Archive for September, 2008
MIT gurus dream up self-sustaining sensor network for preventing forest fires
“a self-sustaining sensor network that taps into trees for power in order to continuously monitor forests for threats of fire. Moreover, the concept could be applied in other scenarios as well — to detect potential threats such as smuggled contraband along a nation’s borders, perhaps. Testing of the wireless sensor network (developed by the appropriately named Voltree Power) is scheduled to begin next spring”
Alps Electric’s “non-contact touchpad” needs no touch
“Alps’ prototype (shown without the hand model after the break) breaks linguistic and laptop convention by letting you control your machine with fingers waving about an inch above it. Right now it seems to have limited precision, with one sensor on either side of a rather more traditional pad picking up digits as they move from left to right or in a circle. So, touch-free retouching of images in Photoshop isn’t quite possible yet, but with a few years of refinements anything is possible.”
Russian Town Puts Giant Smiley On Google Maps
“Citizens of the Russian town Chelyabinsk calculated when the satellite, QuickBird, which takes images for Google Earth and Google Maps, would cross above their city and used people to make a giant smiley face. A rock concert on the main square attracted many people and everyone got a yellow cape. It looks like someone at Google was quicker than usual to put up the new data. Maybe Google likes the idea of an entire town working hard to get its 15 minutes of fame.”
RulerPhone Lets You Ditch the Ruler For An iPhone
“In order to start measuring, you need to place an object about the size of a credit card in the picture you’re about to take in order to derive accurate measurements between the objects in the image. After that, you snap the picture and move to the next screen, which asks you to align a blue card that’s displayed so it lines up perfectly with the credit card in the picture. As soon as the two cards are aligned, you click “Measure” and a ruler is displayed, which you can move around and extend to measure the distance between objects in the picture or their length. The actual measurements are displayed above the image.”
Radiohead Launches Easier, Less Expensive Remix Contest
“The time signature is much simpler than it was with “Nude.” For “Reckoner,” the band is using the much more common, and therefore easier to work with, 4/4 time signature (think “one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four”). To make things easier, the band informs remixers that the first chord is C, and the tempo is 103.4 beats per minute. It’s also cheaper to participate than it was last time, when Radiohead took a little heat for charging 99 cents for each of five remix stems. Instead, the band is pricing all six stems from “Reckoner” as a 99-cent album, a fairer deal that could lead to increased participation. It could lead to “Reckoner” climbing the iTunes charts as “Nude” did before it, thanks to users buying not only the track, but also the remix (last time, purchases of both “Nude” the song and “Nude” the remix stems counted toward the popularity of the same title on iTunes).”
Casio goes insane with 2-inch, 960 x 540 pixel LCD
“Using a proprietary Hyper Amorphous Silicon TFT (HAST) LCD, Casio achieves a 960 x 540 pixel resolution resulting in 546 pixels per inch supporting 16.8 million colors — hoozah! Although not announced, we’ll undoubtedly see these in future NTT DoCoMo superphones just as soon as these displays hit mass production.”
People’s airbag ‘prevents injury’
“The device is strapped around the body and inflates in 0.1 seconds if it detects it is accelerating towards the ground, the manufacturers say. The Tokyo-based company, Prop, says the product is designed to cushion a fall using two separate pockets of air. One pocket will be behind the head and the other around the hips. It does not protect those who fall forward.”
Chronicle Your Life In Photos With LifeSnapz
“Collaborative photo albums are nothing new – many popular photo services allow multiple users to upload to the same album. But CEO Brian Hand says that LifeSnapz takes a different approach, by allowing users to group photos through time and space (namely, they are arranged by date and location data, when available). This information is used to compile an interactive timeline, which serves as a fun and intuitive way to browse through past photos (especially when compared to the thumbnail views offered by most photo services). Each event also includes a profile page, which allows users to write further details and comment on the event as a whole. This makes the site appealing not just as a hosting service for current events, but as a place for old friends and acquaintances to reconnect over photos from years past (in an example I saw, graduates from the class of ‘84 used the site to share photos from their school days in preparation for an upcoming reunion).”
Computers can now guess our age
“So is this software successful at guessing our age? “‘Human faces do convey a significant amount of information, however, and provide important visual cues for estimating age,’ Huang said. ‘Facial attributes, such as expression, gender and ethnic origin, play a crucial role in our image analysis.’ Consisting of three modules — face detection, discriminative manifold learning, and multiple linear regression — the researchers’ age-estimation software was trained on a database containing photos of 1,600 faces. The software can estimate ages from 1 year to 93 years. The software’s accuracy ranges from about 50 percent when estimating ages to within 5 years, to more than 80 percent when estimating ages to within 10 years. The accuracy can be improved by additional training on larger databases of faces, Huang said.”"
Enlisting the crowds to resolve marital disputes
“Launched earlier this month, Pittsburgh-based SideTaker begins the dispute-resolution process when one member of a couple submits their side of the argument on the site. A link is then e-mailed to that person’s significant other, inviting them to add their own side. Only when that happens does the story go live on SideTaker for the perusal and ruling of the visiting crowds. In one of the most popular stories currently on the site, for example, a woman describes a husband whose self-proclaimed frugality prevents him from flushing the toilet regularly; in another, a man describes a girlfriend who’s gaining weight but refuses to exercise. Users of the site can vote on which side they agree with or leave comments to express their opinions.”
