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Wednesday Watercooler


Tonight’s music video is “Behind the Mountains” from Japancakes.

An unsolved Rubik's Cube floats suspended over a man's outstretched hand

NEW Rubik’s Hypercube is capable of time travel to a future where it’s already been solved.

Earlier this month, Engadget’s Brad Molen reported on a robot which solves a Rubik’s Cube in under 3 and a half seconds:

The world record for fastest time in solving a Rubik’s Cube was 5.27 seconds, which was set in the fall of 2011 by a Lego robot named Cubestormer 2. Thanks to the machine’s successor (aptly named Cubestormer 3), the time to beat is now 3.253 seconds. The robot, which is the third in a series of automatons designed solely for the purpose of solving the Rubik’s Cube ASAP, is powered by an octa-core Samsung Galaxy S4[. …] Essentially, the phone is responsible for analyzing how the cube is arranged, outlining the steps necessary to solve it, and then instructing the robot what to do. […] And in case you want a reference point as you watch the video below, the fastest human time is 5.55 seconds.

There’s also a video of the Cubestormer 3 in action, but blink and you’ll miss it.

Elsewhere on the site, Mat Smith visits a charmingly awkward, but intriguing future restaurant concept night in Japan. One interesting idea was using gestural technology. Patrons would hold out their hands and:

the Kinect sensor picks this up, and the clouds gather, revealing the “goddess” who’ll take your order. While explaining how it worked, a spokesman said that this was really only a starting point, and that it could work for many more gestures, depending on the direction developers are looking to go …

A bit silly, but since we already often use gestures to communicate in restaurants (bring me another one, check please?), it seems plausible that near future technology could take advantage of this. Siri, bring me another beer.

And I liked the idea of using a camera and a prop to order or interact with a virtual menu:

 This screen was just a common TV set, laid flat. A PC was connected to it through HDMI, but all the input came from a Wii Remote, suspended a meter above the table. Through infrared, the Wii Remote (chosen because it’s cheap) can detect that movement and scales it to the TV’s 2D surface. Rest the candle on the menu circle, and said menu appears. Moving the candle then navigates through the choices and because it’s not touchscreen, it otherwise behaves like a table — there’s nothing else that’s likely to be picked up by the IR sensor, unless you’re smoking in a restaurant, you monster.

A neat idea except my friends and I always pile the table with stuff of our own — wallets and smartphones and such — in addition to our plates. The accompanying video shows what could be accomplished with these ideas.

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Photo by jin.thai released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and