Scientists are studying ants to help autonomous robots improve their navigation skills. Ants use landmarks to find their way in unknown territory, as well a system known as "path integrator," in which ants continually measure the distance traveled and directions taken in order to determine a straight route back to their home. This system is a reliable way to navigate, and many feel it could be beneficial to robots. Scientists plan to continue to study ants for robot technology, with an eventual goal of having thousands of tiny robots enter my house and start living in my kitchen and ruining all those pop tarts and my cereal and that last piece of cake that I was saving for a special occasion. Those greedy bastards.
The Alcohawk Micro is a $50 electronic alcohol breathalyzer that is small enough to carry on your keychain. The Alcohawk's simple one button operation and quick five second testing make determining your blood alcohol level so easy that even a kid can do it... which is what your kid will have to do when you're busy figuring out why you can't seem to stand up anymore. One AAA battery will last for 150 tests, or the equivalent of a weekend of trips between your favorite drive-through daiquiri stand and the nursing home where you fulfill the mandatory community service obligation from your last alcohol violation.
Sony researchers performed an experiment in which one of their biped robots was placed in a classroom to determine how kids adapt to robots. The study determined that children would spend up to twice as much time participating in activities when the robot was present in the room. The kids also began to care for the robot, helping it up whenever it fell and making conscious attempts to protect it from harm. The researchers said that the purpose of the sending a robot to school was to help improve robot technology, but it's obvious that they are just doing research for the inevitable update of the Not Quite Human series, Still Not Quite Human II Again: The Revenge. Nice try, Sony.
A research lab in Singapore has been working on a video game that will allow you to play against your pet hamster. Their project, Mice Arena, places a hamster in a tank with a computer-controlled floor. When a human player begins a game, the floor of the tank shifts and molds to match the landscape of the video game. The player's location in the video game is mapped to a piece of bait in the tank, and the hamster's location and movement in the tank is mapped into the video game. As the player moves and attempts to flee the digital hamster in the game, the piece of bait in the tank moves in a corresponding direction. Although this is a good start, I won't be happy until people and hamsters start facing off in arena combat similar to that of American Gladiators. The eventual prize of those bouts? Complete control of the world's supply of wood chips and exercise wheels.
Katsuya Matsumura is apparently a Japanese computer case modder with a penchant for creating creepy female computer cases. The linked page shows the step by step process he used to make his most recent... "creation," a bikini-clad woman referred to as "On the Beach." So, if you've been aching to use the phrase "my girlfriend can run Windows 95," feel free to attempt his complex and detailed process. After all, by completely avoiding the female population, you'll have more than enough time to create a whole neighborhood of girlfriend computers. Just don't forget to name them and knit them clothes and wedding gowns; you need to keep things sensible.
Dutch design studio Buro Vormkrijgers finally gives you a legitimate reason to have a talking headless dog in your house. The Woofer is simply a cast resin dog with a speaker in its neck. A single dog will provide you with a subwoofer, and a pair of dogs will give you stereo sound. The studio also has plans to create smaller "Tweeter" speakers that apply this concept to birds. Plastic dogs might get the job done, but if you really want high quality sound, I suggest you take your stereo to the local taxidermist. Nothing says "high quality sound" like a bear carcass filled with speakers.