Built-in power supply? Check. Ability to survive anything? Check. Easy to control? Okay, anyone who's had a cockroach as an uninvited houseguest knows that's not the case. So, rather than re-inventing the biological wheel with a robotic version, North Carolina State university researchers have figured out a way to remotely control a real Madagascar hissing cockroach. They used an off-the-shelf microcontroller to tap in to the roach's antennae and abdomen, then sent commands that fooled the insect into thinking danger was near, or that an object was blocking it. That let the scientists wirelessly prod the insect into action, then guide it precisely along a curved path, as shown in the video below the break. The addition of a sensor could allow the insects to one day perform tasks, liking searching for trapped disaster victims -- something to think about the next time you put a shoe to one.
The FTC just completed its investigation into Facebook's acquisition of Instagram late last month, and now the two companies have announced that the billion dollar deal is officially closed. Instagram has also confirmed that its team will be making the move to Facebook's offices, but it assures folks that the "Instagram app and its features will stay the same one you know and love." For its part, Facebook reiterated its statement that it is "committed to building and growing Instagram independently," and that "Instagram will continue to serve its community, and we will help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook's strong engineering team and infrastructure." It also offers a small hint of things to come by noting that "we also can't wait to work with the talented Instagram team to improve the mobile experience." In other news, Instagram also took the opportunity to announce that it's now crossed the five billion photo mark -- no word on a breakdown by filters, though.
We've had a glimpse at Apple's conception of a sensor-based keyless layout, and the latest patent application from Cupertino shows the company looking to further refine the input experience -- this time using a camera and other sensors to detect hand position and overlay that hand position on a device's screen. The filing details three methods to this end. The first shows a user's hands on a traditional hardware keyboard projected in an on-screen representation (as background, Apple mentions the ergonomic strain of looking down to check your hand placement, so perhaps that's the thinking behind this one). A second scenario involves a laptop with unlabeled keys, where the marked keyboard is displayed on the screen, and the final, most intriguing, setup shows backside controls on a tablet a la the PS Vita, with a user's fingers projected as if the device was transparent. Of course, this is just a patent application at this point, so don't expect to see this tech make its debut September 12th.
Did you like the Xperiance Sony was selling at IFA 2012? If you answered yes, are in need of a new Android tablet and happen to live across the pond, the time has come to place your orders. Available now on the Japanese electronics giant's UK site (sorry, statesiders), the newly outed Tablet S is ready to ship in three configurations: 16GB / 32GB WiFi-only models that'll set you back £329 and £379 (about $523 and $602), respectively and a lone 16GB 3G variant that goes for £429 (about $682). For the money, you're getting a quad-core Tegra 3 slate clocked at 1.3GHz, a 1280 x 800 WXGA display, Ice Cream Sandwich and the company's signature hardware styling. Of course, if you're outside of the Euro zone and can't wait for pre-orders to be fulfilled, there's no harm in making this your next import. Hit up the source below to check out the goods for yourself.
One of the biggest holdups to owning a Raspberry Pi was its stuttering availability, so much so that it even prompted a few copycat boards. Creator Eben Upton and equipment makers Premier Farnell might have found the solution, teaming up with Sony to produce an initial run of 300,000 of the educational computers at the company's UK Technology Center, in Pencoed, near Bridgend in Wales. Upton hopes to keep the cost at $25 and $35 for two boards, thanks to employing Sony's "lean manufacturing techniques," and the Japanese company has already spent £50,000 ($80,000) on new package-on-package assembly equipment -- ensuring that we'll all be able to get our hands on one soon enough.
Sony is clearly bent on getting the VAIO Duo 11 to market on time -- just as we're recovering from our post-IFA jet lag, the Windows 8 slider has popped up for approval at the FCC. The PC put through the wringer is very much like what we saw at the show, with 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and that signature stylus on offer. There's no sign of 3G or 4G for the road warrior crowd. We don't have any clues as to the exact US release timing from the FCC's sign-off, but it does clear a path for an American release side by side with the European model in late October, if Sony yearns for some international synchronicity.