I've been following the coverage of new product announcements and sneak peeks at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Besides all the mobile communications, TV and automobile smart technology there is LEGO and its newest version of Mindstorms dubbed EV3 which will be on the market in 2013.
If you have never heard of LEGO Mindstorms then you have missed one of the truly wonderful inventions of that Danish company. Mindstorms invites children to use LEGO to build and program robots. The kit contains programmable bricks and parts to create robots in a variety of shapes and capable of walking, talking and picking up things.
EV3 offers sensors that can detect colors and objects as well as orient themselves to their surroundings.
Program a robot using LEGO's software running on PC or Mac. Use an iPhone or Android smartphone as a controller to communicate with it over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 comes with instructions for building five different robots including the two you see below - the snake and the scorpion. The expected retail price - approximately $350.
EV is supported by LEGO Education which has expanded its existing Mindstorm kits to include a whole bunch of new learning packages for this new release. That should make Mindstorm an even more exciting learning tool for young people.
And finally there is the FIRST LEGO League, where teams of young people from around the world contest for top prizes by solving real world problems using LEGO. Each annual contest has a theme. This year's is Nature's Fury Challenge. FIRST LEGO League or FLL involves more than 200,000 children, ages 9 to 16 (9 to 14 in Canada, the United States and Mexico), from more than 70 countries every year. FLL's mission - to inspire young people to become interested in science and technology. And it's working.
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Star Trek Into Darkness: Eye candy for the amygdala. Yes, this is another Hollywood blockbuster depicting a dystopian future with big explosions and small innovations. However, the first ten minutes are worth the price of the ticket. I was pleasantly surprised to see J.J. Abrams using the Ancient Aliens theory and a huge wink to author Zecharia Sitchin's work in the opening scene located on the fictional (depending on who you ask) world of Nibiru.
Spray-on skin. Lab-grown ears. Human tissue grown in a petri dish. We're going deep into sci-fi territory (and it is already happening).
“Extropy” is celebrating its first quarter of a century. The idea was formally introduced as a philosophy of the future in 1988, and many things have happened from the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century. A new millennium has been born and the philosophy of extropy is well-suited for these new times of accelerating change, full of challenges and opportunities.
One definition of resilience is “the ability to cope with shocks and keep functioning in a satisfying way”. Resilience is about the self organizing capacity of systems. This means the ability to bounce back after disaster, or the ability to transform if a bad stage has happened.
This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.