Ancient dinosaurs are coming to life, using the latest tech: 3D printing. Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia are creating 3D scans of original fossils and then “printing” scaled down models of the fossils to study the way dinosaurs lived and moved.

“Technology in paleontology hasn’t changed in about 150 years,” said Drexel paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, in a statement. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn’t changed — until right now.”

Lacovara is teaming up with the university’s mechanical engineering department to bring this infusion of new tech to palentology.

“It’s kind of like Star Trek technology, where you can press a button and the object pops out,” Lacovara said. In just a few hours, a six-inch model of a bone can be printed and eventually assembled into a replica. The researchers will also create robotic models with artificial muscles and tendons.

SEE ALSO: Woman Gets Jawbone Made by 3D Printer

The 3D-printed replicas will help researchers answer a number of questions: “We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious.”

Check out the video above to learn more about the project.

1. The Cubinator

We met The Cubinator for the first time at the 2010 World Maker Faire. The robot currently holds the Guinness world record for fastest machine solve of a Rubik’s cube. Pete Redmond, who developed the robot for the final project of his master’s degree, says that its solve time averages about 25 seconds. Webcams in the robot’s eyes detect the colors on the cube and the machine solves the puzzle by using an algorithm to find the fewest moves. It also has has a sense of humor, shouting “oh dear!” when it occasionally drops the cube.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: 3D, 3d printing, Dinosaurs, mashable video, Science

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Searching for images on Google isn’t always an easy task using words alone. Your search is going to rely on how images on the web are tagged or captioned. A new tool, however, lets you use self-created images, rather than words, to find pictures on the web.

Unofficial Google Image Search by Drawing lets you draw a picture, drag and drop a photo from your computer, or take a picture. It then searches the web for similar-looking images.

The tool works fairly well for simple images. Check out the video above for a demo.

Franz Enzenhofer, an Austrian developer, created the tool. Give it a shot and tell us in the comments how it worked for you.

Could you see this being a useful tool — especially, say, for designers and artists? Or is it just a bit of fun?

[via Freeware Genius]

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, alija

More About: google search, mashable video

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A half pipe in a skate park in Brazil turned from concrete to turntable to spikes, using 3D lighting.

3DM, an architectural lighting company, created the installation for the Contato Multimedia Festival. Check out the magical optical illusion in the video above.

We’ve seen 3D projection like this skate park in a variety of other cities and forms — from singing buildings to facades transformed into giant pinball games. Companies have used 3D projections for marketing their products, to cities trying to attract tourists. You can see some other examples of these enormous stationary objects becoming animated, in the slideshow below.

More of 3DM’s work can be viewed here.

1. Samsung 3D Projection

Samsung’s whimsical projection to promote its 3D TV products works well.

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[via The Creators Project]

More About: 3D, mashable video

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The Neo Geo is said to be making a comeback with a flashy hand-held gaming device resembling an iPhone.

Neo Geo who? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of the over-priced hand-held gaming device that flashed through the late-’90s — many haven’t. The company first emerged in the early ’90s with a $650 gaming counsel, according to CNET.

Kotaku says the news of the Neo Geo reemergence was first reported on a Japanese gaming site and not SNK Playmore, the maker of the Neo Geo. The Osaka-based company’s website makes no mention of a new gaming device, but did release news of two “vintage pre-NEOGEO era Arcade Classics” games for PlayStation on Tuesday.

“…this does look to be a leak, and it could even be a prototype. According to the blog, the temporary name for the device is ‘Neo Geo Keitai’ or ‘Neo Geo Portable.’ Note that once it goes in to production the device’s specs could change,” Kotaku said.

The gaming device has a 4.3-inch LCD screen, 2 GB of memory, a SD card slot on the side and comes preloaded with classic games like Baseball Professional, Fatal Fury and King of Monsters.

With smartphone gaming apps dominating the hand-held gaming market, Neo Geo’s planned entry into the gaming market comes at a difficult time to hook gamers. In November, Flurry Analytics reported iOS and Android held 58% of the portable gaming market, while Nintendo DS shored up 36% and Sony PSP had 6% in 2011.

Watch the video to see what the Neo Geo looks like. Are you still into non-smartphone hand-held gaming devices?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, PaRaP

More About: Gaming, mashable video

We’ve all seen the photobooths at weddings and parties; and we’ve all seen animated GIFs become fast Internet memes. Here’s a new project that melds the two worlds perfectly: animated GIF photobooths.

The agency Digital Kitchen in Seattle built just such a thing. Using three Canon 5D MK IIs, the team was able to shoot three-frame animated GIFs, complete with an extravagant cardboard cutout set. DSK says the animated GIF photobooth is called Protobooth.

Animated GIFs, from the most rudimentary a la Tina Fey photobombing the Golden Globes, to the elaborate cinemagraphs created by the likes of Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, are all sorts of viral fun.

The idea of an animated GIF photobooth brings the trend full circle and adds a whole new element of fun to what would normally be static photos.

Check out the video above to learn more about Protobooth and to see the results.

Thumbnail image courtesy of DSK

More About: GIF, mashable video, photography

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Pixar, the animation studio behind Disney favorites like Toy Story, has made it easier and faster for artists and studios to create high-quality imagery.

The company teamed up with GreenButton, a cloud services company, to offer RenderMan On Demand. Now, any complex 3D animation can be rendered in a fraction of the time while being hosted in the cloud.

“Working within a tight deadline has always been difficult, especially when rendering animation at the very last minute,” said beta tester Nicolas Chaverou, a Golaem Crowd Project Manager. “In spite of the time difference, the process was very straightforward, asset upload and distribution on the cloud, and 54 minutes of cloud rendering later it was in a wrap instead of the 20 days it would have otherwise required.”

