mpicpp writes Animator Paul Hollingsworth and his daughter Hailee, along with some help from a few "master builders" — decided to Jurassic Park using only Lego pieces. More than $100,000 in Lego were used, according to the video's description. The result is a surprisingly stunning and hilarious version of the 1993 dino-thriller. The team behind the film also released an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the production.
moon_unit2 writes Amazon is organizing an event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.
Several readers sent word that Nintendo is finally bringing its games to mobile devices. It's partnering with Japanese game publisher DeNA to develop games for phones and tablets based on Nintendo's popular game IPs. (Existing games will not get mobile ports, however.) DeNA first approached Nintendo about using the company's characters in mobile games back in 2010, Iwata said, and has been passionately pursuing talks on the alliance ever since. Iwata acknowledged that the transition from the Wii and DS lines to the Wii U and 3DS lines has not gone "as smoothly as we had expected," but he maintained that industry watchers predicting the death of dedicated video game consoles are being too pessimistic. Iwata tied the move to smartphones to Nintendo's historical embrace of TV gaming after decades as a physical toy and card game company during a time when TVs didn't exist. "Now that smart devices have grown to become the window for so many people to personally connect with society, it would be a waste not to use these devices."
jones_supa writes For a long time we have had toys that talk back to their owners, but a new "smart" Barbie doll's eavesdropping and data-gathering functions have privacy advocates crying foul. Toymaker Mattel bills Hello Barbie as the world's first "interactive doll" due to its ability to record children's playtime conversations and respond to them, once the audio is transmitted over WiFi to a cloud server. In a demo video, a Mattel presenter at the 2015 Toy Fair in New York says the new doll fulfills the top request that Mattel receives from girls: to have a two-way dialogue. "They want to have a conversation with Barbie," she said, adding that the new toy will be "the very first fashion doll that has continuous learning, so that she can have a unique relationship with each girl." Susan Linn, the executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has written a statement in which she says how the product is seriously creepy and creates a host of dangers for children and families. She asks people to join her in a petition under the proposal of Mattel discontinuing the toy.
hypnosec writes: The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab — dubbed the world's most dangerous toy — has gone on display at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland. The toy earned the title because it includes four types of uranium ore, three sources of radiation, and a Geiger counter that enables parents to measure just how contaminated their child have become. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab was only available between 1951 and 1952 and was the most elaborate atomic energy educational kit ever produced. The toy was one of the most costly toys of the time, retailing at $50 — equivalent to around $400 today.
CES was that there were drone vendors all over the place. Drones are obviously one of the hot-hot toy/gadget trends of the moment. The Drone that won 'Best Robot or Drone in Show' was the camera-carrying, "follows you like a dog on a (Bluetooth 3) leash" AirDog. They already had a crazy-sucessful KickStarter campaign that led to a large stack of pre-orders, so don't count on getting your very own AirDog right away, even if you have $1300 to spend on one.
sciencehabit writes Researchers have built contraption from LEGOs that can move and rotate insects every which way while keeping them stable and positioned under a microscope. The design improves on previous insect manipulators because it's cheap, customizable, and easy to build. As natural history museums work on digitizing their voluminous collections—taking high-resolution photographs of each precious beetle, bee, and dragonfly in their possession—they have to handle insects repeatedly. Now the job will be easier on the entomologists, and more insect specimens will be able to hang on to their wings—all thanks to LEGOs.
MojoKid writes Here's a dose of Rebel goodness to tide you over while you wait for the next Star Wars trailer. A drone enthusiast in France recently graced the web with a few videos of a self-built quadcopter with a shell designed to look like the Millennium Falcon. It's enough to make a Star Wars fan tear up. The drone features a blue thruster light, just like the real Millennium Falcon, and has bright front lights as well. Its creator, who goes by "Oliver C", has some serious modding skills. The shape of the Millennium Falcon presented Oliver with some challenges, but he has the balance more or less handled by the time the spaceship (or quadcopter) takes its first flight outside.
alphadogg writes SkyMall, the quirky airline catalog, looks as though it may be grounded before long. Parent company Xhibit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seeks to sell its assets. In an SEC filing, Xhibit explains that it has fallen victim to an "intensely competitive" direct marketing retail industry that now includes the likes of eBay and Amazon.com. Smartphones and tablets are largely to blame for SkyMall's downfall, according to the SEC filing. "Historically, the SkyMall catalog was the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog."
schwit1 writes, "Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses 'tangle-lines' to quickly down its prey." From The Telegraph's article: It has been designed to be faster and more agile than other drones to ensure that they can't escape - partly by limiting flight time and therefore reducing weight. “Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we've collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it's inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it,” the group say on their website. This seems more efficient than going after those pesky paparazzi drones with fighting kites (video), but it should also inspire some skepticism: CNET notes that the team behind it is anonymous, and that "Rapere works in a lab setting, however there aren't any photos or videos of the killer drone in action. The website instead has only a slideshow of the concept."
