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30
Jun

Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 – The Master Trials now available: Here’s how to get it


Nintendo has released the first DLC for Breath of the Wild and it’s not shirking on the new content.

The DLC Pack 1, entitled “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials”, is included as part of the Expansion Pass for Nintendo Switch and Wii U. That also includes three new treasure chests and a further DLC Pack expected to be released at the end of the year – in “Holiday 2017”.

You must buy the Expansion Pass to get the Packs as neither will be released separately.

How to purchase The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass on Nintendo Switch

There are three ways you can buy a Zelda Expansion Pass for the Nintendo Switch version:

  • You can buy a digital code for £17.99 from “select retailers” such as Amazon.co.uk in the UK. It costs $19.99 in the US. That code can then be redeemed through the Nintendo eShop on the console itself.
  • You can buy it through the game’s main menu, under the “Downloadable Content” section.

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  • Or you can visit the game’s Nintendo eShop page on the Switch, scroll down and purchase the Expansion Pass there.

Nintendo Wii U owners can also purchase the Expansion Pass for the same price and using the same methods (roughly) as the above. This is the Amazon.co.uk link for the Wii U Expansion Pass.

  • All the Nintendo Switch games: Launch titles and every game for 2017 revealed
  • Is the Nintendo Switch good for all the family? Parental controls, motion gaming and more explored
  • Nintendo Switch vs Wii U: What’s the difference?

What you get in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials DLC Pack 1

The first DLC Pack will work fine for new players or those who completed the game and want to continue exploring Hyrule. There are several new modes and trials included:

  • Trial of the Sword: A “certain sacred location”, which regular players will already be familiar with, now offers an all-new Trial of the Sword challenge. There are 45 rooms in which waves of increasing more difficult enemies need to be vanquished. Worse is that Link starts without any equipment or weapons. The reward is well worth it though, the Master Sword will be permanently powered-up after the challenge is complete (beforehand, it runs out of power occasionally and needs to charge again before use).
  • Hero’s Path Mode: This mode shows a line of exactly where you visited in the last 200 hours of gameplay, displayed on the in-game map, showing your path through the adventure.

  • Hard Mode: Is the game a bit too easy for you? A new Hard Mode powers all enemies up by a level. They also recover health over time. You might also see enemies and chests floating in the sky.
  • Travel Medallion: A new item appears in a chest somewhere in the world. It has a one-off use, which places a fast travel point on the map.
  • New armour: Eight new treasure chests appear in Hyrule that contain new armour to collect, all based on previous The Legend of Zelda games. And that includes Majora’s Mask, oh yes.
  • Korok Mask: There is also a Korok Mask hidden in the world. It shakes whenever a hidden Korok is nearby, helping you find all 900 of them.

What you get in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 2

The second expansion pack is some way off, coming at the end of 2017, so details of what it will contain are yet to be revealed. However, we do know that it will add a “new dungeon”, an “original story” and “even more new challenges”.

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30
Jun

Alpine’s latest receiver brings wireless CarPlay to all


Apple CarPlay has finally gone wireless. After debuting the technology at CES this year, Alpine is now shipping the iLX-107, the first CarPlay receiver with support for wireless connectivity. And considering the tech world’s general disdain for wires and cables, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long to reach the aftermarket.

The receiver (compatible with the iPhone 5 and later) lets CarPlay be accessed through the touchscreen and Siri voice control. You’ll get the full CarPlay experience: make calls, read texts, choose music and get real-time traffic updates. Plus, depending on your car you’ll get customized vehicle information too, such as park assist. There’s no longer any need for the proverbial Lightning cable: simply connect your phone via WiFi or Bluetooth.

While CarPlay receivers have been kicking around for a while, this is the first to support wireless connectivity — a function that began development in 2015 but didn’t find an infotainment home until late 2016 when it was added to the 2017 BMW 5 Series Sedan.

Despite growing demand for such systems, very few manufacturers have the tech built into their cars, so it’s still very much a novelty. Perhaps this is the argument for the iLX-107’s eye-watering $900 price tag.