The new service is targeted for small and medium-sized studios that use Microsoft Windows. In the coming years, RenderMan On Demand will grow to include larger studios as well.

Check out the video above to find out more.

More About: mashable video, pixar

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Apple makes its product packaging with stealthy love. An advanced copy of Adam Lashinsky’s book, Inside Apple, reveals product packaging is another thing Apple keeps under lock and key. The tech giant has a secret room — accessible only by security badges — dedicated to hundreds of variant prototype product packaging options for products like the iPad.

“To fully grasp how seriously Apple executives sweat the small stuff, consider this: For months, a packaging designer was holed up in this room performing the most mundane of tasks – opening boxes,” NetworkWorld’s iOnApple blog quoted from Lashinsky’s book.

Packaging designers must open box after box to test the positioning of the invisible stickers stuck to the top of iPod boxes. The invisible tape must be placed exactly, Lashinsky explained.

Packaging is taken more seriously at Apple than other technology companies because Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who died in late 2011, cared about every last detail. He wanted customers to feel a certain emotion when opening Apple products.

MacRumors quotes Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, from Walter Isaacson’s bio on Steve Jobs: “You design a ritual of unpacking to make the product feel special. Packaging can be theater, it can create a story.”

Apple’s package designs have sophisticated utilization of white space, which differs much from Microsoft’s fit-a-lot-of-information-on-the-box approach. A YouTube video reveals how Microsoft might package an Apple product.

So the next time you open an Apple product, remember a packaging designer spent hours selecting the perfect box and precise placement of stickers. Watch the video to find out more about Apple’s packaging details.

More About: adam lashinsky, apple, ipod, mashable video, packaging, steve jobs, Walter Isaacson

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A new Kickstarter campaign can bring your iPhone‘s capabilities to the dashboard of your car — including turning it into a car stereo.

Rather than plugging in via a cable, Dash lets you turn your iPhone or iPhone 4S into a car audio system of its own while simultaneously charging your device. It could also be used with GPS and navigation apps. As its creator points out, the device has the added advantage of familiarity.

“Dash doesn’t require that you learn a new interface to use your stereo,” says the Kickstarter page. “You already know how to use your phone to access your music, your navigation app, your phone calls, and the incredible number of other apps in your phone’s marketplace.”

We could certainly see this product being useful and successful. So far the crowdsourced campaign has raised $1,030 of its $45,000 goal. The campaign ends March 21.

Would you buy a device like this, or contribute to the Kickstarter campaign?

Watch the video above to learn more about the device and how it works.

Check out the top 10 most eccentric Kickstarter projects of 2011 in the slideshow below.

1. Portals

Funded: $1,934

This project uses a box and an old monitor to simulate virtual reality. It is an incredibly cool project, but its Kickstarter backers shouldn’t expect anything in return other than a “big happy thank you.”

Click here to view this gallery.

[via The Next Web]

More About: connected car, kickstarter, mashable video

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A team of engineers, drawn from Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, have rebuilt Google to “focus on the user” and re-jigger Google’s recent Search Plus Your World changes, which put results for Google+ pages above sometimes more relevant pages like those on other social networks.

“We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded,” the site explaining the proof of concept says.

The project, called Focus on the User, compares Google’s new search results to those that would be, the engineers say, more relevant. One example shows Google’s results for a search for “movies” — it pulls up links to Google+ pages for actors, IMDb and movies, even if those Google+ pages are used less often than the actors’ Twitter accounts or IMDb’s Facebook page.

Here’s how the tool, which is also offered as a bookmarklet, works:

“If Google decides that it’s relevant to surface Google+ page as a result in any of the areas where Google+ content is hardcoded, the tool searches Google for the name of the Google+ page. Then, the tool identifies the social profiles within the first ten pages of Google results (top 100 results). The ones Google ranks highest — whether they are from Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Quora, Tumblr, Foursquare, Crunchbase, FriendFeed, Stack Overflow, Github or Google+ — replace the previous results that could only be from Google+.”

We already knew Twitter was unhappy with Google’s Search Plus Your World changes. Since engineers from Facebook and other social sites also contributed to it (Facebook confirms engineers from Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking companies did, indeed, contribute to the project), we now have an idea of at least what their architects think of Google’s update.

Check out the video above to learn more. And tell us in the comments, what do you think of this new tool? Would you rather turn up Google results like this?

[via Business Insider]

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, gmutlu

More About: Facebook, Google, mashable video, trending, Twitter

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Got a lot of ads on your website? Google‘s new search algorithm, which looks for sites that maintain a good balance of content and ads, could automatically filter it out of search results pages. The change comes after complaints of searches regularly turning up sites that favor bulky ads over the content.

The search engine will show more high-quality websites by downgrading pages that display too many ads, according to a blog post from Google engineer Matt Cutts. High-quality sites will also be rewarded, encouraging “a healthy web ecosystem.”

Google, though, is already coming under fire for the changes. Some say its own site sometimes favors ad results. One example — see the video above — shows how a search for “Blu-Ray DVDs” turns up sidebar links to stores, supported personalized ads, shopping results, plus advertisement links that deflect from real content that users may be looking for.

The change, Google’s Cutts notes, will affect less than 1% of global queries or less than 1 in 100 searches. The new algorithm will reduce rankings for low-value ads and sites deemed less useful.

SEE ALSO: Google Promises Consumers Greater Ad Transparency

Afraid your site will be affected? Google suggests cleaning up obscure content with the help of its Browser Size tool, plus screen resolution emulators to see how users will see your webpage on different devices.

Tell us in the comments what you think of Google’s latest algorithmic tweak, and if you think it’ll impact your website.

More About: advertisements, Google, google search, mashable video

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