Monsterpod Tripod Sticks to Anything

Marketed as “Definitive Proof of Alien Intelligence,” the viscoelastic polymer-based Monsterpod sticks to over 1,000 surfaces for framing your camera in almost any position.  Yes, you amateur pornographers read that right.  It even clings to upside-down surfaces, and will bend and mold without moving the tripod position.  When you’re finished, it should peel right off and fit in your pocket with a carrying case that’s sold seperately, and a bit of water washes away any dirt.  Stickiness holds for one to 10 minutes and works with any camera weighing 20 ounces or less. The question is, if it’s really made by aliens, do you trust it? One can be had for $30 in human currency, or three for $80. The carrying case costs $10. [at Photojojo]

SmartSwitch Makes Wasting Energy More Difficult

Wasted energy is bad for your wallet, bad for the environment and bad for our future. And yet, it’s just so easy to switch a light on, forget all about it, walk to the next room, switch that light on, turn on the TV, walk to the kitchen to make a snack, leave another light on, and so on. Before you know it you have 4 lights chowing down those kilowatt hours and you’re not actually using any of them.

What if it were a little more difficult to waste energy? Maybe you’d actually shut one light off before turning the next one on? That’s the simple logic behind the SmartSwitch, designed by Peter Russo and Brendan Wypich of Stanford University. The switch is literally harder to flip when power consumption is high, giving a quick tactile reminder to shut off some lights and appliances. When household consumption is low, it flips like a regular light switch. The switch can even be custom configured to reflect your own consumption goals. Simple, innovative solution to a widespread problem. I’d imagine this could pay for itself in no time at all.   [Slash Gear via Slippery Brick]

LinkCrave: Zap Your Way to an Electric Car Tax Credit

Might you be in the market for an electric car in the next few years?  Its a great time to do so, as the new Stimulus Act signed into law by President Obama ensures a 10% tax credit on the purchase of an electric car, up to $2,500.  The makers of the Zap Alias electric car have announced that this model is elligable for that tax credit.  We’re pumped to see this, as we’d love to get one of those slick, green babies in our garage…  Kudos Zap, and kudos Obama. [gearlog]

Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

 

Though the term “Bionics” conjures an image of futuristic cyborgs and questionable ethics, it’s actually a pretty benevolent science. From better prosthetics to the restoration of once-irreplaceable body parts, Bionics are, for the most part, here to help. And it gets better every year, with yesterday’s advancements becoming either reality or obsolete in the face of even better inventions. Here are some of the latest and greatest to benefit humanity.

DARPA’s “Revolutionizing Prosthetics” Program

rocketarm Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

With $30 million in hand from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Vanderbilt University set out to create a mechanical arm powered by a rocket. But this isn’t some evil plan to turn our troops into super soldiers; it’s part of a multi-site initiative by DARPA to build better prosthetics.

The problem with battery-powered prosthetic arms is their limited functionality. Most batteries can’t power much beyond a pivot at the elbow and a claw grip, and larger power sources get too heavy. The rocket arm’s propulsion system measures the size of a pencil, and has more realistic motion than its predecessors. Other parts of the DARPA program are working to wire prosthetics to patients’ brains. Combine those advancements with the Vanderbilt program, and you’ve got one kick-ass fake arm.

Syncing Artificial Limb to Real Brain

monkeyrobotics Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

The DARPA program mentioned above has some competition when it comes to making smarter artificial limbs. Last spring, lab monkeys learned to control prosthetic arms with the help of an implant on their motor cortices. The monkeys needed no help after a couple of days, and over time their brains even learned new uses for the arms. Scientists hope to someday bring the technology to victims of paralysis.

Even more recently, scientists reported that more advanced movements were possible through “targeted muscle reinnervation.” After an amputation, remaining nerves are connected to other parts of the body, where they act as receivers for brain signals. The nerves then pass the signal on to the prosthetic arm. So far, 10 distinct movements in the hand, wrist and elbow are possible. Patients are currently testing the method, but it’ll take years to work out the occasional odd mannerism.

Sperm-Powered Nanobots

sperm Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

Perhaps you’ve heard about nanorobots, the tiny mechanical tools that can theoretically enter a human body and treat medical woes. The problem with these developments, like the microscopic robot submarine, is energy, because it’s not easy for such a tiny device to generate enough power for complicated tasks. The answer, scientists at Cornell University say, is sperm.

The tail of a sperm contains an assembly line for ATP, often called “energy currency” for living cells. And who can argue with the get-up-and-go spirit of those little guys? If scientists can merge sperm’s biological propulsion system with nanorobots, we might have a viable way to heal ourselves from the inside.

