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Nintendo's 'Project H.A.M.M.E.R'

Nintendo has had a number of high-profile flops (Virtual Boy, anyone?). However, one of its biggest failures may have been one you heard almost nothing about -- at least, until now. Unseen64 has published a documentary detailing the largely unknown story of Project H.A.M.M.E.R (aka MachineX), a Wii game from Nintendo Software Technology that died after nearly six years of painful development that began in 2003. The hammer-swinging sci-fi brawler was supposed to be mostly finished by the time it was first acknowledged in 2005, but a culture clash between the Japanese management and American staff all but killed progress. The two sides had differing ideas about what would fix the mediocre gameplay. The top brass thought better environments would improve things, for example, while the rank-and-file wanted to overhaul the core gameplay mechanics.

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Bioprinted 'dough'

One day, you might not have to spend ages waiting for broken bones to heal. Researchers have developed a 3D-printed, dough-like biomaterial that could fill large bone fractures while aiding the recovery process. The porous chemical blend can withstand the same abuse as the spongy parts of your longer bones while still letting cells and proteins through -- it even could release its own proteins to speed up your treatment.

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A sea of Lego creations

Lego's iconic plastic bricks aren't very kind to the planet since they're made from oil-based ABS plastic, but the toy maker is planning to mend its ways. It's paying $150 million to build a sustainable materials center that will develop oil-free plastic, whether it's made from recycled plastics or an organic material. It's still early going, but the plan is to completely ditch ABS by 2030. This won't have as much of an environmental impact as getting gas-powered cars off the roads. However, Lego makes a whopping 60 billion bricks a year, and estimates that it'd cut three quarters of its carbon dioxide emissions with the switch -- this would still represent a noticeable improvement.

[Image credit: Steve Ruark/AP Images for LEGO]


NASA's New Horizons probe near Pluto

Don't expect to hear more from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft for a while. The Pluto observer recently encountered a glitch that made it lose contact for an hour and a half. That doesn't sound like much of a problem, but it was enough to kick the probe into a safe mode that doesn't collect scientific data. The mission team believes it could take up to "several days" to get back to normal due to the distance from Earth -- and that's slightly worrying when the mission's all-important Pluto flyby should take place on July 14th. While there's a good chance that New Horizons will be back to normal by the time it's close to the dwarf planet, it's clear that every day of downtime will matter.


Concept art for 'Red Ash' the game

Mighty No. 9 might not even be out the door, but Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is already looking for your help with a new project -- and this one is considerably more ambitious. His studio has launched crowdfunding for Red Ash, a project that combines both an open world action game (The Indelible Legend) and an anime movie from Studio4ºC (Magicicada). While both will share familiar characters and the theme of treasure hunting in a robot apocalypse, they'll otherwise be set in "parallel worlds" where the producers are free to tell whatever stories they want.

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DARPA's Visual Media Reasoning interface in action

It's easy to find computer vision technology that detect objects in photos, but it's still tough to sift through photos... and that's a big challenge for the military, where finding the right picture could mean taking out a target or spotting a terrorist threat. Thankfully, the US' armed forces may soon have a way to not only spot items in large image libraries, but help human observers find them. DARPA's upcoming, artificial intelligence-backed Visual Media Reasoning system both detects what's in a shot and presents it in a simple interface that bunches photos and videos together based on patterns. If you want to know where a distinctive-looking car has been, for example, you might only need to look in a single group.

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Progress 60 docked with the International Space Station

After two failed attempts in a row, the International Space Station is once again getting fresh supplies. Russia's Progress 60 cargo spacecraft has successfully docked, bringing with it important batches of equipment, food and fuel. While the station already had enough supplies to hold out until October, the arrival is a huge relief -- the string of disasters (including the Orbital Sciences explosion last year) was spurring talk of returning the crew to Earth if things got much worse. And this isn't the only resupply mission this summer, either. Japan's H-2 craft should launch on August 16th, so the ISS may resume some semblance of normalcy before long.

[Image credit: NASA TV]


Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Inhabitat's Week in Green

Now that the first wave of electric vehicles has established a strong foothold in the market, automakers are working on their successors -- and the green cars of tomorrow will blow you away. For starters, they'll be able to travel much farther. This past week, Volkswagen revealed that it's working on an electric car with a 186-mile range; Chevrolet announced plans to begin producing the 200-mile Bolt EV in 2016; and reports indicate that the next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to travel over 310 miles on a single charge. Hydrogen cars are also gaining traction -- last week, Toyota announced that its Mirai is the only zero-emission vehicle that can travel 312 miles nonstop. Meanwhile, Tesla is tackling the range-anxiety problem by improving its charging network -- and it just launched a next-generation Supercharger that is lighter, faster and cooled by liquid. If you're looking for something even more futuristic, we have just the thing -- the world's first commercial jetpack is (finally) set to hit the market next year.

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Like some kind of corporate Freaky Friday, Yahama tasked its motorcycle design team with making some instrument concepts -- and asked the opposite of its instrument design team. With no constraints like (well) commercial viability, designers were able to (and did) go to town. While the fruits were revealed back in Spring, the company's publicly exhibited the results over the weekend to the well-heeled residents of Roppongi, Tokyo. Here's a closer look:


The MAXFAS exoskeleton on a tester's arm

Foot soldiers thrive on their shooting skills, but learning expert marksmanship can take a long, long time. US Army researchers could soon have a robotic shortcut to improving those skills, however. They're working on MAXFAS, an arm exoskeleton that uses cable-activated arm braces to correct involuntary arm shakes while you're shooting -- think of it like a stabilized camera. The carbon fiber body is light enough that it doesn't weigh you down, and it's smart enough to detect the differences between purposeful movements (such as aiming) and tremors.

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The skin of a California market squid

Not happy with the color of your clothes and devices? Eventually, you might get to change those hues on a whim. UC Santa Barbara researchers have discovered that the color-changing California market squid (aka opalescent inshore squid) manages its optical magic thanks to the presences of protein sequences that let it create specific light reflections. If scientists can recreate those proteins in artificial structures, it'd be easy to change colors at a moment's notice. This could be useful for camouflage and near-invisibility, but scientists note that the squid's colors are as vivid as "paintings by Monet" -- to us, that suggests wearables that can stand out when you want them to, or blend in when you'd rather go low-key.


Internet troll

New Zealand has passed a law that criminalizes one of the least desirable facets of the internet: cyberbullying. The legislation effectively prohibits sending messages to people that are racist, sexist, critical of their religion, sexuality or disability. The rest for determining harm will be if these communications were designed to cause "serious emotional distress," and if a person is found guilty, could face up to two years in jail. In addition, the bill creates a separate crime of incitement to suicide, which will see a person jailed for up to three years if they are found to be encouraging such an act.

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