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Seeing the human pulse

June 20, 2013 11:01 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new algorithm that can accurately measure the heart rates of people depicted in ordinary digital video by analyzing imperceptibly small head movements that accompany the rush of blood caused by the heart’s contractions.

Securing the cloud

June 10, 2013 7:21 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team of researchers has developed a new encryption scheme, known as a functional-encryption scheme, that solves a major problem with homomorphic encryption. The scheme would let the cloud server to run a single, specified computation on the homomorphically encrypted result, without being able to extract any other information about it.

German defense chief under fire over drone program

June 5, 2013 11:13 am | by JUERGEN BAETZ - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Germany's defense minister on Wednesday admitted mistakes were made in the handling of a program to develop unmanned surveillance drones and announced tougher oversight procedures for all armament projects. Opposition parties say Thomas de Maiziere wasted public funds by canceling the botched 600 million euro ($800 million) program too late, but he rejected calls for his resignation.

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How computers can learn better

May 29, 2013 7:42 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Reinforcement learning is a technique in which a computer system learns how best to solve some problem through trial-and-error. Classic applications of reinforcement learning involve problems like robot navigation and automated surveillance. Now, researchers have developed a new reinforcement-learning algorithm that, for many problems, allows computer systems to find solutions much more efficiently than previous algorithms did.

Software spots, isolates cyberattacks to protect networked control systems

May 14, 2013 11:06 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a software algorithm that detects and isolates cyberattacks on networked control systems—which are used to coordinate transportation, power, and other infrastructure across the United States.

New research could let vehicles, robots collaborate with humans

May 3, 2013 7:39 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

You get into your car and ask it to get you home in time for the start of the big game, stopping off at your favorite Chinese restaurant on the way for takeout. But the car informs you that the road past the Chinese restaurant is closed for repairs, and you will have to choose a different place. You select a nearby Korean restaurant from the options the car suggests. Autonomous devices could soon collaborate with humans in this way.

Robots able to reach through clutter with whole-arm tactile sensing

April 30, 2013 9:57 am | News | Comments

Whether reaching for a book out of a cluttered cabinet or pruning a bush in the backyard, a person’s arm frequently makes contact with objects during everyday tasks. Animals do it too, when foraging for food, for example. Much in the same way, robots are now able to intelligently maneuver within clutter, gently making contact with objects while accomplishing a task. This new control method has wide applications.

Technique finds software bugs in surgical robots

April 9, 2013 5:08 am | News | Comments

Surgical robots could make some types of surgery safer and more effective, but proving that the software controlling these machines works as intended is problematic. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Johns Hopkins University have demonstrated that methods for reliably detecting software bugs and ultimately verifying software safety can be applied successfully to this breed of robot.

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Swarming robots could be the servants of the future

April 3, 2013 10:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have been working to program a group of 40 robots to carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface. Even after being scattered, the robots can group again and organize themselves by order of priority. The team says the ability to control robot swarms could prove hugely beneficial in a range of contexts, from military to medical.

Knowing the unknown

March 27, 2013 7:34 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Robot butlers that tidy your house or cook you a meal have long been the dream of science-fiction writers and artificial intelligence researchers alike. But if robots are ever going to move effectively around our constantly changing homes or workspaces performing such complex tasks, they will need to be more aware of their own limitations, according to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Robot meets world

March 22, 2013 7:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

When a robot is moving one of its limbs through free space, its behavior is well described by a few simple equations. But as soon as it strikes something solid, those equations break down. Roboticists typically use ad hoc control strategies to negotiate collisions and then revert to their rigorous mathematical models when the robot begins to move again. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are hoping to change that, with a new mathematical framework that unifies the analysis of both collisions and movement through free space.

Computer system predicts NCAA basketball champion

March 21, 2013 8:03 am | News | Comments

When Georgia Tech opens the doors to the Georgia Dome next month as the host institution for the 2013 Final Four, expect third-seeded Florida to walk out as the national champion. That's the prediction from Georgia Tech's Logistic Regression/Markov Chain (LRMC) college basketball ranking system, a computerized model that has chosen the men's basketball national champ in three of the last five years.