Inkjet Skin and Bones

inkjetbone Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

In traditional skin and bone grafting, material is taken from one part of the body and appended to the damaged area, but each person only has so much skin and bone to go around. Fortunately, scientists have been working for years on artificial material that can bridge the gap between real stuff when it’s broken. Modified inkjet printers spray a cement-like powder on acid, causing a hardening reaction that takes about 10 minutes. After the new skin or bone grows in, the artificial substance slowly dissolves into the body.

This work is still being perfected. Last we heard, plastic surgeons performed successful grafts on dozens of patients, but only as part of a trial run. It’s also too early to use the technology for weight-bearing bones, as the material isn’t strong enough.

Bionic Body Armor and Cybernetic Enhancements

bodyarmor Our Bionic Future: 5 Amazing Revolutions in Biotech

Look, you can’t have all of the above advancements without at least one benefit for super-soldiers. While exoskeletons have been around for a while, earlier this month, the Firearm Blog discovered an IBM patent for Matrix-style body armor. Embedded into the soldier, these implants would control the nervous system at pivotal points in a firefight. For example, upon detecting a nearby bullet, the armor moves the subject out of the way.

The subject could also be made to collapse completely, making for a potentially scary future where insubordinate soldiers are rendered powerless. Anyway, IBM withdrew the patent after its discovery on the ‘net, but not before the vast network of Agents saved it to their hard drives.

Thanks for reading, GearCravers, Stumblers, Redditers and Diggers!  What do you think about these five technologies?  Are there any of these that you are specifically excited about or imtimidated by?  Are there any that we should have included but did not?  Share your thoughts in the comments, and please give us a vote in your favorite social media website!

5 Video Game Franchises That Need to Die (and 5 to Replace Them)

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The video game industry was never one for graceful exits. Publishers tend to immediately franchise their best games, putting them on a two-year production cycle until the cash runs out, then sending them off to a tragic end at the glue factory. For the sake of decency, we’re dreaming of five titles that should exit, now, while they’re ahead (or at least they were a few titles ago).

…but we’re not just haters. Some games, hiding in seclusion for one reason or another, really ought to come back, so every game that we spit bile at below is paired with love for another.  Enjoy, GearCravers– the 5 video game franchises that need to die and 5 that should be reborn.

Please Die: Super Mario Kart

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Sales figures will tell you otherwise, but kart racing with Nintendo mascots is so played out. We understand that the Wii version had to be done, and hey, it is fun for the whole family, but now it’s time to go. It’d be quite a surprise if the Big N could pull out anything new from this series, and it’d be an even bigger shock if people realized that and stopped buying so many damned copies. On a side note, Waluigi needs his own game already. Seriously.

Please Come Back: F-Zero

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The antithesis to Mario Kart’s cushy, handicap-laden racing, F-Zero forgives no one. Lean on the thumbstick a little too hard and you’ll end up in a bottomless pit. Use too much boost power and you’re set on fire the next time you hit a wall. Fall too far behind, and there’s no chance of catching up. This, of course, means that grandma won’t want to play with you, but as Nintendo slowly dips its toes into online multiplayer, it’s time to bring the hardcore together for some serious racing, sans banana peels.

Please Die: Metal Gear Solid

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Hideo Kojima’s ponderings about war, the military industrial complex and governments run by robots were novel the first time, now it’s just trite. And as Solid Snake drifts further away from the stealth tactics that made him famous, it only becomes clearer that Metal Gear Solid has run its course, iPhone game be damned.

Please Come Back: Snatcher

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Blissfully unaware of the phallic slang that now makes its title seem silly, Snatcher was way ahead of its time. The tale of mysterious beings who “snatch” human bodies and live inside their skin had all the hallmarks of a Hideo Kojima story: conspiracy theories, paranoia and, of course, governments run by robots. Unfortunately, the old technology of MSX2 and SegaCD held the game back from greatness. Kojima and Goichi Suda, designer of the masterpiece No More Heroes, are working on a radio drama based on the game, along with several other projects under the name “Project S.” Could another cyberpunk detective adventure be around the corner?

Please Die: The Legend of Zelda

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2008 marked the first year in a decade that Nintendo hasn’t released a Zelda game. And you know what? That’s okay. While Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass might’ve been neat for anyone who didn’t grow up with the series, they’re just rehashes of the old formula (and playing as a wolf sucked). The series could possibly come alive again with a complete facelift, but it’s hard to imagine anything totally different that deserves the Zelda name and is still worth playing.

Please Come Back: Kid Icarus

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If any concept is dying for a Wii remake (yeah, we know, a “Wiimake.” Har har.), it’s Pit’s arrow-flinging quest to defeat the evil Medusa. Untouched since the original Nintendo Entertainment System game, but fondly remembered, it’s surprising the Big N hasn’t milked Kid Icarus for all it’s worth. In any case, we’re ready for the cash-in.

