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26
May

Silent stealth bikes run on almost anything, Batman would want one of these


The dream of a vehicle fuel systems that runs on anything, like Back To the Future’s Mr Fusion, is getting closer to a reality. Two military stealth bikes have been shown off that not only run near-silently but work with electricity and most fuels too.

The stealth bike project was launched by DARPA in 2014 and now the Silent Hawk from Logos and the Nightmare from LSA Autonomy prototypes are being shown off. Both are quiet enough to run at a noise level comparable to an indoor conversation.

It’s the fuel system that’s really cutting edge though. If Batman were in the market this would be the bike he would ride. In silent mode it runs on pure electricity but it can also run on fuel, nearly any fuel.

The makers of both bikes say fuels like JP-8, Jet A-1, petrol, propane and theoretically even olive oil can all power the bikes. That should mean, in a military situation, the rider can use almost anything nearby to keep going.

Alex Dzwill, an engineer behind the Silent Hawk, says: “If it’s gasoline, tell it it’s gasoline, tell it it’s something else. It will figure it out.”

Even when running in fuel mode the bikes are relatively quiet at 80db, not a lot more than the 55db near-silent running then. And should the military operation mean a lithium-ion cell is damaged it won’t explode and the rest of the battery will keep working thanks to an active cooling system.

Don’t expect to see these bikes on the roads but perhaps once the military has them perfected, hybrid motorcycles could be an option for the public in the future.

READ: Stunning Spider-Man style skyscraper climb using LG vacuum cleaner suction alone

26
May

Three to run network-level ad blocking trials in mid June


UPDATE: Three will run a 24-hour ad-blocking trial in mid-June to those customers who opt in to its invite.

Three has announced that it plans to roll-out mobile ad-blocking on its network, following successful implementation in Three UK and Three Italy. The move is likely to cause protest from mobile advertisers and online communities. 

The company has collaborated with Shine Technologies, with the aim of reducing mobile advertising experienced by customers browsing when using the Three network. Three says that blocking at a network level is more effective than at an app level on individual devices. 

Mobile advertising is something of a hot potato. Online advertising has appeared in many and varied forms, from the clever and informative, to the excessive and intrusive. With increasing numbers of users browsing websites via a mobile network, rather than just through a desktop, this is a debate that’s likely to rage for some time.

Three’s position is that mobile advertisers shouldn’t be degrading the online experience and that customers shouldn’t be paying for data that’s then supplying unwanted adverts, rather than the content they were looking for.

“Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience. We don’t believe customers should have to pay for data usage driven by mobile ads. The industry has to work together to give customers mobile ads they want and benefit from,” says Tom Malleschitz, chief marketing officer, Three UK.

The issue of ad-blocking is a serious concern for those publishers and industries who provide services for free, based on advertising. Many websites use advertising revenue rather than subscription or other revenue to fund those businesses, from niche fan interest sites and forums, to huge news websites, to those wanting to promote their online boutique store.

Advertising is part of the online ecosystem in many more ways than annoying spam pop-ups and there are both good and bad examples, from websites that only exist to push adverts with no content, to those websites serving quality content funded by display advertising. The risk here is that the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater and sources of online content are eliminated along with the adverts.

Three details that the “objective in working with Shine is not to eliminate mobile advertising … but to give customers more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive”, with three major aims: shifting data charges away from customers, protecting privacy and security, and avoid the “excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant.” 

On a surface level those are reasonable aims, although it’s currently difficult to see who will police online advertising and whether a working balance will be struck, or if this will result in some sort of whitelisting system. 

While Three’s statement appears to be about seeking a working balance, Shine Technologies pushes a more militant line: “Carriers can now stop Ad Tech dead in its tracks, protecting infrastructure and delivering an advertising-pollution-free user experience for Subscribers.” 

Three says that more details will be provided in coming months as to how the company will provide a better experience for its customers, but we’re left wondering how that deal will work out for online content providers and communities.

26
May

Avian dating sim ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ makes its mobile debut


Visual novels and dating sims run the gamut from benign to completely out there. Hatoful Boyfriend, a dating sim all about birds, is quirky but not totally unapproachable. It’s just cute enough to pique your interest and then reel you in. It’s also finally made its way to the App Store.
Developer Mediatonic and publisher Devolver Digital have released the romantic tale of the only human based at St. PigeoNation for iOS users today. You’ll meet a host of colorful feathered suitors while managing classes and wrangling dates. It may sound like a totally bizarre concept, but dipping into the weirdness is absolutely worth it, especially when you consider some of the game’s more poignant moments.

You can pick up the iOS version of Hatoful Boyfriend for $4.99/£3.99 today. That’s a paltry entry fee for one of the most accessible visual novels with a dash of weirdness out there. Just don’t be surprised if you’re left wanting more after you complete it. Then you’ll be moving on to Saya no Uta or Clannad, and it’s a slippery (but awesome) slope from there. The original game is still available via Steam if you’d prefer to play on PC.