Memristor that “learns” provides blueprint for artificial brain

February 27, 2013 11:41 am | News | Comments

Memristors are made of fine nanolayers and can be used to connect electric circuits and for several years have been considered to be the electronic equivalent of the synapse. A researcher in Germany, physicist Andy Thomas, is now using his memristors as key components for his blueprint for an artificial brain.

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Teaching robots lateral thinking

February 25, 2013 9:12 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many commercial robotic arms perform what roboticists call "pick-and-place" tasks: The arm picks up an object in one location and places it in another. Usually, the objects are positioned so that the arm can easily grasp them; the appendage that does the grasping may even be tailored to the objects' shape. General-purpose household robots, however, would have to be able to manipulate objects of any shape, left in any location. And today, commercially available robots don't have anything like the dexterity of the human hand. Until now.

Automated “time machine” reconstructs ancient languages

February 12, 2013 1:10 pm | by Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Ancient languages hold a treasure trove of information about the culture, politics and commerce of millennia past. Yet, reconstructing them to reveal clues into human history can require decades of painstaking work. Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created an automated “time machine,” of sorts, that will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages.

Artificial intelligence helps sort used batteries

December 19, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Research at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology has resulted in a new type of machine that sorts used batteries by means of artificial intelligence (AI). One machine is now being used in the U.K., sorting one-third of the country's recycled batteries.

A leap forward in brain-controlled computer cursors

November 19, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

Stanford University researchers have designed the fastest, most accurate algorithm yet for brain-implantable prosthetic systems that can help disabled people maneuver computer cursors with their thoughts. The algorithm's speed, accuracy, and natural movement approach those of a real arm, doubling performance of existing algorithms.

Researchers help make Sudoku puzzles less puzzling

October 11, 2012 4:54 pm | News | Comments

For anyone who has ever struggled while attempting to solve a Sudoku puzzle, University of Notre Dame researchers are riding to the rescue. They can not only explain why some Sudoku puzzles are harder than others, they have also developed a mathematical algorithm that solves Sudoku puzzles very quickly, without any guessing or backtracking.

Artificially intelligent game bots pass the Turing test

September 28, 2012 10:15 am | News | Comments

One hundred years after the birth of mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, whose “Turing test” stands as one of the foundational definitions of what constitutes true machine intelligence, a virtual “gamer” created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the annual BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that their software-based robot was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.

New 'ATM' takes old phones and gives back green

September 17, 2012 10:09 am | News | Comments

Developed by a company in San Diego, a new automated system that lets consumers trade in cell phones and mobile devices for reimbursement or recycling relies artificial intelliigence and sophisticated machine vision diagnostics. The building blocks for the ecoATM have existed for many years, but none, until now, have been applied to the particular problem of consumer recycling.

Deciphering the language of transcription factors

September 11, 2012 3:25 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-developed analytical method identifies the precise binding sites of transcription factors—proteins that regulate the production of other proteins—with 10 times the accuracy of its predecessors.

Emotion detector developed using a genetic algorithm

September 10, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Malaysia have developed a system that allows a computer to “read lips”. The invention involves a genetic algorithm that gets better and better with each iteration to match irregular ellipse fitting equations to the shape of the human mouth displaying different emotions. The system could improve the way we interact with computers and perhaps allow disabled people to use communications devices more effectively.

Mapping neurological disease

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Disorders such as schizophrenia can originate in certain regions of the brain and then spread out to affect connected areas. Identifying these regions of the brain, and how they affect the other areas they communicate with, would allow drug companies to develop better treatments and could ultimately help doctors make a diagnosis. But interpreting the vast amount of data produced by brain scans to identify these connecting regions has so far proved impossible, until now.

Making Web applications more efficient

September 4, 2012 3:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most major Websites maintain huge databases. Almost any transaction on a shopping site, travel site, or social networking site require multiple database queries, which can slow response time. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that automatically streamlines Websites' database access patterns, making the sites up to three times as fast.

Artificial intelligence helps detect subtle differences in mutant worms

August 20, 2012 4:35 am | News | Comments

Research into the genetic factors behind certain disease mechanisms, illness progression, and response to new drugs is frequently carried out using tiny multicellular animals such as nematodes. Often progress relies on the microscopic visual examination of many individual animals to detect mutants worthy of further study. Now, scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and image processing to examine large numbers of individual Caenorhabditis elegans .

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