Tech Talk: More Microsoft Hardware & The Smallest Things

Microsoft to expand their hardware portfolio, and beautiful tech does come in small packages… especially the smallest MP3 player you can find, but not RoboRoach!!!

The Smallest of Things…

I love surfing the web – you find some really, REALLY cool stuff out there in R&D land:

David Wentzloff has been making tiny computers for years, and his latest project is a self-contained computing device about 1 cubic millimetre in size. Roughly the size of a pinhead, this nano-computer has two processors, a camera, a pressure sensor and a wireless transmitter & antenna. The whole thing is powered by a tiny solar cell & battery pack, and has been designed t be implanted into the eyes of glaucoma patients to measure and transmit their ocular pressure every 15 minutes.


At 0.75 in. per side and weighing less an ounce, theKube media player makes an iPod Nano look heavyweight! Its guts are formed from a tiny PCB with a 6-hour lithium polymer battery. It can play music in most popular file formats from a microSD card , and the user can controls play, pause, RW & FF, and adjust the volume. Available in pink, black, light green, yellow and white, theKube costs a mere £22 GBP online from the US, or wait a little longer and it will soon be available from Amazon.
The freakest bit of tech thouch, has to be RoboRoach. After 3 long years of R&D, the RoboRoach is now ready for its grand release – the world’s first commercially available cyborg! With RoboRoach you can briefly wirelessly control the left/right movement of a cockroach by microstimulation of the antenna nerves. Funded by a a kickstarter campaign, Backyard Brains little nasty is still in development, but you can pre-order yours now, with the app in the app store and product delivered in November 2013.
Here comes the science bit: The RoboRoach “backpack” weighs 4.4 grams with the battery, and each battery lasts around a month. You perform a brief surgery on the cockroach to attach the silver electrodes to the antenna, the backpack to the roach and then control its movement for a few minutes before the cockroach adapts. When you return the cockroach to its cage for 20 minutes, he “forgets” and the stimulation works again. Once you receive your RoboRoach, follow the online surgery instructions and videos, you will soon be on your way to becoming an expert in neural interfaces. After about 2-7 days, the stimulation stops working altogether, so you can clip the wires and retire the cockroach to your breeder colony to spend the rest of its days making more cockroaches for you….
Okay – does anyone see anything wrong with this? And if not, when will they do a version for mice, cats, children, aging parents etc…
Microsoft to Expand Hardware Line-Up, as Ballmer Pushes ‘Family of Devices’

In a recent memo on Microsoft’s website, CEO Steve Ballmer used the phrase “family of devices” 10 times in an update of the company’s forward-looking strategy. The memo outlined a reshuffling of Microsoft product lines into four new engineering groups and centralised business decisions on hardware plans. Ballmer told a conference call later that the range of in-house and third-party devices will encompass “the very smallest [and] the very largest devices.”

Just a week earlier Microsoft reported lower-than-expected Q4 financial results, taking a $900 million USD charge to account for a drop in the inventory value of its Surface RT tablets. However, Ballmer’s memo indicated that the company’s goal is for Windows and Windows Phone to be essentially the same operating system. “Developers must be able to target all our devices with a common programming model,” he wrote.

Currently, Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone share a kernel, but they don’t share a complete code base; apps written for Windows 8 and Windows RT can’t run on Windows Phone 8, and vice versa. A “write once/run many” model would give Microsoft an advantage that even Apple doesn’t enjoy: Apple’s iOS apps are incompatible with OS X.

Source: ARN-Net, Michigan University, The Kube, Backyard Brains
Reporter: SilverFox

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