This week: Helping the blind to see with “Smart Glasses”, 3D printing an entire home in under 24 hours, disease fighting GMO tomatoes, a drone that can navigate an obstacle course at high speeds, and a town that’s averaged an earthquake an hour for two weeks.
Smart Glasses Translate Video into Sound To Help The Blind
Blind people have long relied on sound as a substitution for sight, and some even use echolocation to navigate around objects. But it turns out that sound can be specifically designed to convey visual information. Now, that phenomenon is being used in an attempt to build better navigation aids for blind people.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have built smart glasses that translate images into sounds that can be intuitively understood without training.
3D Printing Entire Buildings
Robotic construction system Contour Crafting (CC) has debuted their newest 3D-printing technology that can print entire homes on-site in less than 24 hours. CC’s technology doesn’t just build the architectural structure, it also prints the electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning features mid-construction, with no manual assembly required. Essentially, CC is printing homes in one shot with the basic utilities already embedded into their 3D-printed structures. It only takes 19 hours to print a 2,500 square foot home, at a rate of 20 seconds per square foot. This is a stark difference from the current US average of 6-9 months of development time.
Disease Fighting GMO Tomatoes
Since the advancement of genetic engineering, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become commonplace, not only in health and medical research, but also in agriculture. Scientists at the John Innes Centre have developed a new strain of genetically modified tomatoes that can produce resveratrol, which is known to be a natural disease-fighting compound. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes that is also present in red wine. It has been reported in studies to increase the lifespan of animals. There are also some claims saying it is an effective supplement in fighting diabetes, heart conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer, although these are yet to be solidly proven. The scientists were able to modify the fruit so that it produces the resveratrol equivalent of 50 bottles of red wine per tomato.
Dexterous Drones of the Future
George of the Jungle would be jealous of this drone. Unlike that hapless hero, this drone can expertly avoid all manner of obstacles, including trees, while in motion.
Andrew Barry, a researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), designed the drone as part of his PhD thesis.
The drone can recognize and avoid obstacles at speeds of 30 miles per hour, without any human direction.
San Ramon Gets 408 Earthquakes in Two Weeks
Large earthquakes can be incredibly serious, like the one that struck Afghanistan on Monday. But not all earthquakes are devastating, earth-shattering monsters. Sometimes, they’re just…there.
Over the past two weeks, over 408 earthquakes have rattled the town of San Ramon, California. That’s a little over an earthquake every hour, and sets a record for the area, beating out a 2003 swarm which lasted for a month and had 120 earthquakes. It’s an impressive accomplishment, but San Ramon has a long way to go if it wants to beat seismic heavyweights like Yellowstone National Park, which recorded 3,000 earthquakes over 3 months in 1985.
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!