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Gymnasts Could Soon Be Judged by Lasers

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Despite increasing technological breakthroughs—like instant replay and software that can detect errant tennis serves—most major sporting outcomes are still decided by human beings who don't always pick up important details. In gymnastics, for instance, one study observed that up to 60 percent of athlete errors were missed.

Fujitsu believes it has an answer. In collaboration with the Japan Gymnastics Association, the electronics company is developing 3D laser sensors that could be far more accurate than the human eye in registering the complex, rapid maneuvers performed by elite gymnasts, Vocativ reports. The hope is that recording physiological data (like joint placement) will help provide evidence for judge’s decisions and help eliminate any potential bias on the part of the official.

Because of the markers placed on bodies, existing motion capture is impractical for athletic events. Instead, Fujitsu plans on utilizing lasers that can "follow" an athlete in real time, transmitting information to software that will generate objective numbers on the angle of the participant.

Fujitsu is optimistic the technology—which could also be applied to figure skating—will be ready in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

[h/t Vocativ]

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New Contact Lenses Could Let You Shoot Lasers From Your Eyes
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If you ever wished you had Superman’s ability to shoot lasers out of your eyeballs, you can thank science for helping to make your dream more of a reality. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have developed an ultra-thin membrane that can be attached to contact lenses, allowing lasers to be emitted, Newsweek reports. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The membrane is made from an organic semiconducting polymer, and the lasers it emits are being billed as the world’s smallest and lightest. It was tested on a cow's eye, but researchers say they expect it to be safe for human use.

"In ancient Greece, Plato believed that visual perception is mediated by 'eye beams'—beams actively sent out by the eyes to probe the environment," Malte Gather, one of three researchers who conducted the study, said in a statement. "Plato's emission theory has of course long been refuted, but superheroes with lasers in their eyes live on in popular culture and comic books. Our work represents a new milestone in laser development."

When the membrane is illuminated by another laser, it’s able to produce a unique "digital barcode." Fighting off villains is probably not the most practical application of an ocular laser, but it could be used as a "flexible and wearable security tag," according to researchers. This could prove useful to the fields of biophotonics and photomedicine, and could even be used to detect explosives. Researchers discovered that the material could be attached to paper money in order to authenticate the bills and prevent counterfeiting. It was also successfully tested on fingernails, meaning that it could be used in biometric fingerprint scans.

Meanwhile, some companies are continuing to work on the development of "smart" contact lenses. New York-based company RaayonNova is developing lenses that would include special features to help the visually impaired, like the ability to magnify signs or issue a warning when they're in danger. Samsung and Google are also reportedly among the big companies racing to develop this technology, and startup Magic Leap is working on lenses that blend digital displays with your normal vision—"like dreaming with your eyes open," the firm’s director tells Herald Scotland.

[h/t Newsweek]

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Aaron Hightower // CC-BY-SA-3.0
Recreating the Asteroids Video Game Using Lasers
Aaron Hightower // CC-BY-SA-3.0
Aaron Hightower // CC-BY-SA-3.0

Asteroids is an unusual video game. The 1979 arcade classic uses vector graphics instead of bitmaps. Vectors are lines, which are generated on a TV screen by magnetically moving the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and blasting a stream of electrons at particular points, painting glowing white lines on the black screen.

Using this vector-drawing technique, Asteroids created a distinctive look. It's also relatively hard to emulate because the physical display technology is tied to how the game looks—in areas where the electron beam lingers, images are brighter than areas the tube just zips by. It's also an extremely crisp, precise style of line art that's simply hard to draw on low-resolution bitmap displays.

In the video below, mathematician Matt Parker visits an arcade where programmer/artist Seb Lee-Delisle shows off his version of Asteroids using a giant 4-watt laser. The pair discuss how the original arcade game worked, and then explore Seb's modern laser version. Although this video is 17 minutes long, it goes by in a nerdy flash. Enjoy:

(Photo taken by Aaron Hightower (Ahigh), Lead Programmer of Rush 2049 Coin-op [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

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