Crowd efforts make parliament videos searchable
“The website created a timestamping application in June 2008 to match up each clip—recorded from BBC Parliament, the British equivalent of C-SPAN—to the correct transcript. Even though all of the timestamping needed to be done manually without a budget, two months after launch all 42,018 video clips were fully searchable. The non-profit site managed this by involving the general public, creating a small incentive by naming its top taggers, one of whom is responsible for over 8,000 entries. It also encouraged participation by making it incredibly easy for anyone to pitch in: all users need to do to get started is to click the ‘Give me a random speech that needs timestamping’ link. They’re then shown a video, and just need to press the ‘now’ button when they hear the words displayed below the player.”
Mobile gaming theatres pop up at birthday parties
“Back in January, Texas-based Games2u stepped in to solve this problem with its mobile video game theatres—self-powered, climate controlled trailers that house X-Box 360, Wii and PS3 systems, enabling up to 24 players to compete head-to-head. For parents who’d rather see their children running around outdoors, the company’s Sprinter trailers contain a range of inflatable bunkers and laser guns to turn yards and fields into laser tag battlegrounds in an instant.”
Volvo testing “birds-eye-view” awareness system for truck drivers
“he systemhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System utilizes four fisheye cameras mounted on each side of the vehicle. This electronic eye system “de-warps” and seamlessly combines the images to produce an overhead view of the truck and its surroundings. What makes this system truly unique is that it gives the driver a sense of distance by showing the relative positions of objects or people in relationship to the truck itself. The driver gets critical information and advanced driving assistance with just a quick glance at the system’s monitor”
Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind
“MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security’s directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers. It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack. But this is no polygraph test. Subjects do not get hooked up or strapped down for a careful reading; those sensors do all the work without any actual physical contact. It’s like an X-ray for bad intentions.”
Controlling Light With Sound: New Liquid Camera Lens As Simple As Water And Vibration
“Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have designed and tested an adaptive liquid lens that captures 250 pictures per second and requires considerably less energy to operate than competing technologies. The lens is made up of a pair of water droplets, which vibrate back and forth upon exposure to a high-frequency sound, and in turn change the focus of the lens. By using imaging software to automatically capture in-focus frames and discard any out of focus frames, the researchers can create streaming images from lightweight, low-cost, high-fidelity miniature cameras.”
Fuji’s 3D Camera System
“The dual lens system can also be used for future applications including instantly stiched together panoramas from two simultaneous shots, or using one CCD to shoot video while the other shoots stills. (Things regular cameras can do now, with not much difficulty.) What’s interesting is that Fuji simultaneously developed a 3D imaging ecosystem including an 8.4 inch, 3D LCD display that needs no glasses and a 3D printer.”
Audi Travolution: Audi Backs Traffic Project To Get Cars Talking To Traffic Lights, Minimize Time Spent At Stops
“The system works by way of 46 smart traffic lights installed in Audi’s home town of Ingolstadt which communicate with specially equipped Audi A5s and A6s. The cars interpret the information from the lights and display an ideal speed to the driver which leads to smooth sailing through green lights as opposed to hitting the reds. The lights also interpret traffic density and adjust timing to reduce times at the line – and therefore minimization of fuel-sapping “stop-start” traffic.”
Featured IPhone Download: iNap Wakes You Up When You Get There
“Say, for example, you’re riding the train to work but want to catch some shuteye on the way. Just fire up iNap, set your stop as the destination, and let iNap worry about the rest. You can tweak the alert radius to make sure you’re up in plenty of time, from 0.1 to 100 miles. iNap works with any iPhone, but the results will be most accurate with an iPhone 3G.”
Social Networking: Dropcard Sends Business Cards via SMS
“After you sign up and enter your contact information into Dropcard, all you have to do is text the email address of a new contact to
41411 with the message
drop firstname.lastname@example.org. Dropcard will instantly send an email to that address with a vCard attachment. If your new contact had an iPhone, for example, she could click on that vCard and instantly create a new contact with all of your details automatically filled in.”
New agreement integrates satellite / cellular technology in mobile chip
“In short, the trio has agreed to “integrate satellite and cellular communication technology in select multi-mode mobile baseband chips,” which will essentially enable handsets to have “ubiquitous mobile communications coverage from anywhere in North America, including areas where traditional cellular service is currently unavailable or unreliable.” The release proclaims that this hookup will lead to satellite connectivity being in mass-market devices, but only time will tell how long it takes for compatible handsets to get adopted by carriers.”
To Smell, Perchance to Dream
“Once deep in REM sleep, they were exposed to ten-second aromatic flushes of phenyl ethyl alcohol, roughly analogous to roses, or hydrogen sulfide, typically found in rotten eggs and a standby of odor-and-dream science. (In a methodological aside, the test apparatuses are formally known as “Sniffin’ Sticks.”) An odorless chemical was used as a control. Having sniffed, the women were roused and asked to report. The tone of their dreams consistently tracked with the tenor of the smells — but unlike dreamers who incorporate external sounds, such as an alarm clock radio, the women did not recall having smelled roses or rotten eggs. Instead they experienced a shift in the emotional content of their dreams.”
Songbike changes its tune based on your destination
“The “SongBike” is a mobile broadcasting unit for bicycles that composes compositions based on the locations that it travels to. The resulting sounds are uploaded to the project’s website while instructions for building your own bike and recording/broadcasting unit are also included.”
Spectrum range and human activities
“his colorful diagram depicts the allocations of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum in the US. It’s stunning to see how revealing the comparison between different media/communication system and the spectrum range they “inhabit”. For instance, blue is “tv broadcasting”. Navigation is very present too.”