Please Die: Sonic the Hedgehog

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Sonic had his chance. Actually, between Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast and the recent Sonic Unleashed, the blue hedgehog with a ‘tude had roughly a half dozen chances to stay relevant. Unfortunately, all we’ve seen are failed attempts at 3D, half-baked genre crossovers and an occasional relapse into the same-old 2D platforming. We’re not convinced, but the masses love it (anything with Sonic sells like hotcakes), so our wish won’t likely come true.

Please Come Back: Vectorman

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We can totally imagine using the Wii remote to manipulate the eponymous character’s spherical parts, building weapons and transportation mechanisms and then utilizing them with motion controls. But an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 version would be good too, as long as the run-and-gun platforming remained intact. Sega announced a next-gen Vectorman for the Playstation 2 in 2003, but canned it a half year later. Instead of beating a dead Sonic, Sega should consider reviving this 16-bit classic for real.

Please Die: Halo

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Halo 3: ODST, we imagine, will be like that last trip to the bathroom after a night at the bar. Get it out of your system, Bungie, because we want to see you turn a new leaf. That means no Marathon, no Halo story involving another Spartan and please, no more map packs that we have to pay for. Halo: Combat Evolved successfully turned the first-person shooter on its head. Please, Bungie, go do that with something else.

Please Come Back: Doom

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First of all, we’re not talking about this nonsense of creeping around in the dark with a flashlight. Doom III was fine, but we want the real deal. Put us in a hallway full of cacodemons, give us a double-barreled shotgun and make us strafe and shoot until our virtual knees buckle. The original Doom had some spooks, but the greatest thrills came from the endless corridors of mindless carnage. In other words, Doom should once again be something for Jack Thompson to get pissed about.

Thanks for reading, GearCravers, Diggers, Stumblers and otherwise.  Which titles do think should be put out of their misery?  Which are we out of our minds for including here?  Is there another game that you love that you think should be franchised?  Let us know in the comments.  In the mean time, please share this article with your friends– and give it a vote in your favorite social media website.

SMELLIT Stinks Up Your Home Theater

Does watching TV leave your sense of smell feeling neglected? Or perhaps your own couch potato-induced stank isn’t satisfactory enough for a truly immersive TV watching experience.  If you’re nodding “yes,” hope that designer Nuno Teixeira’s SMELLIT concept finds a way to market. The device uses DVD information to trigger one of its 118 aroma cartridges and wafts them out with a fan, though we know nothing about the full range of intended smells. From the pictures, it seems Teixeira plans the obvious “popcorn” scent, but what about more vile olfactory offerings? Seriously, though, the real challenge here will be getting movie studios to jump on board and embed the technology in their discs. “It’ll funkify your living room” probably isn’t the most enticing angle for marketing. [via Dvice]

Soundshelf: Shelf Speakers Turn Speaker Shelves

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Usually CDs and DVDs don’t mix with your speakers until you hit play. An interesting new home audio design concept out of Poland could change all that. Designers Witek Stefaniak and Anielka Zdanowicz crafted the Soundshelf, a working stereo speaker that doubles as a CD/DVD shelf. Wall and tower shelves provide two useful options.

Simple yet smart, the Soundshelf promises to be a great way to sell the wife on a new stereo system. Rather than big, intrusive speaker boxes, you get a sleek, integrated shelf to organize the living room. Everyone wins (at least in theory, no indication as to how these would actually sound). With the simple, multi-function design element here, perhaps the juvenile Polish quips about solar-powered flashlights can finally be put to rest.  [via designboom]

Busted: 10 Awesome Technology-Assisted Police Cases

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With all due respect to crime solvers around the world, sometimes a badge and a quick wit aren’t enough to sniff out lawbreakers. Sometimes you’ve got to rely on the stuff we at GearCrave obsess over – computers, gadgets and the latest scientific advances. Move over, Greatest Police Chases; here are the greatest moments in technology-assisted crime solving.  Crime doesn’t pay if it does not compute…

Arturito, the Crime-Solving Robot

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In its first use by Chilean police, Arturito scanned a farmhouse for the body of a businessman who’d been missing for over a year. Within two hours, the robot had pinpointed the location of the body — under 12 feet of concrete. Named as a take-off on R2D2 from Star Wars, Arturito has also discovered buried treasure and was built to sniff out land mines. Unfortunately, we have no idea how the robot works because the creator, Manuel Salinas, is guarding its design as “an industrial secret.”

Pot Farm Found With Google Earth

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This story really riled our readers, who were incredulous of idea that Swiss cops could weed out a pot farm with Google’s satellite image software. Indeed, with the address of suspected farmers in hand, all the police had to do was plug in the address and look for the sketchy patch of green. All told, the authorities seized 1.2 tons of marijuana and arrested 16 people. Now word on how many people showed up for the burning.

