The Cutting Edge: Week 4

August 20, 2014
by Anthony Tempest

Samsung Acquires SmartThings

Samsung, ever at the forefront of innovation, has acquired SmartThings, a company whose product allows people to sync up connected gadgets to a single smartphone app and hardware hub. SmartThings cofounder and CEO, Alex Hawkinson said “From the beginning, our goal has been to make a platform every human being could use – and to make every home a smart home.” Alex believes that the acquisition will help SmartThings to reach a massive scale, bringing its vision to hundreds of millions of customers. For more details about the acquisition, read here!

Exoskeleton First

How would you feel about a real life iron man just around the corner from you? The South Korean corporation Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering has already started fitting workers with wearable exoskeletons for heavy lifting duties. The 60-pounds units , which are made of carbon, steel and aluminium alloy can support themselves so that the worker feels no extra weight. As well as supporting itself, it can handle another 70 pounds of weight. The designers hope to increase the amount of weight it can manage in the near future. To find out more about the new iron men, click here.

Self-organising robot swarm

Computer scientists at the Harvard University have managed to assemble a robot flash mob. These robots, called Kilobots, are just a few centimetres across and stand on three pin-like legs. Under the command of a computer scientist, the sea of 1024 bots arrange themselves into a shape they’ve been told to take. The command is sent via an infrared light, which instigates the movement of the Kilobots, who duly oblige. It marks a significant milestone in the development of collective artificial intelligence. Read more about the studies here.

A laser that can detect explosives from half a mile away

Scientists have made a breakthrough with lasers that can detect explosives and other chemicals from half a mile away. When applied correctly, it could allow a plane to fly over large areas of land and identify hidden stockpiles of drugs or explosives. The technique makes use of “Raman Scattering”, where light passing through a material causes it to vibrate in a specific way, which is unique to the molecules in the material itself. The scattering of light causes a colour change in the laser pulses that hit the target. This allows scientists to detect specific chemicals based on the colour of light emitted from the laser pulses. Find out more about the technology here.