Facial Scanners Installed in Beijing Public Toilets to Combat Toilet Paper Theft

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To combat the rampant toilet paper theft in public toilets, local authorities in Beijing, China, have begun installing high-tech facial scanners that prevent users from taking any more toilet paper if they show up again within a certain period of time.

The public toilets at the Temple of Heaven, one of the most popular tourist attraction in the Chinese capital, used to be a hotbed of toilet paper theft. Sick of wasting huge amount of money on thousands of rolls of paper every month, local authorities recently replaced the old dispensers with high-tech ones with incorporated facial scanning technology. Now, to receive a 60-cm-long sheet of toilet paper, users must stand in front of the machine to have their face scanned and stored in a temporary data base. If they return in less than nine minutes from their previous visit, the machine will remember them and will not dispense anymore toilet paper.

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This Weird Mask Muffles Your Voice to Keep Phone Calls Private

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Don’t you just hate it when you have to take an important phone call and you’re surrounded by potential eavesdroppers? You either have to whisper or go outside to keep the conversation private, which is not exactly ideal.Now, a new gadget aims to fix this problem by muffling your voice and making you look like Bane in the process.

Hushme is a bizarre high-tech mask that blocks the sound of the wearer’s voice so that people nearby can’t hear what is being said. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and comes with a pair of earbuds. When you get a private call, all you have to do is put the muzzle-like mask on and it will do the rest. The pair of thick cushy pads over your mouth do a good job of muffling your voice, but to ensure nothing gets through, Hushme also features external speakers that play a variety of sounds when you speak.

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Smart Bracelet Allows Dads-to-Be to Feel The Movements of Their Unborn Children

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In an effort to help expecting fathers feel more involved in the pregnancy, a Danish tech company has developed a smart bracelet that lets them feel the kicks and movements of their unborn children in real time.

Fibo is the newest development in wearable technology. It looks like a cross between a fitness tracker and a smart watch, but its purpose is completely different. By pairing it with a patch -like baby kick monitoring device worn by the mother on her belly, Fibo can accurately imitate the movements of the fetus right after they occur. The bracelet features rotating beads that create a natural movement, rather than the usual sharp, unrealistic vibration that most notification devices rely on.

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Bizarre Smartphone App Lets You Take Photos, Talk with the Dead

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In an effort to help people cope with the loss of their loved ones, a South Korean tech company is developing an app that lets them take photos and converse with digitally-rendered models of deceased friends and family.

Called “With Me”, the controversial app was developed by ELROIS, a Korean firm that specializes in creating realistic 3D avatars, and requires the featured person to sign up for an avatar while they are still alive. Currently, they have to visit a special booth where their bodies are scanned using special technology, but ELROIS hopes that smartphones will soon come with built-in 3D-scanning technology to streamline the process. The company then proceeds to create a “realistic” 3D avatar based on the scanned images, followed by reshaping and auto-rigging to make it animated.

Not only can users of the With Me app take selfies with these digital avatars of their loved ones, but thanks to artificial intelligence, they can also converse with them, or have them react to certain commands or information uploaded to the app. “When a user puts personal information in the app, the avatars remember the user from that time and recognize if there’s some changes in the of users as well,” an ELROIS spokesperson said. “For example, if there is a change in appearance or an emotional change and the avatar will mention something about it, such as ‘you look younger today, what is your secret?'”

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Meet FORPHEUS, the World’s First Robot Table Tennis Tutor

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An advanced robot developed by Japanese electronics company Omron has recently been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s first robot table tennis tutor. FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized Automation with Sinic Theoretics) used machine learning to asses the skills of a human player, adjust its game accordingly and provide tips to help opponents improve their technique.

Unveiled at the Ceatec electronics show in Japan in 2014, FORPHEUS has come a long way in the last three years, especially after developers made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Originally designed to showcase Omron’s sensor technology, the table tennis-playing robot has now become a Guinness-certified tutor thanks to machine learning. It analyzes data like the human player’s movement, the speed of the ball and the trajectory to determine his opponent’s skill level with around 90% accuracy. FORPHEUS then uses this information to adjust its play style – slow and and easy for beginners, faster and more unpredictable for advanced players.

