USB Sticks Buried in Walls All Around the World Make Up an Anonymous File Sharing Network

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‘Dead Drops’, a five-year-old project created by Berlin media artist Aram Bartholl, is probably the world’s most amazing file sharing network. It consists of USB flash drives embedded into walls, buildings and curbs all over the world. Anyone is welcome to hook up their laptops or smartphones to these drives, to drop or download files, or expand the network by embedding USB memory sticks in any old, crumbling wall in their own city.

The premise of the project is rather simple – just cement a USB stick into a wall with the port protruding, and post its location with photographs on the central Dead Drops database. Bartholl said that he created the project as a way to ‘un-cloud’ file sharing. “Dead Drops is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space,” the project manifesto states.

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Artists Create Book Cover That Refuses to Open for Judgmental Readers

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While the age-old idiom tells us not to judge a book by its cover, this high-tech book-cover is designed to do the judging instead. Created by a group of artists at Amsterdam creative studio Moore, the book-sleeve has the ability to scan faces for prejudice. If it detects even the slightest hint of judgement, the book will simply refuse to open.

Aptly named ‘The Cover that Judges You’, the sleeve comes with an integrated camera at the top and facial-recognition software that scans the faces of people who approach it. “Our aim was to create a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech,” artist Thijs Biersteker said. “If you approach the book, the face-recognition system picks up your face and starts scanning it for signs of judgement.”

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High-Tech Helmet Lets You Hear Your Own Thoughts, Sort Of

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The ‘Experience Helmet’ is a new, high-tech wearable device that allows people to hear electronic representations of their thoughts. It uses Electroencephalography (EEG) technology to translate brain activity into data. This basically means that the helmet can read your thoughts, convert it into sound, and play it back to you!

According to Aiste Noreikaite, who invented the helmet, it is meant to create an “audible reflection of one’s personal experience of the present moment.” Inspired by Buddhist meditation practices, the London-based artist said that she wanted to create a device to enhance self-awareness.

So she started with an ordinary bike helmet, took it apart, and installed an EEG wireless headset and headphones inside. Next, she researched ways to convert the data provided by the headset into sound. After much deliberation, she finally settled on pure electronic signals to represent brainwaves.

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Futuristic Bionic Boots Literally Put a Spring in Your Step

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‘Bionic Boots’ are high-tech footwear that can help you reach running speeds comparable to professional athletes like Usain Bolt. The ultra light boots feature innovative springs inspired by the Achilles tendon of ostriches or kangaroos, lending the wearer more force while running and literally putting a spring in their stride.

The boots are the brainchild of inventor Keahi Seymour, who has always been fascinated by the effortless speed and agility of ostriches, the fastest running birds on the planet, with a top speed of 45 mph. He has been working on the gadget for several years, producing dozens of prototypes in the process.

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Revolutionary Invisible Umbrella Shelters You from the Rain with Bursts of Air

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A team of engineers in China is currently involved in developing something called the ‘Air Umbrella’ – a revolutionary new device that uses blasts of air to shield people from the rain. The high-tech umbrella, shaped like a plastic microphone, is capable of producing horizontal gusts of air that repel raindrops, creating a dry, one meter wide circle around the user’s head.

There is a small catch, of course – the device works only for a short while. In true Cinderella style, the ‘magic’ wears off at the stroke of the 30th minute – the umbrella stops producing air and you’ll be drenched in no time at all. So you’d probably want to use it only if you’re confident you can get out of the rain in 30 minutes or less.

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Kokoro Scanner – A Japanese High-Tech Toy That Lets Others Know If You Are Lying or Telling the Truth

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The Kokoro Scanner (Heart Scanner) is a high-tech Japanese invention that can spice up classic party games such as ‘Truth or Dare’. It is a lie detecting device that is worn on the forehead and changes color to indicate the truthfulness of a person’s responses.

Created by Tokyo-based toy company ‘Takara Tomy’, the scanner works a lot like a polygraph machine – it monitors the pulse using infrared rays. So when you make a person wear it, it first monitors their heart rate to establish a baseline. Then, you ask them a question, the wearer responds, and the device monitors the heart rate once more to compare it with the baseline.

It then flashes green if the person’s pulse is normal indicating that they’re telling the truth, yellow if they might be lying, and red if they are lying for sure. Because the light is attached to the person’s forehead, they won’t be able to tell what color is flashing while they’re being interrogated with all sorts of embarrassing questions.

