Seemingly lacking whatever it is that tends to give Westerners the willies when it comes to human replicas, the Japanese have been working steadily toward personal clones becoming an attainable household commonality. Androids are still a long way off from being something that just anyone desiring a creepy facsimile of themselves can possess, but the Clone Factory in Akihabara has the next best thing.
For a mere $1,750, the Clone Factory will take a digital 3D model of your head, print it out on a 3D printer, and just like that you have a horrifying 20-inch doll that looks exactly like you. Once your mini head is ready, you may choose a body and an outfit for your tiny monstrosity. Many customers prefer a look that represents a special event, weddings being the most popular, although anything from a sailor outfit to a stormtrooper body is available. Once you've committed to creating a pocket-sized version of yourself, you might as well go all out.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the weirdest Nazi concept weapon of them all? The "sun gun."
That seems to be the takeaway from a long-forgotten article in Life magazine's July 23, 1945 issue, titled "The German Space Mirror." The article, which has been making the rounds on the Internet, credits unnamed U.S. Army experts for revealing a Nazi plan to construct the extraordinary device. Consisting of a reflective, slightly concave disk approximately one mile in diameter, the sun gun would focus solar rays onto enemy cities -- and burn them.
An accompanying illustration shows a large mirror, "located 22,300 miles above the equator," focusing massive amounts of solar energy onto a city in America's Northeast.
I remember reading the ads in Sharper Image catalogs and thinking that it would be neat to have one of them when I was delivering mail. It was, basically, a portable radio that transmitted sounds to you through your body by vibrating sounds. It apparently didn't work that well because it never caught on. A technology artifact of the 1980s.
People who don't want to disturb sleeping family members could use a new product from Panasonic that doesn't need speakers or even your own ears: wireless bone-conduction headphones.
The headphones connect to a TV via the Bluetooth wireless standard and attach to your head like a normal set of headphones. But instead of using your ears, the headphones work like hearing aids by transmitting sound waves through your skull.
They are one of several innovations Panasonic unveiled at the International CES show in Las Vegas. It also showed off a new user interface for its "Smart Viera" TVs, featuring a TV-mounted camera that recognizes the user and sets viewing preferences accordingly.
The Japanese electronics maker also showed off an easy way to send YouTube videos from smartphones to the TV.
I'm guessing that if successful the technology can expand to other audio devices besides TV.