If you work with code every day, you’re likely used to GitHub—a place to store code with all the revision history you ever need. Now, though, Google has its own take on the service, open as a beta release for you to use for free.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
3D printing technology has already revolutionized the aeronautics industry. Manufacturers can create lighter, stronger components at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional production methods. Now a San Francisco-based startup called Divergent Microfactories is trying to do the same in the automotive industry. To that end, the company debuted a 3D printed supercar dubbed "Blade", reportedly the first such vehicle to ever be additively manufactured.
The Blade's chassis is quite unique. Instead of having to generate the entire thing as a single unit, Divergent developed an 3D printed aluminum "Node" joint. The printed carbon fiber tubes that make up the chassis plug into these nodes to form a strong and lightweight frame for the rest of the vehicle. Divergent claims that this method can reduce the weight of the chassis by as much as 90 percent compared to conventional cars though the fact that it's carbon fiber and not steel or aluminum probably has a lot to do with those weight savings. In all, the vehicle weighs just 1,400 pounds (just a touch more than the Caterham Seven 620 R) but features a 700HP engine capable of running on both CNG and gas.
The company plans to produce a limited number of these vehicles to start (surprised Jay Leno doesn't already own one) but hopes to franchise its technology and let smaller boutique manufacturers build their own cars. And seriously, if the Department of Energy can build its own e-Cobra, how tough could it really be?
Posted by Augustine at 8:06 AM
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Who knew that stick computers were suddenly in vogue? In the wake of pocket-sized desktops from Intel, Dell and Google, Lenovo is joining the fray with the Ideacentre 300 Stick. The extra-tiny Windows PC is much like a sleeker, more polished version of Intel's Compute Stick. It shares the same 1.3GHz Atom chip, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage as its counterpart, and you'll also have the familiar USB port and microSD card slot for those moments when wireless peripherals won't cut it. The system's biggest difference (and really, biggest draw) is its price. It'll cost $129 when it hits stores in July -- that's about $20 less than the Intel stick, and you're getting a full-fledged home computer versus a corporate "thin client" like Dell's similarly priced Wyse Cloud Connect.
Posted by Augustine at 3:30 PM
Monday, June 22, 2015
Intel quietly launched a free Android app over the weekend, that lets you use your phone as a keyboard and trackpad for your PC. Intel Remote Keyboard was designed for use with mini PCs that are about the size of a flash drive and don't ship with peripherals — but you can use it on any system run...
Posted by Augustine at 8:47 AM
For Facebook and Google, it's not enough for computers to recognize images... they should create images, too. Both tech firms have just shown off neural networks that automatically generate pictures based on their understanding of what objects look like. Facebook's approach uses two of these networks to produce tiny thumbnail images. The technique is much like what you'd experience if you learned painting from a harsh (if not especially daring) critic. The first algorithm creates pictures based on a random vector, while the second checks them for realistic objects and rejects the fake-looking shots; over time, you're left with the most convincing results. The current output is good enough that 40 percent of pictures fooled human viewers, and there's a chance that they'll become more realistic with further refinements.
Google's take heads in the opposite direction. Instead of striving for realism, it's producing art by letting the neural network run wild and decide on the visual elements that it wants to emphasize. If you give the machine a photo of the sky and it thinks there are birds in the scene, it'll keep amplifying those avian traits until they're impossible to miss. The finished work is more than a little trippy, especially if you give it random noise as its source material -- as you can see above, the results give impressionist and surrealist painters a run for their money. You're not likely to see these Facebook and Google programs replacing human artists and photographers, but they're skilled enough to draw images you might enjoy.
Posted by Augustine at 7:52 AM
Sure, you can make solar-powered devices that store their excess energy in a battery, but what about the battery itself? Unfortunately, it's still behind the times -- the lithium-ion cells you see today have to be connected to another device to charge, and they're occasionally very dangerous thanks to their chemical makeup. A team of Indian researchers may have just licked those problems, though. They've developed a battery whose titanium nitrate anode (where current flows into the device) is driven by light, both natural and artificial. In a well-lit area, a prototype can recharge itself without using either an external source or unstable chemicals.
The existing technology isn't ready for prime time yet. While it tops up in 30 seconds, it's barely powerful enough to run an LED light or a small fan, let alone your phone. If the technology improves, however, you could see more gadgets that not only don't have to be plugged in, but won't ignite if you drop them a certain way.
Filed under: Science
Posted by Augustine at 7:47 AM