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Rest at Your Own Risk: Moscow Benches to Publicly Display Sitters’ Weight

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In a bid to raise fitness consciousness, Moscow’s authorities have decided to replace ordinary park benches with high-tech scales. The change, which will affect the city’s most popular parks, is being sponsored by gyms that are hoping to attract more weight-obsessed clients.

A similar campaign is already in place at a public bus stop in the Netherlands, where benches are attached to large electronic panels that display the seated person’s weight in kilograms. The panels also feature nutrition-related information and gym advertisements.

One of the first parks in Moscow to embrace the change is the northern Sokolniki Park – director Andrei Lapshin said that 20 weighing benches could be placed there by the end of the year.

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16-Year-Old Creates Revolutionary Flashlight Powered Solely by Body Heat

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16-year-old Ann Makosinski, from Victoria, Canada, has come up with a marvelous invention – a flashlight powered solely by body-heat. Her project won second prize at a local science fair, and made it all the way to the 2013 Google Science Fair, where she was declared the winner for her age group. She also updated it to a handsfree version this year – a body-heat powered headlamp, for which she won the 2014 Weston Youth Innovation Award.

Ann’s project is truly remarkable for its sheer simplicity and brilliance. I mean, it isn’t every day that you come across a light source that doesn’t use batteries, solar power, or wind energy. The device just powers on as soon as you hold it in your palm. If that isn’t genius, I don’t know what is!

The secret behind Ann’s invention is thermoelectric technology, and devices called Peltier tiles. And it’s really surprising that no one’s ever thought to use that kind of technology to power a flashlight before. Think of all the AA batteries we could avoid using!

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Struggling Korean Baseball Team Replaces Fans with Cheering Robots

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A struggling South Korean Major League baseball team has come up with a novel idea to boost players’ morale. They’re replacing human fans with robots called ‘Fanbots’, all in a bid to improve the atmosphere at their matches.

The promo video for ‘Fanbot – the world’s first cheering robot’ rides high on the emotions involved while watching a match. “Fans of Hanwha Eagles always come to the stadium to cheer for the team,” the video states. “But those who cannot come to the stadium watch the game on the web or on their phones and cheer through commenting online. What if there was a robot cheering for those fans?”

It’s not easy being a fan of the Hanwha Eagles – most fans are subject to ridicule because of the team’s poor performance. The Hanwha Eagles have suffered over 400 losses in the past five years. Fans of the team are regarded with sympathy – they’ve even been dubbed ‘Buddhist Saints’ and ‘Hanwha Chickens’ by fans of other teams. The humiliation has been so great that many fans don’t feel like attending games anymore. Others simply do not have the time.

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Engineers Build Coolest Water Gun Ever

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Finally, we have an engineer who’s putting his degree to proper use! 27-year-old Londoner Alex Bygrave has used all his technical know-how to come up with the ultimate invention – an awesome Gatling water gun. Believed to be the world’s most sophisticated Gatling-style weapon of its kind, the gun features a 10-liter water tank, six barrels and a 40-foot firing range.

Alex spent 50 hours designing and building the pistol from scratch, making use of 55 separate parts made of everyday objects. “I had to first break down the mechanics of how the Gatling gun worked, and then build it up using a mix of all sorts of components,” he said.

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The Most Connected Man in the World Uses 700 Sensors and Systems to Record Every Detail of His Existence

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They say meditation can make you self-aware, but it looks like technology can do the job too! 45-year-old American software developer Chris Dancy, the world’s most connected human being, uses a range of sensors, devices, services and apps that gather real-time data about his activities and the environment around him. A total of 700 systems monitor his every mood and move, and being ‘the most quantified human’ has helped him know himself better than ever before. “I spent the last four years connecting all the devices that I wear to all the smart technology in my home, and piping all that data through to a single online platform, so I can search my entire life. I call it my ‘inner-net’,” he said.

Dancy doesn’t just stay connected for fun, he puts all the data to good use. By constantly monitoring his movements and eating habits, he has managed to lose 100 pounds. “I now know what to drink, what to eat, when to sleep and when to actually make myself get up. Very simple things like that,” he said. “It’s body and mind hacking. Just like we hack computers and any type of data, your body and your mind is the greatest information system humanity has ever known and understanding it makes it hackable.”

