GeekSpeak for 2010-11-13

Hybrid Hard Drives

John Moon, Design Engineer at Seagate, joins the Geeks to talk about Hybrid Hard Drives and specifically the Momentus® XT Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive. And in the first half the geeks cover the week in geek news: Kinect Game System, Light-Sensitive Concrete, Size of Eris, Multi Touch: Stretchable electronic skin, newly (by the west) discovered cloning lizard, and a bit more.

How Apple Almost Got Microsoft’s Kinect Game Controller

By Leander Kahney (4:30 am, Nov. 05, 2010)

In June 2008, on a flight home from Europe to San Francisco, I was given a fascinating demo of some jaw-dropping technology.

I was sitting next Inon Beracha, CEO of Israeli company PrimeSense, which had developed a low-cost chip and software to do 3D machine vision.

The system used a pair of cameras and an infrared sensor to highlight people and track their movements.

On his laptop, Beracha showed me videos of people waving their hands in the air to control Wii-like games. He showed people controlling TV programming menus by gesturing their hands in the air. And, most impressive of all, someone flipping through a photo slide show like they were Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It was so slick, I asked him if it was CGI. It was real, he said, and so cheap, the technology could eventually be found everywhere in the home, office and car.

Of course, PrimeSense’s system is at the heart of Microsoft’s new Kinect game controller, which is getting rave reviews and looks set to be a monster hit. It’s a “crazy, magical, omigosh rush,” says the New York Times‘ David Pogue.

And it almost belonged to Apple.

Night-vision goggles allow you to Kinect the dots | Joystiq

Sorry, “horrifyingly awkward news bloopers,” you’ve been surpassed by our new favorite YouTube search term: “Kinect with night-vision goggles.” When viewing your living room through the lens of NVGs (like the ones included in the Prestige Edition of Modern Warfare 2), you can see the beautiful galaxy of pinpoint sensors projected by Kinect’s obsidian eyes.

Check out some videos of this phenomenon after the jump, and contemplate the fact that by buying Kinect, you’re not only purchasing the controller-free controller of the future — you’re also getting a funky-ass invisible disco ball.

Hacked Kinect taught to work as multitouch interface

Florian Echtler took that open source driver and hooked the Kinect into his own multitouch UI “TISCH” software library (which actually supports the Wiimote as an input already, funny enough). The result is a bit of MS Surface-style multitouch picture shuffling and zooming, but it uses full body tracking instead of touchscreen input, of course. The self-effacing Florian had this to say in the video description: “I thought I’d get the mandatory picture-browsing stuff done so it’s out of the way and everybody can focus on more interesting things.” You’re still a hero in our book, man. Always a hero.

Light-Sensitive Concrete

Light-Sensitive Concrete is a technology that allows concrete to be sensitive to ambient light levels. It senses the luminosity distribution throughout a concrete surface and sends the data to a computer. By converting this data to various values within custom-designed software, one can control sound, light, projected visuals, and other effects by modifying the light condition on the concrete surface.

Multi Touch: Stretchable electronic skin

Excerpt: “The electronic skin uses evaporated gold as a conductor. Researchers have created an electronic touchpad that can be pulled like a rubber band. Yet it responds to touch and pressure.”

New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant

“You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say.”

Mobile phone kits to diagnose STDs

“Mobile phones and computers will soon be able to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases under innovative plans to cut the UK’s rising rate of herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea among young people.”

A Catalog of Materials that Redefine our Physical Environment

Transmaterial 3: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine our Physical Environment [Paperback]

Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive | Seagate

Momentus® XT Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive
Solid state hybrid laptop hard drive for extreme speed and capacity

  • 80% faster than traditional 7200 RPM drives
  • Improved system response with Adaptive Memory™ technology
  • Energy efficient & quiet
  • Works in any standard laptop with any OS

Pluto Might be Bigger, But Eris is More Massive

Which is bigger: Eris or Pluto? Eris… right? Not so fast.

In 2005, the discovery of dwarf planet Eris started a chain of events that rocked the astronomical community and plutonites alike.

Robot Gives Bed Baths To Patients - PSFK

Researchers at Georgia Tech. have created a robot nurse that can autonomously aid elderly patients in hospitals by giving them bed baths. Cody, as its called, is equipped with a camera and laser interface; using its image processing, it identifies which area of the body needs cleaning, after which it starts wiping that body part with a cloth.

In their tests, the robot was able to remove over 96% of the ‘debris’ on human body by wiping with a very low force.

Here’s a demo given by this robo-nurse:


! Our Guest

John Moon, has 29 years of experience in design engineering and design management of hard disc drives. He has been with Seagate for the last 20 years. His design responsibilities have spanned all aspects of electrical design from servo & read/write to [ASIC|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application-specific_integrated_circuit]s & interface. He has been involved in Seagate’s hybrid design efforts from the beginning, most recently serving as the lead design engineer for the launch of the Momentus XT.

John’s hobbies include making robotic skeletons and [GeoCaching|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching], though his wife likes to call “Nerd in the Woods.”

! Geek Bits