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Russian Programmer 3D-Prints His Very Own T-800 Terminator Robot Complete with Artificial Intelligence

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The machine-dominated world envisioned by James Cameron in “Terminator” once seemed like pure science fiction, but now, not so much. Just a few days ago, a Russian programmer from Perm unveiled his 3D-printed version of the T-800 robot featured in Cameron’s famous blockbuster, and while it can currently only move its head, it is equipped with a “brain” that allows it to speak and even answer various questions, by looking up the answers on the internet.

Perm-based programmer Alexander Osipovich knew he wanted to one day build his own Terminator robot as a child, after watching the 1984 movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2009, while studying programming at university, Osipovich started working on a program that would one day act as the brain of his real-life T-800 machine. Over the next two years, he developed multiple versions of it in Visual Basic, and in 2011 he decided that technology had come far enough to allow him to fulfill his childhood dream.

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These “Smarter Socks” Can Communicate with Your Smartphone

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What if your smartphones could send data about themselves to your iPhone? It sounds absurd, but Swiss sock manufacturer BlackSocks has been producing “Smarter Socks” that actually communicate with the owner’s smartphone ever since 2012. And yes, you can still buy them, but they’re definitely not cheap.

BlackSocks believes mankind is made for greater things than sorting socks, so in order to save their clients some valuable time, they came up with a high-tech way of helping them figure out which two socks go together. They might have overdone it a little bit, though, as this system involves Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips on the socks, a handheld device that decodes the info on these chips, as well as a dedicated app for your smartphone. It sounds like a pretty complicated system for such a simple task as sorting out socks, but if you’re the kind of guy who likes to keep his socks paired, you’re going to love it.

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This Pocket-Sized Device Connects to Your Phone to Let You Know When You Stink

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The KunKun, Japanese for “sniff sniff”, is a bizarre device developed by Japanese corporation Konika Minolta that detects bodily odors like smelly feet or underarm sweat and notifies the user about them via a smartphone app.

So, yeah, the days of smelling your own armpits when nobody’s watching to see if they stink are over, thanks to modern technology. Now you can just wear the KunKun everywhere you go and find out when you’re starting to stink just by checking your phone. It’s small enough to fit in a coat pocket, so no one will ever know you’re carrying it, and features sensors that pick up specific chemicals associated with three types of bodily odors. It can detect ammonia and isovaleric acid, chemicals known to produce that nasty sweaty locker-room smell, but also 2-nonenal, which is associated with old age and diacetyl, a controversial organic compound that makes yo smell like “rancid cooking oil”.

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BionicGym – A Leg Muscle Stimulator That Claims to Burn 1000 Calories/Hour while You Lie on the Couch

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How does running a marathon and burning over 1000 calories per hour without even getting off your couch sound? That’s exactly what the BionicGym, an advanced wearable neuro-stimulator, claim to help you achieve by delivering sophisticated electric pulse patterns to your muscles.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen commercial electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) devices before, but despite what those teleshopping commercials claim, they’re really not that effective. But BionicGym creator Dr. Louis Crowe claims that this product is truly revolutionary. Instead of the usual muscle stimulation patterns, BionicGym allegedly “mimics shivering, nature’s way of burning calories without doing anything.”

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This Device Lets You Charge Your Phone on the Go Using Your Body’s Own Energy

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HandEnergy is an ingenious apple-sized device that charges your phone anytime, anywhere. But what really makes this thing special is the fact that it uses your own personal energy to do it.

In a time where power-banks and solar-power devices have become mainstream, a device that lets you charge gadgets on the go doesn’t sound very special. But while power-banks have to be charged the old fashioned way, and solar panels need the sun to store energy, HandEnergy just needs a hand. And I mean that quite literally. To get this little guy to produce energy, which it then stores in built-in batteries, all you have to do is hold it in your hand and rotate your wrists.