Source: Cision

30
Jun

Microsoft made its AI work on a $10 Raspberry Pi


When you’re far from a cell tower and need to figure out if that bluebird is Sialia sialis or Sialia mexicana, no cloud server is going to help you. That’s why companies are squeezing AI onto portable devices, and Microsoft has just taken that to a new extreme by putting deep learning algorithms onto a Raspberry Pi. The goals is to get AI onto “dumb” devices like sprinklers, medical implants and soil sensors to make them more useful, even if there’s no supercomputer or internet connection in sight.

The idea came about from Microsoft Labs teams in Redmond and Bangalore, India. Ofer Dekel, who manages an AI optimization group at the Redmond Lab, was trying to figure out a way to stop squirrels from eating flower bulbs and seeds from his bird feeder. As one does, he trained a computer vision system to spot squirrels, and installed the code on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3. Now, it triggers the sprinkler system whenever the rodents pop up, chasing them away.

“Every hobbyist who owns a Raspberry Pi should be able to do that,” Dekel said in Microsoft’s blog. “Today, very few of them can.” The problems is that it’s too expensive and impractical to install high-powered chips or connected cloud-computing devices on things like squirrel sensors. However, it’s feasible to equip sensors and other devices with a $10 Raspberry Zero or the pepper-flake-sized Cortex M0 chip pictured above.

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All the squirrel-spotting power you need (Matt Brian/AOL)

To make it work on systems that often have just a few kilobytes of RAM, the team compressed neural network parameters down to just a few bits instead of the usual 32. Another technique is “sparsification” of algorithms, a way of pruning them down to remove redundancies. By doing that, they were able to make an image detection system run about 20 times faster on a Raspberry Pi 3 without any loss of accuracy.

However, taking it to the next level won’t be quite as easy. “There is just no way to take a deep neural network, have it stay as accurate as it is today, and consume 10,000 times less resources. You can’t do it,” said Dekel. For that, they’ll need to invent new types of AI tech tailored for low-powered devices, and that’s tricky, considering researchers still don’t know exactly how deep learning tools work.

Microsoft’s researchers are working on a few projects for folks with impairments, like a walking stick that can detect falls and issue a call for help, and “smart gloves” that can interpret sign language. To get some new ideas and help, they’ve made some of their early training tools and algorithms available to Raspberry Pi hobbyists and other researchers on Github. “Giving these powerful machine-learning tools to everyday people is the democratization of AI,” says researcher Saleema Amershi.

Via: Mashable

Source: Microsoft

30
Jun

The best Wi-Fi mesh networking kits for most people


By Jim Salter

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

Mesh-networking kits, which use multiple access points spread around your house, are a great alternative to traditional routers for large and troublesome homes where a single powerful router won’t cut it. After spending over 50 hours testing nine mesh Wi-Fi networking kits in a large, complicated, multilevel home, we’re confident the Netgear Orbi kit is the best choice for most people. Our testing, however, also showed that most people will still be fine with our current router pick instead of mesh.

Who this is for

You should consider a mesh-networking kit if you have a house that a single powerful router can’t cover, such as a large house (say, above 3,000 square feet), a small house with signal-killing interior walls (like lath-and-plaster, brick, or concrete blocks), or a house with a complicated layout. But before you toss out everything and get a mesh-networking kit, you should try moving your router to a central location, adding a wireless extender, or running Ethernet cable to inexpensive wireless access points. These approaches offer the benefits of the mesh-network kits, but at a much lower cost.

How we picked and tested

The 3,500-square-foot test environment, with test locations labeled in blue, network hardware (other than Plume pods) in red, and Plume pods in purple. Illustration: Kim Ku

For our first two rounds, we tested every home mesh networking kit we could get (not just-announced, in crowdfunding, or in preproduction, but actually available when we started testing). Our first round of testing included the Eero, Luma, and Netgear Orbi kits, as well as both the HD and (now discontinued) standard versions of the AmpliFi kit. For our current round, we added the Linksys Velop, Google Wifi, Amped Ally, and Plume kits.

To test coverage and performance, we set up each kit’s units in a challenging home environment. The two-story, 3,500-square-foot house we used is built into a hillside, with a foundation slab underneath half of the top floor. The foundation slab effectively kills any direct Wi-Fi signal from the upstairs networking closet to the bottom floor. We tested latency and throughput for each mesh kit a minimum of three times in each of the four corners in both floors, as well as inside a parked car in the driveway. We also tested usability by browsing random selections from the front page of YouTube on a smartphone in each of the test locations for a few minutes.

