Design
Where form meets function

Technology is an ever-changing landscape that takes place in several different spaces, all at the same time.

This month alone, space researchers discovered seven brand new exo-planets, each orbiting a single star, each roughly the size of earth and at least three considered to be inside what NASA has deemed the “inhabitable zone.”

The planets are located just 40 light years (235 trillion miles) from earth, and we were able to find them using an incredibly powerful telescope.

Also this month, Twitter decided it was going to start locking the accounts of people who insult celebrities. Personally, I think this is bullshit.

Practically the whole reason I even downloaded Twitter was so that I could remind the Affleck brothers what abhorrent pieces of shit they are on a daily basis. (FUCK YOU, BEN—ALL I WANTED WAS LIKE, A COUPLE HAIR CLIPPINGS AND A PAIR OF YOUR DIRTY UNDERWEAR, DON’T MAKE IT WEIRD!)

There was another massive data breach, an iPhone 7 allegedly caught fire, somebody somewhere invented a ping-pong playing robot and news broke that researchers are using highly detailed satellite images to possibly track down the tomb of famous Mongolian conqueror, Genghis Khan, because why not.

Every single month, I sit down to write this column thinking I won’t have anything to talk about. Every month, I am wrong. Here’re this month’s biggest tech releases:

Nokia Re-Launched its Famous 3310 Phone

Nokia

When I first heard this news, I was convinced it was some kind of joke. Of course, it’s not. Nokia this month announced the re-release of one of its classic mobile powerhouses, the Nokia 3310.

Featuring  groundbreaking T9 texting capabilities, a 2.4-inch color display, a two-megapixel back camera (complete with LED flash!), and a whopping month of standby battery life, Nokia is hedging a bet that says people are over smart phones. Oh, and the $52 price tag might help its case—though, I’m not holding my breath.

It’s just so awesome and ridiculous that while most smartphone companies are trying to figure out 4K displays and dual camera setups, the design team over a Nokia was like, “Yah, but our phones can play Snake.”

Someone Invented “Liquid Lenses”

University of Utah

In what is probably one of the wildest developments I’ve seen in eyewear since Shutter Shades (or **shudder** shades lololol), researchers at the University of Utah have developed new “liquid” lenses that automatically adjust to your eyes in order to bring into focus anything in a given range, depending each eye.

That probably doesn’t sound too technical, and the prototypes are horrific, but the concept is remarkable: The lenses comprise two flexible, glycerol-filled membranes that stretch and become more convex or concave depending on the movement of each lenses piezoelectric pistons. In layman’s terms, they’re magic glasses, bro.

Huawei Announces the P10 Smartphone

Huawei

Huawei may not be too big a company in the U.S., but elsewhere, they are a sizeable smartphone superpower. The P9 was considered by many to be one of the foremost competitors to Apple’s latest crop of iPhones, and it seems like Huawei is at it again with the new P10.

Announced this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the P10 features a new front-facing thumb sensor, a beautiful unibody design, a larger 3,200 mAh battery, a 12MP color sensor and 20MP mono sensor, and an 8MP Leica-designed selfie camera. The iPhone 8 better get its shit together, methinks.

Google Rolls Out Google Assistant on Android Phones

bbc.com

Something Android users have been begging for for quite some time now, Google announced this week that it will finally roll out Google Assistant on all devices running Android Marshmallow and Nougat.

It’s a big deal because Google’s Assistant enables two-way, context-sensitive interactions between users and their devices—it’s intuitive, intelligent and probably the best “personal assistant” technology out there, right now.

While it has only been released on Google’s Pixel, Home personal assistant, and the Allo messaging app (and a couple Android wear devices), it received rave reviews from users, who’ve wondered in frustration when it was going to finally come to Android. Well, folks, the time is now.

Someone Invented Ping Pong Robot—And It’s Terrifying

Guinness World Records

Uhh, yup. Japanese electronics company Omron Corp. is responsible for developing the horrifyingly fast and super intuitive robot, named FORPHEUS. FORPHEUS has even received a Guinness World Record for being the first robot able to teach the sport.

Lead developer Taku Oya said in a statement, “At the moment it is a human who teaches a robot how to behave or teach, [b]ut in the next 20 years, it may be possible that a robot teaches a robot, or a robot develops a robot.”

What the fuck is your problem, Taku Oya? Haven’t you ever seen Terminator? Jesus.

AMD Releases Ryzen; Undercuts Intel By More than $600 Per Unit

AMD

AMD’s release of its Ryzen Summit Ridge CPUs isn’t that big of a deal. They’re incredible pieces of hardware, but Intel’s Core i7-6900K CPUs are perfectly comparable, for the most part. The news here, my friends, is AMD’s pricing.

As a big ol’ “Fuck you” to Intel’s senselessly expensive pricing, AMD announced its 8-core, 1800X CPU would cost less than half of Intel’s most comparable model. Sometimes, American-style capitalism isn’t just refreshing, it’s downright hysterical. Thanks for the laugh, fellas! As for Intel? Well, good luck with everything, fellas!

This Cardboard Drone Can Carry Two Pounds of Stuff, and Then Disintegrate

Otherlab

I don’t think anyone anywhere is still trying to argue the importance of drones in our everyday lives, anymore. They’re playing a larger and larger role in our country’s military and surveillance operations, and I’ll be the first to admit that they’re being used for some pretty scary shit.

But they’re also being used for some incredible things, too, like transporting food and water to refugees, or medicine to people without access. They’re also revolutionizing the way we receive our packages.

It was with these uses in mind that Otherlab’s cardboard drones that can carry payloads of up to two pounds, and then disintegrate within a few months, came to be.

The drone was just announced this past month, but they’re hoping to work more with it to use a biodegradable shell made out of “mycelium” (mushrooms) that’ll biodegrade much faster. This one definitely has potential to be game-changing, but month’s announcement was just that—and announcement.

The Russians Invented a Hoverbike, Because Why the Fuck Not?

Hoversurf

The team at Hoversurf (Yes, it’s a real company; don’t be a dick about it) out of Russia announced last month that they’ve successfully engineered the world’s first hoverbike. The prototype, very Russianly-named “the Scorpion-3,” combines the technology of a quadcopter with the seat and control style of a standard motorcycle.

The result was something that seems shockingly stable and easily maneuverable. Unfortunately, there’s no plan to put any of them into commercial production anytime soon, but hey—a start is a start!

Scientists Made Dragonflies Into Cyborgs

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

You know, this right here is the kind of shit I read and start to wonder if we aren’t starting to take this whole “tech” thing too far… News broke this month that a team of biomedical engineers at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (CSDL) in Massachusetts had basically created tiny backpacks that allowed them to control the flight patterns of common dragonflies.

The project, known as DragonflEye, uses a techniques that basically transmit signals to neurons via light signals. The scientists have been studying the insects in order to open up the possibility for experimenting with controllable flyers that’d be lighter and more robust than any manmade machine out there. If this all sounds terrifying, it’s because it totally is.

Boston Dynamics Came Up with Yet Another Nope-Inducing Robot

Boston Dynamics

Of course, we can’t have a conversation about creepy and horrifying developments in robotics without politely nodding to our friends over at Boston Dynamics, who, of course, this month released perhaps their most horrifying robot yet.

The new bot, named Handle, can balance perfectly on two wheels, travel across uneven surfaces, jump onto and over obstacles, pick up plenty of weight, and haunt us in our Goddamn sleep.

Here’s everything we know about the iPhone 8 so far.

  • Lead image: Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
What To Read Next