This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus

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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

Email Regrets? Android Users Can Now Unsend Their Gmails

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Users of America Online might remember an intriguing feature of the once-dominant internet portal: The ability to unsend email messages, so long as they remained unread by the recipient. It was the virtual equivalent of reaching into a snail mail box and retrieving an ill-advised or premature correspondence. The feature probably saved more than a few relationships and jobs from suffering permanent damage.

Popular mail service Gmail officially introduced a similar feature in 2015 for its desktop version, allowing users to open their Settings and opting in on an "Undo" feature that would give them up to 30 seconds to unsend an email. An iOS function followed. Now, The Next Web reports that Android users can benefit from the same do-over.

Once you've composed a message and hit "send," the app will notify you that you've got 10 seconds to change your mind. Tapping "Undo" will prevent Gmail from completing delivery, a welcome feature on phones that are prone to sending emails before you've finished due to a clunky touch screen interface.

If you're an Android user and don't see the feature, try updating Gmail to the latest version. Users who have spotted the feature aren't sure if all versions will be updated or if it's a slow rollout, so you might want to keep checking the app.

Don't use Gmail at all? Outlook also allows limited recall of messages, depending on which email provider you're using, and may allow you to tack on an apology note if you've accidentally sent something to the wrong recipient. Yahoo! users on Android and iOS can unsend emails, but they've only got three seconds to have a change of heart.

[h/t The Next Web]

GIPHY Is Launching the World's First All-GIF Film Festival

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Think you’re a GIF master? GIPHY is looking to showcase the best in extremely short films with what it calls the world’s first GIF-only film festival, according to It’s Nice That. The GIF database and search engine company is teaming up with Squarespace to launch a contest dedicated to finding the best GIF-makers in America—the GIPHY Film Fest.

To enter your work for consideration in the festival, you’ll need an 18-second-or-less, looping film that tells a “compelling, creative, entertaining, professional-grade story,” according to the contest details. U.S.-based GIF artists can enter up to three mini-films in each of five categories: Narrative, Stop-Motion, Animated, Experimental, and Wild Card/Other. The films can have music (as long as you have the rights to use it) or be silent. All that matters is that they're between one and 18 seconds long.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, a five-year subscription to Squarespace (to host that amazing GIF on your website), and the chance to guest-curate an official Spotify playlist. All entries will be judged by a panel of professionals from across several creative industries, including film, animation, illustration, and design.

The GIPHY Film Fest is not the first uber-short film festival in existence. In 2013 and 2014, back when Vine still existed (RIP), the Tribeca Film Festival held a competition each year to find the best six-second films—a time limit that will make 18 seconds feel practically feature length.

Enter GIPHY’s contest here before the entry window closes on September 27, 2018. The winner will be announced on November 8, during a special New York City screening of each of the top films in each category.

[h/t It’s Nice That]

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