Finally, we paid close attention to roaming. I wrote a script that made my test laptop “BING!” every time it roamed from one access point to another, or from one spectrum to another, and I gave the devices as much chance to network-roam on their own as possible. To learn about our testing procedure in detail, please see our full guide.

Our pick: Netgear Orbi

The Netgear Orbi router and satellite look like alien vases, but this kit is the easiest to set up and the most powerful among the mesh networking kits we tested. Photo: Michael Hession

Netgear’s Orbi RBK50 is the best Wi-Fi mesh kit for most people, because it covers all the bases in the simplest way. It ranked at or near the top of the pack for throughput, it’s easy to set up and use, it’s packed with advanced features, it has four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports, and, unlike most mesh kits, it still works without an Internet connection. The Orbi is also one of the only kits we tested with a dedicated backhaul band for communication between the router and the satellite unit.

Ease of setup is a pretty big deal with Wi-Fi mesh, because the placement of the units can be as important as which kit you buy. The fact that the Orbi kit has just two units instead of three, with dead-simple instructions—put the base unit where your Internet connection is, and the satellite in the middle of your house—will ease the technical anxiety of people who simply want to plug it in and get on with their lives. The Orbi is also the only kit we tested that can be set up with a local Web interface, instead of a cloud service or smartphone app. It works just fine with any Internet connection or even none at all.

Orbi’s only real flaw is that it uses the same channels for all three radios on the router and satellite(s). This approach maximizes your chance of congestion and interference, indicating that Orbi might not be the best choice for people with a large number of devices.

Runner-up: Eero

Each Eero unit is unobtrusive and interchangeable (until you set them up), and you can easily buy more to expand your network. Photo: Michael Hession

Eero was the first, and is still the most famous, mesh-networking kit. The system is physically attractive, technologically flexible, and well-established. In our testing environment, Eero was reliable and easy to set up and use, and offers good throughput and range, along with serious expandability. You can also buy more Eero units and adopt them into your existing network, if your place is big enough and your pockets are deep enough to justify that. It’s a solid runner-up choice if Orbi is sold out or too expensive, or if you have a situation that needs multi-“hop” but you don’t want to try the relatively unknown Plume.

Eero’s intuitive app lets you enable an “Internet pause” feature that makes it very easy to shut off Internet access—instantly or on a schedule—to get the attention of unruly kids, spouses, or roommates. The Eero system is extremely well-documented, too, in a style that doesn’t scare off network novices yet still gives technically minded people all the details they want.

For aesthetes, homes with lots of devices, and next-gen fans: Plume

Photo: Michael Hession

Plume takes a totally different approach to networking than Orbi does by prioritizing rock-solid, low-latency connections over high throughput. While every other mesh kit consists of two or three fairly high-power devices, a Plume network consists of a bunch of tiny, relatively inexpensive, low-powered pods that plug directly into wall outlets. Plume’s cloud optimizer software automatically organizes the pods into a complex topology, which should offer significant benefits for anybody with a large number of Wi-Fi devices or signal-blocking obstacles in their house.

Despite a given pod frequently needing two or even three more hops to communicate with the router than competing units, the Plume system had the lowest latency of any kit I tested. That’s seriously impressive, and it helps devices roam more easily and accurately than any other kit we tested.

Plume’s smartphone-controlled interface is simple, intuitive, and sufficient for the typical home, but—like all the smartphone-controlled mesh kits we tried, and unlike Orbi—it doesn’t go deep into the technical details. If you want to go nuts with advanced functions, you should plug the main Plume pod into your existing router and put the kit in bridge mode.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

30
Jun

The remastered ‘Starcraft’ arrives in August


Starcraft’s long-overdue facelift will make its debut on Monday 14 August. The remastered version boasts a raft of enhancements including 4K resolution, improved sound and rebooted dialogue, all designed to make the game look a bit more shiny and polished, while essentially remaining exactly the same.

Priced at $14.99/£12.99 and available for Windows and Mac, the classic strategy game also features a new matchmaking and leaderboard system, player profiles and the ability to save to the cloud, all while maintaining the same gameplay that’s somehow resulted in a two-decade-long fan obsession.