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Kissenger – The Smartphone Accessory That Lets You Kiss over Long Distances

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Long distance relationships are always tough, and the lack of physical interaction is one of the main reasons for that. There’s no substituting human touch, yet, but rapidly-advancing technology already provides some intriguing alternatives. One such example is the Kissenger, a smartphone peripheral that allows users to kiss over long distances.

The concept of long-distance kissing has been an intriguing research concept for over half a decade now. Back in 2012, we wrote about the Kissenger, a solution created by Dr. Hooman Samani, Director of AIART Lab (Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Technology Laboratory) in Singapore. It consisted of two internet-connected bunny-shaped robots with big silicone lips that could send the touch of human lips between each-other to (sort of) simulate a kiss between two human beings. Samani described it as a “a physical interface enabling kiss communication”.

The Kissinger made international news headlines when it was originally revealed, but it never translated into an actual consumer product. However, the idea of transmitting human kisses over long distances remained popular, and, earlier this month, Emma Yann Zhang, a Computer Science PhD student at City University London, presented her own take on the idea, also called the Kissenger.

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Japanese Designer Creates Solar-Powered Coat That Charges Gadgets

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If you’re sick of running out of battery on your smartphone when you need it the most, and don’t mind paying a whopping $2,480 on a coat, you might want to consider getting this solar-powered jacket that can charge your gadgets on the go.

COMME des GARÇONS’ alumnus Junya Watanabe first unveiled his FW16 solar-powered men’s coat back in March, but his unique creation is doing the rounds once again, after becoming available for purchase at the hefty price of $2,480. So what makes this coat so special, apart from being a designer item, you ask? Well, just in case the four large solar panels on the back and the two in the front haven’t given it away already, this coat harnesses the power of the sun, converts it to electricity and stores it in a hidden power pack for on-the-go charging.

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‘Magic’ Megaphone Automatically Translates Speech into Various Languages

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To help Japanese companies better deal with the increasing number of foreigners visiting the country, Panasonic has created an innovative megaphone capable of automatically translating Japanese into English, Chinese and Korean.

Remember that cool universal translator the crew of the Enterprise used to break down language barriers with alien species? Such technology is not yet available in real life, but if Panasonic’s ‘Megahonyaku’ is a sign of things to come, that universal translator doesn’t seem so sci-fi anymore. Megahonyaku is a pun on the Japanese words for ‘megaphone’ and ‘translate’, which actually makes a lot of sense because it’s a megaphone that can translate Japanese into several other languages in real time. When a user speaks Japanese into the megaphone, it recognizes and translates what is being said instantly, and outputs the phrase in English, Chinese or Korean.

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Nearly All Phones in Japan Are Waterproof Because People Need to Use Them in the Shower

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Waterproof smartphones are becoming more common in Western markets, but they are hardly the norm. In Japan however, almost all phones are waterproof, and have been for nearly a decade now. According to statistics, 90% to 95% of phones in Japan are waterproof, because people need to be able to use them while they are showering.

Japanese users are apparently so attached to their phones that they even bring them into the shower. Manufacturers were aware of this unusual habit early on and realized that in order to succeed in japan, they had to make their devices water resistant. The world’s first waterproof mobile phone, the Casio Canu 502S, was release in 2005, and was soon followed by a series of Fujitsu waterproof handhelds. Before long, every company looking to enter Japanese market had to make their devices waterproof.

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This Little Flashlight Is So Powerful It can Start a Fire and Cook Breakfast

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The FlashTorch Mini flashlight is about as close as you can get to a real-life, commercially-available lightsaber. Its 2300-lumens halogen light output is enough to start a fire or cook an egg.

Created by Wicked Laser, the FlashTorch Mini is made of anodized, machined aircraft-grade aluminum and features a highly efficient, heat-resistant lens and reflector. That already sounds very impressive, but it’s the intense light this thing emits that really makes it special. The ‘torch’ in its name has a very literal meaning, as the 2300 lumens output is more than enough to start a fire if you hold the flashlight close enough to something flammable. It’s also strong enough to melt plastic and even cook eggs, if you balance the cooking container on top of the flashlight.

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