share in the comments!

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Continuum Fashion's Rapid Prototyped Bikini

                                                                                                                                                                     Boston- and New-York-based Continuum Fashion is a company comprised of computational designers Mary Huang and Jenna Fizel, hard at work "creating the future of fashion and stuff." Their N12 bikini is an early example of RP clothing, using Shapeways and an SLS machine to burn nylon into the desired configuration.

  In this video describing the project, Fizel makes the following interesting point: "Jacquard Looms were precursors to the very first mechanical computers. So in the beginning textile production actually gave rise to computation, and now we're trying to use new modern computational methods to create new and more interesting textile designs."

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