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Futur Fusion helix.jpgWe're suckers for robots, cyborgs and visions of the future here at Tech Digest, so we jumped at the chance to get a closer look at the new Futur Fusion exhibition taking place in London's Covent Garden area. A showcase of sculpture, illustration and photography, the exhibition explores issues surrounding nanotechnology, bio-technology and sustainability, with a healthy dose of sci-fi chic thrown in for good measure.

Collecting work from illustrator Sebastian Clark, photographer Stephane Grand and sculptor Dominic Elvin (whose previous work includes the world famous design of Camden's Cyberdog store) it's a vibrant, futuristic exhibition galaxies apart from the sort of work you'd find in the Tate Britain.

"I'm obsessed with frontier science," enthused Elvin, "so I try to incorporate its ideas into my work."

"Isaac Asimov (pioneering sci-fi author - Ed.) was my original inspiration though, going back to when I was 12 or 13. My father gave me the Asimov "Foundation" books, and they transported me to this incredible world, filling me with ideas that never left my mind."

As much as the exhibition revels in visions of the future, the artists exhibiting also have one eye firmly fixed on the present. Specifically, Futur Fusion also looks at the way we're still failing to take green issues seriously.

As a result, much of Elvin's work uses recycled and reclaimed materials, the percentage of which in each work he proudly presents alongside his pieces.

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"We're trying to show people that recycled art pieces don't have to be old washing machines looking like clunky robots, it can be really polished and cool. It's also about seeing materials in a different way - rubbish doesn't always have to be landfill waste," said Elvin.

Likewise, photographer Stephane Grand's work often acts to highlight the wasteful, destructive nature of consumerism, with a playful installation called "Mr Splatz" mimicking a chalk-line crime scene with garbage materials.

Despite the serious issues explored, the Futur Fusion team still exude playful enthusiasm for the works on show, keen to stress that the exhibit is fun and suitable for the whole family.

"Yesterday we had a big group of fifty kids with their teachers come in. They went crazy, you'd have thought they were at Disney Land! The teachers were really positive too as they're increasingly teaching about sustainability in lessons," said Elvin.

"For me that sort of response is fantastic, because they're exactly the people we're doing this for. They're the next generation, and they're going to have to pick up the shit left by this generation."

The exhibition kicked off on June 13th and runs until Saturday 18th June 2011. The Futur Fusion collection can be found at I.N.C Space, 9-13 Grape Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 8ED and is open to the public, free of charge, from 9am to 7pm.

For more info on the event, visit www.facebook.com/futurfusion. Alternatively, send the Futur Fusion team a message via Twitter by using the #FuturFusion hashtag.

mark gasson.jpgDr Mark Gasson, a cybernetics scientist at the University of Reading, has become the world's first human to become infected with a computer virus.

Gasson has an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip implanted into his wrist, and deliberately infected it with a virus as part of an experiment to highlight the risks of having bionic implants. The chip usually is used to emit a signal unlocking locked doors in Gasson's university and allowing only him to access his mobile phone dependant on which hand he is holding it in.

The virus Gasson installed was built to spread through the university lab's databases, and replicate itself onto the swipe cards of his colleagues. Gasson's findings show that viruses can quite easily be spread wirelessly from implanted devices.

Many life-saving devices such as pacemakers now include similar RFID chips in order for doctors to monitor their patients. While a computer virus could not harm Gasson's health, if a virus interfered with the workings of implanted medical devices it could prove fatal.

Via: Sky News

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uk-id-cards-no-card-readers.jpgEDITOR'S NOTE: Please read this update while playing the theme tune from Benny Hill in the background.

The UK government may well be pushing ahead with its scheme to start rolling out ID cards to airport staff and other key workers in the security sector, but there's one rather sizeable problem - the card readers. There aren't any.

