NanoTouch, lucid touchscreen navigation

lucidtouch

The fine folks at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) are demoing a new touchscreen system that may make small devices easier to use. An extension of their LucidTouch technology, NanoTouch has a small screen on the front and a touchpad on the back. Their test unit features a 2.4inch screen. The screen displays where the user’s finger is on the back touchpad as if the display was transparent. The user’s finger no longer obscures the screen surface, so it’s much easier to hit small buttons. In testing, researchers showed that targets just 1.8mm across were easy to hit. That’s much smaller than the iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard. Here’s a video demonstrating the new device.

[via Engadget]

Robot that runs on rat brain cells


Scientists at the University of Reading have created a robot that runs not on microprocessors, but on brain cells extracted from a rat fetus. The robot is equipped with several sensors which stimulate the rat neurons whenever the robot approaches a wall; the response of the neurons then determines whether the robot avoids the wall or crashes into it. The truly fascinating bit is that the rat brain cells don’t automatically know how to respond to the stimuli from the sensors, but instead learn to respond appropriately through repeated stimuli.

No word yet on whether the scientists will teach the robot to sing “Despite all my rage / I am still just a brain in a vat”.

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