Going to NAB Show this Year…. ?

Planning to go to NAB Show this year in Las Vegas?  Want to go to the Exhibits for free?   My friends at TV Technology are offering the following pass code:

Use Code PA03

You can register at : WWW.NABSHOW.COM


See you there!

Warehouse Robots Get Smarter With Ant Intelligence



Amazon may have just gotten its claws into Kiva Systems, but there’s more than one company out there looking to automate warehouses with smart little robots. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, researchers are looking for ways to make warehouse robots smarter and more efficient by getting them to communicate and cooperate like a swarm of ants.

A swarm is just exactly what you want with warehouse robots. There are a lot of them, and they’re all identical and interchangeable, cooperating to complete complex tasks by combining simple actions. The big difference between a swarm of (say) ants and a swarm of (say) robots is that the ants don’t have any high-level control: each ant has its own little tiny brain, and even though ants have specific tasks that they are directed (or bred) to perform, they decide on an individual level how to go about carrying out their instructions.

What Fraunhofer is trying to do is mimic the ant swarm system with robots. For example, instead of having one central computer control the movements every robot (as with Kiva), Fraunhofer’s system utilizes robots that make their own decisions with onboard computers. Each robot communicates with all the other robots in the swarm simultaneously using WLAN, and they use algorithms based on a model for how ants forage for food to cooperatively decide which of them should go where and do what.

The robots don’t need fixed localization points, but instead rely on “integrated localization and navigation technology” (including signal-based location capability, distance and acceleration sensors and laser scanners) to find the most direct routes to their destination without crashing into anything or each other. This makes them very efficient, and it also makes the system easily scalable, since you can introduce new things and the robots won’t freak out.

Scalability, reliability, and flexibility are why swarm robotics has been getting so much attention lately: need a bigger system? Just toss more bots into the mix. Lose a bot to a mechanical problem? It’s not a problem, since another bot just takes over. We’ve seen lots of swarms related to search and rescue (i.e. military) applications, but as far as a way to improve a commercial (or industrial) project, this research seems like a promising way to go.



Branagh in talks to Direct Jack Ryan Reboot with Chris Pine




Kenneth Branagh In Talks to Direct Chris Pine in the Jack Ryan Reboot

Paramount has been planning a rebooted adventure for Tom Clancy‘s signature character, Jack Ryan, for some time now.  The studio found its Ryan in Chris Pine following his terrific turn as James Tiberius Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek, but getting the project off the ground hasn’t been so easy.  Last week it suffered what could’ve been a big setback when it lost its director, but apparently Paramount found a replacement right quick.

Kenneth Branagh is apparently in negotiations with the studio to take on the film, which we’ll refer to as Jack Ryan for the sake of expediency.  That’s according to Vulture, in an article that points out that Branagh delivered a summer blockbuster to Paramount and Marvel Studios with Thor before Disney bought Marvel.

Amazon announces new tie-in with Discovery Networks…

Below is text from Amazon new content from Discovery Networks:

Dear Customers,

Today we’re announcing our biggest addition yet, bringing nearly 3,000 more titles to Prime Instant Video. We’ve struck a deal with Discovery Networks to bring some of the highest quality, non-fiction, informative and entertaining content about the world to our Amazon Prime customers. Rolling out over the next few weeks are TV shows from Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, and Science. Prime members, at no additional cost, can now stream more than 17,000 titles.

The new titles include hits such as Deadliest Catch, Mythbusters, Man vs. Wild, Dirty Jobs, Gold Rush: Alaska, and Shark Week, TLC series like Say Yes to the Dress and Cake Boss, as well as content like How It’s Made from Science, and The Jeff Corwin Experience from Animal Planet.

Interesting – seems like Discovery has “found” a digital outlet for content – it will be interest to see who else joins in….

Hatsune Miku virtual japanese popstar coming to LA…

This seems a bit out there, but read about the ticket sales…

(Tokyo) – Having just closed a 4-concert tour in tokyo, japanese pop star hatsune miku is among the most successful contemporary
japanese performers, but she is also virtual: an avatar with a computer-programmed voice, who sings songs compiled
of lyrics written by her fans.

