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Hey Fivers!

We have a packed series of Fives this week. If you like what you see, please remember to share with your friends!
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1. Acoustic Interaction
Watch. This. Video. Really neat concept here. The amazing researchers at Disney have created a series of plastic attachments for mobile phones that funnel a specific frequency-swept chirp sound out of one speaker, through a series of tubes, knobs, and materials, and back to the microphone. The phone then collects the frequency response curve via the mic, learns its shape, and uses it to allow for new forms of user interaction. Amazing trick and involves incredibly inexpensive parts. [Link]
2. Microscopic Computers
That picture? That's a penny. About 150 of these "microcomputers" fit into a thimble. There has been a trend in research world recently towards creating "smart dust". That is, self-powered, autonomous microchips with on-board sensors and wireless transmission. Researchers at the University of Michigan have created the Micro Mote which can do just, thus allowing us to embed or add sensors all around us just by sprinkling them around. [Link]
3. Self-Powered Cameras
This is a camera that can power itself off of the light that it collects through its lens. You read right, it's entirely autonomous and can continue recording video indefinitely. Sure, right now its resolution is just 30 x 40 pixels, but the fundamental design of this camera has enormous implications for use in ubiquitous surveillance, power constrained mobile and wearable devices, and more. [Link, thanks Hyunsung Park]
4. Soft Robots
We imagine robots as rigid machines made up of a series of gears, pulleys, servos, and mechanical joints. Although this makes them more robust and precise, such designs lose some of the advantages that organisms have with flexible joints and materials. Researchers at a company called "Otherlab" are working on robots powered by air. Through some clever fabric balloon construction and some precisely placed air tubes they can articulate limbs with many more degrees of freedom than a rigid robot. These robots are also lighter and much more cost effective than conventional robots. [Link]
5. Super Batteries
We all know that battery technology is seriously lagging behind the progress that the rest of the technology world is making. That's due, in part, to the fact that making better batteries is really really hard. Thankfully, Stanford researchers are making headway on some new types of batteries with some distinct advantages: flexibility, environmentally safe, and ultrafast recharging capabilities.Of course, there's still a ton of work that needs to be done in terms of production and storage capacity but this is quite promising nonetheless.  [Link]
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Fives is written by Rohan Puri