Popcorn Powered Robots

Robots have always been a futuristic phenomenon, and their production is conventionally viewed as technological and scientific advancements. There are many popular applications where Robots have proven their efficiency and productivity, like in healthcare, manufacturing, military and more. However, traditionally the importance has been placed on what tasks robots can do for us; like drive our cars, clean our floors or even give us extra limbs. But what can power their abilities.

Remember when we were engrossed in devouring popcorns while enjoying the theatrical experience at the movies? Steve Ceron came up with a genius idea of using the same popcorns we eat for a much bigger purpose at Cornell’s Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab.

With his team of researchers, Ceron drafted a paper explaining how simple robots can be powered by Popcorn without electricity or hydraulics, at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Yes, it’s true! In this ultra-modern era, it has become commonplace that we come across strange yet astounding developments in the sci-fi field and a popcorn robot is exactly that. The engineers from Cornell University demonstrated their hypothesis. Inside a silicon beam that was fastened with toasted wire, they put 36 kernels. An electrical current was dispersed through the metal chord, warming up the kernels which eventually started popping due to the heat, moving the silicon.

Popcorn has distinct features that include being readily available, cheap, and having the ability to expand in terms of the shape and size when heated. This invention could potentially be a stepping stone towards overall soft robots, but could also be utilized for a wider use. Ceron suggests that this invention’s long-term benefits are manifold; ranging from its ability to complete basic transportation, to serving as an inexpensive building block through which biodegradable structures can be made. He asserts that it can even function as a viable alternative to spray foam.

To claim popcorn robots will take over the world is not a coherent argument to make at this point. While they can hold objects and lift relatively lighter weights by expanding, there are certain limitations to achieving tasks beyond their ability. The engineers accomplished this by creating a claw where its “fingers” or insides were lined with raw kernels and a heating wire. As soon as the kernels burst open, they wield tension on the sleeve, holding them in a process that is similar to tense muscles. Given that the production is exceptionally cheap, deploying many of these robots will pave the way for a wide range of applications across various fields.

One can claim that the future looks bright, fluffy and delightful as researchers are now integrating food into Science and increasing the scope for similar innovations.

A WORKING HOVERBOARD? NOW, A REALITY!

Hacksmith Industries comprises a group of renowned and capable engineers on YouTube who have previously proven themselves by creating some amazing sci-fi tech. However, maintaining the reputation of competency, they have once again raised the bar in the field of scientific technology. Hacksmith Industries have made a hoverboard that, through magnets, can function even off the ground. Yes, read it again! And this isn’t some publicity ploy or ruse, unlike hoverboard projects created in the previous years.

Genius Behind the Work

Hacksmith Industries had already made their mark in the industry through the video-sharing medium when they manufactured a wonderful little Cybertruck. This mini truck has the ability to drive like regular vehicles as well as cut through metal with a plasma-powered lightsaber.

The genius who conceived the hoverboard project was Jimmy Zhou, an intern at Hacksmith Industries who is also an engineering student in Canada. Zhou devoted a number of hours to work on the complex technicalities that entailed the creation of the hoverboard. The founder of Hacksmith Industries, James Hobsen, gave a befitting analogy in his attempt to describe how hard Zhou worked: “He drank more Red Bulls than a frat house on spring break.” The statement reflects the unbridled dedication and consistency that Zhou displayed, both of which serve as key components in creating something of scientific value.

There were a few steps the team took to get the board to hover. The very initial act was the installation of around eight magnets that were spinning to generate a powerful magnetic field. This was done to set off the steel floor to create an opposing magnetic field, forcefully pushing back on the board.

The Flaw

Needless to say, it is a remarkable accomplishment that deserves all the praise coming its way. It is exceptionally noteworthy that it is not required for the board to be cryogenically chilled with liquid nitrogen. Nerdist aptly underscored that this was a setback in the year 2015 in the case of carmaker Lexus’ hoverboard. It is appreciable that it has not been an issue in the new functional hoverboard.

Despite the multiple features of the hoverboard that distinguishes it from other hoverboards created in the past, one drawback of this invention cannot be neglected. There have been many such instances whereby the electric currents have produced an immense amount of heat, eventually causing an accident. The board suddenly caught fire a couple of times in the experiment process, and this suggests that it could be hazardous to use it.

