Affordable 3D handheld scanner to bring fast replication to the masses

A handheld 3D scanner that is dramatically cheaper than many of its rivals is set for release, enabling users to quickly create stl files for 3D printing, or convert them for use in VR.

The 198g scanner, which is from emerging 3D printer company XYZprinting, is set to go on sale at the start of November for a puny £149, making it a serious option for Christmas gifts.

It is designed to be very simple and quick to use, with the holder moving the scanner around the object they are capturing, and the scan appearing in real-time on an attached computer. They are even able to stop and start a scan to get a complete capture.

We witnessed it capture a complete head scan in about 90 seconds, which was then ready to be 3D printed using a simple interface.

At present it can only capture scans of up to 60cm x 60cm x 40cm, but that’s set to change in February, when an update to Intel RealSense – the scanner’s underlying tech – will allow both new already purchased models to complete full body scans.

3d-scanner-xyz

The scanner is undoubtedly going to be a hit with 3D printing enthusiasts, but it could also help to bring more people into the 3D printing fold.

XYZ’s printers are designed to be affordable and easy to use, and combined with the scanner, could be an appealing option for families looking for semi-educational gifts come the holidays.

The scanner does need to be tethered to a computer to work, but could easily be taken out alongside a laptop, enabling users to 3D scan objects in the wild.

Parents could use the tech to add some fun to a family outing, and creative types could use it to capture objects to later edit, adjust and augment.

A volunteer is scanned using the device at the IFA International Consumer Electronics show in Berlin. Images courtesy of XYZprinting.

A volunteer is scanned using the device at the IFA International Consumer Electronics show in Berlin. Images courtesy of XYZprinting.

There is also some serious potential for it in the virtual reality field. While the scanner is primarily designed for 3D printing, the stl file it produces can be converted into an appropriate 3D file for use in VR environments.

Given that VR is set to skyrocket next year when the major headsets are released to consumers, there is going to be an increasing demand both for 3D object files and the means of quickly creating them.

While many of the 3D objects and environments headed for VR are undoubtedly going to be painstakingly created, there is definitely going to be a big market for 3D models that can be quickly generated.

Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag