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Original author: 
Johnny Chung Lee


A little less than than a year ago, I transfered to a new group within Motorola called Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) which was setup after the Google acquisition of Motorola last year (yes, Google owns Motorola now).

The person hired to run this new group is Regina Dugan, who was previously the director of the Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA). This is the same organization that funded projects such as ARPANET, the DARPA Grand Challenge, Mother of All Demos, Big Dog, CALO (which evolved into Apple's Siri), Exoskeletons, and Hypersonic Vehicles that could reach any point on earth in 60 minutes.

It's a place with big ideas powered by big science.

The philosophy behind Motorola ATAP is to create an organization with the same level of appetite for technology advancement as DARPA, but with a consumer focus. It is a pretty interesting place to be.

One of the ways DARPA was capable of having such a impressive portfolio of projects is because they work heavily with outside research organizations in both industry and academia.  If you talk to a university professor or graduate student in engineering, there is a very good chance their department has a DARPA funded project.  However, when companies want to work with universities, it has always been notoriously difficult to get through the paperwork of putting research collaborations in place due to long legal discussions over IP ownership and commercialization terms lasting several months.

To address this issue head on, ATAP created a Multi-University Research Agreement (MURA). A single document that every university partner could sign to accelerate the collaboration between ATAP and research institutions, reducing the time to engage academic research partners from several months to a couple weeks. The agreement has been signed by Motorola, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, and Virginia Tech.  As we engage more research partners, their signatures will be added to the same document.

"The multi-university agreement is really the first of its kind," said Kaigham J. Gabriel, vice president and deputy director of ATAP. "Such an agreement has the potential to be a national model for how companies and universities work together to speed innovation and US competitiveness, while staying true to their individual missions and cultures."

This may seem a little dry.  But to me, what it means is that I can approach some of the smartest people in the country and ask, "do you want to build the future together?" and all they have to say is, "yes."

Let's do it.

Full press release here.

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Original author: 
Ben Popper

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The field of neuroscience has been animated recently by the use of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI. When a person lies in an fMRI machine, scientists can see their brain activity in real time. It’s a species of mind reading that promises to unlock the still mysterious workings of our grey matter.

In April, a team in Japan announced that they could identify when a subject was dreaming about different types of objects like a house, a clock, or a husband. Last November, another group of researchers using this technique was able to predict if gadget columnist David Pogue was thinking about a skyscraper or a strawberry.

What earlier studies couldn’t determine, however, was how the subjects were actually feeling. A new...

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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar


Stephen Balaban is a co-founder of Lambda Labs, based in Palo Alto and San Francisco.

Cyrus Farivar

PALO ALTO, CA—Even while sitting in a café on University Avenue, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known commercial districts, it’s hard not to get noticed wearing Google Glass.

For more than an hour, I sat for lunch in late May 2013 with Stephen Balaban as he wore Google's new wearable tech. At least three people came by and gawked at the newfangled device, and Balaban even offered to let one woman try it on for herself—she turned out to be the wife of famed computer science professor Tony Ralston.

Balaban is the 23-year-old co-founder of Lambda Labs. It's a project he hopes will eventually become the “largest wearable computing software company in the world.” In Balaban's eyes, Lambda's recent foray into facial recognition only represents the beginning.

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Original author: 
WIRED UK

Bryan Mills

A study of the Bitcoin exchange industry has found that 45 percent of exchanges fail, taking their users' money with them. Those that survive are the ones that handle the most traffic—but they are also the exchanges that suffer the greatest number of cyber attacks.

Computer scientists Tyler Moore (from the Southern Methodist University, Dallas) and Nicolas Christin (of Carnegie Mellon University) found 40 exchanges on the Web that offered a service changing bitcoins into other fiat currencies or back again. Of those 40, 18 have gone out of business—13 closing without warning, and five closing after suffering security breaches that forced them to close. Four other exchanges have suffered serious attacks but remain open.

One of those is Mt Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, with Moore and Christin stating that at its peak it handles more than 40,000 Bitcoin transactions a day, compared to a mean average of 1,716. It has been the victim of a huge number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks over the past month during the peak of the Bitcoin bubble (and its subsequent bursting—though the price now appears to be rising again). Its latest statement, dealing with the attack it suffered on April 21, is long and comprehensive, seeking to assuage the fears of Bitcoin users who feel that Mt. Gox is becoming a weak chain in Bitcoin's infrastructure.

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The future of robots: Martijn Wisse at TEDxDelft 2012

Martijn Wisse (1976) researches the mechanics of robots. He develops mechanisms and motions that make it easier for the robots to fulfill their task. Inspired by the human body, he develops hands that make it easy to grasp oddly-shaped objects, legs that walk almost by themselves without motors or controls, and arms that efficiently and robustly reach their target positions. His work is part of a greater effort in Delft -- and worldwide -- to develop the robot technology that is so dearly needed in the developed countries. The Netherlands and other countries are facing an enormous demographic challenge due to aging, resulting in a labor shortage across the board, ranging from production and packaging to distribution and personal assistance. Wisse's designs and ideas help create affordable and effective robotic solutions. Martijn Wisse currently is tenured as Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology, after completing the MSc (2000) and PhD (2004) programs in Delft and a Postdoc at The Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds a position as Chief Technology Officer at Lacquey, a company that develops grippers for fruits and vegetables (and all other oddly and variably shaped objects). In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small <b>...</b>
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acoustic barcode

Chris Harrison, a PhD candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, has created Acoustic Barcodes, an inexpensive and effective way to attach a binary ID to almost any surface. Using a simple contact mic, the system reads the audible waveform given off when an object — like a fingernail, card, or phone — runs across the notches that make up the unique barcodes. As demonstrated in the video below, Acoustic Barcodes can be built into store window displays to provide product information or can be used to initiate file syncing with your smartphone by dragging the device across a coded surface. Acoustic Barcodes can be applied to a number of materials, ranging from wood and metal to glass and stone,...

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There are few things quite as tense as watching one volcanologist mutter, "Oh my god. He's crazy. He's crazy," while watching another volcanologist scramble around the edge of a caldera.

It only gets more tense when you realize that the volcano in question is Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—which has some of the fastest-moving lava flows ever recorded. The key feature of Nyiragongo is that lake of lava in the center of the crater that you see in the video. In January 1977, the lava lake was 2000 feet deep. When the volcano erupted later that month, the lake emptied dry in less than an hour. Lava was clocked at 40 mph.

Video clip from the BBC's "Journey to the Center of the Planet"

More about the program this came from.

Via EstudandoGeologia and Chris Rowan

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Do they still make children's books with sad endings? Like The Velveteen Rabbit? Because I think I've got a doozy here.

It's all about a 747 who loves to fly. It's what she was built to do and it's what she does best. For years, she soars through the skies, ferrying cargo and, possibly, some nondescript men in nice suits. (Or maybe not. Depends on when she went into service.) But through it all, the little 747 just wants to spend as much time as she can aloft, among the clouds, where she belongs.

But then, one day, the nondescript men in nice suits tell her that it's time she retire. They take her to a place in the desert and leave her there, with lots of other retired planes who've given up and are slowly falling apart. Other men come and they take her engines. Then they take all the beautiful buttons and switches from cockpit. The other planes tell her that, soon, men will come with saws to cut away parts of her fuselage. But the little 747 never breaks. They can take her apart, bit by bit, but they can't take away her dreams. And still, sometimes, in the boneyard, she tries to take to the skies just one last time.

Seriously. Somebody call the Newberry committee.

And bring me a hanky.

Video Link

Thanks to Andrew Balfour for the video, and to Shahv Press for the background on Southern Air.

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