So, you better ensure you have a fire distinguisher at your disposal every time you come across someone on this working hoverboard!

New Alexa Device Uses Radar to Track Your Breathing

Amazon is devising an instrument which scans your body while you sleep via radar. The company has assembled a team who are reportedly working on manufacturing a new Alexa-abled device that measures your breathing for sleep apnea symptoms with radar.

Credible sources associated with the project recently reported that this is a palm-sized device with the core objective of monitoring your breathing and sensing if there are any interruptions. In case there are, it detects that you have a sleep apnea disorder. There have been no details released by those working on the project regarding the final product’s look.

This is currently an undercover plan with the internal codename “Brahms”. It is interesting to note where the codename is derived. Johannes Brahms was a German composer who wrote a famous lullaby and was suspected of having sleep apnea in his lifetime.

Amazon’s Contributions to the Health Sector

Business Insider has further been informed that the shape of the device is apparently like a “standing hexagonal pad connected to a metal wire base”.

The goal of installing the tracker may not be limited to detecting signs of sleep apnea; Amazon could employ its AI prowess to examine various other sleeping disorders like sleepwalking or insomnia. Through its cloud technology, the tracker could have the potential to develop a wide-ranging sleep analysis system that keeps these disorders in check.

It will not be the first time Amazon integrates its machine-learning technology into the health sector. Only last year, the company introduced an affordable Halo fitness tracker that assesses your health by scanning your body and voice. Amazon Pharmacy, a well-developed prescription drug delivery service, was also introduced recently. All of this is reflective of how the company is continually making valuable contributions to the healthcare and wellness domain, improving the quality of life for people worldwide.

Company’s Future Plans

Amazon has maintained silence on ‘Brahms’ to uphold a mysterious impression surrounding its upcoming release. This was corroborated when a spokesperson of the company refused to talk about the project. Recently, a firm that Amazon launched, partnered with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway called Haven Healthcare, was shut down. According to CNBC, it was a corporation that was anticipated to reduce the costs of employee healthcare.

However, there are a variety of projects which Amazon is involved in when it comes to healthcare space and is working on its execution. Despite Haven turning out to be an unsuccessful venture, Amazon will not be shying away from the healthcare area any time soon.

How does a Graphene battery compare to Lithium-ion battery

Tech-savvies believe that we’d genuinely be futuristic when we have easy access to Graphene batteries. A battery may sound like a simple thing to many, but Graphene batteries could change the game forever.

Scientists say that Graphene batteries will genuinely create a futuristic society where your devices can run up to days and weeks without charging.

A Graphene Battery in a nutshell

Packed together in a honeycomb structure, graphene is a carbon atom composition that has a thick two-dimensional atomic layer. The 2D structure of this composition allows graphene to be highly flexible, stalwart, and light in weight, as well as offer exceptional electrical and thermal conductivity that is even better than that of copper – an element that is known to be most conducive.

Graphene battery vs your regular battery 

The battery that we use in our portable devices is made with lithium-ion, also known as Li-ion. A lithium-ion battery has a similar structure to a graphene battery. Both the batteries have two conductive plates coated in an electrolyte solution, but the characteristics of both batteries differ on a considerable margin.

As mentioned earlier, graphene’s electrical and heat conductivity is higher than the most conducive element copper. Thus, it’s conductivity surpasses that of Lithium-ion as well. As a result, a device can be charged a lot faster as current travels more quickly. This high conductivity also extends the life span of a battery as they cool down faster.

A regular battery’s charging rate doesn’t remain consistent throughout its lifetime. A lithium-ion battery starts faster, tires out, and then delivers slower current, reducing the rate of charging. On the other hand, a Graphene battery offers linear charging rates, which means that this type of battery doesn’t tire out.

“Graphene batteries can make batteries charge faster and dissipate heat more effectively. This has big implications. It means power tools don’t overheat as quickly. It means home appliances serve families better, and for longer. And it eventually means [electric cars] can charge faster.” Chip Breitenkamp, VP of business development at the graphene battery company said.