Don’t worry, puritans. You’ll be pleased to hear it’ll be possible to switch between the original and the remastered game at the touch of a button, while players embracing the makeover can pre-order through the Blizzard Shop to get their hands on three unique building skins for use in the remastered version.

Source: Blizzard

30
Jun

Lawsuit claims Sprint caused RadioShack’s latest bankruptcy


In 2015, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy and shortly thereafter co-branded around 1,400 of its remaining stores with Sprint. Just over two years later, RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy again and a group of its creditors says it’s largely Sprint’s fault.

In a lawsuit filed this week, the creditors claim that Sprint didn’t follow through with providing inventory and staff to the shared stores and used information from the partnership to open 200 competing stores near RadioShack’s most successful locations. The lawsuit says that by doing that, Sprint destroyed around 6,000 RadioShack jobs and prevented the chain’s recovery.

The suit is seeking $500 million in damages from Sprint, who has gone on to make other partnerships since its one with RadioShack. Sprint, owned by SoftBank, bought a 33 percent stake in Tidal earlier this year and is reportedly in discussions to make a deal with Charter and Comcast, which has put ongoing talks of a merger with T-Mobile on hold.

A spokesperson for Sprint said the company would be fighting the lawsuit and was disappointed by the creditors’ claims.

Source: Reuters

30
Jun

‘Asteroid Day’ is a good time to learn about the threat of space rocks


On June 30th, 1908, more than 770 square miles of remote Russian forest were obliterated from the face of the Earth when a relatively small meteor, estimated at only around 400 feet across, unleashed 15 megatons of energy above the Stony Tunguska River. One hundred and nine years later, humanity knows precious little more about the dangers that lurk within our solar system than we did in 1908. But a recently founded “global day of education” aims to bring the existential threat that space rocks pose to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

“Asteroid Day” is a UN-sanctioned event held every June 30th, the anniversary of the Tunguska incident, since 2014. That was when former Queen guitarist and now astrophysicist Dr. Brian May teamed up with Rusty Schweickart and Dr. Ed Lu, a pair of former NASA astronauts and current proprietors of the B612 Foundation, along with Danica Remy and film director Grigorij Richters, to form the Asteroid Day Foundation (the ADF).

While the B612 group seeks to ultimately develop methods of deflecting dangerous asteroids before they stray into Earth’s path, Asteroid Day works to simply increase our ability to detect incoming threats before it’s too late. Specifically, the ADF advocates for improving our asteroid-spotting capabilities by a factor of 100, which would enable astronomers to more quickly identify and track hundreds of thousands of the estimated one million near-Earth objects (NEOs) that are floating around our neck of the galaxy, rather than the thousand or so that we currently do.

“The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it became that the human race has been living on borrowed time,” May noted during a 2014 press conference. “Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to an awareness of the Earth’s vulnerability and the realization that Asteroids hit Earth all the time.”

Science Museum

Brian May and Grig Richters at the Science Museum, London – Image: Max Alexander

Asteroid Day festivities are largely decentralized. Hundreds of independently organized events are hosted in museums, schools, theaters and libraries across 72 countries and five continents under the Asteroid Day banner. In the three years that the event has been held, the number of events has doubled annually, from 250 the first year to 500 last year. This year, the ADF estimates that there will be closer to 1,000 gatherings going on. These include a number of regional events, such as a panel discussion being held at Imperial College in London, planetarium shows at the University of Nebraska, and “Asteroid Day walks” held in various cities throughout Pakistan. Additionally, the ADF is teaming with Discovery Channel to air a 24-hour livestream of asteroid-centric content.

Even NASA is getting in on the fun. As part of a star-packed astronomers’ panel being held at the University of Arizona, researchers from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission (“Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer”) will be discussing their efforts to acquire and return to Earth the first physical samples of an asteroid.

This mission is part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, which has already sent spacecraft to investigate Jupiter (the Juno mission) and Pluto (the New Horizons mission). “In this case it’s actually an asteroid sample return. Specifically, a near-Earth asteroid that’s carbonaceous to boot,” explained Dr. Bashar Rizk, OCAMS instrument scientist at University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “This means that it has implications not just for the origin of the solar system, but for the origin of life.”

The asteroid they chose, Bennu, isn’t just scientifically interesting; “it is one of the most hazardous asteroids that we know about,” Rizk continued. “And the factors, the physical mechanism to determine whether it’s going to continue to be hazardous in the future, are one of the five major things that we want to go there and study.”

