I Hear You Offer WiFi

We are swimming in radio transmissions from all around, and if you live above the ground floor, they are coming at you from below as well. Humans do not have a sensory organ for recognizing radio signals, but we have lots of hardware which can make sense of it. The chances are good that you are looking at one such device right now. [Frank Swain] has leaped from merely accepting the omnipresent signals from WiFi routers and portable devices to listening in on them. The audio signals are mere soundwaves, so he is not listening to every tweet and email password, merely a representation of the data’s presence. There is a sample below the break, and it sounds like a Geiger counter playing PIN•BOT.

We experience only the most minuscule sliver of information coming at us at any given moment. Machines to hack that gap are not had to find on these pages so [Frank] is in good company. Magnetosensory is a popular choice for people with a poor sense of direction. Echolocation is perfect for fans of Daredevil. Delivering new sensations could be easier than ever with high-resolution tactile displays. Detect some rather intimate data with ‘SHE BON.’

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Internal Power Pills

Arguably the biggest hurdle to implanted electronics is in the battery. A modern mobile phone can run for a day or two without a charge, but that only needs to fit into a pocket and were its battery to enter a dangerous state it can be quickly removed from the pocket. Implantable electronics are not so easy to toss on the floor. If the danger of explosion or poison isn’t enough, batteries for implantables and ingestibles are just too big.

Researchers at MIT are working on a new technology which could move the power source outside of the body and use a wireless power transfer system to energize things inside the body. RFID implants are already tried and tested, but they also seem to be the precursor to this technology. The new implants receive multiple signals from an array of antennas, but it is not until a couple of the antennas peak simultaneously that the device can harvest enough power to activate. With a handful of antennas all supplying power, this happens regularly enough to power a device 0.1m below the skin while the antenna array is 1m from the patient. Multiple implants can use those radio waves at the same time.

The limitations of these devices will become apparent, but they could be used for releasing drugs at prescribed times, sensing body chemistry, or giving signals to the body. At this point, just being able to get the devices to turn on so far under flesh is pretty amazing.

Recently, we asked what you thought of the future of implanted technology and the comment section of that article is a treasure trove of opinions. Maybe this changes your mind or solidifies your opinion.

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Course correcting the Science Fiction genre

Usually we post our own mad ravings in the rants category. But we think [Paolo Bacigalupi’s] take on the meandering focus of the Science Fiction genre worthy of the deviation. He discusses the course correction that happened in the 1980’s and makes a case that it’s time for another nudge in the right direction.

We’ve done our own extensive reading of the Sci-Fi that’s out there. And it’s not hard to agree that the pillars of the genre (Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke) feel dated. We remember the thrill of reading Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and other cyber-punk offerings with new enthusiasm. But we never really put it together that this was a course correction. The older novels were focused on forecasting the future of older technology, and as the digital world develop those predictions didn’t mirror the reality of “the future”.

So what about now? Do the Tessier-Ashpools secretly govern that majority of the planet from a lofty orbital platform? Is it time for another reboot? Of course there’s never one single pivot point for these things, but we think it’s already happening in novels like Ready Player One. We haven’t read [Paolo’s] award-winning book The Windup Girl (pictured above) yet but he thinks that biopunk may be one of the new directions for science fiction literature. What do you think?

[via BoingBoing]