Head-mounted display from Mirage Innovations

Mirage Innovations have come up with a new head-mounted display that purports to overcome many of the limitations of current technologies.

This device, the size of a large pair of sunglasses, provides the illusion of a 40″ display at 7′. As near as I can tell (please add details if you have them) this is accomplished by getting an image source (such as micro LCD, LCOS or OLED) to project through a thin transparent substrate plate that diffracts the light outward, then inward to hit the eyes at a wide angle.

This may not wind up being the be-all and end-all of HMDs — we’ll see what the reviews look like when it goes to market — but it’s an important step.

Tube Humour

Overheard on the PA at Canons Park station:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the long end to your journey; we are currently third in line to arrive in Stanmore station and will be waiting here approximately six minutes.”


“We would like to remind you, madam, that there is no smoking on the platform, so would you please put it out? Thank you.”


“For all our passengers, just a reminder: smoking is not permitted anywhere on British Rail; that includes the trains and the platforms.”


“And Big Brother is watching you.”

Green City in Planning: H2PIA

Some wacky Danish folk have designed a city that runs on hydrogen. Solar and wind power electrolyzes water, producing H2 and O2. The oxygen is vented into the air, while the hydrogen is stored, and used in fuel cells that can then be used to generate electricity and heat. According to this group’s models, enough hydrogen gets stored during low-energy-demand times to supply the city with power when there is not enough sun or wind.

While this particular setup may not be desirable or feasible everywhere in the world, it is an important step toward making our communities greener. If this project gets approved it should help pave the way for other countries to develop green communities or make existing cities greener. Check out the project description, and be sure to read the PDF brochure, with its surreal illustrations of happy people in a happy community.

Football-playing robots

As the field of robotics, and AI specifically, advance, people have more and more fun programming them. Take, for instance, the RoboCup World Championship, happening this month in Germany. 350 teams of robots attempt to score as many goals as possible.

This is a cool application of swarm robotics. You need to co-ordinate five autonomous robots so that they can map out the terrain, keep track of where everyone is, including the ball, and determine the best way to win the game. There have been many applications, both practical and theoretical, of swarm robotics, and many predict that it is the breakthrough that will open the way to a robot age.

For some discussion of swarm robotics and its applications, here are some choice resources:

  • NASA’s ANTS project
  • Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer Buy this at Amazon Buy this at Chapters

More items will be added as I decide to expand the list. Comments are enabled for this article; please feel free to suggest any source of swarm-related material.

TechWatch: overview

Here is how TechWatch works:

There are all sorts of things we wish existed. Some of those things are pure fantasy. Others seem so technologically advanced that they might as well be fantasy. Well, how would you like to know how close any particular item is? I know I sure would.

So here we go: we have a series of goals. We post a bunch of articles that seem to be leading toward those goals. Ideally, this gives us an idea of how close we are to those goals. Not a bad idea, ne?

Return of Techwatch!

A site redesign is coming soon, because I’m getting pissed off at the size of my sidebar. I may ditch it entirely in favour of top-bar tab navigation.

But the actual news is the return of techwatch! Here’s how it works:

You go to the sub-site, techwatch.memethief.com (or just click on the “techwatch” category in the sidebar). There are a bunch of sub-categories which are goals we would like to see accomplished. More will be posted in time. Then those goals are broken down into sub-goals, and those into sub-sub goals. Every time I see an interesting article that seems indicate a move toward one of the goals I post it. And ideally we manage to get an idea of how close we are to, say, affordable, quiet emission-free cars. Or arbitrary nanofabrication.

If you have any ideas for goals to add please let me know. Eventually I’m going to set up individual RSS feeds for each subtopic, so you can follow any particular one as you wish. It’s going to be cool, just watch.

I used the string “sub” six times in this article. Seven, now.

There is no Racial Profiling Going on in the US.

This one is a couple of years old. I found it while digging around in some ancient stuff.

Really, none whatsoever. Of course, there are some things that could be interpreted as such, but that would be a mistake. Take for example the below conversation between the Department of Homeland Security and the Census Bureau, circa December 2003. This transcript is an exaggeration, of course, but the underlying facts are about right. As you’ll see, this dialogue demonstrates that the US Department of Homeland Security is not engaging in any racial-profiling-type activities.

Continue reading

A tidbit from Steph’s blog:

I’m behind on reading everything, but here’s a funny tidbit from my friend Steph’s blog, I Dream of Kimchee:

In a recent issue of K-Scene (an English by-weekly for foreigners in Seoul), an advertisement in the clubs section read:

World Class is an organization in Seoul that brings together all nationalities to discuss world issues and break down cultural barriers and prejudices. We meet once a week. No Canadians please. Contact xxxxxxx@yahoo.com

The poster was, of course, canadian.