Gates-backed Lumotive upends lidar conventions using metamaterials


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Pretty much every self-driving car on the road, not to mention many a robot and drone, uses lidar to sense its surroundings. But useful as lidar is, it also involves physical compromises that limit its capabilities. Lumotive is a new company with funding from Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures that uses metamaterials to exceed those limits, perhaps setting a new standard for the industry.

The company is just now coming out of stealth, but it’s been in the works for a long time. I actually met with them back in 2017 when the project was very hush-hush and operating under a different name at IV’s startup incubator. If the terms “metamaterials” and “Intellectual Ventures” tickle something in your brain, it’s because the company has spawned several startups that use intellectual property developed there, building on the work of materials scientist David Smith.

Metamaterials are essentially specially engineered surfaces with

CG render of a lidar metamaterial chip.

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XGenomes is bringing DNA sequencing to the masses


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As healthcare moves toward genetically tailored treatments, one of the biggest hurdles to truly personalized medicine is the lack of fast, low-cost genetic testing.

And few people are more familiar with the problems of today’s genetic diagnostics tools than Kalim Mir, the 52-year-old founder of XGenomes, who has spent his entire professional career studying the human genome.

Ultimately genomics is going to be the foundation for healthcare,” says Mir. “For that we need to move toward a sequencing of populations.” And population-scale gene sequencing is something that current techniques are unable to achieve. 

“If we’re talking about population scale sequencing with millions of people we just don’t have the throughput,” Mir says.

That’s why he started XGenomes, which is presenting as part of the latest batch of Y Combinator companies next week.

A visiting scientist in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Genetics, Mir worked with the

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Nobel Prize goes to laser-wrangling physicists, including first woman to be honored in 55 years


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The 2018 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to a trio of researchers whose work in lasers enabled all kinds of new experiments and treatments. Arthur Ashkin is the primary recipient, sharing the prize with Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland; notably, the latter is the first woman to receive the prize since 1963, and only the third in history.

“This year’s prize is about tools made from light,” the Swedish foundation said in its announcement of the prize. ”

The work that won the award stretches over decades. Ashkin’s began during his tenure at Bell Labs in the ’60s and ’70s,  where he discovered that tiny particles and in fact cells and monocellular creatures could be trapped and manipulated using microscopic lasers.

In 1987 he used his “optical tweezers” to capture a bacterium without harming it, opening the possibility of the tool being used for all kinds of biological

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Lunewave is pitching a new sensor offering better vision for autonomous vehicles


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The investment arms of BMW and the Chinese search technology giant, Baidu, along with a large original equipment manufacturer for the auto industry and a slew of technology investors have all come together to back Lunewave, a startup developing new sensor technologies for autonomous vehicles.

The $5 million seed round which the company just closed will serve as a launching pad to get its novel radar technology, based on the concept of a Luneburg antenna, to market.

First developed in the 1940s, Lunewave’s spin the antenna technology involves leveraging 3D printing to create new architectures that enable more powerful antennas with greater range and accuracy than the sensing technologies currently on the market, according to the company’s chief executive John Xin.

Lunewave was co-founded by brothers John and Hao Xin and is based off of research that Hao had been conducting as a professor at the University of Arizona.

Autonomous Vehicle

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NASA’s climate-monitoring space laser is the last to ride to space on a Delta II rocket


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This weekend, NASA is launching a new high-tech satellite to monitor the planet’s glacier and sea ice levels — with space lasers, naturally. ICESat-2 will be a huge boon for climatologists, and it’s also a bittersweet occasion: it will be the final launch aboard the trusty Delta II rocket, which has been putting birds in the air for nearly 30 years.

Takeoff is set for 5:46 AM Pacific Time Saturday morning, so you’ll have to get up early if you want to catch it. You can watch the launch live here, with NASA coverage starting about half an hour before.

Keeping track of the Earth’s ice levels is more important than ever; with climate change causing widespread havoc, precise monitoring of major features like the Antarctic ice sheet could help climatologists predict and understand global weather patterns.

Like Aeolus, which launched in July, ICESat-2 is a spacecraft with a

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Inside Atari’s rise and fall


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By the first few months of 1982, it had become more common to see electronics stores, toy stores, and discount variety stops selling 2600 games. This was before Electronics Boutique, Software Etc., and later, GameStop . Mostly you bought games at stores that sold other electronic products, like Sears or Consumer Distributors. Toys ’R’ Us was a big seller of 2600 games. To buy one, you had to get a piece of paper from the Atari aisle, bring it to the cashier, pay for it, and then wait at a pickup window behind the cash register lanes.

Everyone had a favorite store in their childhood; here’s a story about one of mine. A popular “destination” in south Brooklyn is Kings Plaza, a giant (for Brooklyn) two-story indoor mall with about 100 stores. My mother and grandmother

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Watch a laser-powered RoboFly flap its tiny wings


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Making something fly involves a lot of trade-offs. Bigger stuff can hold more fuel or batteries, but too big and the lift required is too much. Small stuff takes less lift to fly but might not hold a battery with enough energy to do so. Insect-sized drones have had that problem in the past — but now this RoboFly is taking its first flaps into the air… all thanks to the power of lasers.

We’ve seen bug-sized flying bots before, like the RoboBee, but as you can see it has wires attached to it that provide power. Batteries on board would weigh it down too much, so researchers have focused in the past on demonstrating that flight is possible in the first place at that scale.

