When constructing computer circuits, most folks start with silicon and metal, but not the researchers at Stanford. The boffins in Palo Alto want to build computers out of living tissue, and to that end they've created a biological transistor, called the transcriptor. Transcriptors substitute DNA for semiconductors and RNA for the electrons in traditional transistors -- essentially, the transcriptor controls the flow of a specific RNA protein along a DNA strand using tailored combinations of enzymes. Using these transcriptors, researchers built logic gates to derive true/false answers to biochemical questions posed within living cells. Using these bio-transistors, researchers gain access to data not previously available (like whether an individual cell has been exposed to certain external stimuli), in addition to allowing them to control basic functions like cellular reproduction.
This new breakthrough -- when combined with the DNA-based data storage and a method to transmit DNA between cells the school's already working on -- means that Stanford has created all the necessary components of a biologic computer. Such computers would allow man to actually reprogram how living systems operate. Of course, they haven't built a living genetic PC just yet, but to speed up its development, the team has contributed all the transcriptor-based logic gates to the public domain. Looking to build your own biologic computer? A full explanation of the transcriptor awaits below.
Filed under: Science
Via: The Verge
Who'd have thought we'd be happy to see an unassuming black box? Delphi and Verizon managed to whet our interest with their Vehicle Diagnostics kit and service at CES, and our curiosity is renewed now that the monitoring combo is available for drivers. The finished product costs a fairly steep $250 for the Delphi adapter, although it does deliver two years of free service and costs a contract-free $5 per month afterwards. Shelling out brings the promised remote troubleshooting and notifications, including alerts for any performance problems and warnings for any geofencing violations. If you're willing to pair an Android or iOS phone with the kit over Bluetooth, you can also use the smart device in place of your keys -- temporarily, we hope. Vehicle Diagnostics should work with most cars made from 1996 onward, but do some homework before any outlay: at least a few cars miss out on the full diagnostic suite, which might dampen dreams of a connected car utopia.
Via: Android Police
You'd be forgiven if you weren't entirely on the same page with Panasonic regarding its micro color splitter sensor: it's a big break from the traditional Bayer filter approach on digital cameras, and the deluge of text doesn't do much to simplify the concept. Much to our relief, DigInfo TV has grilled Panasonic in a video that provides a more easily digestible (if still deep) interpretation. As the technology's creator says, it's all about the math. To let in so much light through the splitters requires processing the light in four mixed colors, and that processing requires studying the light's behavior in 3D. Panasonic's new method (Babinet-BPM) makes that feasible by finishing tasks 325 times faster than usual, all while chewing up just a 16th of the memory. The company isn't much closer to having production examples, but it's clarifying that future development will be specialized -- it wants to fine-tune the splitter behavior for everything from smartphone cameras through to security systems. Catch the full outline after the break.
Filed under: Cameras
Via: GSM Arena
Source: DigInfo TV
We know you've got questions, and if you're brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here's the outlet to do so. This week's Ask Engadget inquiry is from Saad, who's got wants some of that Mailbox goodness for himself. If you're looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.
"I've seen wonderful applications like Mailbox and Sparrow on iOS, which do the job and aren't too shabby in the looks department. Having used Sparrow on the iPad, I've been looking for an alternative that can be used on my Android phone. Any suggestions? Thanks!"
We can tell you're not a fan of the Gmail app, so what about alternatives? Well, perhaps something like Aqua Mail, MailDroid or K-9 Mail could float your ocean-going vessel. If not those, then maybe it's time to ask what the Engadget faithful use on their daily drivers, so have at it, friends.
Filed under: Software
If you didn't get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we've opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week, an unknown T-Mobile handset with Snapdragon 800 internals lit up the benchmarks, Sony was foiled at the lock screen and Rogers made 44 new promises without saying much at all. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that's happening in the mobile world for this week of March 25th, 2013.