As of the publication of this story, the 20-foot-long OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is in orbit around the sun, awaiting the moment when Earth’s and Bennu’s orbits overlap and then using the planet’s gravity well to slingshot to within range of the asteroid. This should be sometime in September.

Once the spacecraft and the asteroid are within visual range, approximately 1 million miles from each other, the OSIRIS will spend the following two years mapping and surveying the asteroid with its suite of visual cameras and lidar sensors. They’ll examine the space rock’s surface in microscopic detail, determine its chemical composition and plot out a safe space for the spacecraft to get close enough to collect a sample from it.

The OSIRIS-REx has a clever means of doing this: It will extend a boom arm, dubbed the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), which will “phoof” the surface with a puff of nitrogen, stirring up anywhere from a few ounces to a few pounds of material for collection. Anything the TAGSAM grabs will be loaded into a return capsule and blasted back toward Earth on a 2.5-year return journey. The rest of the OSRIS will return to its solar orbit, and, depending on how much fuel it has left, could be repurposed for future survey missions.

“The samples that we get from Bennu will inform primarily origin-of-the-solar-system or origin-of-life kinds of questions,” Rizk explained. “So they’ll be very interesting to us in terms of their precise chemical state and their heterogeneity (or lack thereof), the presentation that they have, the geological aspects that we find here on the asteroid, and everything that they can tell us about that asteroid’s history.”

The OSIRIS-Rex mission may well tell us where we came from, but it’s also doing important work to help ensure we stay here. While the 1,600-foot diameter Bennu asteroid isn’t big enough to wipe out life on Earth should it hit, which it may do in the late 22nd century, the impact would still mess us up real bad.

Given that the Tunguska meteor, a quarter the size of this one, managed to wipe out an area the size of Jacksonville, Florida (America’s largest city in terms of acreage), Bennu could conceivable take out the better part of an entire state. The human cost alone would be utterly catastrophic.

Luckily Bennu, like other asteroids, is subject to non-gravitational forces such as the Yarkovsky effect. That’s when the side of the asteroid facing a star absorbs solar radiation and heats up. As the asteroid rotates, the absorbed energy is emitted as thermal photons which generate momentum, redirecting the object ever so slightly as it travels through space.

“This object we believe came from the main [asteroid belt] and was part of a specific asteroid family which maybe is related to the breakup of one larger object some time in the past,” Rizk said. “Once the smaller objects became subjected to non-gravitational effects they would have migrated to one of the residences with Jupiter’s orbit in the asteroid belt that would tend to kick objects out.”

When that happens, asteroids will either be shunted out of the solar system entirely or fly into the sun unless their trajectories are influenced by another celestial object. “Some time in the past [Bennu] has just probably had some encounter with the Earth… because its orbit is so closely tied to the Earth,” he continued.

This close proximity could eventually prove beneficial. “Near Earth asteroids are the place to go if you want resources for a large space endeavor,” Rizk figures. “So if you want to build solar power satellites in space, or if you want to colonize the L4 or L5 points in your Earth-moon system, or go out and start a colony of the L2 point… you’re not going to be able to launch the resources that you want for such a project from the Earth itself because it costs too much.”

Instead, Rizk envisions future space explorers using passing asteroids as celestial gas stations. “The nearest asteroids have the ideal combination of potential resources both in terms of volatiles and metals and all the rest of the stuff we need — oxygen — and accessibility.” And since the latest federal budget has effectively killed NASA’s asteroid redirect mission, it’s not like we’re going to be making artifical near Earth objects of our own any time soon.

30
Jun

The Cash Money app creates cover art for your rap debut


Music fans of a certain generation will remember Cash Money Records’ charmingly kitschy album art. Twenty years later the record label is capitalizing on nostalgia with the Cash Money 20th Anniversary app. If you’ve ever wanted to put your face on a Hot Boy$ album, this app will help you live out that fantasy. There are 20 stickers to dress your photo with, and even a Birdman and Lil Wayne tattoo pack to complete the look. As Billboard writes the first sticker pack is free, but everything else will run you $0.99 each.

Need more from the free app? You can stream 15 videos from Cash Money artists and access commentary tracks and interviews with those involved with producing the clips. It’s available now on iOS, and the label promises it’ll go wide on other platforms on September 1st.

