DARPA plans neural implant to bypass need for AR glasses

DARPA has announced it is working on a project to develop a "cortical modem", which would connect directly to the brain's visual controls and overlay simple digital images. It is one of a number of DARPA's transhumanist projects.

Source: Humanity+

UK attempts to become haven for self-driving car development

Trials of self-driving cars have begun in the UK, and the country has made itself an appealing location to develop the technology further. With few restrictions, many global companies are likely to use the UK as their testing ground.

Source: Wired

Mars One announces shortlist for Red Planet colonisation

Mars One has announced the names of 50 men and 50 women who have made the shortlist for the planned colonisation mission to Mars. However, many maintain that the project will never succeed due to insufficient survival technology.

Source: The Guardian

DNA editing tool could cure genetic disorders, aid food supply

Scientists have developed a technique to edit DNA: a revolutionary step that could have major implications. Among the possible applications, the technology could be used to cure genetic disorders, improve food supply and revive extinct species.

US proposes new rules that don't support delivery drones

The US has released proposed drone rules that will enable consumer use while maintaining privacy and security. However, businesses hoping to use the technology for deliveries, such as Amazon, have complained the rules would prevent their operations.

Sex robots to be bypassed by neural virtual reality

Sex robots will be commonplace within a decade, but there's a good chance they'll never be the best option for tech-assisted kicks. Instead, VR connected through neural interfaces could provide a wealth of possibilities for digital fun times.

Scientists make large-scale holographic displays an affordable reality

A new method of creating holographic video displays is making the technology not only cheaper, but possible to produce on a large scale, making holographic advertising such as Back to the Future II’s attacking poster for Jaws 19 a potential reality.

Developed by scientists at Brigham Young University (BYU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the technology uses surface acoustic waves in specific patterns to control the angle and colour composition of the emitted light, creating the hologram’s shape and look.

“We can use this technology to make simple and inexpensive color waveguide displays — including inexpensive holographic video displays,” explained Daniel E Smalley, assistant professor of electrical engineering at BYU.

“This can drop the cost of a holographic video display from tens of thousands of dollars to less than a thousand.”

holographic-waveguide

One of the many waveguide devices that form BYU’s holographic display.

At the core of the technology is a surface of lithium niobate (LiNbO3), a crystal with excellent optical properties.

Below its surface, the scientists created tiny channels known as waveguides, which confine the light. They then added a metal electrode onto each waveguide that produces the surface acoustic waves that project and control the light as a hologram.

In this way, each waveguide effectively functions as a pixel, together creating the overall image.

One of the key benefits of this technology is the colour possibilities, as it creates a new type of colour display.

“For a wavelength display, we don’t need to rely on color filter wheels or dedicated red and blue pixels,” explained Smalley.

Instead, any colour is possible simply by altering the frequency sent to the waveguide.

“We can colour the output of our display by ‘colouring’ the frequencies of the drive signal,” said Smalley.

“As a bonus, this interaction also rotates the polarization of the signal light so that we can use a polarizer to eliminate any noise in the system.”

holographic-display

BYU’s holographic video monitor.

While the technology has proved to be successful, there is still some way to go before we’ll be attacked by holographic creatures promoting the latest blockbusters.

The scientists’ next step, which they are currently working on, is to make the technology work on displays the size of rooms.

Once successful, however, their technology is likely to be welcomed by advertising companies looking for the next high-impact way to reach consumers. And when that happens, it will only be a matter of time before holograms become a common sight in our towns and cities.


Featured image screenshot from Back to the Future II. Inline images courtesy of D Smalley/BYU.