Safe Transactions with Infected PCs
“SiteTrust bypasses malware because it is essentially a rootkit–a program designed to bury itself deep in a user’s operating system, where it can take fundamental control of most of the software running on the machine. The idea, Ledingham says, is that SiteTrust will burrow down to a lower level than any malware on the system. Verdasys has put a lot of research into ensuring that SiteTrust does just that, Ledingham says, but he acknowledges that if the tool becomes successful, online criminals will probably focus on finding ways to go even deeper. He says that Verdasys plans to keep improving the tool, hoping to stay a step ahead of attackers.”
DaScratch multitouch DJ interface
“DaScratch is a USB connected MIDI device designed to emulate record interactions. It features a large touch area where the user can make scratching, sliding, and button pressing motions. The compact device has presets for software like Traktor, Serato, and Ableton Live, but can work with anything that supports MIDI. Multiple units can be paired together using magnets.”
Hack a Day
Japanese Girl Sensation: Virtual Boyfriends (Webkare)
“Webkare (Web Boyfriend in Japanese), a mix between a social network and dating simulation site, is Nippon’s newest web sensation. Geared exclusively towards girls, the site attracted over 10,000 members just 5 days after its release on September 10, racking up 3.5 million page views in the same time frame. The site is a huge hit over here. Girls sign up and become members of a social network but also users of a dating simulation in cartoon style. They have to try to hook up with one of four male Anime characters (who are the “stars” of the site) through “conversations” and must collaborate with other Webkare members in order to move on in the game. Eventually they conquer the heart of the chosen cartoon boy.”
“Encoder Rings began as an investigation in how to store precious or personal digital information. The result is a series of rings that are decorated with tiny blobs and holes, that actually represent letters in binary code; the code used as the basis for digital information. The user would choose a secret message 64 characters long, have the message translated into binary code and finally have a ring produced using rapid-prototyping.”
Bluetoothing androids to shout at blind people
"Talking Points users would need a bluetooth device which also had wireless internet – a smartphone, UMPC, mini-laptop or a specialised Talking Points receiver. The device would be connected to an earpiece, either bluetooth or wired. When the device software detected a Talking Points beacon, it would look up the information on the internet and play it back through the earpiece. You’d be able to choose which kinds of beacon your system would respond to, and whether or not you wanted the user-generated comments as well as the official tags."
"1. There’s no need to add geo data manually to create the map. Just sign up for Geotoolkit, submit your feed, and we’ll start detecting places in your posts automatically. (If we miss something, you can easily add place data with our feed management tools.) 2. For each place on the map, we include the place name and address, plus up to three stories from your archive, so you can see the history of what you’ve written about that location. 3. Users can change the time-scale on the fly — seeing only the last week’s worth of stories, or taking a big gulp and seeing six months. "
Reciept Clock by Marc Owens
"This product allows for a more private interaction with time. The faceless clock only tells the time when the user presses the central button, the clock then prints the time and date on to the internal roll of paper, the result of which is deposited from the front slot so the user can tear it off and keep it. The ‘time receipt’ also has a series of printed lines which allows space for the user to write a personal message which is significant to that particular moment in time"
Lost And Found: SendMeHome Simplifies Recovering Lost Items
"SendMeHome is a free web based application that generates unique ID tags for your items, so that should a good Samaritan find your lost item, a short trip to SendMeHome.com is all it takes to send you a message indicating that your item has been found and how you can get it back. The site has packets of labels you can purchase or print, or you can write the SendMeHome ID number on the object with a permanent marker."
Snip! Nearly One-Fifth of Homes Have No Landline
"This trend has of course been brewing for a while, but the tough economy is pushing more people to snip the cord. Indeed, the effect of the growing number of people without home phones is starting to ripple through various corners of society. Of course, the phone companies need to confront a declining base of income to support their century-old web of copper wires. And the trend is causing trouble for political pollsters, aluminum-siding salesmen and the other banes of the dinner hour. The converse of this trend is that when your cellphone rings as you walk down the street, it is less likely to be an angry boss or a chatty friend and more likely to be someone from the P.T.A. trolling for bake-sale volunteers or some other call you would rather avoid. "
Video games start to shape classroom curriculum
"Jeremiah McCall, a history teacher at the Cincinnati Country Day School, turned to Creative Assembly’s “Rome: Total War,” a real-time strategy game that lets players assume the roles of ancient generals. Mr. McCall’s students compare battle depictions in the game with historical evidence, then design their own simulations. “It’s amazing how much you have to practice the skills of a historian – fact gathering and interpretation – to design a game,” he says"
ExitReality plugs every site into 3D
"A MySpace page becomes a 3D apartment you explore using your avatar – the audio can be found on a duke box, the video on the TV and links to your friends become doorways. On YouTubeYouTube you can sit in a cinema with other avatarshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar to watch the video and a page of photo thumbnails becomes a walk through gallery. You can also chat to the people you see and decorate your 3D space. It will appeal to some as more engaging, but I’m not sure I’d bother reading the news every day in 3D."
SemantiFind Clarifies What You’re Searching For
"Google Suggest, SemantiFind will drop down a list of possible searches that clarify your search (as pictured, in a search for "salsa," SemantiFind checks if you mean the sauce, the music, the dance or the film). On the results page, SemantiFind embeds its suggestions on top of your regular Google results, based on user labels on web pages. You can save or delete results to personalize what you get in future searches. When you’re not on Google, you can use the SemantiFind Firefox toolbar to add and edit page labels."
touch hear scanning device
"the device is designed for readers who come across a word which they do not know the definition or how to pronounce it. simply swiping your finger across the page will trigger the device to whisper the missing information into your ear, without interrupting the flow of your reading. while the device remains a concept it is a good illustration of how technology can be used to expand human capability, not hinder it."