200-Time Burglar Found With Geographic Profiling

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Geographic profiling gained some attention in the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings of 2002, but in the end it didn’t result in an arrest. That’s the norm for this method, which usually helps police figure out an offender’s general whereabouts by combining large pools of information. In 2005, however, Orange County police nailed down the exact residence of a man suspected of burglarizing over 200 homes. Police found a suspicious person at the scene, and kept him under surveillance until he did enough sketchy things to warrant an arrest.

Laser Scanner Busts DUI Perp

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Most of our examples here are pretty lighthearted, but tragic drunk driving accidents are not. That’s why Leica Geosystems’ laser scanner, which can quickly and accurately photograph and measure up a crime scene, is truly an admirable police tool. In 2004, California Highway Patrol in Redwood City used the device to disprove a driver’s claim that his Acura’s brakes faded before the car slammed into Volkswagen Beetle, killing the driver. Later, the same technology helped police built a case against Roberto Vellanoweth, a prominent state Republican who was later convicted of killing four in a DUI accident.

Tire Thieves Dial 911 on Selves

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Say what you will about cell phones with number keys on the face, but what would otherwise be a design blunder actually helped Orange County police catch three suspected tire thieves. Apparently, one of the men dialed 911 from his pocket, and a dispatcher quickly figured out what was going on from the sound of tires being removed. Police traced the call’s location and arrested the men on the scene.

Stolen Laptop Found With Remote Desktop

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You’ve heard the basic story before: Police can’t find stolen item, so victim takes matters into his own hands. This time, José Cáceres patiently stalked the thief for a month using a remote desktop application until he finally got an address. Police dutifully arrested the man a few hours later. The downside? Cáceres had to sit through a lot of the perp’s porn-watching to get any decent information.

Phelps Bong Caught on Ebay

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Here’s the thing: When you sell a high-profile item on Ebay, it gets noticed, so you probably want to make sure it’s not illegal before chancing it. That bit of wisdom would have helped the owner of the now-famous bong that Michael Phelps toked at a party in Columbia, S.C. It was going for $100,000 before police confiscated it. Apparently, the owner wasn’t even at the party.

Man Announces Murder Plans on the Internet

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On a similar note, if you’re planning a stabbing spree, don’t go announcing it on the Internet. Really, this is pretty sick, but we’re amused by the straightforward nature of the man’s threat to kill people at Tokyo Disneyland. “I will go to Disneyland to stab visitors to death,” he wrote. No you won’t.

Onstar to Stop Stolen Vehicles Automatically

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In a new perk to General Motors’s OnStar system, stolen vehicles will slowly roll to a stop, leaving the thief with nowhere to go. This hasn’t resulted in an arrest yet, but the technology is just going into new models now, so it’s only a matter of time. One reporter who tried it notes how OnStar’s female voice calmly tells felons to pull over for “assistance.” Criminals won’t get that kind of courtesy in the slammer.

Police Use Mii Channel Instead of Sketch Artist

miisketch

To be honest, we don’t know if this got solved or not, but we sure hope so. Apparently, Kanagawa police felt that this digital likeness of a perpetrator — crime unknown — would be more recognizable than a real-life rendering. Either that, or they couldn’t afford a sketch artist. If it did work, the Check Mii Out Channel has potential as a new police recruitment tool.

Thanks for reading, GearCravers, Diggers, Stumblers and otherwise.  What is your favorite tech-assisted police case?  Can you recall a funny tech-related arrest that we didn’t include here?  Share it in the comments.  We’re gluttons for stories about stupid criminals, and when it involves technology– we’re hopeless addicts.  Thanks for reading, and if you can– please vote us up on your favorite social media site!

Eyeclock Is Googly All the Time

 

Here’s the description for the Eyeclock from designer Mike Mak: “Eyeclock is a pleasuring clock which gives pleasure while telling you time.” Not sure “pleasure” is the right word. Judging from the photos, it seems the right eye continually circles around as the minutes tick by, while the right eye swirls a bit slower to count off the hours. Cute at first, the Eyeclock could possibly whittle away at your sanity as you while away the day. [Mike Mak Design]

Fujitsu trying out its new color newspapers in Japan

Fujitsu is trying out its new color newspaper FLEPia in restaurants in Tokyo. The newspaper uses color e-paper to display news for customers. When the device isn’t in use it displays ads for customers who are sitting at a table with it. The device only uses power when the images on the screen are being changed, so it isn’t a huge power users and only has to be charged overnight when the store it’s sitting in is presumably not open. The papers are getting a trial run through the end of the week in Tokyo to see how they do, and we imagine that they work fantastically. Would you read an electronic newspaper while enjoying your coffee in the morning? We think so. [via SlashGear]