Engineers at MIT have developed a new technique to gauge bacteria’s ability to produce electricity. Common bacteria, like E Coli, produce electricity by generating electrons within their cells. This new technique will allow them to find the strains of bacteria that produce electricity most effectively, and perhaps leverage them for powering fuel cells. Future plans, with funding from the Office of Naval Research, include the creation of living electronics, with features such as replication, self-repair and biosensing.
Last Thursday, weblog *Patently Apple* reported that the USPTO has just publicly released an Apple patent related to having iDevices integrated with poisonous gas detectors. Devices like iPhone and Apple Watch could be outfitted to alert users that they are in an environment containing Carbon Monoxide and other dangerous gasses. As this is just a patent, there is no update on when it may be implemented and released.
The UK Government has allocated 26M GBPs to invest in micro robots that repair the city’s vast underground pipe network, in order to cut down on the disruption caused by over 1.5M road excavations that take place each year. The 1-cm long robots, of both flying and underwater varieties, will search out and mend cracks in the pipes.
Recently in December, Deep Mind’s AlphaStar program has mastered StarCraft II – beating the top 2 human players in 10 out of 11 matches. To learn the massively complex game, AlphaStar generated simulated players from professional human games and was allowed to analyze them for one week, during which it played the equivalent of 200 years worth of StarCraft II. AI has cracked Atari games, Mario, Dota II and obviously Chess and Go, but this is the first breakthrough in with a real-time strategy game of this complexity.
Researchers at Boston University have developed a new technique that will allow cameras to “see” around corners. The technique, dubbed computational periscopy works by analyzing shadows cast on a wall and reconstructing the original image that would be casting the shadow. What makes the technology particularly compelling – and scary – is that it is completely algorithmic and does not rely on any new camera hardware, so any digital camera or smarthphone may be able to perform the technique soon.