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Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Netflix Utilizing Amazon Cloud To Support Its Next-Gen AI For Recommendations

Netflix has tried a number of different ways to improve its recommendations, and it recently announced that it is increasingly using artificial intelligence to do so. But Netflix isn’t buying all the computing power to build an artificial intelligence system for itself. Instead, Netflix will host its efforts right on competitor Amazon’s cloud.

U.S. Border Patrol Sends Robots To Combat Drug Smuggling

Beginning in 2012, the U.S. Border Patrol has turned to robots to help it find and search the tunnels smugglers use to get drugs into the United States from Mexico.

A Telepresence RoboCop Piloted by Oculus Rift and Sensored Gloves

A student at the Florida International University (FIU) dons a sensor-laden pair of gloves and vest and an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. He lifts his arm, makes a fist—and across the room a...

Drones to Deliver Government Docs in the United Arab Emirates Next Year

Remember when Jeff Bezos said Amazon would deliver packages using drones at some point in the next few years? Bezos and Amazon may be beat to the punch by a government in the Middle...

Legal Heroin: Is Virtual Reality Our Next Hard Drug?

So video games are addictive—this we know. It comes down to dopamine, one of the brain’s basic signaling molecules. Emotionally, we feel dopamine as pleasure, engagement, excitement, creativity, and a desire to investigate and make meaning out...

Stem Cells Repair, Strengthen Muscles in Aged Mice

Stanford’s Helen Blau, director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology, studies a banal, but also ubiquitous, use of stem cells in the body: helping muscles repair themselves. The lab's most recent findings suggest that stem cell therapy could be used to help older patients recover from muscular injuries, for example from falls, or perhaps even weakness following surgery.

Foxconn’s Pivot to America: Reverse Outsourcing With Robots

China has been vilified in recent years for stealing US manufacturing jobs, as have the multinationals increasing assembling products there. One reason for the outsourcing, if not its vilification, is a rational one—Chinese factory workers demand and require lower wages than do their American counterparts. In an interesting twist, however, Foxconn, the notorious Chinese manufacturer of all things Apple, recently announced they’re opening a factory in Pennsylvania.

Researchers Show Off Mind-Controlled Music Player

Scientists at the University of Malta think touch screens are for suckers. Mind-controlled devices? Now, that’s where it’s at. Outfitted in an electrode-studded cap, users of the group’s specially designed music software are able to play a song, fast forward tracks, and adjust the volume by merely looking at the screen.

IBM Markets Watson as Potential Solution to Africa’s Health and Education Woes

IBM recently announced that it will invest in a research program in Africa to improve water and sanitation, agriculture, healthcare and education on the continent using its artificial intelligence platform, Watson.

Humans Appear Programmed to Obey Robots, Studies Suggest

Robot fear outsells robot awe and wonder every time. It’s very nearly axiomatic. But if you need proof, go to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where two 8-foot robots are directing traffic. The automatons are little more than traffic lights dressed up as campy 1960s robots—and yet everyone obeys them. This is significant because the Congolese drivers completely failed to obey the humans previously directing traffic there.

Matter.io Wants to Make 3D Modeling Easy as Instagram

3D printing is increasingly an essential part of industrial processes. But for those lacking digital design experience and who aren’t daily fabricating rocket motors or bike parts—essential isn’t quite the word. MIT Media Lab’s Matter.io is on a mission to lure in the masses with user-friendly design software; software that vastly simplifies 3D modeling.

Pioneering Cell Therapy Achieves Complete Remission In Patients With End-Stage Leukemia

With a test group of 16 of the most dire cases of adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or B-ALL, a cell therapy approach that boosts the patient's own immune system managed to guide nearly 90 percent into complete remission.

Termite-Inspired Robots Erect Buildings Based on a Picture

A system of robots built by researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering demonstrates that robots can build human-scale buildings working independently with a set of simple rules.

Connecticut Car Crash Highlights Challenges in Regulating Civilian Drones

A fatal car crash in Hartford, Connecticut, would have been little more than a blip on local news programs but for one thing: The police spotted a drone flying around the accident. With the FAA actively trying to determine how to regulate the civilian use of drones, everything about the accident then became news. But, as an indication of how little the public understands the issues related to drones, news reports got most of it wrong.

There Are 7 Billion Mobile Devices On Earth, Almost One For Each Person

The adoption of new technologies is accelerating, and nowhere is the trend more obvious than in mobile computing. It took telephones some 45 years to enter mainstream use in the US. Mobile phones took seven years. Smartphones just four. Today, according to Cisco’s 2013 global mobile data forecast, there are almost as many mobile devices (7 billion) as there are humans on the planet, and online traffic from these devices in 2013 was 18 times greater than the entire Internet in 2000.

X-Ray App Assists Doctors In Diagnosing Rare Conditions

The Irish company Experior Medical aims to make doctors better readers of diagnostic X-ray films by giving them real-world practice on the go on their iPads.

Google Partnering With Foxconn to Test Industrial Robots

Perhaps in hindsight we all should have seen Google’s turn to robotics coming when, under Andy Rubin, the company dubbed its mobile operating system Android. With Rubin now in charge of Google’s still mostly...