“When I touch something, I try to make sure it’s a something that I can get information out of so I can track, then search it, visualize it and share it with people who might want that piece of it,” Dancy added. He got the idea to stay connected after realizing that he was putting a lot of information online and if one of these services went out of business, relevant information would be lost. “It really started with me having a desire to digitally collect what I was creating.”

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Color Blind Artist Implants Antenna in His Skull to HEAR Colors

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Did you know that colors can be seen as well as heard? Well, now you do, thanks to 31-year-old Neil Harbisson, a color blind artist who spent years looking for a way of experiencing the colors of the world around him. For the past 10 years, Neil has been wearing an external electronic eye that picks up the frequencies of the colors before him and converts them into sound vibrations that he can hear. Initially he wore the device outside his head. But later, the London-based artist convinced surgeons to implant the chip int his skull to be able to perceive more intricate colors.

The idea for the device came about when Neil heard a cybernetics talk by computer scientist Adam Montandon at Dartington College of Arts in 2003. The pair then collaborated to create the device and Neil ended up memorizing various frequencies so he could recognize colors. So he still couldn’t see the colors, he could now hear and identify them. Neil, who was born with achromatopsia (a rare condition that allows him to see only black or white), said during a talk in 2012: “For me the sky is always grey, flowers are always grey and television is black and white.”

“But since the age of 21 instead of seeing color I can hear color. So I’ve been hearing color all the time for eight years so I find it completely normal to hear it all the time. At the start I had to memorize the names you have for each color and the notes but after some time all this information became a perception and I didn’t have to think about the notes and after some time this became a feeling. I started to have favorite colors and I started to dream in color.”

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Jesus-Inspired Miracle Machine Turns Water into Wine

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Up until a few days ago, Jesus was the only one who could turn water into wine. Now it seems anyone can do it. All they need is one of these $499 miracle bottles, water and some special ingredients. The aptly named Miracle Machine is pretty straightforward – water goes in, wine comes out. And there’s a sachet of flavors for various types of wines, of course, as with all instant foods. Created by the founders of a California company called Customvine, Miracle Machine is currently up on Kickstarter for much needed funding.

To use Miracle Machine, all you need to do is add the ingredients sachet to the bottle, choose the type and style of wine from a menu, add water and start the machine. Then, all you need to do is wait. Thankfully, the waiting period isn’t a pain – you don’t have to keep opening the bottle to check if the wine’s ready. Instead, you can connect the bottle to your smartphone, and an app will monitor the progress for you. It will alert you when the fermentation is complete (a process that takes about three days), and the wine is ready to consume.

Kevin Boyer, CEO of Customvine, is a sommelier who also founded the Boyanci winery in Napa Valley. Miracle Machine is his brainchild, in collaboration with Philip James, a British entrepreneur and founder of the wine site Lot18. “Just like a Bible miracle, it literally turns water into wine, with just the addition of a few ingredients in a fraction of the time and cost it would normally take,” said Boyer.

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African City Replaces Traffic Lights with Intimidating Robots

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The intersection of Boulevard Triomphal and Huileries Avenue in Kinshasa, Congo, has two new additions – robot traffic policemen. These large robocops have replaced human police officers and traffic lights, and, believe it or not, they’re actually doing a great job.

At first glance, the robocops don’t look like much. They appear to be rudimentary tin boxes with attached tin hands. I’d say they have a scarecrow-like effect. But commuters have responded surprisingly well to the latest technology.

Demouto Motumbo, a resident of Kinshasa, said: “As a motorcyclist I’m very happy with the robot’s work. Because when traffic police control the cars here there’s still a lot of traffic. But since the robot arrived, we see truly that the commuters are respectful.”

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The European Space Agency Has a Sound System So Powerful It Can Kill You

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For those of you who like your music loud, here’s a fun fact: sound can kill! Only if it’s greater than 135 decibels, that is. You’re not likely to get such high-power sound waves on your iPod, but there does exist a sound system that could kill you – the European Space Agency’s monster sound horn.

The horn is the most powerful of its kind in Europe. When turned to maximum volume, there’s absolutely no chance of survival. It is a part of ESA’s Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF), a test chamber used to perform acoustic noise tests on spacecrafts to make sure no damage occurs during rocket launches.

The sound test chamber is 16.4 m tall, 11 m wide and 9 m deep; one of its walls houses the massive horn. When nitrogen is shot through the horn, it can produce incredibly powerful sound – over 154 decibels. The effect is something like standing close to multiple jets taking off at once – enough to permanently deafen a human.

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