Photos of the year: From weird datacentres to a 3D printer that prints chocolate

Photos of the year: From weird datacentres to a 3D printer that prints chocolate

Summary: The best tech snaps of 2011

TOPICS: Hardware

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  • Microsoft Kinect R&D

    Computer vision can allow for some pretty snazzy new interfaces and new uses for computers, and in February this year Microsoft showed some of the uses that research projects are finding for its Kinect gesture-based gaming peripheral.

    This shot shows a research project called Mirage Blocks, which uses a Kinect-style camera and a controller-less user interface, coupled with a 3D projector, to render real objects digitally in 3D space. One possible use for the system would be to allow remote workers to collaborate on design of an object.

    To see more photos of the Microsoft's R&D projects for Kinect, see Photos: Microsoft Kinect pushes natural UI frontier.

    Photo: Microsoft

  • MareNostrum supercomputer

    Datacentres might not look too exciting in themselves but they can crop up in some exotic places.

    In April rounded up the most interesting locations where datacentres can be found - including the Torre Girona chapel, in Spain (pictured above) which is home to the MareNostrum supercomputer.

    The machine, ranked as 118th in the list of the fastest 500 supercomputers in the world, is used for supercomputing research into computer, Earth and life sciences.

    Explore more of the far flung corners of the world that are home to datacentres in Photos: The world's weirdest datacentres.

    Photo: Barcelona Supercomputing Center

  • Robotic library

    This is the underground storage facility for the University of Chicago's library. It opened its doors in May this year, relying on a robotic crane to retrieve books every time a user requests one of its 3.5 million items.

    Reading material is stored in bins - each holding about 100 books or journals - inside the facility, which extends 50 feet below ground.

    Barcodes are used to track each item so the automated retrieval system knows which bin to retrieve an item from when it's been requested.

    To see more of the university's high-tech library visit Photos: Robotic library picks books out of the deep.

    Photo: University of Chicago/Lloyd DeGrane

Topic: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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