Planning to snag that maxed out HTC One in the US? AT&T is where you'll have to go, then. The 64GB variant of the device is an AT&T exclusive, as revealed by a recently uploaded video to the service provider's YouTube channel. The 32GB One will also be on offer, though there's no word on exactly how much both will be priced at or an exact arrival date -- April is the most specific we've heard from HTC. Verizon is also expected to carry the device, of course, but AT&T will certainly be "the one" for folks needing that doubled storage space on a two-year agreement. Check out the video for yourself after the break.
Source: AT&T (YouTube)
Just in case you missed it last night buried in our interview with Epic Games VP Mark Rein, the company showed off a new real-time demo at GDC 2013 this week, titled "Infiltrator." The nearly four-minute clip, showcases a sci-fi shootout created with its Unreal Engine 4, and remarkably powered by a single GeForce GTX 680. Now that we've piqued your curiosity a bit, check out this gorgeous display of futuristic espionage after the break, plus a bonus clip of the "Elemental" UE4 demo running on a PlayStation 4 dev kit in real-time.
Those of you using Skype in Windows 8 will be happy to know that Microsoft's just bumped the app to version 1.6. It's been a few months since the last update, and this revision brings more features to the table, including contact blocking and a slew of performance tweaks. You're now able to block users, with an option to remove or report the offending party. Speed and reliability have been improved, especially when loading contacts, and a number of bugs have been fixed, including one where the outgoing video was not always displayed after switching cameras. The update's available in Windows Store, so what are you waiting for?
Filed under: Microsoft
Source: Skype Blogs
Once upon 1981, John Waters tried to engage his cult-ish fans with a scratch-and-sniff "Odorama" card to complement the film Polyester. This TV is not that -- in fact, it's a decidedly higher-tech approach to true Smell-O-Vision. Devised by a team of Japanese researchers at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and demoed in prototype form at IEEE's Virtual Reality conference, the set uses four corner-mounted fans to break the fourth wall and create an immersive olfactory experience. By merging and adjusting vapors fed through these four airflows, the team can somewhat realistically trick viewers into believing the scent is coming from localized areas of the screen. We can just hear parents of the future now: "Stop sitting so close to the screen, Johnny. You're gonna pass out from the fumes." Ah, the future...
Via: New Scientist
The US Census is an expensive beast to run when paper is involved: multiply the $96 per household of the 2010 Census by millions of households and you'll feel the government's pain. When the mandate is to keep those expenses in check for the 2020 study, it's almost no surprise that the Census Bureau is now telling the Washington Post that it expects to rely on the internet for its next decennial survey in the wake of smaller-scale trials. The anticipated move is about more than just cutting the costs of lengthy forms and postage stamps, though. While frugality is the primary goal, joining the modern era should also reduce the need for follow-ups -- the Bureau would know as soon as we were done, after all. There's no question that an online Census is overdue when swaths of the US government (and society) can already skip traditional paperwork, but we still appreciate having a tentative schedule for one of the last great digital transitions.
[Image credit: USDA, Flickr]
Source: Washington Post
Just a couple days after we got our hands on Tenya Wanya Teen's crazy 16-button arcade stick, we were treated to its polar opposite; Divekick's two-button controller. Created by Iron Galaxy Studios just to show off the game at PAX East, the controller consists of two buttons slightly larger than the palms of our hands; the yellow one denotes a jump or dive, while the blue corresponds to a kick. As a parody of the fighting genre, Divekick's gameplay avoids complicated combo moves, is incredibly simple and immensely enjoyable, if we do say so ourselves.
Unlike traditional fighting games, the health bars are essentially meaningless, as a single power hit can take down your rival. Therefore you're focused on just the most basic movements -- a common one involves jumping in the air, tapping the other button for the downward kick, and then tapping it again to fly backwards. As for moving your character about, a jump and kick combo will get you charging towards your foe. Some characters let you fly when jumping, while others reward pressing buttons simultaneously. From our few minutes mashing the controller, it seems that timing and position are more important than ever with such fundamental mechanics, and ones that we picked up pretty quickly. We especially enjoyed kicking our adversary in the head to make them dazed and vulnerable in the early seconds of the next round.
