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Snake-Like Robot from MIT Is Flexible, Customizable

Who says hardware has to take on a standard, fixed shape? Last year, a team of engineers at MIT's Tangible Media Group developed a flexible, snake-like robot they dubbed the LineFORM. LineFORM has since evolved into the expandable ChainFORM, which users can now build on using modular links. The innovation is part of an effort to re-imagine computer hardware as something that can change its shape and function according to your needs, according to a report by FastCo.Design.

Created by Ken Nakagaki and Artem Dementyev, ChainFORM is computer and robotics hardware that can theoretically transform into a number of system’s peripherals. Each “block” uses a series of integrated sensors, touch detection, motor actuators, and a low-res display, which are then linked together to be customizable and adaptable on a whim.

Nakagaki and Dementyev believe their system can serve as an ever-changing and expandable computer and mobile device accessory, as well as a tool that can be used in simple robotics. ChainFORM’s small “blocks” are linked and connected to bend and twist into computer inputs, such as a mouse, keyboard, or phone headset; a mobile accessory like a tablet pen; or a tech wearable like a fitness tracker, wristwatch, or even an exoskeleton. The device also uses robotic technology to capture and recreate motion.

ChainFORM's creators certainly aren't the first to have engineered a snake-like robot. Others, including teams from Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Tech, have modeled their bots' movements after the reptiles, hoping they'll someday be able to scale surfaces no human could, during construction inspections or search and rescue missions.  

The MIT creation is currently in the prototype stage, and can only support 33 building blocks. However, it's likely subsequent upgrades will let users expand it as they see fit. The only limit? Their imaginations.

[h/t Fast Co. Design]

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Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, HighSpeedInternet.com took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit HighSpeedInternet.com.

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Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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