Learn a new language with the Babel Fish

The Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the strangest things in the universe. After inserting a Babel fish into your ear, it feeds off brain wave energy and excretes a matrix from the conscious frequencies into the speech areas of the brain. It’s invaluable as a universal translator, but until Earth is targeted for demolition we’ll have to make do with [Becky] from Adafruit’s Babel fish language toy.

[Becky]‘s Babel fish is still able to feed off the energy given off by language, but in this case the energy comes from a set of RFID cards on which Chinese characters are written. After waving these RFID flash cards in front of the Babel fish, a wave shield connected to the Arduino plays a recording of how the logogram on the flash card should sound when pronounced.

While it’s not a biologically engineered fish that simultaneously proves and disproves the existence of god, every human endeavor – learning a language included - needs more [Douglas Adams] references. You can check out [Becky]‘s Babel fish demo video after the break.

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biological-inspired robotic eye movements

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a biologically inspired system to control cameras on board robots that simulate the Saccadic optokinetic system of the human eye. Its similarity to the muscular system of the human eye is uncanny.

Joshua Schultz, a Ph.D candidate, says that this system has been made possible in part to piezoelectric cellular actuator technology. Thanks to the actuators developed in their laboratory it is now possible to capture many of the characteristics associated with muscles of the human eye and its cellular structure.

The expectation is that the piezoelectric system could be used for future MRI-based surgery, furthering our ability to research and rehabilitate the human eye.

[via engadget]

Control Giant Fireballs With Your Mind

[Matt Oehrlein] and [Ed Platt] from the i3 Detroit hackerspace created the Mind Flame project. The project uses Electroencephalography (EEG) sensors from NeuroSky to measure the user’s concentration level. When you’re concentrating hard enough, the Mind Flame launches a giant fireball, which probably breaks your concentration pretty quickly.

Propane is accumulated in tanks, and then released past a hot surface carbide igniter. It looks like an Arduino is used to open the valve, and the result is a massive fireball controlled by your brainwaves.

The Mind Flame was demoed at the Detroit Maker Faire as a competition. Two participants face off to see who can concentrate the hardest and make the device launch three fireballs first. In the future, they want to incorporate new competitive elements. One example is placing wooden houses in the line of fire, and letting opponents try to burn down their adversary’s house before their’s is set ablaze.

You can check out an interview about the project here.

[Via Make]