Tree power

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”
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Engadget

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Touch-free

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.”
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Engadget

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Google satellite tracking

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.”
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Slashdot

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Digital measurements

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.”
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TechCrunch

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Remixes

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).”
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Wired.com

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Personal airbag

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.”
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BBC NEWS

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Shared photo timelines

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).”
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TechCrunch

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Estimating age

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.””
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Primidi

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Online marital dispute resolution by crowds

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.”
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Springwise

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