Review: Thermal Camera & Infrared Camera offers mixed results

Thermal Camera & Infrared Camera FREE is a bit misleading in its description -- if only because the images you take are only filtered to look like thermal/infrared images. Of course, this is expected since the iPhone does not have infrared sensors, so it could be forgiven if the resulting photos looked good; but with a handful of issues and sometimes borderline-quality images, the app falls short in numerous places.

To start, there is the thermal issue. When you take photos in this app, it filters them to look as though they were taken with a thermal/infrared camera. … Read more

Scientists outsmart dangerous bacteria using infrared light

The pesky bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), best known for causing staph infections such as MRSA, ranges dramatically in form. In fact, recent studies indicate that S. aureus performs an efficient little microevolution to adapt to its host, so that it can evade the immune system and even survive antibiotics.

Not to be outdone by the seeming intelligence of the bacterium, scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna say they have devised a technique using infrared light to distinguish between strains of S. aureus that can cause chronic infections and those that cannot. They report their findings in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.… Read more

The tech behind Kinect and how it will control your living room

LOS ANGELES -- At first I thought I had misunderstood him, so I made sure to reply slowly. "So you're saying Kinect is going to blast IR signals at your living room, and they're going to reflect off walls and stuff and bounce back to control all of your devices?"

"That's correct," Marc Whitten said.

"Whoa," I replied.

"Kinect has a really powerful management of that energy," he explained. "It's just light," he went on, "but it just exists in a different spectrum." I … Read more

Infragram: Infrared camera on the cheap

You can already buy an infrared camera, but only if you have hundreds of dollars to sink into the purchase. An inexpensive infrared-modified camera, originally developed by Public Lab to monitor damage to wetlands after the BP oil spill, is now available through Kickstarter.

The Infragram project has already handily topped its $30,000 goal and gives you several different options for obtaining a cheap infrared camera. You can do it yourself and modify your own camera for $10, buy a pre-modified bare-bones Webcam for $35, or buy a ready-to-use point-and-shoot camera for $95.… Read more

Segway-like robot helps fight fires with 3D, thermal imaging

In 2012, 83 firefighters died in the line of duty in the U.S. alone, and another 37 fatalities have been reported thus far in 2013. But, with better scouting tools, these numbers could be lowered.

Thank goodness for robots.

A new one out of the University of California, San Diego, may soon help first responders survey a fiery scene with its ability to enter a burning building and immediately transmit data on the state and location of the fire, the building's structural integrity, and the presence of any volatile gases -- all while on the lookout for survivors.… Read more

Shape-shifting hydrogel takes cue from plants, moves to light

The emerging field of soft robotics, which involves mimicking the squishiness and stickiness of such creatures as octopuses, starfish, and squid, may be taking its next cue from a different source: plants.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley describe in the journal Nano Letters a new hydrogel that, inspired by phototropism (the phenomenon of plants moving toward light), can actually expand and shrink in a very controlled fashion via light.

"Shape-changing gels such as ours could have applications for drug delivery and tissue engineering," principal investigator Seung-Wuk Lee, associated professor of bioengineering, said in a school … Read more

Reading on treadmill no sweat with ReadingMate

No diversion can divert me from the fact that treadmills are boring. Even if the weather is bad, I'm not much of a TV viewer -- on or off the treadmill. And I often find the most energizing music to also be the most annoying. Reading on a treadmill can be downright nauseating.

But thanks to an experimental system out of Purdue University, I soon may be able to catch up on my backlog of New Yorker digital issues while clocking time on the dreaded tread.… Read more

This glass keyboard and mouse combo is cool, but don't drop it on the floor

Inventor and engineer Jason Giddings hopes you have a few extra bucks to back his idea for a multitouch mouse and keyboard concept made entirely out of glass and metal.

The combo looks like the input device used on the Gibson supercomputer in "Hackers," but Hal and the Plague would probably be more psyched to use Giddings' wireless peripherals.

The glass surface of the keyboard and mouse shrug off food crumbs and most liquids, and both use Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR) technology with the help of an embedded camera to pick up infrared light reflected off the inside walls. Proprietary software then picks up the location of the tap and engages the appropriate key press.

Did I mention the software is open source? Yep, that means any developer can potentially manipulate it beyond the functionality of other multitouch peripherals like the Apple Magic Trackpad and the Optimus Maximus keyboard.

You can see visual mockups of the keyboard and mouse set at the Kickstarter donation page, but Giddings still has a long way to go before he reaches the $50,000 goal needed to build prototypes and enter preproduction.

Pledge $10 for a chance to submit your ideas on what to name this thing--the winner will receive the first production model! More concept photos after the jump.… Read more

A flying telescope? Observing NASA's SOFIA airborne observatory

NASA this past weekend offered up tours of its recently souped up airborne telescope, built inside a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is the world's largest airborne observatory.

SOFIA carries a telescope with a 100-inch reflecting mirror that conducts astronomy research not possible with ground-based telescopes, NASA said. It's normally housed at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., but CNET got to see it Friday at a press event at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden said SOFIA is … Read more

Infrared glass heating system doubles as wall decor

Now you can hang wall decor that also warms your home. The LAVA Design Infrared Glass Heating System from WarmlyYours employs heat conductive glass technology that radiates heat evenly in multiple directions without combustion or forced air circulation.

The LAVA panel looks like a rectangular canvas or tile and comes in four models, ranging in heat capacity and price from 250W at $1,299 to 1000W at $2,299. WarmlyYours reps claim "homeowners may be able to lower the ambient room thermostat temperature by 2 degrees, saving up to 12 percent on their regular heating expenses."

It works with electricity, so there is some energy cost, but no moving parts means less dust and other allergy triggers. The device emits heat in three dimensions, but amazingly remains cool to the touch and therefore safe for houses with children.

WarmlyYours is presenting the panels at the ongoing 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and positioning the panels as more than just enviro-friendly heating sources. They want to offer them up as room decor elements alongside a line of radiant electric heating solutions for any flooring surface and bathroom spas. For example, buyers can combine a LAVA panel with a LAVA bath bar (for hanging and warming towels) or a mirrored LAVA panel with light bars. … Read more