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in « Weekly recap »,
 June 30 2017

Weekly Tech Recap - № 126 - Salto-1P, e-Mosquito, SNES Classic, Sony FES U…

Super NES Classic

Super NES Classic.

Super NES Classic.

Super NES Classic. © Nintendo Corp.

Rumours confirmed: Nintendo is about to launch a SNES Classic console, a miniaturized version of the magnificent Super NES of the early 90s, no doubt to the delight of nostalgia players worldwide. The SNES Classic will come with 21 games (Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, etc.), including Star Fox 2, which was never released originally. The system will be available as of September 29 for US$80, and will come with two controllers. Just 5 games are truly simultaneous multiplayer games. Let’s hope that Nintendo doesn’t repeat the NES Classic fiasco, which was hard to get in the first place, then unceremoniously axed in April despite high demand.

Ars Technica, “Plug-and-play SNES Classic coming Sept. 29 for $80 with two controllers.”


Grasshopper robot


Salto-1P. © Biomimetic Millisystems Lab/UC Berkeley.

Salto-1P is a miniature robot that gets around in leaps and bounds, much like a large grasshopper. But look closely, and you’ll see that the critter has just one leg, making its agility all the more astonishing. Salto-1P can jump 1.25 metres high and still keep its balance thanks to a rotating balancing tail and a pair of miniature thrusters. Duncan Haldane, Salto’s co-developer, of Biomimetic Millisystems Lab at UC Berkeley, said his inspiration was not the grasshopper, but rather the galago, a small African primate. As for the software side of Salto, the 3D One-Leg Hopper, a monopod robot from 1984, graciously let out its algorithms for adaptation. Part of its intelligence is handled by a close-proximity computer that receives “flight information” through a motion-capture system.

IEEE Spectrum, “Salto-1P is the most amazing jumping robot we've ever seen.”

Science Robotics, “Robotic vertical jumping agility via series-elastic power modulation.”


Electronic mosquito


e-Mosquito. © Gang Wang, University of Calgary.

Female mosquitoes are particularly adept blood-sucking pests, able to “bite” their victim undetected. No surprise then that bioengineers would try to mimic them to create a device able to monitor blood chemistry, for example for diabetics who must constantly watch their blood sugar. Since 2007, a team at the University of Calgary has been working on a device designed to automatically prick wearers at various times of the day, tapping into the capillaries. It recently revealed a new glucose-reading prototype, called e-Mosquito, which is worn on the wrist like a watch and pricks the wearer painlessly. However, the device is still bulky, and needs to be miniaturized before it can be comfortably worn on a daily basis.

IEEE Spectrum, “E-Mosquito drinks your blood to keep you healthy.”


Autonomous Waymo truck

Waymo’s self-driving truck.

Waymo’s self-driving truck.

Camion autonome Waymo. © X/Jalopnik.

Waymo, the Alphabet/Google subsidiary dedicated to autonomous transportation, confirmed last month that it was working on a driverless truck. The rumour was confirmed today when Jalopnik posted photos leaked by an anonymous source. The shots show a blue semi, a Peterbilt 579, mounted with hardware similar to the Chrysler Pacificas being tested in Arizona, i.e. a lidar dome and ultrasonic sensors. The rig also sports a green Waymo logo. Nothing more is known for the moment, not even where the photos were taken. The trailer evidently belongs to Mckinney Trailer Rentals, a company present in California, Arizona and Texas. This kind of vehicle will probably pique the interest of the long-haul trucking industry, but the regulatory hurdles will probably be more numerous and complex than the technological ones.

Jalopnik, “Here’s the first look at Google’s self-driving semi trucks.”


Sony FES U Watch

Sony FES U.

FES U Watch. © Sony.

In 2015, Sony launched First Flight, a Japanese crowdfunding platform for its own products. First Flight funded original products we wouldn’t have expected from a mainstream electronics titan, for example a scent diffuser (Aromastic), a toy to introduce kids to robotics (Toio), or an e-ink watch (FES Watch). This latest invention has been replaced by a cooler model called U, that we’re wanting to buy right now. Thanks to a mobile app, you can change the design not only on the face, but also on the band. The watch has enough memory to store 24 fantastic designs and lasts 3 weeks without a charge. Unfortunately, the FES U Watch is only available in Japan, and it is unlikely that it will be made available elsewhere.

Circuit Breaker, “Sony’s new E Ink watch goes on sale in Japan today.”


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