Tiny tots trial touchscreen tech
"The researchers, together with manufacturers and education groups, are designing a software solution called SynergyNet that lets schools swap wooden classroom desks for touch sensitive interactive tables, akin to Microsoft’s Surface. The group’s already tested the system in one unnamed UK school, where children performed tasks – either individually or as a group – whilst in front of an interactive table. For example, teachers could ask the kids to split a restaurant bill by using their fingertips to divide up the coins they see on interactive table. Teachers could also display one child’s work on all the interactive tables in the classroom."
Motion Capture in MRI
"The ShapeHand is a portable, lightweight motion capture system of flexible ribbons that captures hand and finger motion. The data captured by the ShapeHand system precisely simulates the hand movements of whoever is wearing it, and projects a computer generated 3D image of the hand (or hands) on a screen. By using plastic optical fiber laminated to an MRI compatible substrate on extended leads, the ShapeHand system can be fitted specifically for the MRI environment."
A Face-Finding Search Engine
"Today there are more low-quality video cameras–surveillance and traffic cameras, cell-phone cameras and webcams–than ever before. But modern search engines can’t identify objects very reliably in clear, static pictures, much less in grainy YouTube clips. A new software approach from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University could make it easier to identify a person’s face in a low-resolution video. The researchers say that the software could be used to identify criminals or missing persons, or it could be integrated into next-generation video search engines."
Sonic Lighter: The First iPhone App That Lights Other iPhones On Fire
"the Sonic Lighter iPhone app brings the sacredness of group flame to iPhone users everywhere. Not only can you create fire of your own, but Sonic Lighter allows you to simultaneously light iPhones around you. It’s a $1 app, but boy will it piss off everyone around you who worships a BlackBerry."
The future of photography
"Cameras use short exposures, software or even moving sensors to correct for camera shake. But they can’t remove motion blur – the fuzzy impressions created by objects moving during the exposure. Now, though, MIT researchers led by Anat Levin have come up with a way to prevent it. During the exposure their camera moves quickly to the left before gradually coming to a halt and then accelerating in the opposite direction."
New Scientist Tech
Nanoflowers Improve Ultracapacitors
"A capacitor consists of two electrodes with opposite charges, often separated by an insulator that keeps electrons from jumping directly between them. The researchers have developed an electrode that can store twice as much charge as the activated-carbon electrodes used in current ultracapacitors. The new electrode contains flower-shaped manganese oxide nanoparticles deposited on vertically grown carbon nanotubes."
‘Loner’ image out: For teens, video games often social | csmonitor.com
"To start, those numbers make it clear that video and computer games have become a standard part of most adolescents’ lives. Not only do nearly all teens play them, but nearly one-third of teens play games every day, and an additional 21 percent play games three to five days a week. While boys reported playing slightly more often and for longer periods of time than girls, there was little difference of any kind when it came to ethnicity or income. And the researchers found no basis for one of the frequent criticisms of gaming, that kids who play video games are loners who are socially isolated. In fact, they discovered, three-quarters of all teens play games with others at least some of the time, and about half play with friends they know from their offline lives. Daily gamers were just as likely to communicate with their friends and spend time with them face to face as their peers who don’t play games often."
Link by Link – Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free
"In protest of what he says are textbooks’ intolerably high prices — and the dumbing down of their content to appeal to the widest possible market — Professor McAfee has put his introductory economics textbook online free. He says he most likely could have earned a $100,000 advance on the book had he gone the traditional publishing route, and it would have had a list price approaching $200.“This market is not working very well — except for the shareholders in the textbook publishers,” he said. “We have lots of knowledge, but we are not getting it out.”
LiveBar Adds A Little Strip Of Community To Any Site
"The LiveBar consists of a thin strip that sticks to the bottom of the browser window and displays social content related to the page. It’s reminiscent of Facebook Chat or the upcoming community instant messaging offering from Meebo. But instead of facilitating instant messages, the LiveBar shows three types of user contributions: Conversations, Soapboxes, and Shouts. Conversations are essentially lightweight forum threads where users can post messages and solicit responses. Soapboxes are akin to blog posts and Shouts are like tweets in that they’re restricted to 140 characters. In the LiveBar’s simplest implementation, these pieces of UGC are associated with individual URLs, so when you move from one page to the next, you see different content."
Email becomes a dangerous distraction
"In a study last year, Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University, England, found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email (bit.ly/email2). So people who check their email every five minutes waste 81/2hours a week figuring out what they were doing moments before. It had been assumed that email doesn’t cause interruptions because the recipient chooses when to check for and respond to email (bit.ly/email3). But Dr Jackson found that people tend to respond to email as it arrives, taking an average of only one minute and 44 seconds to act upon a new email notification; 70% of alerts got a reaction within six seconds. That’s faster than letting the phone ring three times."
Child Video Game Powered By Play
"The device encourages physical play by synchronizing images and sounds to the movements of the child. Children can shake, dip and shake the OUiP! to produce changing sounds and images, play games and learn the alphabet. In addition to an OLED display, it employs coordinated auditory and haptic feedback to engage the child. To further promote the fitness theme, OUiP!’s electro-magnetic generators are solely powered by physical movement."
Small Bits of Fast Moving Information Can Have Big Effects
"On Monday morning, United Airlines’ stock briefly crashed from $12 to $3, due to a news piece from the Florida Sun-Sentinel that reported United was filing for bankruptcy. The thing was though, that the news was from 2002."