Tiny Injected Sponges Stop Bleeding From Gunshot Wounds in 15 Seconds

With a former Army medic as one of its founders, RevMedX’s mission is to stop bleeding faster so that those who suffer traumatic injuries like gunshot wounds have a better chance of survival. The company’s high-tech solution to this brutal problem is the sponge.

Latest Tool to Fight Cancer Is a Crowdsourcing ‘Asteroids’-Like Mobile Game

Cancer Research UK is asking humans to sort through its data to mark genetic areas that have extra copies of a particular chromosome because, it says, humans can see the disparities better than computers. And they're doing it with a mobile game.

3D Printing Stocks Fall, But Long-Term Prospects Remain Bright

3D Systems, a big maker of 3D printers and accessories, recently lowered their profit estimate for 2013 and outlook for 2014—and their stock took a big hit. The decline extended to other leading 3D printing stocks, like Stratasys. Is it a sign of doom and gloom for 3D printing? Has the much-hyped technology finally jumped the shark? Maybe a bit. But the long-term potential is still there.

Wristband Lets Users Unlock Bitcoin Wallets With Heartbeats

The Nymi wristband that taps the user’s heartbeat as a biometric marker has said that it will also double as a bitcoin wallet. Is it revolutionary or just a digital twist on cash in pocket wallets?

Intricate 3D Printed Materials Lighter Than Water and as Strong as Steel

Using precision lasers, a Nanoscribe 3D printer can print models of the Empire State building in a space the width of a human hair. Watching the machine build through the “lens” of an electron...

Prosthetic Hand Wires In Patient’s Nerves For Sensations Of Touch

Dennis Sørensen underwent a month-long clinical trial of a computerized prosthetic hand that established a two-way exchange of information between his brain and sensors in the artificial hand that allowed him to feel for the first time in a decade.

Lifelogging Gear Is Small, Cheap, and Powerful, So Like It Or Not, You’re Going To Be Recorded

I’m sitting in a café with some forty other people. Most us are working on a laptop, and each laptop has a camera. In fact, many of my café coworkers also have a smartphone. These devices have a camera. Most have two. While there’s something like 100+ cameras within twenty feet of me, few of them are likely recording. But a (not-so-new) movement would change that. It’s called lifelogging, and if you have geekish tendencies, you’ve likely heard of it.

Wirelessly Charging All-Electric Transit Buses Grow Their Numbers in Europe

In Milton Keynes, 75 miles north of London, the UK is launching its first all-electric buses. The years-long pilot program consists of eight buses traveling a 15-mile route between the suburbs of Wolverton and...
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Color-Coded 3D Brain Map Comes to Life in Video

The Harvard SEAS Connectome Group is building a color-coded three-dimensional map from scans of paper-thin slices of a mouse brain, and the map comes to life in a recent National Geographic video.

New Stratasys 3D Printer Makes Multi-Material, Full Color Parts in a Single Run

An industrial 3D printer hums to life at bicycle maker, Trek. The designers are prototyping a new hand grip of soft rubber layered over a core of hard plastic. Traditionally, the print job would require the designers to switch print nozzles and materials or to compromise the design to speed things along. However, Trek is one of the first firms to employ the multi-material, color Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D printer. And their new grip can go from design to printed prototype in a single step.

U.S. Agencies Take Significant Step Toward Wirelessly Connecting Vehicles To One Another

Even cars that retain their human drivers despite growing numbers of self-driving vehicles will gain automated safe-driving features in the United States, according to an announcement this week that U.S. federal agencies will encourage vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communication technology for passenger vehicles. The proposal relates to a kind of internet in which the connected computers are cars and trucks sharing data about speed, position and nearby traffic signals ten times a second in order to reduce accidents.

A Simple Test Tells Seniors If Their Memory Is Waning

Douglas Scharre, an Ohio State University neurologist, has developed a cognitive test that’s cheap and easy and can be administered to large groups of people at once. Particularly since as many as 4 in 10 cases of dementia stem from issues other than Alzheimer’s disease, some eminently treatable, the elderly stand to gain quite a bit from getting regular cognitive check-ups. But, for the most part, they don’t.

Do You Trust Internet-Connected Appliances Enough To Let Them Run Your Home?

The idea that household appliances need Internet-connected capabilities has always seemed over the top. Take the example of Samsung’s infamous “smart fridge.” Debuted at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show, its RF4289 model came...

Illumina Claims New Sequencer Transcribes 18,000 Genomes per Year at $1,000 Each

In the last six years, sequencing costs have far outpaced Moore’s Law, falling four orders of magnitude from $10 million at the end of 2007 to under $5,000 at the end of 2013. And in early 2014? Illumina, a manufacturer of sequencers, just announced their HighSeq X Ten can sequence 18,000 genomes per year for $1,000 per genome.

A Tile or Two to Keep Tabs on Things for the Absent-Minded

Some of us are more prone to misplacing items than others, but we’ve probably all lost something small and important at some point. Never fear. A more connected, smarter future has you covered. In this case, it’s by way of a small, white square called Tile.

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