iPhone Polygraph

Wouldn’t it be neat to have an iPhone polygraph.  Let me talk with that car sales person now.  Or replay that conversation with my last realtor – oh man.  Many of us carry our iPhones everywhere and they all have a rather good camera built in.  Some of the smart folks at MIT recently published Eulerian Video Magnification for Revealing Subtle Changes in the World.  They put together a software package that processes a standard video sequence and by differencing individual frames (I simplify here for clarity) and then amplifying those differences they make it possible to observe a person’s vital signs without touching them.

Eulerian Video Magnification

Think of all the things you could do with a hand-held device (read phone) that can show you a subjects heart rate, breathing patterns and how their blood is circulating.  This last one is detecting a blush that isn’t visible to our eyes.  All of this without touching them and with only a reasonable video camera and some software.  I am ready to play poker.  Maybe now we should check our guns and our phones at the door?  How about checking out a spouse who might be straying a bit – or not?  Maybe this is a great tool for emergency responders.  Just shoot a video of a patient and ship it with vitals embedded to the hospital.  No muss no fuss and less gear to clean up.

Read more: TNW Sharables, MIT News

Because this is software and because it works with the cameras that come on laptops and phones, I suppose we will soon see this as a button we can click on Skype or Facebook or who knows where.  This is not xray vision but it may be even handier than xray vision when we find all the potential applications.

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FAST G3A – Facial Armor

Some days the world just turns to s*** (I’ll use the spelling preferred by the US Supreme Court).  Getting shot is not fun – any time, any place.  Getting shot in the face particularly sucks.  In the past you either had to be inside an armored vehicle or be a long way away from your target if you wanted to keep your yap out of the line of fire.  Well now you can get in there and mix  it up and stay as pretty as you were when you started – which ain’t saying much but is a nice thought.  The folks at Mtek Weapon Systems have a line of face shields that are truely amazing.  In this video a Predator FAST G3A faceshield stops a 7.62 mm round fired at only 25 ft.  Seeing is believing.  This thing is magic.

FAST G3A Live Fire Test

Check out all the Facial Armor Sys Tem (FAST) faceshields at Mtek.

The Engineering Tool Box

With each passing day it seems we are doing more and more of our work on the web or with web connected widgets on our mobile devices.  The onslaught is relentless – much like the Borg.  We will be assimilated.  And you know what, it is actually great to have rich resources available at our fingertips.  Even better is that we can touch them from anywhere and don’t need to remember to pack them for a trip.

One resource that I like is the Engineering Tool Box.  If you need to review a definition or the basic relations in an area of engineering, this is the place to come.  The unit conversion support is nice but there are widgets out there that are easier to use and convert on my phone.  I like the tie in to Google SketchUp – especially that the library all works with the free version of SketchUp.  Visit the Engineering Tool Box it just might save you some time.

The Engineering Toolbox


Why Not Ask Siri?

The folks at Wolfram have some of the coolest and most useful widgets one can find.  I really enjoy my iPhone, so you can imagine my delight when I found the “Why Not Ask Siri?” widget.  Try it.  You’ll like it.




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Yes, It’s A Replicator

Star Trek fans will be pleased.  The rest of us will be fascinated.  The folks at Makerbot Industries have rolled out the Makerbot Replicator.  This is a functional 3-D printer that makes plastic prototypes using two different colors of plastic.  Selling at $1750 it may remain the dream of most kids – at least for a while.  Early laser printers sold for $5,000.  Today you can get a great laser printer for under $100.  These 3-D printers will get much cheaper, they will support many colors and with a little embedding magic I expect to soon see printed objects you can bake to solidify their metalic qualities (already done with clays in jewelry).  Keep an eye on the Replicator.

Makerbot Replicator

Read more at Makerbot’s website.  You can even download the design software.

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DIY WiFi Antenna Booster

I really love my wireless gizmos.  Like most folks, I had (notice use of past tense, I had) issues with the signal dropping off as I roamed to the farthest corners of the house.  Turns out there is a simple fix and it costs almost nothing.

I built a Windsurfer WiFi antenna booster.  The materials were a file folder and some aluminum foil – bonded together with spray glue.  You can wipe on glue if you don’t have spray glue handy.  You could even tape the foil on.  Patrick Norton shows us how he made his Windsurfer antenna booster in the video below.  You can download the plans at http://www.freeantenas.com.

Making a Windsurfer WiFi Antenna Booster

Just a note:  I skipped making the template.  I cut the file folder into 8 1/2″ X 11″ sheets and fed it through my printer.  That way the pattern is on the final material.  Less work, fewer pieces.

This antenna really works great.  Hope you have as much fun and get as much signal boost as I did.  Rock on – wirelessly.

Nylon For Making Planes

How about an airplane made from nylon.  EADS – makers of the Airbus – are applying a new type of nylon to manufacture airplane components.  How much will this change the airline industry.  Only time will tell.  Given the potential weight savings and the ever increasing price of fuel, this will be some very hotly watched research.

Making Planes From Nylon


I have always loved gyrocopters.  They seem to fly just about like birds.  If you remember Little Nellie, then you know how special a gyrocopter can be.

In this video we get to see the unusual things you can do with a gyrocopter on a really windy day.  In the latter half of the video one gyrocopter comes off the ground moving straight up – no roll at all.  Then it sits stationary like at a hover – which it is, sort of, but it is actually flying in the moving air maintaining a fixed relation to the ground (which is what pilots of helicopters would do).


Little Nellie was the gyrocopter used by James Bond.

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Drive A Car With An iPhone

iPhones are really nice.  And it seems there is an app you can download for most anything.  Now there is an app you can use to drive your car.  It will take some modification but it looks much easier than you might expect.  The folks at Waterloo Labs have been very kind in documenting and sharing their work. 

Driving a Car with an iPhone and cRIO (Part 1 – Overview)


Driving a Car with an iPhone (Part 2 – How To)


Drive a Car with an IPhone (iPhone Code Overview)

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Belgian Blue – Super Cow

Belgian Blues are amazing cattle.  They have medium sized, long bodied, and display a massive double muscle structure.  Many of them look like finely honed and cut weight lifters.  Belgian Blues are a result of crossing Dutch Friesians and English shorthorns with the native animals in Belgium during the second half of the 19th century.  The marvelous musculature comes from selective breeding and not pumping in the hormones.

The beef from a Belgian Blue is as unique as the animal.  It has less fat than chicken and more protein per pound than “regular” beef.


Meet The Super Cow

Read more at:

Belgian Blue Beef Herd Book

American Belgian Blue Breeders, Inc.

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