Molly McHugh writes By disassembling your plastic Sting and incorporating the Spark Core, a tiny Wi-Fi development kit, you can hack the toy's light and enlist it to show you when you are near an unsecure network. The best part about this hack? It only requires two things: a Spark Core and a replica Sting with lights and sound, like this one."
An anonymous reader writes The MeArm is a flat-pack robot arm. It has been developed in a very short time frame as the creators have been able to tap into crowd development by open sourcing all of the designs. Because of this it's exploded around the world with builders on every continent (bar Antarctica) and there are even people manufacturing them to sell in Peru, Taiwan and South Africa. MeArm manufacture them in the UK and export to distributors around the world, including Open Source pioneers like Adafruit and Hackaday in the USA. They're currently running a Kickstarter for a controller to take it out of the 'Hackersphere' and into the living room. They doubled their target in the first week and are still going strong so it's looking like they will be the first consumer flat pack robot kit in the world! Controller or not, you can download the arm from Thingiverse, and follow the project at Hackaday.
kwelch007 writes I commonly work in a clean-room (CR.) As such, I commonly need access to my smart-phone for various reasons while inside the CR...but, I commonly keep it in my front pocket INSIDE my clean-suit. Therefore, to get my phone out of my pocket, I have to leave the room, get my phone out of my pocket, and because I have a one track mind, commonly leave it sitting on a table or something in the CR, so I then have to either have someone bring it to me, or suit back up and go get it myself...a real pain. I have been looking in to getting a 'Smart Watch' (I'm preferential to Android, but I know Apple has similar smart-watches.) I would use a smart-watch as a convenient, easy to transport and access method to access basic communications (email alerts, text, weather maps, etc.) The problem I'm finding while researching these devices is, I'm not finding many apps. Sure, they can look like a nice digital watch, but I can spend $10 for that...not the several hundred or whatever to buy a smart-watch. What are some apps I can get? (don't care about platform, don't care if they're free) I just want to know what's the best out there, and what it can do? I couldn't care less about it being a watch...we have these things called clocks all over the place. I need various sorts of data access. I don't care if it has to pair with my smart-phone using Bluetooth or whatever, and it won't have to be a 100% solution...it would be more of a convenience that is worth the several hundred dollars to me. My phone will never be more than 5 feet away, it's just inconvenient to physically access it. Further, I am also a developer...what is the best platform to develop for these wearable devices on, and why? Maybe I could make my own apps? Is it worth waiting for the next generation of smart-watches?
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)
nbauman writes Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. From the article: "Getting more women into science and technology fields: Where’s the silver bullet? While I might get more hits by revealing the One Simple Trick to increase female participation in the sciences, the truth is there isn’t some key inflection point where young women’s involvement drops off. Instead, there is a series of small- to medium-sized discouraging factors that set in from a young age, ranging from unhelpful social conditioning to a lack of role models to unconscious bias to very conscious bias. Any and all of these can figure into why, for example, women tend to underrate their technical abilities relative to men. I know plenty of successful women in the sciences, but let’s not fool ourselves and say the playing field in the academic sciences or the tech world is even. My wife attributes her pursuit of programming to being a loner and pretty much ignoring wider society while growing up: 'Being left alone with a computer (with NO INTERNET TO TELL ME WHAT I COULDN’T DO) was the deciding factor,' she tells me."
Recently you had a chance to ask acclaimed author of comics, novels, and television, Warren Ellis, about his work and sci-fi in general. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon today quietly unveiled a new product dubbed Amazon Echo. The $200 device appears to be a voice-activated wireless speaker that can answer your questions, offer updates on what's going in the world, and of course play music. Echo is currently available for purchase via an invite-only system. If you have Amazon Prime, however, you can get it for $100. I've put in a request for one; hopefully we'll get a hands-on look at the Echo soon. It looks useful and interesting for random searches, and for controlling devices, but one small speaker (interesting driver arrangement notwithstanding) doesn't bode well for "fill[ing] any room with immersive sound," as Amazon's promo materials claim.
gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.