technology: June 2011 Archives


A video of an elderly couple trying to use a webcam to take a photo of themselves with a birthday cake has become an internet hit after being uploaded to YouTube.

The minute-long clip is said to show the pair, Rita and Frank, trying to take a photo of themselves holding a cake to email to friends for Frank's 84th Birthday.

But the duo are blissfully unaware that they're actually recording a video on their new Mac using the PhotoBooth software, rather than taking a still image.

As a result, we get to hear Rita repeatedly ask "Did you hear a click?" as the pair try to work out what's is going on. All while inadvertently becoming internet stars.

275x250.jpg An Australian inventor has created a hover-bike which he claims could soon be capable of travelling at 170mph and 10,000ft.

Admittedly Chris Malloy's prototype has currently only hovered while tethered to the ground, but the designer is confident about his vehicle's potential.

He says the Kevlar reinforced carbon fiber hover bike will eventually steer like a traditional motorbike and outperform a two-blade aircraft in the air.

Suggested uses including aerial cattle mustering, search and rescue and aerial survey… we think he forgot to mention 'recreating scenes from Star Wars'.


Boffins in Prague have created a juggling robot which is capable of throwing and catching five balls moving at a time.

The team from Czech Technical University's Department of Control Engineering say the machine is an example of how motors can be used for precision tasks.

Dubbed 'Servo Juggler' it uses two mechanical vertical arms mounted on a motor and able to move horizontally to toss over a ball between each other on a parabolical trajectory.

A high-speed camera mounted at the front then detects the movement of individual balls and the system then calculated the ideal catching/throwing point. Sounds like a load of old balls to us.

275x250.jpg The world's fastest Rubik's Cube-solving robot has been developed -- but it's still not as fast as the most Rubik-ly skilled human.

Named Ruby, the robot built by students at Swinburne University of Technology can solve the scrambled puzzle in just over 10 seconds.

While that includes the time taken to scan the initial status of the cube, it's still relatively slow compared to Rubik's fan Feliks Zemdegs, who has a world record of 6.24 seconds.

However, it's considerably faster than the previous Rubik's robot record holder, that took 18.2 second to complete the puzzle in October 2010. And a lot faster than us, we started in 1984 and haven't finished yet.

275x250.jpgOur dream of flying over cars on our morning commute into Newslite Towers with a jet-pack strapped to out back is one step closer to reality today.

That's because makers Martin Jetpack from New Zealand, have conducted test flights during which they cruised to 5,000ft and deployed a parachute.

Bosses at the firm say the success of the test-flight - which was conducted in the sky over the Canterbury Plains - means the £60,000 device could be on sale within 18 months.

In the flight a dummy was attached to the jetpack and flown by remote control from a helicopter to 5,000ft before descending to 2,000 feet and then deploying the parachute.

This means it set new records for the fastest jet-pack climb rate (800ft per minute) highest altitude (5,000ft) and longest jet-pack flight (9:46 minutes)… now where do we sign up for one.




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