Science Fiction Roundup: 33rd Square Edition

Hello everyone! As much as I like technology and science fiction, While We’re Paused is not by any means a news site or technology digest, and there are a lot of new technologies and cool science fiction-related gadgets that pop up every day that I don’t get to talk about. Science Fiction Roundup posts are my way of bringing these articles to your attention as inspiration for your sci-fi stories, and sometimes just because this stuff is just plain awesome, and I think you’ll like it. I do my best to vary my sources for these posts so that we can get varied opinions, but recently I have discovered a fantastic new resource for tech and science news and articles: 33rdsquare.com.

After collective hours of browsing, I’ve uncovered several recent stories that other sites seemed to have missed, and have collected them for a feature post! Be sure to check out 33rdsquare for yourself as well!

On the Robot War Front

Some say that war with machine kind is inevitable, and every day there are new robots coming around that seem to point to just such a future. However, until then we can admire the slowly marching progress of our doom!

 

 

This is Morphex, the transforming hexapodal robot built by Kåre Halvorsen (don’t ask me how to say his name). Multi-legged robots can be very difficult to design efficiently, but this is a rare case of aesthetic meeting effective mechanics to form a very interesting and adaptable robot (ok, and cute- I mean seriously, look at the video at the end).

 

 

On the other hand, DARPA may have just created the first iteration of Terminator that will eventually become the footsoldier for the overlords of our future. Designed as a testing platform for biohazard suits under extreme conditions (yeah, likely story), PETMAN or “Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin” is also a potential testing platform for another DARPA project called AVATAR (so man acronyms!) which seeks to develop ways to use robot soldiers as surrogates for actual soldiers in combat, similar to how we currently use drones as surrogate bombers. Creepy, huh? Check out the links for the full articles below!

Morphex Transforms From Hexapod to Ball

DARPA Working on Surrogate Robot Soldiers

Screens: Softer, Smaller, and More Human

Ok, a bunch of articles about new screens doesn’t sound too exciting, but really these will shape the way we use electronic devices in the future, and thus in any sci-fi story set there.

  • LG’s Flexible EPD: e-reader screens are meant to mimic the look of real paper, LG epd flexible screenreducing glare and eyestrain. The problem is they’re still just as fragile as regular glossy screens and can be broken or scratched easily when dropped. LG has developed a mass-market electronic plastic display that can be flexed up to 40 degrees, and can be dropped from 4 feet with no damage. These are the kinds of cheap display screens that often replace newspapers and magazines in science fiction, and we’re about to get them ourselves!
  • Fourth Dimension Displays’ Tiny Screen: The new iPad 3’s Retina display has an fourth dimension display tiny screenimpressive resolution, but a company called Fourth Dimension Displays has managed to pack that same resolution onto a tiny screen smaller than an inch. What’s the point of that? Virtual reality! Such high-resolution screens can be held very close to the eye without looking washed-out and pixelated, making them great for headsets meant to make the user feel immersed in a virtual world.
  • Video-Conferencing Screen Tilts as You Talk: video chatting is much better than a phone call for feeling like you’re actually with a person, getting the benefit of body language and facial expression along with the voice. However, anyone who’s used Skype or similar chat programs before will tell you that it can be difficult to figure out who the person on the screen is looking at, and there is still a degree of separation. Well, Japanese engineers have been working on that, and have devised a screen that tilts and moves based on head movement during video conferencing. The effect is much more realistic. Check out the video below!

 

 

Other Cool Trends

These are some other miscellaneous gadgets and gizmos that are coming around that I think show interesting trends in technology. Taking these ideas for your story could add a lot of sci-fi flavor with a real-world anchor!

  • MakiBox 3D Printer: I’ve done posts on 3D printers before, which work by extruding makibox a6 render 3D printerout liquid plastic through a printer head and building a structure based on a 3D model, but this is the first one that is in a manageable price range for average consumers! At $350, it’s not cheap, but comparable to many mid-range laserprinters and other consumer office equipment. Take a look at the article for more details!
  • Nokia 41 Megapixel Camera Phone: Does anyone else remember when the camera nokia 808 pureview 41 megapixelon the phone was just for taking crappy pictures when you didn’t have your actual camera handy? It sure seems like those days are over! The camera on Nokia’s 8o8 PureView phone uses special sampling to use that 41 megapixel sensor to take crisp photos with near digital SLR quality and HD video with lossless 4x digital zoom.  It seems we’re quickly getting to the point where there’s no need to buy separate devices at all! Check out the link for more details.
  • Tiny Portable Cotton Candy PC: Computers are getting smaller and cheaper nowadays, but recently there has been a push for cheap, technically viable universal PC’s that can be used with other devices. FXI’s Cotton Candy is an example of that, sporting a dual-core processor and plugs to fit it into tv’s, computer monitors, smartphones, and other computers so that you can access files and programs on just about anything lying around. It seems pretty useful, right? I thought so too, but of course, I had my sci-fi gears turning. What futuristic cyberpunk dystopia is complete without some cheap hacker’s throwaway computers, able to hook up for a quick job and abandon without a trace? These little PC’s seem perfect for that! Check out the video below for FXI’s shpeal.

 

Alright everyone, that’s it for now! Next week I’ll have a Science Fiction Problems for you. Until then, what is your favorite product/project/deathrobot from above? Let me know in the comments below!

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About erikthereddest

I'm a Masters student in English, and I love technology and Science Fiction. I am refining and enhancing my (admittedly novice) writing talents under the sage advice of my friends here at Lantern Hollow Press, and with the great many books I am reading from the best authors I can find.

Posted on April 11, 2012, in Erik Marsh, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Roundup, Technology, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am not the most technologically educated or savvy sometimes but the website you introduced is a great start. Thanks for the hilarious remarks on the robot overlords of our future! I look at those stories, especially the ones out of Japan, where they are working on the realistic human faces to accompany the newest robot designs and wonder if I am going to think back on this when I am huddled underground to escape the machine wars. Thanks for the post!

    • Yeah, some of those actualy give me some consolation that the ‘bots will have a harder time of conquering the world than they thought. Ugh! those rubber feaux-human robots creep me out. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the “Uncanny Valley”, but some of those Japanese robots lie squarely in that region. Actually, I think I’ll write a post on that- it’s an interesting phenomenon, and something we have to worry about in writing too.

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