Investigating new and future technology. Featuring tech to help disabled people and exploring whether humans could ever walk on water.
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Welcome to Technobytes,
the show that bites at the heels of its Technobabble sibling.
Hee-hee-hee! Oh, and there's the randomly named messaging app.
You must need some Techspert help.
Vlogster, how will technology help disabled people?
Lovely question there, Nick.
I need a sensitive soul for this one,
but I don't think they're available so Marcus will have to do.
I'm sending Marcus to Oxford University
to meet Techspert Professor Stephen Hicks.
He's a neuroscientist who has been working on
a pair of glasses that are helping blind people to see.
Wow, these look amazing.
It looks like I can see through walls with these.
Well, you can't quite see through walls,
but, if you're partially sighted,
these can show you where the walls are,
and where things like people and other things
that you might bump into are.
Sounds like these could be potentially life-saving, then.
What's it like for partially sighted people when they use these?
Well, a lot of people who are partially sighted have
a small amount of sight remaining. It often can be dark and cloudy,
and it can just mess with all the interesting details of the world.
Is there any way I can see what it's like to be partially sighted?
Yes, if you want to try, we've got these here,
and these demonstrate a little bit about what it's like
for one type of blindness.
I can see shapes, but I can't really focus on anything.
We use the central part of our vision to really work out
what details are, to understand if that's a person that you know,
to see an expression or to read text.
I find it a little bit scary, actually.
-So shall I try these on now, then?
This'll put an image in the central part of your field of view.
Wow, so straight away, I can see a lot more detail.
For example, I can see your face, I can see your glasses.
I can even see you smiling there as well, and nodding.
Wow, yeah, go on, hold a few fingers up, let me guess.
-Five, all five are there.
-Yeah, well done.
Everything in the background, there's less detail in it.
-Why is that?
-What we try to do with these is
we try to focus on the thing that's most important,
and often, that's the thing that's closest to you.
So we do that by dropping out all the stuff in the background
and just focusing on stuff that's right there in front.
Well, I'd love to go out and about and try these smart specs.
Yeah, well, we've made these ones so they're really portable.
It's got a battery pack, so you can run around for about six hours.
Yeah, let's do that, I'm well up for that.
JURASSIC PARK THEME
Wow, this place is amazing. Why have you got me here?
Well, to show you that this is a system that you can take outside.
You know, it's battery-powered, so you can take it to a museum
and just kind of, you know, see more stuff.
Awesome, and I notice you've made some adjustments as well.
Yeah, that's right, this is like a sunglasses module.
You can put that on the front so it darkens all the background.
It just means you can pay more attention to what's on the screen.
Excellent, so I can focus more on what's going on.
-Well, let's go check out some exhibits then.
-Yeah, let's have a look.
-Ah, all right, that way.
JURASSIC PARK THEME
I'm not actually seeing through the camera, am I? How do these work?
No, so you're just seeing what's on this display,
-what's on the digital display inside your glasses themselves.
So it's taking a representation of the outside world
and making it really high contrast so getting rid of everything else,
just focusing on something like a big word or a big obstacle.
It's a very fast video,
so you should be able to react to things as quickly as normal,
avoid things when you walk.
I'm not sure if we can catch a ball yet, but, you know,
we're working on that.
Definitely pick up all the shapes.
-Are you getting some round shapes?
This is amazing. What can we expect from the future of this technology?
A sort of artificial intelligence that'll let you know actually
what you're looking at, and be able to help you find friends,
be able to help you understand if that's a bird, what's on the menu.
We're putting that in there now, we're testing this at the moment.
I tell you what, that's amazing, and this has all been amazing as well.
I cannot wait to see this out and about.
Oh, Vlogster, look! Museum shop, time to get some treats.
I've got a treat for you,
and it doesn't involve novelty pencil rubbers.
Now, for a wheelchair user in the city.
Swiss students have built a self-balancing wheelchair,
with a track that lowers to climb stairs.
The inventors hope future versions will be able to master
a step every second.
Amazing! What else have you got for me?
I give you the ReWalk Exoskeleton,
a wearable robotic suit.
This tech-skeleton helps people with spinal-cord injuries to walk
by controlling their hip and knee movements.
The system senses subtle changes in the wearer's upper body,
so that walking, turning and climbing stairs happen freely.
Next up, full-blown Iron Man suit with built-in force field,
rocket shoes and a radar. OK, maybe not.
There's no maybe about it, Marcus.
But back to the near-future, in fact, the very near-future,
in fact, now! We've got another tech teaser.
Vlogster, could people ever walk on water or levitate?
Oooh, I like how you just floated that one in.
Let's see what I can find.
Turns out, researchers have been trying to find ways to help
you humans for years,
looking at animals that already walk on water,
like the basilisk lizard.
These clever little reptiles slap their big fringed feet
on to the water's surface, creating pockets of air
to help them stay afloat.
One tiny problem - a lizard weighs about 200g,
which is 200 times lighter than the average babbler.
That means you'd have to run at 67mph, as fast as a cheetah,
to stay dry.
But some clever types in Malaysia have created
a pool of water that people can actually run on.
Someone has even cycled a bike over it.
That's wheely good!
The pool isn't filled with just water though,
it has 2,000 gallons stirred up with corn starch.
When they mix together, the forces of physics means the starch
and water form a solid when pressure is applied.
This is why the pool works so well if you run over the mixture,
but this isn't quite water we're after.
So, do you know it's possible for scientists to levitate a frog?!
Everything around you humans, including frogs,
is made from tiny particles called atoms.
When atoms are put in a magnetic field,
some of the electrons inside them change the way they move around,
and means the frog is essentially made up of lots of tiny magnets.
And it's this that can help small objects and animals,
like frogs, to levitate.
We're getting closer! Ribbit.
In Japan, Techsperts have recently developed a levitating train,
which set a world speed record of 374mph.
It's all down to magnets too. A special magnetised coil runs along
the track, and this repels big magnets
on the train's undercarriage, making the train levitate
10cm above the track.
And there we have it, a way you humans can levitate.
Those trains sure do go above and beyond!
Well, we've reached the end of the virtual line for this episode.
Technobtyes is the snack-size version of CBBC's Technobabble which investigates new and future technology. This episode features tech to help disabled people and explores whether humans could ever walk on water.