UK Driver’s School Grades on Eco-Driving
"The Driving Standards Agency, which examines new drivers, is beginning to test not only proper ways to stop and go, and how to park and shoulder check, but also how efficient a driver should be. Efficient driving, such as not speeding too much and avoiding sudden brakes, could save motorists a whole month’s worth of fuel each year, according to the government agency. New drivers will be tested during their examination on the proper way to gear up or down and how to look further down the road to reduce stops and starts. The motto for new drivers to absorb is: Gears are for going, brakes are for slowing."
‘Photo real’ robotics to keep toddlers and the elderly from freaking out
"Unlike the robots that assemble consumer electronics or detonate IEDs, the photo real robots convey emotions, using articulated humanoid facial features designed to put people at ease, "especially seniors and toddlers." The robots have an underlying mechanical configuration that mimics the muscle structure of the human face, involving 26 moving units in total, with servomotors and actuators used to manipulate "muscles" beneath the "skin." Our only regret is that this technology wasn’t available when Disney World last updated its Hall Of Presidents."
NYC’s 911 & 311 system upgraded to accept photos, video
"If you spot a pothole, trash on the street you call up, make a service request and if they require more information they will ask you for an email address, from there you could give your phone # as an email address and when they email you – send the photo and/or video. It’s not exactly what I imagined but it’s a good first step – one day you’ll be able to take a photo that is geotagged, send it off to a city phone # and eventually something will get done – I like the idea of citizens being able to do this and cities having a "paper trail" so to speak…"
Iamnews Emerges From The DemoPit To Win People’s Choice
"Iamnews is a news assignment hub for blogs and news Websites. It is a tool for crowdsourcing news. A blog or any Web publisher can use it to solicit submissions from citizen journalists—videos, photos, links, Twitters, notes, or full articles The Web publisher then takes all the submissions and pulls together the best ones to create a post or article.."
Jhai PC: Low-cost computer links villages to the Web
"Built to withstand monsoon rains and extreme temperatures and linked to the Web by satellite, the tough computer brings villagers weather reports, current prices for their rice crops and weavings, and contact with relatives living abroad. It comes with a communications suite that both literate and illiterate villagers can use and will eventually host a videoconference kit for checkups with doctors. The computer costs about $200 and can charge its battery from a generator powered by pedaling a stationary bike."
Wireless networks mimicking biological systems
"In the WINSOC approach, sensor nodes communicate with their neighbours to arrive at a consensus on what has been sensed. The network then finds the best path through the available nodes to relay this information to the control centre. This biological principle is being tested in the landslide detection system. A prototype network of geological sensors has been installed in the Idduki rainforest of Kerala, India, a region vulnerable to landslides in the monsoon season. ‘Our Indian partners have buried sensors in the terrain, with the capability of monitoring the humidity and porosity of the terrain and the acceleration forces,’ Barbarossa says. ‘The sensors are then linked to a satellite which gathers the data and conveys them to the control centre.’ The network includes 12 geological sensors connected to 15 wireless sensor nodes spread over three hectares."
Birdpost and Closet Couture, Two Social Networks for Birds
"Birdpost provides knowledge about birds and, in particular, where they’ve been spotted, in three main ways. First, an interactive map based on Google Maps shows pins where birds have been spotted by the site’s members. When you click on a pin, it shows a picture of the bird and other information. Secondly, members can compile lists of the birds they wish to spot, and when someone spots any one of those birds, a notification will get sent out. And finally, members can search for birds by name, characteristics, and regions."
Footnote, A Social Network To Help Us Remember The Dead
"Of course, the site isn’t going to be filled with the interactions of the waking dead. Instead, it’s meant as a social memory book, asking users to upload old photos, share stories, and fill in a timeline of their friend or family member’s life. You can also tie profiles to each other, detailing how each person knew other members."
GoPlanit Generates Your Travel Itinerary With One Click
"After specifying a city, users simply click “Plan It!”, and the site will present an iCal-esque calendar filled to the brim with activities, taking operating hours and durations into account. Users are free to customize these schedules by deleting or resizing them, and can click “Plan It” again to have the gaps filled with new activities. The calendar also includes links to reservation and ticketing systems when possible, further streamlining the process (part of the company’s monetization model relies on fees generated from these affiliates)."
FlowingData’s personal viz contest winner
"FlowingData held a "self surveillance" contest where readers submitted visualizations of data they collected about themselves or their surroundings. The winner is Tim Graham who collected and visualized data about the email spam he receives, how much he drinks (not just alcohol), and, as seen above, where it hurts."
What Your Global Neighbors Are Buying
"How people spend their discretionary income – the cash that goes to clothing, electronics, recreation, household goods, alcohol – depends a lot on where they live. People in Greece spend almost 13 times more money on clothing as they do on electronics. People living in Japan spend more on recreation than they do on clothing, electronics and household goods combined. Americans spend a lot of money on everything."
Cellphones: Blindingly Fast Touchscreen Text Entry System Gets a Push By Creator of T9
"Cliff is smartly shifting his focus on touchscreens with Swype—a way to type blindingly fast on a touchscreen by tracing your finger or stylus over the letters you want without lifting up, connect-the-dots style. It looks frankly amazing in a demo—so amazing that we remembered we’ve seen it somewhere before."
