Can VR make water slides even more fun?
From The Verge:
Virtual reality and water slides seem like things that shouldn’t mix. One is a still nascent technology that generally tends to rely on delicate and sensitive electronic equipment, and the other is a form of entertainment that largely involves sliding fast in an enclosed space filled with water — things which generally tend to have harmful effects on delicate and sensitive electronic equipment.
And yet, here we are, with VRSlide, which recently opened at Galaxy Erding in Germany, and proudly lays claim to the title of “first virtual reality water slide.” Now, adding virtual reality to theme park rides isn’t really anything new — Six Flags teamed up with Samsung to add Gear VR headsets back in 2016, and later upped that to augmented reality in 2017 that lets you see your surroundings.
The tech behind the VRSlide is pretty impressive — it’s a wholly custom waterproof headset that can be completely submerged (up to a few meters), powered by an integrated Samsung Galaxy S8 that runs custom software for the VR experiences, which are built in Unity. There’s a two-part tracking system that both utilizes the S8 to listen to ultrasound chirping from sensors and monitors the inertial data that gets compared to riders of various weights to figure out exactly where users are. The headsets also recharge wirelessly, making it easy for parks to constantly swap sets in and out throughout the day.
A new microcomputer that’s a tenth the size of the previous record-holder
You didn’t think scientists would let IBM’s recent “world’s smallest computer” boast go unchallenged, did you? Sure enough, University of Michigan has produced a temperature sensing ‘computer’ measuring 0.04 cubic millimeters, or about a tenth the size of IBM’s former record-setter. It’s so small that one grain of rice seems gigantic in comparison — and it’s so sensitive that its transmission LED could instigate currents in its circuits.
The size limitations forced researchers to get creative to reduce the effect of light. They switched from diodes to switched capacitors and had to fight the relative increase in electrical noise that comes from running on a device that uses so little power.
The result is a sensor that can measure changes in extremely small regions, like a group of cells in your body. Scientists have suspected that tumors are slightly hotter than healthy tissue, but it’s been difficult to verify this until now. The minuscule device could both check this claim and, if it proves true, gauge the effectiveness of cancer treatments. The team also envisions this helping to diagnose glaucoma from inside the eye, monitor biochemical processes and even study tiny snails.
Carpet comes alive with programmable materials
From Popular Science:
Touching artifacts, in most museums, is not encouraged. And art, on the whole, is not responsive. But from the third floor of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the view is a little different. From April to October, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision exhibit asks visitors to feel, smell, taste, hear and otherwise engage with art and design.
It’s a child’s (and perhaps a parent’s) dream — guards are present, but rarely intervene. It’s uniquely accessible to museum-goers who may not have the strongest sense of sight. And it’s a compact, organized glimpse at the future of applied materials, an under-appreciated but consequential field at the intersection of design, aesthetics, engineering, chemistry and physics.
On my first visit to the showcase, with Carol Derby, the vice president of research and development for materials design and manufacturing firm Designtex, we stopped to pet an undulating wall covered in a dark synthetic fur. As our hands moved up and down, back and forth, and in broad circles, sensors in the fur triggered symphony orchestra music, filling the room.
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