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Machine Chameleon

A sneak peek inside the handheld of the future

12 min read
Illustration: Richard Tuschman
Illustration: Richard Tuschman

SPECIAL REPORT:
DO-IT-ALL DEVICES

Like the idea of a handheld device that can be any of 10 different gizmos, depending on your mood? You could soon have it if the ideas described in this two-part report become reality. In this article, Diederik Verkest of the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center in Leuven, Belgium, describes the chameleon-like handheld his lab has been working on.

By year-end 2005, U.S. consumers will have trashed some 130 million cellphones and another mountain of old PDAs, MP3 players, and game consoles. We could, of course, build bigger landfills to accommodate the billions of obsolete gizmos we throw away each year. But here's a much better idea: building a wireless multimedia device whose hardware and software can be easily altered or upgraded so it never becomes obsolete. When a new communications standard or multimedia format comes along, the device could be made to conform to it simply by downloading circuit and software modifications.

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For Better or Worse, Tesla Bot Is Exactly What We Expected

Tesla fails to show anything uniquely impressive with its new humanoid robot prototype

15 min read
A humanoid robot with metal and wires exposed stands on stage.

Elon Musk unveiled the Optimus humanoid robot at Tesla's AI Day 2022.

Tesla

At the end of Tesla’s 2021 AI Day last August, Elon Musk introduced a concept for “Tesla Bot,” an electromechanically-actuated, autonomous bipedal “general purpose” humanoid robot. Musk suggested that a prototype of Tesla Bot (also called “Optimus”) would be complete within the next year. After a lot of hype, a prototype of Tesla Bot was indeed unveiled last night at Tesla’s 2022 AI Day. And as it turns out, the hype was just that—hype.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the humanoid robot that Musk very briefly demonstrated on stage, there’s nothing uniquely right, either. We were hoping for (if not necessarily expecting) more from Tesla. And while the robot isn’t exactly a disappointment, there’s very little to suggest that it disrupts robotics the way that SpaceX did for rockets or Tesla did for electric cars.

You can watch the entire 3+ hour livestream archived on YouTube here (which also includes car stuff and whatnot), but we’re just going to focus on the most interesting bits about Tesla Bot/Optimus.

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"Nothing About Us Without Us"

Assistive technologies are often designed without involving the people these technologies are supposed to help. That needs to change.

3 min read
A photo of two people holding signs outside.  One is in a wheelchair.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images

Before we redesigned our website a couple of years ago, we took pains to have some users show us how they navigate our content or complete specific tasks like leaving a comment or listening to a podcast. We queried them about what they liked or didn’t like about how our content is presented. And we took onboard their experiences and designed a site and a magazine based on that feedback.

So when I read this month’s cover story by Britt Young about using a variety of high- and low-tech prosthetic hands, I was surprised to learn that much bionic-hand development is conducted without taking the lived experience of people who use artificial hands into account.

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Introduction to Peer-to-Peer Streaming and GPU Processing in Data Acquisition Systems

Learn about the basics and benefits of peer-to-peer streaming and GPU post-processing in data acquisition systems

1 min read
Teledyne

Real-time digital signal processing is a vital part of many of today's data acquisition systems, and affordable graphics processing units (GPUs) offer a great complement to onboard field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

Join Teledyne SP Devices for an introductory webinar about the basics and benefits of peer-to-peer streaming and GPU post-processing in data acquisition systems.

Register now for this free webinar!

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