Health Sensor: FitBit is Clip-On Wireless Excercise-Tracker, Monitors Your Sleep Too
"The FitBit’s just been unveiled at the TechCrunch 50 event, and it’s an interesting gizmo: it’s designed to clip to your clothing where it tracks your exercise activity, a bit like Nike+. But unlike the iPod/Nike combo, it wirelessly connects to its charger/basestation which sends data to an online database that tracks your performance. And it comes with a wrist-strap so you can wear it at night. Apparently as you slip into REM sleep your wrist will tremor slightly, and the FitBit uses this to work out your sleep quality. These prototypes have no screen, but the final product will have an OLED one that includes a Tamagotchi-style avatar that’ll symbolize your health status."
Fashion Laptop: HP Vivienne Tam Special Edition Laptop Gets Fashionable Debut on NYC Catwalk
"To that end, it has a complimentary embroidered case/sleeve and is approximately clutch purse-sized… with what could be a 10-inch widescreen. It looks like a UMPC-style notebook, but there’s just no word at all on the specs of the device. And that’s something that’d amuse and annoy many modern tech-passionate women I know. It’ll be out in October, price still to be announced."
Devunity Offers Browser-Based Collaborative Coding
"Devunity is a collaborative coding platform that allows developers to simultaneous view and modify code on their browser without having to download a client. The service has built-in support for a number of popular APIs, allowing users to simply click on one of the options to generate the relevant framework in their code. After developing a program on Devunity, the platform will suggest a number of cloud-based services like Google’s App Engine for deployment (though users will be free to use their own servers)."
Sekai Camera for Social Tagging on the iPhone
"The key idea is to use the iPhone as a mobile information terminal, linking the real world with tags generated by Sekai Camera users, Tonchidot itself, and information scraped from other web services. Users walk around town looking at the iPhone’s display to get information on their surroundings. If you walk through a mall, for example, Sekai Camera tags will show you where you can find something to eat, additional information about a certain product tagged before, or how many are calories in a chocolate bar."
BBC to track a shipping container around the world: The Boxing
"We have painted and branded a BBC container and bolted on a GPS transmitter so you can follow its progress all year round as it criss-crosses the globe. The Box will hopefully reach the US, Asia, the Middle East , Europe and Africa and when it does BBC correspondents will be there to report on who’s producing goods and who’s consuming them…"
Human Genetics is Now a Viable Hobby — 23andMe Cuts its Price to $399
"Until tonight, the cheapest genome scan was available for just under a thousand dollars. Thanks to improvements in microarray technology, 23andMe has been able to cut that cost by more than half — to $399 — well within the reach of cash-strapped grad students, frugal genealogy buffs and other not-so-early adopters."
Spinspotter Promises to Help Un-Bias the News
"Spinspotter is a new web browser tool that claims it can detect spin in news stories. When you run the program, it will scan articles for potential indicators of bias. You can also flag words and statements that seem to be unfounded, or that don’t tell the whole story. Flagged items can then be run through collaborative tools (think Wikipedia) that will allow users to be rated on the accuracy of their spin-finds by fellow spinspotters."
Verayo’s "unclonable" RFID uses physical characteristics to thwart hackers
"It uses Physical Unclonable Functions, or PUF, a randomized coating of wires that both protect the internals from interlopers and also return a (supposedly) unique identifier that (supposedly) can’t be duped. Truth in advertising? Hackers worldwide are itching to find out after the thing’s formal introduction tomorrow morning at the RFID World conference — surely the hottest ticket in Vegas this week."
The Amazon Kindle Killer: Plastic Logic Reader Looks Like Kindle Killer
"Here is what the clunky Amazon Kindle should have been since the beginning: a simple, ultra-sleek full-page 8.5-inch by 11-inch electronic book and newspaper reader with a flexible plastic touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the ability to read regular Office documents without conversion of any kind."
Interactive Music Format Pregnant With Possibility"Musinaut’s new MXP4 format breaks the mold by re-imagining the standard, linear style of recording music in an interactive way that allows creators to pack extra beats, harmonies, genres or even artists into a single track. Users, rather than listening to a track exactly as it was laid down, can choose between various versions in a software player or online widget. In just one example, an artist could offer pop, rock, reggae and drum and bass versions of the same song."
Dad’s Wall on Flickr
"Dad’s Wall can be found in the garage at Mum’s house, and it hasn’t changed much since he died 6 months ago. Through the wall I feel as though I can touch him some how – or connect with his memory. Things have to move on and Mum has decided to clean it up and remove some of the ‘clutter’. Good for her. So I decided to photograph it for posterity. It looks like many other walls across the nation, but it has some of dads soul in it. It is not his ‘leitmotif’, but it is his own evolved world: an organic development in terms of his tools, all tied into the warp and weft of the wall – and our lives. It contains the semantics of one particular man, and by way of that, it is a wonderful cultural record."
RFID: Tikitag RFID Tagging System Makes an Internet Out of Your Stuff
"For example, you could put tikitags on business cards and connect that card to online personal or social networking info. After that, the data could be retrieved easily by swiping the card over a tikitag reader. If the service takes off and enough developers get involved with apps, another option for business owners would be to attach the tags to posters or advertisements that could interact with cellphones or other portable devices. The possibilities are endless."
Zong Lets You Bill Web Apps To Your Phone
"The way it works is that you enter your mobile phone number to pay for something on the Web, maybe a virtual cowboy hat for 5 cents. Then you get a test message on your phone with a pin number. If you enter that pin number in a widget on the Web, the charge will be reflected in your cell phone bill."