But what if you could provide power externally without wires? That’s the idea behind the University of Washington’s RoboFly, a sort of

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The Future of Military Technology is Intense


This post is by Jeff Desjardins from Technology – Visual Capitalist


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Railguns sound like they’re straight out of a Schwarzenegger action movie.

Well, they are – but the reality is that railguns, along with other high-tech weapons such as lasers or hypersonic weapons, are already here.

The U.S. military has actually been testing lasers and railguns for some time, and has now started to mount 30-kW infrared solid-state laser systems on aircraft and gunships. Lockheed has also signed a $147 million contract to build hypersonic weapons that will fire at Mach 20, intercepting targets in under an hour using pure kinetic force.

Visualizing the Future of Military Technology

Today’s infographic comes from Futurism, showing the technological advancements we can expect to materialize in the battlefield over the coming decades.

The Future of Military Technology is Intense

The future of military technology is here, and it seems to borrow ideas right out of well-known movies such as Star Trek or Eraser.

Here’s the scoop on the advanced

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I’m Dan Shapiro, CEO of Glowforge, and This Is How I Work


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The Glowforge printer is unique: it’s not a 3D printer in the traditional sense, but rather a laser cutter that can cut and etch a variety of material. Such laser cutters were previously complicated to use and expensive to own, but Glowforge set out to make something new and bring the technology to your desktop.

Read more…



Google patents a system for removing biological tissue with a laser


This post is by Jordan Novet from VentureBeat


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Go go Google laser.


Google has applied for a patent on a surgical system for removing biological tissue with a laser that delivers electromagnetic radiation.

The patent was published yesterday. Google first applied for it in May 2014, long before Google established the umbrella company Alphabet, which includes the standalone life sciences company that was spun out of the Google X laboratory.

Here’s how the technology is described in the patent’s abstract:

An active tracking system includes an imager configured to image the temperature of a biological tissue and a heating laser configured to heat regions of the biological tissue. The imager locates high-temperature regions of the biological tissue and the heating laser is controlled to point toward target regions of the biological tissue based on the located high-temperature regions. The active tracking system can be used to control a heating laser to continuously heat a target region of a biological tissue even

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New Materials Could Make Star Wars-Style 3D Screens


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ANewHope1 Everyone’s favorite wonder material, graphene, could soon create realistic 3D screens for mobile devices and smartphones. Whereas most 3D displays have thus far depended on fancy glasses or, in a last resort, parallax barriers that simulate 3D in the same way those gaudy pictures of waterfalls and winking ladies simulate movement. Scientists at Swinburne University, however, are working on… Read More

Facebook’s Aquila Drone Will Beam Down Internet Access With Lasers


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Facebook drone As the second day of its F8 conference began here at Fort Mason, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam Internet down to billions of people around the world. Codenamed Aquila, the drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 767 yet uses lightwight materials that allow it to weigh less than a car. Read More

mDrawBots Will Draw On Your Wall, Floor And Eggs


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b76ddae05caa10fc551a81920b751710_original mDrawBots, a Kickstarter project from MakeBlock, are very reminiscent of old-timey Erector sets with one interesting difference: These robots can actually do cool stuff. Designed to be customizable, the kits allow you to build robots that will draw on walls and floors, and even draw sassy little faces on eggs. The robot moves around each surface like an ink plotter, laying down a line here… Read More

HTC And Valve Have Cracked The VR Code


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screen-shot-2015-03-01-at-4-30-21-pm “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years,” I told HTC’s mild-mannered demo wrangler at MWC today. “And this is the first time I’ve been actually excited about a technology in five.” He had just walked me through one of the best demos I had ever seen. It was the HTC Vive, a sensor-studded helmet with dual hand controllers that allowed me to enter almost… Read More

Skin Buttons Are Working Buttons Projected Onto The Skin


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Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 3.34.12 PM The folks at Carnegie Mellon’s Future Interfaces Group have made something really cool. Essentially, they are using small lasers to paint icons onto your skin through the bottom of a watch. The icons are touch sensitive and can be projected in any shape. The team consists Gierad Laput, Robert Xiao, Xiang Chen, Scott E. Hudson, and Chris Harrison, researchers at CMU’s… Read More

Facebook Aspires To Jumbo Drones The Size Of Boeing 747s


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Facebook wants to beam Internet to the nearly two-thirds of the planet that don’t have access. Now, the company has revealed some astonishing details about how it plans to do it.

See also: Facebook Drones May Soon Be A Reality

Yael Maguire, the engineering director at Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, said the drones in development will each be the size of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and stay in the air for years.

“In order for us to fly these planes—unmanned planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time—we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace,” Maguire said during an interview at the Social Good Summit in New York City on Monday. “That’s between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don’t fly there, and certainly not drones.”

To keep the drones in the air for months or years, Facebook plans to use solar power. Solar energy will allow the planes to keep flying while they beam Internet around the world and use lasers to communicate with systems on the ground.

See also: Facebook Delivers News To 30% Of U.S. Adults

Needless to say, the technology isn’t quite there yet. The Connectivity Lab has developed a timeline that aspires to get the first plane in the air by 2015. After that it’ll still be an optimistic three to five years of testing before the aircrafts will begin to provide Internet.

“We have to push the edge of battery technology, of solar technology, of composite technology,” said Macguire. “There are a whole bunch of challenges that our team is super excited to work on.”

Photo by Aero Icarus