This week, Donald and Eric consider the future of space, the dark side of romance, and the proper way to dispose of AT-AT excrement. Also, the Keyboard Cat toy plays us out, and in Geek News, Eric confesses his deep hatred of Orcs.Subscribe in iTunes SD Video | Subscribe in RSS SD Video
The poo problem has vexed pet owners since the first wolf started hanging around early human encampments. Wouldn't it be sweet if that pile of pup waste just disappeared? A new invention promises to turn Fluffy's excrement into ashes.
The AshPoopie is the brainchild of scientist Oded Shoseyov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is aiming to reduce the huge number of plastic bags full of poop that end up in the trash all over the world.
A built-in pooper scooper on the bottom picks up the offending material. It combines it with the contents of a replaceable cartridge and what looks like a set of rotating paddles. At this point, some patented incinerating magic happens and out comes sterile, odorless ash. It's a poop blaster!
Meet AlphaDog--it's BigDog on steroids.
This is our first glimpse of the brother of Boston Dynamics' robotic beast of burden, BigDog.
The vid below shows a lab prototype of the quadruped war robot, aka the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, funded by DARPA and the Marine Corps.
The donkey-sized machine is designed to carry up to 400 pounds of gear and follow troops over rough terrain on missions of 20 miles and up to 24 hours.
That's more than BigDog's payload of 340 pounds and 12 miles; as a general rule, horses can comfortably carry up to 240 pounds. AlphaDog will have some degree of autonomy like animals, using computer vision to follow a leader or automatically trotting to GPS way points. … Read more
Robots will play a greater role in fighting wars in the future, and BigDog wants a piece of that action.
BigDog is both the silliest and scariest military robot out there. The recent video below from creator Boston Dynamics provides a retrospective on the DARPA-funded quadruped, which is designed as a load-carrying mule for soldiers.
The vid shows six years of BigDog evolution from 2004 through 2010. The 240-pound, all-terrain cyber-canine can tackle slopes up to 35 degrees, rubble, snow, mud, and water, and can carry a 340-pound load. That's handy since the average soldier load has increased dramatically in recent years.
You can't hear it in the video, but it sounds like a go-kart because it runs on a one-cylinder Leopard go-kart engine.
Its sensors include stereo vision, GPS, a gyroscope, and LIDAR--you can kick it and it'll keep on trucking. The machine once set a record for traveling 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling. It can run at speeds up to 4 mph.
No doubt BigDog is impressive, even awesome in its relentlessness, but also ridiculous. Boston Dynamics once had fun "weaponizing" the brute, perhaps inspired by that jocular BigDog Beta video by a pair of spandex-clad parodists.
One serious follow-up to BigDog is the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), also designed to lighten the load for dismounted troops.
"That machine will carry 400 pounds of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain, where wheeled vehicles can't go," says Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics. "We have a lab prototype that we will show soon, and expect the first field prototype ready in summer 2012."
And since Boston Dynamics is working on other animal robots for the military that could conceivably run as fast as 70 mph, it's hard not to wonder whether BigDog could have the last laugh and the joke will be on us. … Read more
Dog-walking services have graduated from flyers on poles to full-fledged serious businesses. The final coming-of-age moment is the arrival of Pet Check Technology, a suite that brings QR codes, mobile apps, and GPS to the dog-walking experience.
For dog-walking entrepreneurs, Pet Check includes online tools for scheduling clients, billing, and tracking dog-walking employees. That's all well and good, but it's a lot more fun when you look at it from the customer's standpoint.
Customers can look to see exactly when Fido was taken out on a jaunt, where he went, and what time he got back. That can help with scheduling when you need to be home from work. Completed walk reports are stored for future reference.… Read more
The internet's abuzz with Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility. Plus, the Droid Bionic gets upstaged by its successor and Ice Cream Sandwich leaks on this week's episode of Android Atlas Weekly.Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (640x360) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS (640x360) EPISODE 61
Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5B ]http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-20092362-94/google-to-buy-motorola-mobility-for-$12.5b/?tag=mncol;txt
Google: S&P Cuts Rating To Sell From Buy; Sees Risks In Deal http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/08/16/google-s-sees-risks-in-deal/
Will … Read more
An older version of a controversial Android app called "Dog Wars" has been modified to include a Trojan horse that takes actions without the device owner knowing it, according to security firm Symantec.
The app sends a text message to everyone in the contact list that says, "I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just thought you should know that," and signs United States-based devices up for a text alert service operated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Irfan Asrar wrote in a post on the Symantec blog.
"We have no reason to believe that PETA had anything to do with this app, and that it is most likely the work of someone attempting to associate the app with PETA," he writes.
A PETA representative provided this statement when asked for comment: "We don't know who created this version of the app, but we think it is ingenious. When someone creates a game that glorifies animal abuse, you can bet that people will come up with clever, smart ways to take action against it." … Read more
2cute is a free, ad-supported app that lets you browse, download, and share images from the 2cute Web site--images that are empirically very cute (or as the app points out, in Japanese, "kawaii") of puppies, kittens, bunnies, and more. You can browse through large thumbnails of the pictures just by swiping left and right, and you can tap to rate, share, or download a normal or high-resolution version of the photo.
Flipping through the photos on 2cute is fun (with an occasional surprise, like a baby octopus or pygmy marmoset), and this app provides a great and easy … Read more
Organizer binders and laptop PCs take up about the same amount of space in your backpack, but that's about as far as the similarities go. Laptops kick ring binders back to chalk-and-blackboard days, where they belong, and they can stay there, too, thanks to usefully cool freeware like IslandSW's StudentDOG, the school organizer designed "by students for students." It's got everything students need to stay organized, on time, and productive both in and out of school.
StudentDOG unifies all its functions in one tabbed interface. It packs a lot in each view, but it never … Read more
MetalStorm: Online is a free--and impressively executed--multiplayer flight sim, but with a potentially frustrating in-game economy and erratically balanced matchmaking.
The interface and basic gameplay of MetalStorm are a joy: with smart use of your accelerometer and a few thumb controls on your "HUD" (arrows for brake and afterburner, buttons for guns and missiles), MetalStorm immerses you effectively in a jet cockpit for a tense dogfight experience, with cinematic music and great-looking terrain to complete the effect. You fly a modern jet equipped with an upgradeable cannon and missiles, and you can duke it out with increasing numbers … Read more