Say What? Skype Now Translates in Real Time
University of Texas Austin
The fastest nano-sized motor and the fastest electric motorcycle round out this week's technology. The motor above is so tiny, just 1 micrometer in size, it could fit inside a human cell. And it's also fast, capable of cranking out 18,000 rotations per minute -- the speed of jet airplane engine. Comparable nanomotors do between 14 RPMs and 500 RPMs. It was developed by Donglei "Emma" Fan at the University of Texas at Austin. A miniature machine like this could one day move through the body to administer insulin for diabetics or kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
The sun runs on fusion energy and if we could replicate that here on Earth, we'd have an unlimited amount of renewable energy. Researchers atFocus Fusion
want to build a mini fusion reactor that produces such energy. They've received $3 million in investments, but are short on funds to bring the reactor into the testing phase. So like everyone else out there, they are reaching out to the crowd. So far, they've raised about $76,000 toward their goal of $200,000. If you want to contribute or learn more, click on the link above.
Studio Daniel Libeskind, Vanke
It's nearly two years away, but many people are planning for the Milan Expo, which will run from May 1 to October 31, 2015. The theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. The first foreign corporate participant is Chinese real estate giant, Vanke. Recently, they unveiled their pavilion, designed by Daniel Libeskind. With the expo's theme in mind, Libeskind created a twisting pavilion in the style of a shitang, or traditional Chinese dining hall. An external staircase leads to a rooftop terrace, where visitors can buy healthy and affordable food.
This device could save lives. It's a concept from industrial design student, Jonathan Lowe, who developed it as part of his final year project at Staffordshire University. It allows occupants of tall buildings, where firefighter ladders may not reach, to descend to ground level as a last resort. A person secures theXitus
fire escape to a window ledge, using the floor mounts and safety line. A body harness attaches to a controlled descent device, which lowers the person to the ground carefully. At the bottom, they can unclip the harness, retract the line and let the next person come down.
Another life-saving idea for extreme conditions comes from industrial design student Ken Chen, of Melboune, Australia. HisAFA Powered Exoskeleton
is designed to enhance muscle performance and help firefighters carry their load, including victims, without impeding freedom of movement.
Tomorrow Machine and INFARM
If you live in a city apartment, this low-maintenance Microgarden might be perfect. The tiny greenhouse contained in an origami-inspired container comes from Tomorrow Machine, a design studio that worked with Berlin-based urban farming company INFARM. Inside the container, seedlings grow in a seaweed-based gel called agar-agar that replaces soil and water. No green thumb required. Just set it up and watch your garden grow.
Dr. Stephan Lautenschlager, University of Bristol, UK
Studying and handling fossils puts these delicate specimens at risk for damage. But new technology is allowing scientists to visualize the bones virtually. Paleobiologist Imran Rahman of the University of Bristol used X-ray scanning technology to produce digital avatars of fossils that allow anyone to examine them from any angle. Not only does the technique keep the specimens from being damaged, but it could also be used to print 3-D versions of the fossils either for research or even just fun.
Smithsonian via Youtube
A pilot flew a jetpack in the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on May 17, 2014, at the "Future is Here" festival in Washington, D.C. Although the flight lasted just 20 seconds, it surely captured the imagination of onlookers.
Bryan Delohery (Asphalt & Rubber, Creative Commons, Attribution 3.0)
Electric vehicles have instant torque, which gives them speed on demand. This week, Lightning Motorcycles showed off its electric Lightning LS-218 at the Quail Motorsport Gathering in Carmel, Calif. The 200-horsepower cycle, which tops out at 218 miles per hour, won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last fall with a 20-second victory. But at that time, it wasn't yet ready for commercial sale. That's about to change. Starting this summer, Lightning is making their motorcycle available to the public. Customers will have a couple of different options for battery power, from 12 kWh to 20 kWh, and a range of 180 miles.
If you used the voice recognition application, Siri, on the iPhone, you know it doesn’t always get what you’re saying right. Now imagine a program that not only gets it right, but translates the words into a foreign language in real time. That’s what Microsoft’s Skype Translator app does.
Although scientists have been working on speech translators for years with limited success, this new advance represents one for the people. It involves Skype, the free Web program that allows two people who have the software to participate in a video chat over the Internet.
Now those two people don’t have to speak the same language.
“It’s an exciting project, and it became clear that adding this capability to Skype and enabling people to have translated conversations was the killer scenario to get this technology into customers’ hands,” said Chris Wendt, program manager of the Machine Translation team in a company article.
Indeed. Skype is so easy to use and because the basic program is free, tens of millions of people already have it to chat freely with friends and family over long distances.
Just watch the video to see how easily the translator works and how smoothly it does the job. There’s a bit of a delay, but that seems like a minor problem to contend with, especially if you’re goal is to speak with someone who doesn’t know your language (or vice versa).
The technology was developed by Microsoft’s Arul Menezes, who heads the company’s Machine Translation team in Redmond, Wash.