Train Cuts Engine to Save Fuel
"First TransPennine Express is going to shut its doors more quickly in an effort to save money. Shutting doors after 30 seconds instead of waiting for dawdling passengers would save money in air-conditioning costs in the summer and heating costs during the winter months. [...] The train company is also using other methods to reduce its carbon footprint. Drivers will shut off engines while heading downhill on steep gradients like the journey between Manchester and Leeds in a bid to save about seven per cent of its fuel consumption."
"Instant feedback systems on the dashboard, especially in an era of $3.50 and higher gasoline, foster more efficient driving habits. The Kiwi takes this a step, actually many steps forward, providing not just miles per gallon, but feedback on critical elements of more efficient driving (smoothness, drag, aceleration, deceleration), test programs to teach the teachable, and other feedback paths to move drivers toward safer and more climate-friendly driving habits. Give these sorts of feedback systems and, across a wide range of drivers, a ten percent improvement in overall fuel efficiency is on the low side of the expected improvements."
"B-scanner" by Sungwoo Park & Bongkun Shin
"Just slide in any standard size card and an image capture is kept in memory. You sort and thumb thru each card via a jog dial and everything shows up beautifully on an OLED screen, sharp enough for small text. Still a concept but I know a lot of “old schoolers” still toting around business card holders. I think they would jump at something like this."
Esquire’s E Ink-infused magazine cover shown on video
"Esquire’s October issue is on newsstands now, and for
100,000 99,999 lucky souls out there, they’ll receive one with a flashing E Ink display. Just in case you aren’t quite lucky enough to apprehend one of your own, however, The Dastardly Report’s Ryan Joseph was kind enough to snap a few photographs and even host a video of the exclusive mag before tearing it down for hacking purposes."
Nokia Friends, generative characters
"A procession of diverse characters glide by on a travelator – friends, families, kids, lovers, rugby teams, fat couples, thin models – celebrating the diversity of people seen at Heathrow T5. Every character riding the travelator is unique, using generative software to create an ever-growing population."
Japanese researchers check IDs with eyeball twitch
"Nishigaki and Arai use the eye’s involuntary twitchy movement combined with the position of its blind spot as a biometric. Every vertebrate has a blind spot, or scotoma, where the optic nerve exits the retina. This visual gap is not perceived normally because the visual field of each eye overlaps the blind spot of the other. The researchers use the blind spot position to trigger eye movement. A visual cue is displayed within and outside a person’s blind spot, and the reflex time taken until the eye moves is measured. The team has also published different versions of reflex-based authentication, such as using blind spot position and pupil contraction."
Shelf Web Pages Instantly (and Get Back to Work) with ReadItLater
"With ReadItLater installed, Firefox gets a checkbox in the address bar next to the regular bookmark star icon. Click on that checkbox to automatically add the current web page to your ReadItLater list in one click. That’s it. Now you can get back to work. Alternately, if you don’t even want to open the tempting link but want to save it for later, right-click on a link and choose "Read This Link Later" from the context menu."
US startup launches online airwaves market
"Spectrum trading – the ability for licence holders to sell on, or sub let, their frequencies – has been broadly endorsed by both the FCC and Ofcom, so now a US company has done the obvious thing and set up a market for the buying and selling of radio frequencies. SpecEx is launched today, with spectrum worth $250 million up for sale including everything from national two-way paging frequencies to point-to-point connections in specific locations. The site is being run by Spectrum Bridge Inc., which raised $2m in seed funding to put together the service to connect buyers with sellers."
Astronomy: StellarWindow Transforms Your Computer Into Galactic Guide
"The StellarWindow is a USB stick loaded with a compass and tilt sensors and bundled with software to convert your laptop or tablet into an astronomy guide. Point the system at what you want to see for 3D stock photography and more information, or speak your target into the computer and the StellarWindow will point you in the right direction."
Multitouch: MultiTouch Cell Can Play Tom Cruise as Big as You’d Like
"MultiTouch, the company, not the technology, has developed the MultiTouch Cell, a multitouch LCD display that’s modular (meaning that many LCDs can assemble to make one big LCD). Beyond expandability, the screens are quite advanced, supporting multiple users and recognizing fingers in relationship to the hand as opposed to independent points (which allows for more complex interactions)."
3-D complex document visualization
"The company’s latest is a new technology that uses 3-D software to view the entire layout of a piece before it goes to print. Aimed at eliminating one of the most costly bottlenecks in printing, the new technology will speed document preparation and approval – a process that costs six dollars for every one dollar spent on the print job itself, according to InfoTrends. With Xerox’s 3-D visualization software, users can see what prints will look like – texture, gloss, folds, binding and all – before any ink or toner is put to paper."
French public rail trials RFID / USB combo ticket system
"Riders will be able to purchase tickets with the small USB dongles at turnstiles via RFID. Once the balance is depleted, users can refill their accounts by plugging the devices into a computer, whereby they’re transported to the SNCF’s online hub. Since only the rider’s account number is stored in the RFID portion of the smart card, this system allows commuters hassle-free ticket purchasing, all while keeping important information privy from hackers – information that some RFID devices seem to have problems keeping secret."
Can’t Survive The World Of Warcraft? Get A Private Game Tutor
"Meet GamerTrainer, a new startup that offers in-game tutoring sessions online across a variety of today’s most popular games. For $30 an hour (or less if purchased in bulk), you can have a private lesson with one of the site’s official GamerTrainers, all of whom have years of experience in the games they’re teaching."
ASTI’s Cute Solar Power “Plant”
"As technology becomes ever more ubiquitous in our lives we have begun to try and hide it, and blend it in with our surroundings (perhaps you have seen those cell towers that pose as trees). Well now the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Mitsubishi Corp and Tokki Corp have developed an organic thin film solar cell that takes the shape of a common leaf."