The Government apparently failed to budget for the thousands upon thousands of card readers that will be required to make the ID cards, like, actually work, which will inevitably add a couple of extra zeros to the end of the price of the controversial scheme.

computertan-skin-cancer-awareness.jpgOh dear. Today is a sad day. We have been amused and entertained by a marketing campaign :(

The marketing campaign in question is that of ComputerTan, a supposed online tanning system that uses the deadly rays output by your PC monitor to bring a healthy orange glow to your face while you work.

It is, of course, a joke - perpetrated by UK skin cancer charity Skcin and designed to raise awareness of how bad it is to pursue the bronze-god look. The Times says some 30,000 people visited ComputerTan in its first 24 hours online, although whether it was 30,000 innocent, orange-faced receptionists hoping for a free top-up or 30,000 cynical tech-bloggers looking for a story about the gullibility of the common man, isn't made clear.

Don't delve into the site too deeply. It's not all as glossy and amusing as the intro video. It soon gets serious about things.

(Via The Times)

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omron_m2_compact_blood_pressure_monitor.jpgApple needs Steve! The world needs Steve! Steve Jobs says he's a little bit sick, but technology can keep him going for longer, just like Steven Hawking.

Here's how Steve Jobs can ensure he lives to be 100 - or more - thanks to the modern technology he loves and has helped shape, guaranteeing peace of mind for all Apple fans and the company's panicking shareholders.

1. PORTABLE DEFIBRILLATOR The worst case scenario can be averted. Steve needs to employ a nurse to be with him at all times, ready to pounce with the Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator should he collapse while ordering the Coffeee of the Day from the local Starbucks. Pay her minimum wage and you've got 24-hour-a-day Steve reassurance for less than 20k a year.
2. BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR A cheap, standard high street blood pressure monitor would reassure us all of Steve's health. An Apple engineer could add a wi-fi adaptor and have it feed data to the Apple web site, letting the world see a reassuring count of Steve's current blood pressure in real time.
3. SHOEI X-SPIRIT CRASH HELMET If Steve was to fall over and bump his head, the results for Apple, its shareholders and fans would be devastating. We therefore propose that Steve encases his precious brain in a Shoei X-Spirit Helmet, the finest cranium-padding money can buy. You can't put a price on Steve's brain stem and frontal lobe! The matte black will also match his outfits.

lolcat-force-field.jpgBefore you get too excited, we're not talking about keeping the Borg in the brig here. However, scientists have developed a gadget called "Envirostat", which will allow them to keep individual cells in a force field of sorts. That means that they can assess the individual cell response to a single variable, while other conditions are kept stable.

The application is in the development of drugs and biofuels, where scientists want to be able to assess the impact of adding something, without feedback mechanisms clouding the response. Still, if you're an amoeba with enemies, I'd watch out if I were you. Video of the tech in action over the jump.

dancing-robots-mutate-britain-exhibit.jpgIf you want the thrill of seeing a woman dancing on a stage but without the risk of being seen entering the establishment or having to make eye contact with a live female, here's a perfect futuristic solution.

This collection of moving, gyrating, female-like components can be seen in action at the Mutate Britain exhibition, where you can stare all you want without being made to feel sad or guilty because robots don't have feelings of self-worth and it's OK to treat them as objects. Because they are objects.

There's some video of these lovely CCTV-headed ladies in action over on the BBC and a few more photos of their pink components on the maker's site, if you want to remain an extra level removed from it all and have your own little private dance via the internet.

(Via Dvice)

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usb-endoscope.jpgEver wanted to insert a camera into various orifices in your body? NOW YOU CAN with the USB Endoscope. Blowing every single other USB gadget I've ever seen out of the water, the USB Endoscope indulges your inner gut fetishist, while simultaneously allowing you to broadcast the images over the web with the greatest of ease. Hey, check out my ear canal!

If you haven't lost your lunch yet, then you'll want to be buying one, right? It's US$99 (about £67 in real money) and features 640x480 resolution, built in illumination, and - critically - a thickness of just 12mm. It's just over 14cm long, so you won't be able to push it in too far - promise me you won't lose the damn thing in there, okay?