Gallery: Divekick's two-button controller
Filed under: Gaming
If you think using the Leap Motion controller for playing air guitar and typing without a keyboard was cool, try using it to control a NASA rover. Victor Luo and Jeff Norris from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab got on stage at the Game Developers Conference here in San Francisco to do just that with the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer), which was located 383 miles away in Pasadena. As Luo waved his hand over the sensor, the robot moved in kind, reacting to the subtle movements of his fingers and wrists, wowing the crowd that watched it over a projected Google+ Hangout.
We spoke with Luo and Norris after the panel to gain further insight into the project. As Luo explains, one of JPL's main goals is to build tools to control robots needed for space exploration. Seeing as the gaming industry is already rife with user-friendly controllers ripe for the plucking, it made sense to harness them for the job. "We're very used to the bleeding edge," he said. "From the Kinect to the PlayStation Move, they represent major investments into usability." Hit the jump for our impressions of the simulation software, a look at JPL's grander goal and for video clips of the demo and panel itself.
Source: NASA JPL
Seems as if building new, fancy properties is quickly becoming the norm within the tech sector. Following in both Apple and Google's spacious footsteps, Facebook too will be looking to amplify its California-based headquarters -- and now it's received the OK from Menlo Park authorities to commence turning Frank Gehry's design vision into a reality. The second campus itself is set to boast nearly 434,000 square feet in total and be built across 22 acres, which will be plenty of space to house anything from a rooftop park to an underground tunnel which leads to Facebook's existent abode. As for city council members, they seem to be rather pleased by Zuck's proposed construction, with one Kirsten Keith expressing how she "feels very lucky that we'll have a Frank Gehry building here." Well then, cheers all around.
Via: Sky News
Source: Mercury News
Drobo has long had an apps platform to extend the usefulness of its smart drive enclosures, but there's been limits to what it can do in the cloud and mobile spaces. The company is widening that support this week, and it's inaugurating the effort with a pair of apps for the Drobo 5N. For us, the real highlight is Plex support, which turns the 5N into a high-capacity, redundant media server that can boost its storage as the content library gets bigger. The more pragmatic among us will like Barracuda Networks' Copy, which offers unlimited file syncing and sharing that will seem familiar to Dropbox aficionados. Copy is already available for free, while Plex should also be gratis when it's ready in April -- the only real hurdle will be justifying $600-plus for a living room video hub.
Gogo's ground-to-air transmitters typically mandate evaluating service while jetting around the country above 10,000 feet. Sure, you don't need to waste fuel flying around an empty airliner, but even the company's small jet can burn through quite a bit of cash. ViaSat, on the other hand, can do much of its service testing on the ground, using that fairly ordinary Ford van pictured just above. The reason, of course, relates to the location of the company's transmitter -- namely, the ViaSat-1 satellite, positioned some 22,000 miles above the ground. In the air, planes will actually be nearer to the orbiting device, rather than farther away, and assuming a line-of-sight link from the road, the truck can work out kinks at a fraction of the cost.
That white dome atop the van, which is similar to the device that'll soon be mounted on JetBlue's fleet, maintains a constant connection by rotating instantly as the van moves -- if the vehicle's heading changes, the antenna array will turn, too, so it's always pointed directly at the sat in the sky. You may have seen ViaSat's van driving down Southern California's freeways, but the rig has just arrived in Orlando, for some additional testing a few degrees away from the company's Carlsbad home. Assuming all goes well here, you'll be shooting around the web courtesy of Fly-Fi in no time at all.
Cast your memory back to last summer. Sweep away memories of iPhone 5 leaks galore, and you might remember that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) asked the FCC to reevaluate its radiation limits for mobile phones. Now a few seasons later, the FCC has finally wrapped up a report that responds to the GAO, and there are no changes to its RF radiation levels in sight because it feels comfortable with its current caps. "We continue to have confidence in the current exposure limits, and note that more recent international standards have a similar basis," reads the report. However, given that its guidelines were adopted in 1996, new research on radiation and the proliferation of mobile devices, the FCC would like some feedback regarding its restrictions. It's put out a call for comments from concerned parties and even federal health and safety bodies.
