Adding gestures to a phone using 4 radio antennas [#Gesture]

How Scientists Made This Ordinary Phone a Touchless Interface
“Researchers at the University of Washington look a regular touchscreen phone and attached a circuit board with four small loop antennae. It’s bulkier than a sleek naked phone, for sure, but not much worse than some monstrosities that pass for phone cases. These antennae detect interference in the radio waves that phones uses to communicate with cell towers. “When the user moves their hand around the mobile phone,” write the authors, “their skin, muscle, and bones affect the character of the propagation path by absorbing or reflecting part of the signal.” By analyzing how each of the four antennae receive the signal, the phone can distinguish between taps in eight locations, four hover gestures, and swipes in two directions. ” via Gizmodo

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Amazon releases program for creating self-published kids chapter books [#Books]

Amazon Invites Children’s Book Authors To Kindle Direct Publishing, Rolls Out Kids’ Book Creator Software
“This tool will allow budding children’s book authors to create chapter books and illustrated children’s books that are able to take advantage of Kindle features like text pop-ups, explains Amazon in an announcement about the new services. After the book is finalized, authors can also use the tool to upload the book to KDP while also stipulating the category, age and grade range filters needed to get the book listed correctly.” via TechCrunch

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Projection system recognizes vegetables and suggests recipes [#Food]

Smart surface offers up recipes based on the ingredients placed upon it
“Using a camera located overhead, the system can identify objects that are placed onto it using complex image recognition algorithms. If a zucchini is placed onto the table, the system will confirm that it’s detected a new object, identify it, and project its name next to it. Created as a demonstration of the possibilities of image recognition, the platform enables users to place any number of different vegetables onto the surface. The system then checks a list of pre-programmed recipes that contain the ingredients on the table and filters the ones that feature the vegetables available.” via Springwise

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Mercedes-Benz radar system helps truck drivers with their blind-spots [#Driving]

Mercedes-Benz unveils Blind Spot Assist technology for trucks
“Importantly, the system also aids when changing lanes by alerting the driver by means of an optical signal if a moving object is present on the passenger side of the vehicle. Located in the A-pillar on the passenger side at eye level, a triangular LED lights-up if there is a possible hazard situation alongside the vehicle. If that hazard becomes a collision risk, the LED will flash red and a warning buzzer will sound.” via Gizmag

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Colour-picking digital pen for young kids [#Drawing]

Mozbii Is A Color-Picking Stylus Just For Kids
“To be sure, there are other color-picking styluses out there, but Mozbii has several features that makes it suitable for children as young as two. The stylus is shaped like a lollipop with a flexible neck. Its RGB color sensor is embedded on one side of the head, with a tiny color-picking button next to it. To use it, kids just need to press Mozbii’s head against an object, and that puts enough pressure on the button to activate it, which means that even toddlers, who have limited motor control, can use the stylus.” via TechCrunch

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New techniques for taking photos in near-total darkness [#Photography]

Physicists Figure Out How to Take Photographs In Near-Total Darkness
“The first is about timing the photograph at the exact instant a photon hits the camera. This is done through heralded imaging with a pair of entangled photons. One photon acts as a trigger to announce the arrival of the other photon, which is used to make the image.  A second technique, called compressed sensing, optimizes the raw image. You can see the effects of the transformed image of a USAF resolution target (right) below. Since the properties of a pixel in an image tend to follow a known statistical distribution, we can extrapolate an image from just a small number of data points using some math. In the 300×300 pixel photograph of a USAF resolution target, an identifiable image emerges at about 7000 photons, or less than 0.2 photons per pixel. ” via Gizmodo

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Robotic tank treads help move packages up a set of stairs [#Robots]

A Robotic Dolly Means You’ll Never Carry Anything Up Stairs Again
“The folks at Akihabara News in Tokyo spotted this robotic stair-climbing dolly at a train station that makes hauling heavy boxes up a flight of stairs impossibly easy. The robo-dolly’s unique mix of pivoting wheels and tank treads lets it transition between floors and stairs with minimal effort on the part of the operator, and its cargo platform can be raised and lowered to maintain a perfect center of gravity at all times to minimize the effort.” via Gizmodo

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Extremely detailed 3D model shows the effects of aging [#Modelling]

3D study of mortality using photogrammetry techniques / by @marshmallowlf
“Particular attention was paid to the eyes of the actress to enable extreme closeups with multiple layers of hand sculpted Iris models. Thousands of tiny hairs were also created as separate render passes which could be added over the face and body areas. Compositing was done within NUKE, with final colour corrections and exports piped through AfterFX. The aim is to carry this photo realism and detail through to the Realtime OCULUS RIFT environment that should see revealing later this year.” via CreativeApplications

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Making music using colored bricks and a digital turntable [#Music]

Beat Blox – Tangible beats by Per Holmquist
Beat Blox is a graduation project by Per Holmquist from Beckmans College of Design in Sweden. The project includes a music machine which allows anyone to create and experiment with music, in a playful and tangible way. The installation includes three turntables, all with built in Arduino, midishield and a total of 15 digital distance sensors. As the user adds a block to the deck, the distance sensor plays a sound. Combining all three turntables produces some quite intricate and fun beats.” via CreativeApplications

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Fake cellphone towers that can hack into your phone [#Security]

Fake, phone-attacking cell-towers are all across America
“The towers attack the baseband radio in your phone and use it to hack the OS; they’re only visible if you’re using one of the customized, paranoid-Android, post-Snowden secure phones, and they’re all around US military bases.  ESD’s Cryptophone 500 spotted 17 of the fake cellular towers on casual drives around the USA, including one at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas. The baseband processor, which controls the phone’s radio, is notoriously insecure and vulnerable to over-the-air attacks; it can serve as a back-door to your phone’s main OS. The fake “interceptor” towers force your phone to back \\down to an easy-to-break 2G connection, then goes to work” via Boing Boing

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Interesting new social and technological trends culled from the web by Richard Banks.