Kayagomori is a pretty fascinating concept by Daisuke Uriu and Naohito Okude from KEIO University in Japan.

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This space will allow users to withdraw into one's shell and landscape diary. The name comes from Kaya: Japanese mosquito net and Hikikomori: a social problem in Japan. The structure of Kayagomori is a cubic frame with layered fabrics called Kaya screens. User can control the clarity of Kaya screen and the level of interruption from outside. When the user feels like remaining invisible but still wants to see outside, the projector shows the current scene to the screens. But the main function of Kayagomori is to be a "landscape diary". The system memorizes the landscapes that the user had experienced in past time, and it projects them on Kaya screens, whenever the user wants to see it again.

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A the moment Kayagomory is only a concept model but in the future, the system will be a space that one can locate anywhere: in one's yard or roof, sightseeing spots and the middle of a vast wilderness.

Kayagomori is equipped with Kaya screens, microphones, speakers, projectors, etc.

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Shimizu has worked with the Nakagawa Laboratory on a system for museums that uses visible light to convey information about exhibits to PDAs held by visitors.

Viewers simply place their PDA in the path of the light coming from a nearby lamp in order to read and listen to information about the exhibit.

The lamp, which can be an LED light source or a fluorescent bulb, is programmed to blink in a way that transmits a stream of data bits to the PDA. The PDA reads this stream to identify the exhibit and then plays back prerecorded information. The lamp blinks so quickly that to viewers it seems like a steady light.

With visible light communications, the visitor knows exactly where to place the PDA in order to capture the signal. Some museums already have systems that use infrared light to trigger presentations in PDAs, but because IR light is invisible, these can be confusing to users.

Via Nikkei.

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The Talking Lights communicate information that can be heard through an earpiece, seen on a handheld screen, or processed as data or control signals by a computer.

By a slight modification in the design of a fluorescent light ballast, the light can transmit data without visible flicker.

The system is being developed for use as an assistive technology for blind, deaf and hard of hearing users and for traumatic brain injury patients. It's also being qualified to create other communication networks and enhance military systems (on the battlefield, for mine clearing, etc.)

A team at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a power-generating backpack. Dubbed "Suspended-load Backpack", the device converts mechanical energy from walking into electricity – up to 7.4 Watts – more than enough energy to power several portable electronic devices at once.

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The backpack is based on a rigid frame pack, but than being rigidly attached to the frame, the sack carrying the load is suspended from the frame by vertically oriented springs. It is the vertical movement of the backpack contents that provides the mechanical energy to drive a generator mounted on the frame. "As humans walk, they vault over their extended leg, causing the hip to rise 5-7 centimeters on each step. Since the backpack is connected to the hip, it to must be lifted 5-7 centimeters," explains biologist Larry Rome. "It is this vertical movement of the backpack that ultimately powers electricity generation."

The amount of power generated depends on how much weight is in the pack and how fast the wearer walks. With loads of 40 to 80 pounds, a wearer could constantly generate as much as 7.4 Watts while moving at a steady clip. Cell phones – or night vision goggles – require less than one Watt to power.

Via eurekalert. News release.

As-Rigid-As-Possible Shape Manipulation is a system that lets a user move and deform a 2D shape without manually establishing a skeleton or freeform deformation domain beforehand.

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The shape is represented by a triangle mesh and the user moves several vertices of the mesh as constrained handles. The system then computes the positions of the remaining free vertices by minimizing the distortion of each triangle. The user chooses several points inside the shape as handles and moves each handle to a desired position. The system then moves, rotates, and deforms the overall shape to match the given handle positions while minimizing distortion.

Video.
By Takeo Igarashi, Tomer Moscovich and John F. Hughes.

Via Hack a day.

American researchers have produced 8 wildcat kittens by cross-breeding cloned adults. This is the first time that clones of a wild species have bred.

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This development holds enormous potential for preserving endangered species. "By improving the cloning process and then encouraging cloned animals to breed and make babies, we can revive the genes of individuals who might not be reproductively viable otherwise, and we can save genes from animals in the wild," commented Dr Betsy Dresser, who led the scientific team at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species.

Not all conservationists believe that cloning has much value in preserving threatened species.

"Cloning does nothing to reduce the most pressing threats to endangered species and their habitats; conservation requires work on entire populations and their habitats," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF's Species Programme.

It also has to be shown that the clones could breed normally once re-introduced to the wild.

Via BBC News.

Meanwhile, in Australia...

Although remarkably docile once it is born, the endangered grey nurse shark is its own worst enemy: in a process called intra-uterine cannibalism, its young eat each other in the womb, so scientists at the New South Wales state fisheries department have come up with a plan to breed the embryo sharks in individual test tubes.

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With only one embryo pup surviving in each womb, the female shark then produces unfertilized eggs for it to feed on.

Scientists plan to harvest embryos from pregnant female grey nurse sharks in the wild, then raise them in specially built artificial uteri in fisheries laboratories. Bt they must first learn how to create an artificial shark uterus and develop artificial uterine fluids and artificial eggs to feed the shark pups.

Scientists will also have to develop the surgical procedures to harvest embryos from female sharks in the wild and insert the embryos into the artificial uteri. The embryos will be fed artificial shark eggs until they reach birth size and then released into the wild.

"If we do not do this the animal is going down the gurgler (drain)," said biologist Nick Otway. "This animal will not survive on the east coast of Australia unless we can do this."

Via CNN.

A discovery by Princeton researchers may lead to an efficient method for controlling the transmission of light and improve new generations of communications technologies powered by light rather than electricity.

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In an experiment, the researchers proved for the first time that quasicrystal structures are better for trapping and redirecting light than ordinary crystals because their structure is more nearly spherical. The quasicrystal design can block light from escaping no matter which direction it traveled.

The finding represents an advance for photonics -- in which light replaces electricity as a means for transmitting and processing information -- and could lead to the development of faster telecommunications and computing devices. Photonics consumes less energy and is faster than electronics to channel information.

"Controlled light can be directed, switched and processed like electrons in an electronic circuit, and such photonic devices have many applications in research and in communications," noted physicist Paul Steinhardt.

The researchers are now exploring ways of miniaturizing the structure in order to utilize the device with visible light instead of microwaves. They also are examining whether the quasicrystal designs may be useful in electronic and acoustic applications.

Via PhysOrg. News @ Princeton.

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