Most importantly, Graphene batteries are safe. The incidents of smartphones burning up, overheating, and damage due to overcharging are overly familiar. Users can avoid these unfortunate events by opting for Graphene Batteries instead. There’s virtually no chance of overheating Graphene batteries as they are more robust than lithium-ion ones.

Touching the VR world with gloves on

The world of virtual reality is becoming more real each day. Most recently, researchers from Cornell University have created a glove that makes touching through VR a reality.

Technological developments in 2020 are firing on all cylinders. There is something new coming up each day, but nobody thought that virtual reality could get any more real than it already is.

Researchers disagree. They are making VR more immersive.

With new developments in VR, you could actually pick up an object and feel it in your hands. Thanks to Cornell University researchers who have designed a sensor that tracks the movement of your hands. The primary purpose of this development is to make virtual reality more tactical and immersive as users can slide on this glove, and feel the objects.

Fibre-optic sensors on Cornell Researchers’ Glove

Many scientists and researchers have been trying to add a physical experience to a somewhat robotic world. All of their experiments included either haptic sensors or mechanical wires. This one particular creation of Cornell researchers has stretchable fibre optic sensors that sit on top of your hand like a spider web.

Silica-based distributed fibre-optic sensor (DFOS) systems are a renowned tool for sensing stress, pressure, vibration, warmth, and moisture. This glove has a stretchable fibre-optic sensor that extends to the length of your fingers, with tips lit up with LED lights. The current framework is pretty simple with bands wrapped around fingers, a battery attached on the wrist, Bluetooth and some basic circuits.

Sensors on these gloves bend with the movement of fingers, making the whole experience as closer to reality as it can get. It may sound impressive, but this feature is not the hero of the show. It is the fibre optics that allow the user to feel the force, pressure, and stress caused by the movements.

Right now, sensing is done mostly by vision. We hardly ever measure touch in real life. This skin is a way to allow ourselves and machines to measure tactile interactions in a way that we currently use the cameras in our phones. It’s using vision to measure touch. This is the most convenient and practical way to do it in a scalable way.” Lead researcher Rob Shepherd said.

A VR glove may sound fun, but it can serve a much essential purpose. Researchers believe that fibre optic glove will make soft robots more efficient. Machines and robots can contribute more than ever to the advancement of the world through VR.

The creators are currently developing the product further and analyzing how it can help in the world of medicine, physical therapy, and sports.

Mushroom Clothing

Most of us like the idea of going environmentally friendly. However, clothing is never one of our focal points. We keep focus on food, shelter, and even water, but never on what we wear. Going green is not an easy job especially when it comes to your clothing and still being able to dress the way you want. This is because there are not many options available on the market and those are can be overpriced.

There is now a new collaboration between Adidas and Lululemon and they have begun to acquire suitable and environmentally friendly fabric that will not only look chic and modern, but also help save the world at the same time. A start-up called Bolt fabrics has begun to create a special kind of fiber which is made up of mycelium, which is a threadlike root of a mushroom which creates a sort of faux leather or vegan leather material.

Some of the most well-known and most followed brands all over the world have decided to partner with Bolt for their fabric. The two names included in this list are Adidas and Lululemon. They have invested a lot of money in the company just to create hundreds of millions of square yards of the sustainable fabric. The first few products that are made from this material are due to go on sale sometime next year.

To create the fabric, the creators grow mushrooms over a bed of sawdust for approximately 10 days. The results of that are that the mushroom root can be dyed, colored, and shaped just like real leather. The process is also much faster than obtaining real leather and is much easier too.

They believe that this fabric has the same supple and warmth that a natural leather does. Through this natural feeling, the company aims to get more and more famous brands involved. This is because using leather was always questioned. People always believed that using leather was cruel to animals and many even protested against it. However, the look that leather could achieve was incomparable, until now.

With brands like Adidas trying to be as environmentally friendly, for example, creating sneakers from seaweed, this fabric created from mushrooms will help boost their message as well as help them attain sales due to the appearance of the fabric.

If big brands like Lululemon and Adidas come forth and sign with the company, chances are that many other brands that are smaller in size or larger in nature will also be interested. This is because all these brands like to compete with one another and being environmentally friendly has now become a trend most brands want to follow as it sells.