Wearable Computers Will Transform Language

Smart clothes and accessories will let us share thoughts and sensations as well as words

11 min read
Illustration: MCKIBILLO
Illustration: MCKIBILLO

HRAdamVoorhesCMYK_Future_Wearables3 Photo: Adam Voorhes; Prop Stylist: Robin Finlay

In August of 1961, fabled mathematicians Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon, of MIT, walked into a Las Vegas casino. They intended to try their luck at roulette, a game in which players bet on where a whirling ball will land after falling from an outer stationary track onto an inner spinning wheel. But they weren’t typical gamblers.

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Print an Arduino-Powered Color Mechanical Television

Anyone with a 3D printer can make a new twist on the oldest type of TV

5 min read
A disk with a spiral of holes is mounted on a motor. Buttons and switches form a control panel below it.

Early 2020s 3D printing meets late 1920s mechanical television.

James Provost

Before flat screens, before even cathode-ray tubes, people watched television programs at home thanks to the Nipkow disk. Ninety years ago in places like England and Germany, broadcasters transmitted to commercially produced black-and-white electromechanical television sets, such as the Baird Televisor, that used these disks to produce moving images. This early programming established many of the formats we take for granted today, such as variety shows and outside broadcasts.

The size and weight of a Nipkow disk makes a display with more than a few dozen scan lines impracticable (in stark contrast to modern screens with thousands of lines). But when a mechanical TV is fed a moving image, the result is surprisingly watchable. And Nipkow displays are fascinating in their simplicity—no high voltages or complex matrices. So I wondered: What was the easiest way to build such a display that would produce a good quality image?

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World Builders Put Happy Face On Superintelligent AI

The Future of Life Institute’s contest counters today’s dystopian doomscapes

4 min read
A cityscape ensconced in an iridescent dome of light and shapes.
Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

One of the biggest challenges in a world-building competition that asked teams to imagine a positive future with superintelligent AI: Make it plausible.

The Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on existential threats to humanity, organized the contest and is offering a hefty prize purse of up to US $140,000, to be divided among multiple winners. Last week FLI announced the 20 finalists from 144 entries, and the group will declare the winners on 15 June.

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Reduce EMI and EMC Issues with Engineering Simulation Software

Save time and money all while delivering accurate and reliable results

1 min read
Reduce EMI and EMC Issues with Engineering Simulation Software

Electronic components and systems exist today in nearly all consumer and industrial products. A major design consideration in all electronics is electromagnetic interference (EMI) and compatibility (EMC). EMI and EMC issues are complex. They can be hard to detect and can be taxing to a design. With the use of engineering simulation software, design engineers can mitigate issues before entering the prototype testing phase. Avoiding the test-retest cycle with simulation can help save time and money all while delivering robust and reliable products.