Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, and is equipped with a small camera that scans text.
New research at UC Berkeley has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people in the study outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts, perhaps because they’ve developed superior cognitive strategies for finding their way around. These insights are useful as more media companies are implementing tactile interfaces.
Rice Univ. scientists have received a grant to develop terahertz-based technology that could enable a dramatic advance in wireless communications and other disciplines. The $1 million grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation will let them tackle some of the knotty problems barring them from using the largely untapped terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Rice will supplement the grant with a $1.5 million commitment.
The more cores a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes. For years, Li-Shiuan Peh, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has argued that the massively multicore chips of the future will need to resemble little Internets, where each core has an associated router, and data travels between cores in packets of fixed size.
Your smartphone’s display glass could soon be more than just a pretty face, thanks to new technology developed by researchers from Corning Inc. The team has created the first laser-written light-guiding systems that are efficient enough to be developed for commercial use.
Since World War II, sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships than all other means of attack combined. New sonar research being performed could improve the Navy’s ability to find sea mines deep under water. The underlying technology, known as synthetic aperture sonar, uses advanced computing and signal processing power to create fine-resolution images of the seafloor based on reflected sound waves.
Superman isn't the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford Univ. researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground.
Imaging and mapping of electric fields at radio frequencies (RF) currently requires the use of metallic structures such as dipoles, probes and reference antennas. To make such measurements efficiently, the size of these structures needs to be on the order of the wavelength of the RF fields to be mapped. This poses practical limitations on the smallest features that can be measured.
Inspired by anomalies that arise in certain mathematical equations, researchers have demonstrated a laser system that paradoxically turns off when more power is added rather than becoming continuously brighter. The finding could lead to new ways to manipulate the interaction of electronics and light, an important tool in modern communications networks and high-speed information processing.
Researchers have shown how to modify a smartphone so that it can be used to measure a person's walking gait to prevent falls in people with compromised balance, such as the elderly or those with Parkinson's disease. The innovation, being commercialized as SmartGait, is designed as a tool to aid health care officials in assessing a person's risk of falling and identifying ways to avoid injury.
Altera Corp. of California and Lime Microsystems, a radio frequency transceiver developer in the U.K. have entered into a Strategic Cooperation Agreement focused on jointly developing and promoting programmable solutions for a diverse range of broadband wireless markets. The agreement will result in the development of optimized field programmable radio frequency (FPRF) transceivers and other digital RF solutions.
The National Science Foundation has announced a five-year, $4 million award to tackle the challenge of synchronizing time in cyber-physical systems, which are systems that integrate sensing, computation, control and networking into physical objects and infrastructure. The grant brings together expertise from five universities to improve the way computers maintain knowledge of time and synchronize it with other networked devices.
Two outpost offices of the National Weather Service in Alaska are finally ending what has been a bygone practice for most of the nation for almost two decades: using real human voices in radio forecast broadcasts. Local weather forecasts are a big deal to many people in Alaska because, more than in some other parts of the United States, the forecasts can be a matter of life and death.
One might be hidden in a cross on a church lawn. Others are disguised as a cactus in the desert, a silo in farm country or a palm tree reaching into a sunny sky. Whatever the deception, the goal is the same: concealing the tall, slender cellphone towers that most Americans need but few want to see erected in their neighborhoods.
In early March, a mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left Romania and plotted a course toward Scandinavia. About a month later, at the fenced-in headquarters of Norway's military intelligence service, the country's spychief disclosed its identity. It was a $250 million spy ship, tentatively named Marjata, that will be equipped with sensors and other technology to snoop on Russia's activities in the Arctic beginning in 2016.
Imagine watching a procedure performed live through the eyes of the surgeon. That’s exactly what surgical leaders in the U.S. were able to do while overseeing surgeons training in Paraguay and Brazil with the help of UCLA doctors and Google Glass. UCLA surgeon Dr. David Chen and surgical resident Dr. Justin Wagner have made it their mission to teach hernia surgery around the world and are harnessing the latest technologies to help.
Purdue Univ. researchers who developed a new approach to more effectively teach large numbers of engineering students are recommending that the approach be considered for adoption by universities globally. The system, called the Purdue Mechanics Freeform Classroom, allows students to interact with each other and faculty online while accessing hundreds of instructional videos and animations. It has been used for more than two years.
In 2010, telemedicine was used to guide the insertion of a chest tube in a 72-year-old South Dakota farmer who had been pinned by a cow. Physicians in Sioux Falls talked am inexperienced doctor through the steps to stop the bleeding and drain the blood collecting inside the man. It's a system that's gaining wider use across the rural U.S., where there are often few primary care doctors and even fewer emergency rooms.
The potential of terahertz waves has yet to be reached because they are difficult to generate and manipulate. Current sources are large devices that require complex vacuum, lasers and cooling systems. A Northwestern Univ. team is the first to produce terahertz radiation in a simplified system. Their room-temperature, compact, continuous terahertz radiation source is six times more efficient than previous systems.
A cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son, who says robots should be tender and make people smile. The machine, called “Pepper”, has no legs, but has gently gesticulating hands. It recently appeared on a stage in a Tokyo suburb along with announcement that it will go on sale in Japan next year for the equivalent of US$1,900.
The need for robust password security has never been more critical than now, as people use smartphones or tablets to pay bills and store personal information. A new Rutgers study shows that free-form gestures can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps. These gestures are less likely to be observed and reproduced than than traditional methods such as typed passwords.
In the last 10 years, the presence of wireless technology has blossomed in the industrial and manufacturing space, where a multitude of technologies, from Bluetooth to Zigbee to RFID, have been successfully employed to monitor conditions of machinery, products under assembly and the work force.
The ability to adapt to changing situations is critical for today’s labs. Today, many lab equipment systems are designed with the flexibility to accommodate these needs. Time is also of utmost importance, and the ability for a researcher to walk away from their work, or monitor it on the go, is a new standard.
Computer scientists at Microsoft Research and the University of California, San Diego have developed a system, called ParentGuardian, that combines a mobile application and sensor to detect stress in parents. The system, initially tested on parents of children with ADHD, delivers research-based strategies to help decrease stress during emotionally charged interactions with children.
After another year of flat spending in 2013, global investment in R&D is forecast to grow by 3.8% to $1.6 trillion in 2014, according the annual R&D Magazine Global Funding Forecast. In the U.S., federal spending is forecast to increase modestly (1.5%), another promising sign, but it’s fair to say the pressure is still on to do more with less, particularly in Big Pharma where recent R&D cuts have been the most dramatic.