Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice. Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords. Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases.
IBM revealed details about new projects for its Watson cognitive computing software as it opened its New York headquarters. The company has been developing business uses for Watson with clients since it announced in January it was investing more than $1 billion in the technology, including about $100 million in startup companies working on Watson projects.
A team of Georgia Institute of Technology researchers has created speech-to-text software for Google Glass that helps hard-of-hearing users with everyday conversations. A hard-of-hearing person wears Glass while a second person speaks directly into a smartphone. The speech is converted to text, sent to Glass and displayed on its heads-up display.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published its NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 3.0, a document that reflects advances in smart grid technologies and developments from NIST’s collaborative work with industry stakeholders. Revisions to its guidelines for smart grid cybersecurity are available as well.
It's a tough challenge for the National Football League to entice fans off their comfy couches and into stadiums when ticket prices are almost as high as the sport's TV ratings. Equipped with lots of technology, fans at home can watch multiple games on Sunday from the couch. So when the owners of the San Francisco 49ers drew up plans for the team's new $1.3 billion stadium, they tapped the ingenuity surrounding their Silicon Valley home.
A renowned technology hub that is home to some of the country's top universities, Boston is emerging as an unlikely battleground for web-based businesses like Airbnb and Uber, with some saying more regulations are needed to prevent the upstarts from disrupting more established industries. Cities like Boston have been wrestling with the same questions and developing solutions ranging from outright bans to minimum safety requirements.
Deutsche Post DHL says it is starting Germany's first drone package delivery service, a test program transporting medicine to a pharmacy on a North Sea island. The company said the quad-rotor "DHL Paketkopter 2.0" will begin daily flights Friday, bringing a maximum load of 1.2 kg of medicine to the German island of Juist.
India triumphed in its first interplanetary mission, placing a satellite into orbit around Mars on Wednesday and catapulting the country into an elite club of deep-space explorers. In scenes broadcast live on Indian TV, scientists broke into wild cheers as the orbiter's engines completed 24 min of burn time to maneuver the spacecraft into its designated place around the red planet.
Univ. of Minnesota electrical engineering researchers have developed a unique nanoscale device that for the first time demonstrates mechanical transportation of light. The tiny device is just .7 micrometers by 50 micrometers and works almost like a seesaw. On each side of the “seesaw benches,” researchers etched an array of holes, called photonic crystal cavities. These cavities capture photons that streamed from a nearby source.
Some smartphones are starting to incorporate 3-D gesture sensing based on cameras, but cameras consume significant battery power and require a clear view of the user’s hands. Univ. of Washington engineers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that could soon contribute to gesture control by letting users “train” their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone.
Washington State Univ. professor Rich Lamb has figured out a dramatically easier and more cost-effective way to do research on science curriculum in the classroom, and it could include playing video games. Called “computational modeling,” it involves a computer “learning” student behavior and then “thinking” as students would. Lamb, who teaches science education, says the process could revolutionize the way educational research is done.
Building on previous research that twisted light to send data at unheard-of speeds, scientists at the Univ. of Southern California (USC) have developed a similar technique with radio waves, reaching high speeds without some of the hassles that can go with optical systems. The researchers reached data transmission rates of 32 Gbps across 2.5 m of free space in a basement laboratory at USC.
A habitual party crasher, Apple has a history of arriving late and making a big splash in various gadget categories. But can it continue with the Apple Watch? Smartwatches have been around for a few years, but makers such as Samsung and Sony have failed to make them a runaway hit. Apple's Watch won't go on sale until early 2015 and raises questions: Can the company work its magic as it has in the past?
Objects in space tend to spin—and spin in a way that’s totally different from the way they spin on earth. Understanding how objects are spinning, where their centers of mass are, and how their mass is distributed is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.
Apple is betting that people want to pay with a tap of the phone rather than a swipe of the card. The technology company on Tuesday introduced a new digital wallet service called Apple Pay that is integrated with its Passbook credential-storage app and its fingerprint ID security system. The announcement came as Apple introduced several new products including a new, larger iPhone 6 and a watch.
Rice Univ. wireless researchers have found a way to make the most of the unused UHF TV spectrum by serving up fat streams of data over wireless hotspots that could stretch for miles. In a presentation today at the Association for Computing Machinery's MobiCom 2014 conference, researchers will unveil a multiuser, multiantenna transmission scheme for UHF, a portion of the radio spectrum that is usually reserved for television broadcasts.
A Stanford Univ. engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant, a device so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. Designed to compute, execute and relay commands, this tiny wireless chip costs pennies to fabricate.
Researchers at Princeton Univ. have begun crystallizing light as part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about the physics of matter. The researchers are not shining light through crystal—they are transforming light into crystal. As part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors, the researchers have locked together photons, the basic element of light, so that they become fixed in place.
Technology being honed by French auto parts maker Valeo uses a dozen ultrasonic sound-wave sensors, 360-degree cameras and a laser scanner to safely park within a few centimeters of other vehicles. Then, when you're done with dinner or a business meeting, the car will return to you after another swipe of the thumb.
Engineers have created a shape-changing "soft" robot that can tread over a variety of adverse environmental conditions including snow, puddles of water, flames, and the crushing force of being run over by an automobile. The pneumatically powered, fully untethered robot was enabled by the careful selection of materials and composites, including silicone elastomer.
Nowadays, video special effects are in demand, and even more so if they’re in 3-D. A new system called OmniCam360, being presented at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam next week, is able to use depth maps generated by 16 or more cameras to create a virtual camera, similar to movies that are entirely computer-generated. The addition of wave field synthesis allows the sound to match the video in 3-D.
Today, big data is a hot topic within almost every industry. May saw the biggest ever European technologists conference on big data, Berlin Buzzwords, while the likes of O'Reilly's Strata conference pull in huge numbers of attendees keen to learn how to adapt to this new world. Despite all the interest, a great deal of confusion remains around big data.
A unique experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram. Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3-D world exists only on a 2-D screen, we could be clueless that our 3-D space is just an illusion.
Researchers in Switzerland have created an Android app which lets users get together to crack a modern cryptographic code. Building on earlier work that used a network of 300 PlayStation consoles, the scientists decided to leverage the power of smartphones. By running the algorithm a very large number of times the code may be broken eventually.
The future of movie, sports and concert broadcasting lies in 4K definition, which will bring cinema quality TV viewing into people’s homes. With its 3840 x 2160 resolution, 4K Ultra HD has four times as many pixels as today’s Full HD. The new HEVC video compression standard now allows broadcasters to transmit live video in the 4K digital cinema standard, and was used recently to broadcast a soccer game in Germany.