Via: Billboard

Source: iTunes

30
Jun

Removal of Built-in YouTube App in iOS 6 Was YouTube’s Decision to ‘Take Back Control of Our App’


In August 2012, iOS users began noticing that the default YouTube app had been removed from Apple’s software in iOS 6 Beta 4, becoming permanent with the public debut of the software in the fall of 2012. For the five years prior, YouTube was a mainstay on the iPhone, launching as a default app on iPhone OS as far back as the original iPhone in 2007.

Animosity between Apple and many Android smartphone makers has been well-documented over the years, becoming abundant in 2012 through an ongoing lawsuit related to Apple’s suing of Samsung for copying the iPhone design with Android devices, as well as an Apple lawsuit aimed at Google-owned Motorola focusing on Slide-to-Unlock.

Now, in a series of Tweets, former YouTube employee Hunter Walk has said that it was YouTube and Google’s decision not to renew an agreement with Apple for YouTube on iOS, so that the company could “take back control of our app” (via Business Insider).

…2012 iOS6, time for YouTube to take back control of our app, which was still Apple-created. Made gutsy move to not renew agreement…

— Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) June 30, 2017

Walk sent out nearly one dozen Tweets on the topic last night, starting off by explaining how Apple approached Google for YouTube on the first iPhone, Apple’s control of building the app, the lack of an official “YouTube” name on the icon, and the overall success of the app as a way to entice customers to buy an iPhone for video streaming.

When the license agreements ended five years later in 2012, Walk said YouTube’s time to take back the app came, so the company — “still operating pretty independently from GOOG at that time” — made its move. Walk went on to Tweet that the decision paid off, with most consumers reinstalling the YouTube app from the iOS App Store upon noticing that the default app had disappeared.

The former YouTube employee ended his series of Tweets, which he said was possible because the “statue of limitations on any nondisclosures” had expired, by stating that this period of YouTube was “one of the most interesting & consequential series of product decisions during my time at YouTube,” emphasizing that it was, “Not w/o controversy internally.”

Google remains the default search engine on iOS devices, and in 2016 it came to light that Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to retain that status on iPhones and iPads. In 2012, Apple removed another default Google app from iPhone — Google Maps — and replaced it with Apple Maps in iOS 6.

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30
Jun

Circuit board that self-destructs when cooled is the most ‘Mission: Impossible’ thing ever


Why it matters to you

Dissolving circuit boards could be used in the military, or in more conventional use-cases like hospitals, too.

The idea of a circuit board that dissolves the moment it’s cooled totally sounds like something out of the Mission: Impossible movies, or maybe a mystery heist flick where a rare computer disappears after being removed from its air-conditioned safe.

In fact, it sums up the work being done by researchers at Vanderbilt University, described in a new paper published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. What they’ve been working on is a way of building transient electronics that come apart when you stop heating them.

“What we have done is produce a composite system that behaves like a regular circuit board when immersed in warm water, but if the water cools below a threshold temperature, the entire system disintegrates, dissolves, and stops working,” Dr. Leon Bellan, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt, told Digital Trends. “We have achieved this behavior by coupling two separate materials: networks of silver nanowires, and a polymer that exhibits the odd behavior of being insoluble in warm water, but soluble in cold water.”

These nanowires — spun using a cotton candy machine — are embedded in the polymer, which holds the network together so that they are touching one another and therefore produce a path to conduct electricity. Should the polymer dissolve, there’s nothing to hold the nanowires together. As a result, the network falls apart, the nanowires do the same, and the conductive path is lost as the entire system disintegrates.

So far, so intriguing. But why on earth would you want a dissolving circuit board? As suggested earlier, secretive operations could be a legitimate use-case. The heat supply could be a battery powering a heater, or even the body temperature of a soldier on whose body a top-secret circuit has been implanted. If the battery is lost, or the body heat is no longer available, the circuit vanishes.

“Some possible applications that are less in the realm of James Bond would [also] be tracking tags (RFID) implanted in hospital patients,” Bellan said. “These could be triggered to disintegrate and stop functioning by local application of a cooling stimulus, such as ice, instead of requiring surgery to remove them.”

We guess the second one makes good sense. We still dig the Mission: Impossible one the most, though!




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