26
May

MIT exploited heat to make the most efficient solar cell yet


Sorry, University of New South Wales: Your efforts at shattering the efficiency record for solar cells earlier this month have been, ahem, eclipsed. A group of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a way to possibly break the maximum efficiency of a solar cell, the Shockley-Queisser Limit. The Shockley-Queisser tops off at around 32 percent, but that’s taking standard solar cell setups into account. The MIT scientists switched it up and converted incoming sunlight to heat prior to having it generate electricity, a trick that could possibly double the power produced by a given panel.

These solar thermophotovoltaics (above) take light and pass it through an intermediary part comprised of nanophotonic crystals that outputs thermal radiation — something that’s otherwise wasted using typical means. From there, the radiation is converted to the best-possible light wavelengths, via an optical filter, that a normal solar cell can use.

The school says this method means that in the future, passing clouds or even total darkness (if a thermal storage system is in place) wouldn’t affect the system’s ability to gather and produce solar energy, respectively. And this is all with what the team refers to as “unoptimized geometry.” Meaning, efficiency could go even higher than what was achieved during this experiment. Your day in the sun is over, UNSW.

Via: MIT News

Source: Nature Energy

26
May

German scientists are training robots to ‘feel’ pain


Pain is important. It triggers the appropriate response to prevent even greater injuries or even to save your life. A couple of German researchers think so too, so they’re working on a way to make robots “feel” — or, more accurately, to detect and respond to — pain. That way, they can move away from anything that could damage them, thereby lengthening their lifespans and preventing the need for costly repairs.

Johannes Kuehn and Professor Sami Haddadin from the Leibniz University of Hannover presented their work at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Sweden last week. In the video below, you can see them demonstrating their “nervous robot-tissue model that is inspired by the human skin structure” on a robotic arm. The robotic nervous system classifies pain as light, moderate (such as strong collisions) or severe (anything that can damage the machine). Each type triggers an appropriate response, as they explained in their ICRA paper:

“In the [light] pain class, such contacts occur that may harm the robot or prevent it from performing the task. The robot “feels” uncomfortable and shall smoothly retract until the contact event is over and return thereafter. Strong collisions are covered in the [moderate] pain class. The robot “feels” moderate pain, shall quickly retract, and more distant until the contact event is over. Then, it may move back. The [severe] pain class covers all contacts in which the robot may be damaged and thus needs some sort of “help.” In order to prevent making the damage worse, the robot switches to gravity compensation with additional damping for dissipation, improving the safety of the robot and the environment by its strictly passive behavior.

While the research could lead to more human-like robots than ever, it could also benefit other types of machines. The ability to feel pain could, for instance, help protect industrial machines used in factories.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

26
May

‘Hyper Light Drifter’ special edition comes with a SNES cart


I know what you’re thinking — another special edition for an indie game? Sure it’s been done before, many times, but the Hyper Light Drifter Collector’s Edition looks pretty sweet. It comes with a cyan “SNES cartridge,” a 24-page manual, a 24-inch by 18-inch world map poster, a box to store it all in and a digital code for the game. That manual is particularly welcome; a full-color booklet with information on enemies, drifters, and tons of beautiful artwork. The SNES cartridge is in quotes because it’s just a non-functional piece of art. Also it’s a North American-style SNES cartridge, so if you owned a European or Asian console, it won’t look very familiar to you.

As for the game… Hyper Light Drifter is really good. A lot of people have compared it to Dark Souls, but it’s only similar in that it’s difficult. It’s a top-down 2D action game, with a mysterious but gentle storyline and some very tough combat. When you die — and you’ll do so a lot — though, you just get transported to the beginning of the combat area with no punishment. In that way, it’s got the “live, die repeat” mechanics of other indie games like Hotline Miami.

Pre-orders for the Collector’s Edition start today in PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One flavors, all priced at $65. If you order the PC version, you’ll get a Steam code immediately, and the cool collector-y stuff late this summer. As the Xbox and PS4 versions aren’t due out until summer, you’ll get your code as soon as it’s available. iam8bit, the store selling the special edition, says its goal is “to have the boxes shipped out in concert with Hyper Light Drifter’s console release.” In addition to the Collector’s Edition, iam8bit is also selling a 4LP vinyl soundtrack and some fine art prints from the game.

Source: iam8bit

26
May

Engadget giveaway: Win a uniVERSE Case System courtesy of Otterbox!