The voice-synthesizing program that powers the popstar is the work of crypton future media, which bills hatsune miku
as ‘a virtual singer who can sing any song that anybody composes’.  and indeed her songs are generated by her own fans,
arranged based on suggestions from as many as twenty different people. she originated as a way of showcasing
the company’s music software, but has since encouraged an entire movement of consumer-generated media,
spread originally via the nico nico douga sharing website further facilitated by crypton via the piapro portal for collaboration
and posting.

The 10,000 tickets for the four tokyo performances last week, each priced at 6300 yen (76 USD) sold out within hours,
as thousands more watched telecasting of the performance in movie theatres in shanghai, hong kong, and taiwan,
and others paid about 40 USD for their own access to the live video streaming feeds. the virtual popstar has also already
sold out shows in LA, and aluminum plates with her image on it composed part of the spacecraft akatsuki (launched may 21st, 2010)
after a petition towards the project received over 14,000 signatures. ‘project diva‘ by sega offers both at home video games
and standing arcade models of rhythm-testing games featuring the singer, with a new release called ‘project MMT’ expected in 2012.

Javier Bardem spotted as Villain in new JB film

Javier Bardem won an Academy Award for “No Country for Old Men,” in which he played one of the scariest baddies in cinematic history. Now, the Spanish star is back to his villainous ways in the upcoming James Bond flick, “Skyfall,” and he looks a lot more blond than we’ve ever seen him before.

The first photos from the film set have leaked online, and they show Bardem, who reportedly plays a villain named Silva (obsessed with world destruction, natch), looking anything but evil as a London police officer in disguise.

Photo by INFphoto.com

Little is known about the plot, except that Bond’s MI6 agency is under attack and “007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”

Bardem isn’t the only Oscar winner associated with “Skyfall.” Dame Judi Dench returns as M, and Sam Mendes (“American Beauty“) will serve as director. The film also features five-time Oscar nominee Albert Finney and two-time nominee Ralph Fiennes. Not to mention the man we’re all counting on to save the world, Daniel Craig as James Bond.

If blond hair if good enough for 007, why wouldn’t it also work for his nemesis?

“Skyfall,” the 23rd Bond movie, hits theaters in November.

The story of Keep Calm and Carry on

You have heard this, or seen this.  Now, here the story behind this iconic phrase..


Congratulations to Universal – 100 Years!

Here is the new opening banner for Universal, celebrating 100 years!

New Amazon Locker Service Offers Postal Delivery Options

Amazon’s locker banks have today turned up in New York City, the third location after the company rolled out the lockers in Seattle and London last month. AmazonLocker is a neighborhood self-service pick-up facility that consists of oversized post office boxes installed in a variety of locations such as several Gristedes, Rite-Aid and D’Agostino stores in Manhattan. The service offers an option for people who can’t or prefer not to take delivery of a shipment at their home or office.

While Amazon has remained mum on its test markets, Amazon customers in NYC, Seattle and London may have noticed the Locker option on their shipping page during checkout. When an AmazonLocker location is selected, Amazon delivers the package to a designated locker and sends an email with a six-digit code to unlock the box. Amazon has installed eight locker banks in each city so far.
What city is next? Amazon is not saying, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the lockers will come to more locations soon

Smart vs Dumb phones

While it’s fun to watch the iPhone vs. Android battle happen in real time, the one type of phone I am always amazed to see crop up again and again is the “dumbphone,” or the old school cell phone – flip style, candy bar, 8-bit ringtone retro goodness.
That got me thinking. Was I so caught in the app store, cloud syncing and text talk bubble hype that I missed dumbphones making a comeback?
Turns out they never left.

Last month ExtremeTech reported that a total of 1 billion feature phones (which are just a smidgen less dumb than dumbphones) were sold in 2011. Contrast that with a total of 250 million Android phones and 120 million iPhones. Another interesting thing: Profit margins are better for these retro units than they are for newer ones: Nokia makes more from a $50 phone than Samsung does with a $200+ smartphone. True, most dumbphone sales are in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil where lower costs are crucial.  Point is that while all the media hype is about Apple and Smartphones, the reason they get such attention is that the phone companies make more money on these with their data plans in the long run.