Plus, software that can instantly create workable 3D models from 2D photos.
By Jason Imms on September 13, 2013 at 11:21 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of DARPA’s plans for peer-to-peer networking, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and Disney Research’s almost telepathic communication device.
DARPA tests ‘tactical torrents,’ peer-to-peer networking for military field communications
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the USA has successfully tested peer-to-peer networking for use during operations, in a project dubbed the Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEM) program. The CBMEM program aims to use peer-to-peer networking to augment current top-down networking standards, in an effort to introduce redundancy to field communications.
It can be common for communications to be disabled during military operations, making a normal standard operating environment and phone-home server model quite limiting for soldiers on the ground. CBMEM should reduce this limitation by allowing non-standardised CBMEM-equipped devices to discover one-another using any available networking options, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular radios. CBMEM-equipped devices constantly broadcast their availability, and push information to all other devices as they are added to the network. Recent successful field tests prove the theory, but it is yet to be shown whether the inherent flaws in such an unstructured and difficult to secure network will render the program untenable.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch isn’t all that smart
After the success of the Pebble, and the rumoured upcoming smartwatch from Apple, Samsung have entered the wearable computing fray with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Sporting an 1.63 inch 320 x 320 resolution Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Gear is certainly more visually appealing than the relatively plain Pebble with its black-and-white e-ink display, but it seems that the Galaxy Gear will fail to outstrip its wrist-bound competitors due to some fairly significant limitations — the most notable of which being that the Gear is currently only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet.
Samsung claim that pairing the device with other Samsung and non-Samsung Android smartphones, and even the iPhone are features still under development. The hands-on preview over at The Verge found that the Gear is appealing in many ways, but ultimately fails to impress due to a severely limited battery life, a high-latency user experience, and a lacklustre mounted speaker, shattering any realistic hope of living out my Dick Tracy wrist-talking fantasies.
Incredible software automatically creates easily manipulated 3D models from 2D photographs
Demonstrated at Siggraph Asia 2013, 3-Sweep is a software application designed to extrapolate 3D models from 2D images. Researches from Tel Aviv University have implemented a system that allows users to mark up a photograph to denote the primary axes and outline of the desired object, and watch as it is automatically converted into a 3D model that can be modified, repositioned within the photograph, or copied out into a separate scene.
The software is not without its flaws, however. Toward the end of the demonstration video, a number of fail states are shown wherein the software is unable to handle the receding profile of a tube of toothpaste, or accurately conform to the edge of a bottle due to shadows in the photograph. In an interview with Wired, researcher Tao Chen says that the overwhelming response from viewers of the demonstration video has prompted them to work on a public release of the application as soon as possible. “Our biggest goal is still to help novice users to do this,” Chen says, “It took us some time to figure out how to make a very convenient user interface to generate this stuff.” Watch the demo below.
Proposed drone hunting licences unexpectedly popular in Deer Trail, Colorado
In July the tiny town of Deer Trail , Colorado announced plans to issue drone hunting licences, allowing residents to shoot down robotic drones spotted in the skies over Deer Trail, and collect a bounty for their trouble. It seems that a fervent drone-hunting community has been living in Deer Trail for some time, with more than one thousand applications for the licences being sent, along with US$25 cheques to cover the licencing fee.
Deer Trail town clerk Kim Oldfield told the Denver Post that she gave up attempting to keep track of incoming licence applications weeks ago, after receiving more than US$19,000 worth of cheques, opting instead to simply let the letters pile up until the ordinance is officially passed. Phil Steel, the town resident that proposed the ordinance, admits that he has never seen a drone over Deer Trail, and called the hunting licence “a very symbolic ordinance.” It is unclear how this situation will play out, given that it is illegal to destroy federal property. The ordinance is now in the hands of voters.
Researchers at Disney have developed finger-to-ear audio transmission
Disney Research, the innovation-focused team of researchers at The Walt Disney Company has developed an esoteric, but intriguing communications technology dubbed Ishin-Den-Shin. Named for a Japanese idiom for telepathy, Ishin-Den-Shin allows a person to silently communicate with another simply by touching their ear with a finger.
The system is comprised of a modified Shure Super 55 microphone, a computer, and some custom electronics designed to turn an audio loop recorded by the microphone into a high voltage, low current (<300 Vpp, <50 uA) inaudible signal. This signal is then transmitted via the conductive body of the microphone to the holder’s body, generating a modulated electrostatic field around their skin. If the person holding the microphone then touches the tip of their finger to the ear of their chosen listener, the modulated electrostatic field causes their ear lobe to vibrate slightly, allowing them to hear a whispered reproduction of the recorded audio. They don’t call them Imagineers for nothin’.