Microbes for Off-the-Grid Electricity
"Microbial fuel cells, which use electrodes in dirt to power a small motor, have long been more or less a laboratory curiosity. Because they generate such a small amount of power, developing them to charge devices would not be practical in places where electricity is readily available. However, Lebônê Solutions, a startup based in Cambridge, MA, aims to use microbial fuel cells to provide power to Africans who are off the grid. In some parts of Africa, a small amount of energy is enough for a few hours of lamp light in the evening, or for powering the ubiquitous cell phones–something that some residents will walk five hours to a generator to do, says Aviva Presser, a cofounder of Lebônê. [...] With funding from the Harvard Institute for Global Health, the team has recently completed a pilot study in Tanzania, where members brought six basic microbial fuel cells and taught residents how to use them. The team organized village meetings where team member and Tanzanian native Stephen Lwendo explained how to make the fuel cells."
New Venture to Offer Small Publishers Digital Technology
"The new service, called Constellation, will allow independent publishers to make use of electronic readers, digital book search, print-on-demand and other digital formats at rates negotiated by Perseus on their behalf. Unlike large publishers, small ones typically lack the resources to use digital technology and as a result often bypass it altogether. David Steinberger, the president and chief executive of Perseus, said that by using Constellation independent publishers could make their books quickly available in several digital formats, allowing them to compete on the same technological level and with the same speed and flexibility as larger companies. Many publishing analysts see digital technology as one of the few major growth areas in the book industry."
"At one time we worked hard so that someday we (or our children) wouldn’t have to. Today, the more we earn, the more we work, since the opportunity cost of not working is all the greater (and since the higher we go, the more relatively deprived we feel). In other words, when we get a raise, instead of using that hard-won money to buy "the good life," we feel even more pressure to work since the shadow costs of not working are all the greater."
Buffer.me Brings Cool Design to YouTube Videos
"The first thing that will strike you about Buffer.me is its unique design. Unlike practically every other video site on the Web, it doesn’t show blocks of videos anywhere you look. Instead, it sports a simple design that’s dominated by a black backdrop and videos placed prominently in the middle, which you can scroll through with the help of arrows on either side. Once you click to watch a video, the border and related videos box disappears and the only component left on the page is the video itself. It may be simple, but it’s a nice feature that actually improves the quality of the service."
LEDs: DIY Scrolling LED Business Cards Miss Point of Business Cards, Still Cool
"They’re pretty cool, displaying a number of different scrolling data messages at the push of a button, and apparently cost just about $5 per card. The "slender" description means you’ll have to be good at soldering surface-mount components, though. To me it’s a cool project that will impress people, but kinda misses the point of business cards: easily disseminating your contact info."
Six Degrees of Separation Is Now Three
"According to the study, the average person is now connected by just three degrees within a shared “interest” or social group instead of six. In fact, it found that people are usually a part of three main networks: family, friendship, and work. O2 asked adults across three different age groups — 18-25, 35-45, 55+ — to make contact with random strangers from areas all across the globe using only personal connections. By linking their shared interests, the participants were able to connect to that person in three person-to-person links."
Ultrasound to give feel to games
"Sound is a pressure wave, meaning that as the inaudible sound waves from each of the transducers interfere, they can create a focal point that is perceived as a solid object. The team’s prototype system includes a camera which tracks the position of a user’s hand and shifts the output from the transducers to move the focus around with the hand. The result is a feeling of tracing the edge or surface of the virtual object. At the moment, the system provides a small force only in the vertical dimension, but the team is improving the geometry of the array and the amount of power it can produce so that future devices will provide a stiffer feel and more contoured objects."
Police Get Geeky with Twitter
"Police in Scottsdale, Arizona are using the micro blogging service to send out alerts on pertinent town information such as road closings, traffic problems, power outages and severe weather warnings. Although Twitter’s track record of periodically not working isn’t a good fit for disseminating critical information, more communities looking to get the word out may see Twitter as an easy to use broadcast system."
Sensor based music generator for iPhone
"The RjDj music generator software uses sensor data collected through your iPhone’s mic, accelerometer, etc to alter its audible output. The way in which it uses this data is determined by the particular ‘scene’ loaded – one scene uses ambient noise levels to modify a simple melody, while another triggers breakbeats via movement."
Anthropomorphic cuddly lights: LightMate
"Can electric energy fill the void of human absence? LightMates are soft anthropomorphic pillows and warming lamps. This awfully attractive creature heats, lights and provides company. Their different sizes answer to everyone’s need of heat; a mate to hug or a huge companion you can lay on"
Stanford’s autonomous helicopters learn new tricks by watching
"The crew in question has concocted an artificial intelligence system that "enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers." Dubbed a demonstration in "apprenticeship learning," the robots can actually learn by observing rather than having to be programmed, meaning that entire airshows could be reeled off by planes that simply keep an open mind when warm-ups are underway."
Jim Henson cool digital Puppetry creates Sid the Science Kid
"The animated series uses the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a proprietary technology that allows puppeteers to perform digital characters in real time creating a more spontaneous and fresh result."
Follow that robot!
"Three years after the development of robots that act like rats, UC Davis engineers have designed a control system for robots allowing them to pick up on cues that the leader is about to turn, predict where it is going and follow it. This system mimics the human ability to capture signals — consciously or not — from drivers on the road or people walking in the streets to predict what they’re about to do. As said the team leader, ‘robots that are better at following could be easier for people to work with.’ With this system, an hospital robot could follow doctors during their rounds."