If you’re like me, your smartphone is always at your side and that means more chances for it to take a tumble. These smart devices also pack plenty of business tools, photo, video and audio capabilities, making them a virtual pocket-sized production studio. Case and accessory maker Otterbox believes it’s found the ideal middle ground for keeping your phone protected and letting you expand its capabilities without compromising its shell. The Otterbox uniVERSE Case System includes a modular phone case with a connector for swapping in a range of accessories including tripods, lens attachments, memory card readers, battery packs and Bluetooth speakers. This week, the company has provided us with an iPhone 6/6s uniVERSE case, along with four of its add-on modules to help you get you started. Just head down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) Otterbox uniVERSE case, one (1) Polar Pro Trippler Tripod, one (1) Polar Pro Power Pack battery, one (1) Polar Pro Bluetooth speaker and one (1) SanDisk iXpand 64GB flash drive — total value approximately $290.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until May 27th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
26
May

ISS experiment will investigate how pills dissolve in space


Space is weird, and it’s well known that floating around up there takes its toll on our fragile human bodies. If we’re to ever conquer the final frontier, we’ll need to do more than eat our greens to keep healthy in alien conditions. A new experiment, soon to be carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), will look at how pills dissolve in microgravity, because astronauts get sick too. It’s hoped that results of the “Hard to Wet Surfaces” study, devised by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, could lead to the development of better drug formulations that are more effective in space, and possibly on Earth.

The experiment itself is relatively simple. Small tablets of a compound used to package active drugs will be suspended in vials of a phosphate buffer solution, and the plan is to just see what happens. Researchers are concerned with two key influences on the dissolving process: wettability and float effect. The former refers to the interaction between fluid and solid surfaces, while the latter describes how less dense solids float on the surface of denser liquids. Both properties impact how quickly a pill dissolves, and therefore how quickly it can be absorbed by the body to take effect.

It’s thought, with good reason, that there will be no such thing as the float effect in microgravity, meaning pills should dissolve quicker in space. Otherwise, the researchers don’t really know what to expect, but they are satisfied than any intel is good intel. Whatever they may learn will hopefully guide the development of better drug formulations with improved delivery characteristics. While this may benefit us down here on Earth, it could be much more important for astronauts.

That’s because drugs degrade and lose effectiveness much more quickly in space, which isn’t ideal when bacterial infections are more resilient up there than down here. There’s a lot about space medicine that’s still unknown, what formulations work best being one of them. And if astronauts hope to make their own drugs while traversing the great void one day, they’ll need to know how to package them.

Image: Zin Technologies (Pill experiment)

Source: NASA

26
May

‘Deus Ex’ trailer shows mankind divided over augmentation


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided explores a future where humanity is torn by the rise of augmentation. Set fifteen years in the future, it’s now commonplace for people to equip themselves with artificial limbs. But after the so-called “aug incident,” where augmented humans were covertly hacked and suddenly turned violent, society is split down the middle — both ethically and physically. Augmented and non-augmented individuals are separated in the streets, fuelling civil unrest. It’s a gripping backdrop for a video game, and one you can now absorb through a live-action trailer.

Live-action video game trailers are normally a bit rubbish, but this one is surprisingly effective. You get a good sense of how the technology has developed, why so many people have embraced it, and a hint of the “madness” that gripped people during the pivotal “aug incident.” Whether you’re a longtime Deus Ex fan or a franchise beginner, it’s enough to give you the gist of hero Adam Jensen’s situation. An augmented individual himself, he works both for Interpol and a hacker group in order to find “Illuminati,” the people responsible for the lethal malfunctions.

The game is set to land on August 23rd.

Source: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (YouTube)

26
May

Amazon’s got eight more TV show pilots for your perusal


Rather than letting shadowy commissioners decide on what TV shows to make in secret, Amazon lets everyone get involved. As it’s done so several times before, the company will debut a number of pilots and ask members of the public to vote on what gets turned into a series. This time ’round, there are two one hour dramas, both of which will be available in 4K and HDR, as well as six kids series for you to weigh in upon.

First on the docket is The Interestings, a series that’s based on Meg Wolitzer’s 2013 novel of the same name. It’s the story of a group of teenagers who bond at summer camp over their shared love of art, and how they grow over time. The show stars Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose alongside David Krumholtz, Jessica Pare and Matt Barr. Behind the lens you’ve got Four Weddings director Mike Newell as well as Lyn Greene and Richard Levine, who both wrote for Nip/Tuck and produced Masters of Sex.

Secondly, there’s The Last Tycoon, which was written and directed by Billy Ray, who wrote Captain Phillips and adapted the first Hunger Games. The show stars Kelsey Grammer as an aging studio head as he battles his son, played by Matt Bomer, for control of the business. If anyone’s concerned that there could be any real-world parallels between a media tycoon fighting for control with their relatives, don’t worry. Unlike what’s going on over at Viacom, this drama is set in the 1930s with the rise of fascism looming in the background.

We won’t bore you with the details of the other five kids’ shows, but one will probably appeal to big kids with long memories. Amazon has teamed up with legendary producers Sid and Marty Krofft to remake Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, the 1973 NBC series about a pair of brothers who befriend a sea monster. The whole slate of shows will be made available on Amazon from June 17th, and the show that gets the most positive reception will be turned into the next big thing — following in the footsteps of Transparent and The Man in the High Castle.

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