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Monthly Archives: October 2013

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Toyota Joins Slew of Major Automakers Promising Self-Driving Technology This Decade

Toyota was the latest to step onboard the self-driving car hype machine this week when they announced they would offer a car with “automated driving technologies” by the mid-2010s. In recent months, several carmakers—Tesla, Nissan, BMW—have published forecasts of robot cars inside the next decade.

Much-Hyped, MOOCs Maneuver Toward Version 2.0

As even major universities began invested in MOOC platforms, it seemed clear that the future of education would be in the massive, open platforms. But more recently research on their effectiveness has painted a grim picture of their ability to educate students. Can the courses iterate to overcome the challenges?

Tiny AI Startup Vicarious Says It’s Solved CAPTCHA

Vicarious, a Bay Area-based flexible purpose corporation founded in 2010, is today attempting to prove its mettle as an artificial intelligence venture by demonstrating that its algorithms can break a series of text-based CAPTCHA systems that include Google’s reCAPTCHA, the most widely used system.

Docomo Shows Glasses That Translate Foreign Languages Right In Front Of Your Eyes

If Star Trek or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy have the right of it, language will be a negligible barrier when we begin fraternizing with aliens. But before jumping to extraterrestrial translators, it might behoove us to work on the terrestrial sort first—and Japanese telecommunications firm, Docomo, is doing just that.

A Vertical Forest Is Growing in the Middle of One of Europe’s Dirtiest Cities

Denizens of Florence, Italy will have a brand new 2.5 acre forest smack in the middle of their city by the end of 2013. You might think that’s a city with its priorities straight. But the forest didn’t require the sacrifice of precious commercial real estate—it’s of the vertical variety. Brainchild of Italian architecture firm, Stefano Boeri Architetti, the Bosco Verticale (literally, “vertical forest” in English) is two residential apartment buildings peppered with cantilevered terraces. Each terrace is specially designed and engineered to support a small community of trees, shrubs, and other greenery.

Dick Cheney Took Heart Defibrillator Offline in 2007 to Guard Against Hackers

In a recent “60 Minutes” interview, former Vice President Dick Cheney said his cardiologist turned off his defibrillator’s wireless functionality to protect against a potential attempt on his life—by hacking his heart.

Chris Wicher of IBM Watson at the 2013 Graduate Studies Program

Chris Wicher of IBM Watson explains the artificial intelligence behind the computer that competed on Jeopardy and is now tackling some of the world's greatest problems.

Healing Damaged Hearts With Stem Cell Implants Gets New Technique

Stem cells aren't just good for growing new organs, they can also heal old or damaged ones from the inside. Thousands of patients whose hearts were damaged in a heart attack have undergone some form of stem cell therapy worldwide, and the results are promising. But there's a problem. Once in the heart, the cells don’t tend to stay put.

Willow Garage Spinoff Launches UBR-1 One-Armed, Mobile Robot

Unbounded Robotics, a spinoff of Willow Garage, recently debuted its first machine, UBR-1, a multi-joined robotic arm on wheels that runs on the open-source Robot Operating System, or ROS. The startup hopes UBR-1 will support the development of further applications for dexterous, mobile robots.

No More Lying About Your Age: Tissue Test Can Tell

What causes human to age? A study published recently provides a tool that may help future researchers answer that question. It’s a biological clock that can date the age of a cell by measuring methylation, a chemical modification that affects certain parts of DNA. Using the clock, any piece of tissue identified with the biological age of its human source.

Brain Training Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be, Study Finds

The scientific literature offers few answers, with some studies arguing that programs designed to build working memory provide long-lasting memory benefits and even improve overall intelligence, while others claim brain-training programs are little more than snake oil. A recent study by Georgia Institute of Technology psychological scientist Randall Engle concludes that training designed to build working memory capacity can improve cognitive function in that particular area, but that it does not translate to general intelligence.

CastAR Augmented Reality Glasses Blow Up on Kickstarter

There are all kinds of companies experimenting with augmented and virtual reality right now. Google Glass projects a screen onto your retina. Oculus Rift straps a display to your face. Meta SpaceGlasses beam a hologram out in front of you. Now you can add another player to the game—castAR. CastAR is a headmounted augmented reality engine that projects a 3D image on a surface and allows users to interact with it—while playing virtual games like Dungeons and Dragons or Risk, for example.

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