Though the freshly-released document didn't rock the proverbial boat, it made one change worth noting. The pinna (outer ear) is now classified an extremity, which means the FCC allows devices to hit the tissue with more radiation. Feel like poring through 201 pages of regulatory minutiae? Click the source link below for the commission's full dossier.
Filed under: Cellphones
Via: The Verge
Festo isn't quite the household name that Boston Dynamics is. (And, really, we're not entirely sure Big Dog is a regular topic of conversation at dinner tables yet.) But, it certainly deserves just as much attention for the work they're doing with robotics. After crafting a machine last year that soared around like a herring gull, now the company has created BionicOpter. The 17.3-inch long dragonfly drone can flutter through the air in any direction, and even hover, just like its biological inspiration. Its four carbon fiber and foil wings beat up to 20 times per-second, propelling it through the air as if it were swimming rather than flying. Actually piloting the robo-bug is achieved through a smartphone app, but an on-board ARM-based microcontroller makes small adjustments to ensure stability during flight. There are a few important pieces of information we don't have just yet. For one, it's not clear how long the two-cell lithium ion battery will last, and pricing or availability are missing from the brochure (at the source link). Chances are though, you'll never be able to afford one any way. Thankfully you can at least see this marvel of engineering in action after the break.
Filed under: Robots
In conversation with Epic Games' Mark Rein: Unreal Engine 4 support for Oculus Rift (and everything else), and thoughts on next-gen
Epic Games isn't just offering up its ubiquitous current-gen game creation tool Unreal Engine 3 to Oculus Rift developers, but also its next-gen tool, Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games VP Mark Rein told Engadget as much during an interview at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, repeatedly stating he's "super bullish" on the Rift, all the while rocking an Oculus pin on his exhibitor lanyard. "Oh, for sure," he said when we asked about UE4 support for the Rift. "We're working on that now." The Rift dev kit was demoed at CES 2013 running Unreal Engine 3's "Epic Citadel" demo, and Epic's offered support to the Oculus folks since early on, making the UE4 news not a huge surprise, but welcome nonetheless.
The next-gen game engine was being shown off at GDC 2013 with a flashy new demo (seen below the break), as well as a version of its "Elemental" demo running on a PlayStation 4 dev kit (shrouded behind a curtain, of course). Rein was visibly excited about that as well, unable to contain random vocal outbursts during the presentation. "It's a war out there, and we sell bullets and bandaids," he jokingly told us in an interview the following day. The quote comes from coworker and Epic VP of business development Jay Wilbur, and it's fitting -- Epic only makes a handful of games, and the company's real money comes from game engine licensees. In so many words, the more platforms that Unreal Engine variants can go, the better for Epic (as well as for engine licensees, of course). "It's a good place to be -- we try to support everything we can. We have to place some timed bets on things that we feel are gonna be the most important to licensees, and also to us where we're taking games. But because the engine is portable -- it's written in C++ -- a licensee can take and do whatever they want," he said.
One could easily argue that apps are a dime a dozen nowadays, but for those with a WiFi-ready, mirrorless Sony shooter, the in-cam software selection is still somewhat limited. As of a few hours ago, though, NEX-5R and NEX-6 owners now have two more options to choose from, thanks to Sony's new Light Shaft and Motion Shot applications. For starters, Light Shaft, as the company describes it, brings "a splash of light" to any picture using numerous differently shaped effects, such as Beam, Flare, Ray and Star. Motion Shot, on the other hand, takes multiple, continuous shots that are then superimposed to add a little flavor to action snaps, allowing users to easily pick the first and last images of every sequence. Available now via the PlayMemories shop, both apps are priced at $4.99 each -- which, to some, might feel like too steep a price to pay for a little unorthodox editing. We'll leave that decision up to you, though.
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.