USB Endoscope

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philips-ipill.jpgPhilips, ever the purveyor of useful biotechnology, has developed an intelligent pill. The device contains a chip, a battery, a wireless radio, a pump and a drug reservoir. The device is still only a prototype, but it'll be presented at a conference in Atlanta later this month and Philips say it's already suitable for serial manufacturing.

It's also got a thermometer and acidity sensor, thought to be a minituarised human with some litmus paper. The idea is that it waits until it's in exactly the right part of your gut before it releases its life-giving load and makes your tummy feel all better. It means that much lower doses of powerful drugs can be used.

Philips (via Reuters)

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internet-evolution-mankind.jpgGood at filtering information but only have pretend friends you've never met in real life? That's good! That means you have evolved. You are better than other people. You are the next level of mankind.

That is according to neuroscientist Gary Small, who reckons that our brains are already changing and evolving thanks to modern technology. 24/7 access to facts, trivia about Star Trek, text messages and weather forecasts is making People 2.0 better at filtering out rubbish data from useful fact, making us all much better at instantly deciding what to keep/remember and what to bin/forget.

The evolutionary change will make people like us the leaders of the new world order, as the technically astute rise to dominance over people who can't set up POP3 email accounts on all their mobile devices without having to seek help...

mouse-brain-wipe.jpgIf you've just been caught doing something by a mouse, science has come up with a useful way to get you off the hook - it can now erase the memories of mice.

This would also mean you could tell a mouse a joke, erase its memory, then tell it the joke again. A mouse could also watch "Total Recall" and be amazed, then erase its own memory of ever having watched "Total Recall" and be amazed by it all over again. Plus you could buy your mouse the same present for Christmas every year and it would never know. The real-world applications for this technology are boundless.

walking-planter.gifThis is a "Solar seeking botanical augmentation", to quote the Play Coalition, who are building the thing. It's basically a plantpot on legs which has a light sensor and moves around your room in order to find the best, brightest spot.

I don't know about you, but I'd find it intensely creepy. Especially if I popped downstairs in the middle of the night to get a snack and found my plant waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, just staring at me...

The Play Coalition (via CrunchGear)

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philips_microbubble_preparation.jpgPhilips is currently researching into a less invasive procedure for treating patients with cancer and other conditions, using drug-loaded microbubbles.

These bubbles are about the same size as red blood cells, and can be injected into a patient's bloodstream and then tracked via ultrasound imaging.

Drugs would only be released once they reached the required place - a tumour growth, for example. Not only might this increase the effectiveness of the drug, but cut down on unpleasant side-effects.

midori-blogging-plant.jpgA company called KAYAC has developed a "botanical interface" that allows plants to speak and emote with us humans. And, as is any sentient life form's right, the plant has now started up a blog to air its inner angst.

Midori, as the plant is known in the Japanese blog-o-sphere, has an auto-generated blog which can be found here. It's in Japanese, so won't make much sense, but should you have an understanding of the squiggly language you'll be able to read Midori's feelings - based around changing electrical currents in its leaves and stems.

The surrounding temperature, the humidity levels and vibrations created by clumsy humans are also measured, somehow, to allow Midori to communicate with the outside world. "HUMAN GIVE WATER" we'd imagine most of those posts to say.

(Via Pink Tentacle)

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redesigning-humans.JPGAccording to some scientist, humans have stopped evolving. This means we're not going to get any better - at least not naturally.

So I propose science steps in to make us better, seeing as Mother Nature can't be bothered any more. Here's how. These are the evolutionary steps scientists need to introduce to our gene pool ASAP.

