Gadgets

Michael Jackson patented ‘anti-gravity’ shoes following famous lean dance

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Image: Records of the Trademark and Patent Office

A system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface.
Abstract, US patent US5255452 A

For the video of his 1987 single “Smooth Criminal,” pop sensation Michael Jackson devised a dance routine. He leaned forward 45 degrees, apparently defying gravity, and completely blew our minds. 

(In reality, the effect was achieved by wires.)

But Jackson wanted to recreate the same dance move in live performances on tour. So, along with two co-inventors, Jackson developed a special shoe. A slot in the heel engaged with a peg, which could be raised and protruded through the stage floor when activated. With the heel fixed, the performer could lean forward into the attached ankle straps. (However, the move would have required some strength in the legs and upper body to achieve and maintain this position.) Read more…

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TC AppleCast 11: If You Had To Choose Just One – Apple Hardware Or Apple Software?

TC-applecast16-9 On this week’s episode, we discuss both a lengthy profile of Tim Cook, as well as a full biography of Steve Jobs. We also cover some concrete announcements, including the open-sourcing of React, Facebook’s (potentially better than UIKit) UIKit alternative, and the acquisition of database company FoundationDB by Apple, and what that might mean. But wait, that’s not all! We… Read More

Google teams with Johnson & Johnson to improve robot surgeon vision

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Google wants in on the operating room, at least so it can help robot surgeons to a better job.

The search giant and inveterate experimenter has partnered with Ethicon, one of the U.S.’s biggest operating room tools and equipment suppliers, to develop new vision systems that could improve results when using robotic surgery tools.

A division of Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon “makes a host of surgical products and is in the overwhelming majority of hospitals around the country,” said Johnson & Johnson VP of Media Relations Ernie Knewitz.

While the financial terms of the deal, which was announced on Friday, were not disclosed, it will let Ethicon and Google’s Life Sciences group collaborate on a robot-assisted surgical platform. A Google spokesperson told Mashable in an email that the deal doesn’t actually involve Google’s burgeoning robotics group (the company has bought up more than half-a-dozen robotics firms in recent years). Instead, Ethicon will use Google’s machine vision and image analysis software to help surgeons see more clearly as they operate (to, for instance, better highlight blood vessels) Read more…

More about Google, Tech, Gadgets, Google X, and Google Life Sciences


This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: Smartphone Stuff And Smart Home Stuff

gadgets150327 It was a big week for phones and homes. John Biggs has been reviewing the new Galaxy S6 Edge from Samsung, while the HTC One M9 recently went on sale in certain markets. And speaking of things that just went on sale, Indiegogo darling Canary recently went live in retail stores like Best Buy and Verizon Wireless, as well as on Amazon. Meanwhile, August Lock raised a huge round of funding to… Read More

ElecFreaks Is Selling (And Giving Away) A DIY VR Drone

elf-releases-tips-3d-printing-open-source-drones-1 A new 3D-printed drone called the ELF VR Nano is available for pre-order on Indiegogo and for download on Thingiverse. That’s right: you can either buy the product and receive pre-printed parts or you can simply print it yourself. It’s one of the purest open source hardware plays I’ve seen in a long while and it just goes to show how cool it is to be able to print your own… Read More

BlackBerry turns a profit, but it’s still not selling more smartphones

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BlackBerry is back in the black, but despite numerous attempts at reinvention, the company is still flailing.

The smartphone maker surprised Wall Street by posting a profit of $28 million or $0.05 per share, meeting the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. That was enough to help send BlackBerry shares up about 3% in early trading on Friday.

Yet BlackBerry’s profit is not a clear business victory. The company’s sales continue to slump badly and it did well by cutting costs. The company reported revenue of $660 million for the quarter, well below analyst estimates for revenue of $786 million and down about a third from the $976 million it reported in the same quarter a year earlier Read more…

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Google To Build Robotic Surgery Platform With Johnson & Johnson

robotheart Google and Johnson & Johnson have announced that the will team up to develop an advanced, robot-assisted surgery platform. The team effort will involve “capabilities, intellectual property and expertise” from both companies, and will involve Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, maker of medial devices. All of the language in the announcement of the partnership suggests… Read More

First Apple Watch-ready apps start appearing in the App Store

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Apple‘s first smart wearable will be arriving on consumers’ wrists in about a month, but the first Apple Watch-ready apps have already started arriving in Apple’s App Store.

Among other apps, Twitter, Evernote, Expedia, the New York Times and Target have been updated with support for the upcoming wearable, 9to5Mac noted

Besides Apple Watch support, these updates bring little or no new functionality. The latest version notes for the Twitter app, for example, merely says “Includes Twitter for Apple Watch.”

Not many users will benefit from these early launches. The watch will be available for preview and preorder in Apple Stores on April 10 in London, Paris and Tokyo; the devices on display will likely have some of these apps installed Read more…

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Virtual reality, explained with some trippy optical illusions

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Virtual reality is the new reality. Woah.

Michael Abrash, the chief scientist for Facebook’s Oculus, took the stage during day two of the F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco to blow everyone’s mind with some trippy optical illusions.

These pills aren’t blue and red, they’re the same shade of gray.

As we all learned when “The Dress” took over the Internet in February, our eyes can play some serious tricks on us

The blue tiles on the left and the yellow tiles on the right are really the same shade of gray, too.

Image: Facebook

During the keynote, Abrash highlighted some interesting illusions to explain how we can trick our eyes into thinking what we’re seeing is reality. And according to Abrash, these perceptions, and the assumptions our brain makes about them, are what make virtual reality work. Read more…

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Olio Creates A Homebrew Smartwatch With Some Amazing Features

Olio-Model-1-Smartwatch-16 It’s not every day I’m impressed by a smartwatch. Plenty of Android Wear and Pebble devices have come and gone and aside from a brief “Huh” I haven’t really let any of them capture my attention. Olio is different. The brainchild of former Apple and HP product designer Steven Jacobs, he wanted a watch that was rugged, usable, and easy to read. While he was aware of… Read More