1. SIDE EYES Seeing as our ears are always in use listening to MP3s of 1980s cover versions, it's hard to hear cars, bicycles and lorries coming toward you. I therefore suggest moving our eyes to the sides of our heads, like horses, so we're less likely to step out in front of buses because we can't hear them coming. You never hear about horses getting run over because they're too busy listening to the new Oasis album to listen out for cars, do you?
2. WIDER EAR CANALS Dunno about you, but my ear holes are never big enough to accommodate all these so-called "in ear" earphones. You know, the ones you're supposed to ram right in. I ram them in so hard it hurts and my brain pops, yet they still fall out after three minutes when the cable snags on my shirt. I therefore suggest scientists develop wider ear holes for better audio clarity and comfort "on the go."

flexible-sony-oled-screen.jpgOLED development race winner Sony has announced its plans to start making OLEDs less than 1mm thick - that are flexible enough to be bent and wrapped around angles.

This'll come in handy for when you need to... bend a screen. Or, these thin, semi-transparent OLEDs could be piled on top of each other to make 3D displays, used as HUDs in the windscreens of expensive cars, or even used as a way for Sony to carry on charging us lots of money for new TVs that aren't particularly different from our existing TVs.

A video of the prototype display can be seen here. It is working and it is bending, although it clearly has a long way to go before appearing in Currys Digital in a choice of Piano Black or Albino White.

(Via ITP)

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scientists-sequencing-potato-dna.jpgIt is sequencing the DNA of a potato.

The Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, who we would very much like to work for, reckons it will have the white potato perfectly sequenced by 2010, which will help with things like making them grow in the apocalyptic desert wastelands of the future.

It's not an easy task - even something as seemingly simple as a potato is made up of 840 million DNA pairs. One pair tells it how thick the skin is. One pair tells it what leaves to grow. Another pair is in charge of telling it to grow the potatoes underground instead of on branches in the sky. Another pair tells it to grow upwards. You get the idea.

Humans have 3 billion DNA pairs, thanks to being markedly better than potatoes, although it's still taking a group of scientists from 13 countries two-and-a-half years to work it out how a potato works.

(Via Reuters)

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gps-turtle-busts-marijuana-dealer.jpgA keen marijuana user hit upon the great idea of using some off-the-track American park land to grow himself a few special plants.

In these environmentally worrisome times, you'd think he'd be applauded - but no. When a box turtle equipped with a GPS tracking device stumbled into his little outdoor hydroponics lab, the park ranger followed, found his stash and grassed the amateur gardener up to The Law. The Law then staked out the exotic vegetable patch and arrested the guy, who would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for that meddling reptile.

artificial_skin.jpg

Everyone loves a robot. Especially a sensitive robot. Just look at WALL-E or Johnny-5. When it comes to a robot who has the capacity to feel, we all go a bit gooey inside. The cold, unfeeling, emotionless robot is a metaphor for that fear we have of losing what it is to be human.

Okay, so i'm playing loose with the double-meanings behind the word 'feel' and 'sensitive', because we're not talking emotional robots, or robots with 'feelings' but rather robots which can feel. Like in objects, and surroundings. LIke we can, physically.

Yes, some rather smug looking Japanese researchers/scientists/tech-bods have stumbled upon the perfect answer to the problem of making Robots completely sensitive to their environment. Be it cold, hot, hard, or soft. The skin they've developed looks like tin foil, gold tin foil like the stuff they wrap around marathon runners at the end of the race. Space Blankets i think they're called. Anyway, it looks like that, but it's not. It's a fine rubbery material that has hundreds and thousands of tiny carbon particles inside which allow conductivity of electricity. The skin can be stretched to 2.3 times it's normal size, allowing it to bend around a robot's metal frame and move with joints like a glove.

mouse-liver.jpg

Can someone please tell me exactly what is so very wrong with mice that Scientists are determined to spend so much time supe-ing them up?!

Last week I wrote about scientists who created exercise-in-a-pill for mice. Well, this week, different lab-coat wearing mouse-botherers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, have gone and genetically modified a lil' mouse's liver to stop the aging process in it. And it's worked, apparently.

'The proof is in the pudding', as my mother always says, but in this case 'the proof is in the rodent', because the reason the researchers know the liver hasn't gotten older is because the modified host's liver functions just as well as one in a younger mouse.

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