May 06, 2016

Why you accidentally call your relatives by your dog's name, but not your cat's

posted by Larra Morris

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Futurity summarizes research from a Duke University doctoral student named Sparky Samantha Deffler. She explains that it's because dog names have greater significance in families:

In addition to mixing up sibling for sibling and daughter for son, study participants frequently called other family members by the name of the family pet—but only when the pet was a dog. Owners of cats or other pets didn’t commit such slips of the tongue.

Deffler says she was surprised how consistent that finding was, and how often it happened.

“I’ll preface this by saying I have cats and I love them,” Deffler says. “But our study does seem to add to evidence about the special relationship between people and dogs.

“Also, dogs will respond to their names much more than cats, so those names are used more often. Perhaps because of that, the dog’s name seems to become more integrated with people’s conceptions of their families.”
via Neatorama

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May 06, 2016

New tech turns your skin into a touchscreen for your smartwatch

posted by Larra Morris

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One of the biggest challenges with smartwatches is trying to navigate through apps on a relatively tiny screen. While smartphones and tablets have gotten bigger over the years, the gadgets we wear on our wrists need to stay small to avoid looking terribly unfashionable. Today a team at the Future Interfaces Group, a research lab within Carnegie Mellon University, released a look at a novel solution to this problem: making the skin on your arm and hand act like a touchscreen for your smartwatch.

The system uses a signal-emitting ring worn on the finger to communicate with a sensing band attached to the watch. When the finger wearing the ring touches the skin, a high-frequency electrical signal spreads across your arm. It uses the distance between the ring and four pairs of electrodes in the watchband to triangulate the position of your finger in 2D space.
via The Verge

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May 05, 2016

Autonomous robot surgeon bests humans in world first

posted by Larra Morris

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In a robotic surgery breakthrough, a bot stitched up a pig’s small intestines using its own vision, tools, and intelligence to carry out the procedure. What’s more, the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) did a better job on the operation than human surgeons who were given the same task.

STAR’s inventors don’t claim that robots can replace humans in the operating room anytime soon. Instead they see the accomplishment as a proof of concept—both for the specific technologies used and for the general concept of “supervised autonomy” in the OR.
via IEEE Spectrum

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May 05, 2016

The ‘WTF Is That’ bot tells you what’s in your photos (sometimes)

posted by Larra Morris

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Computer vision is so hot right now. Companies like Microsoft and Google and Facebook use it to help the blind, sort your photos and do many other cool things. It’s as hot as bots, which everyone is integrating into everything and Microsoft boss Satya Nadella calls “the new apps.”

Sketch a Venn diagram of the two and you’ll find WTF Is That, a computer vision bot on Facebook Messenger that’s gone viral. It works a bit like Shazam for pictures: Send it a picture and it (sort of) tells you what it is.
via Wired

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May 05, 2016

Optical illusions make drivers slow down for crosswalks

posted by Larra Morris

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To get drivers to slow down at crosswalks, India is experimenting with painted optical illusions instead of speed-bumps. Created by artists Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya, the street paintings appear to be 3D road blocks as drivers approach, forcing them to slow down in their confusion. As they get closer, it becomes apparent that the blocks are actually flat, so drivers don’t actually come a complete stop. And so far the experiment seems to be working—no accidents have occurred at the upgraded intersections.
via Cool Hunting

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May 04, 2016

Fights on planes 400% more likely when there's a first class section

posted by Larra Morris

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The study, by DeCelles, who is an associate professor at the University of Toronto, and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, analyzed thousands of flights on a large international airline over several years and found that not only were incidents in economy more likely if there was a first class cabin, and more so if economy passengers had to walk through it — but incidents were also more likely in first class itself.

In other words, class inequality stresses everyone out, the study found.

"Physical design that highlights inequality can trigger antisocial behavior on airplanes," the researchers wrote.
via Boing Boing

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May 04, 2016

LEGO-style Braille Bricks help visually impaired children learn to read

posted by Larra Morris

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A new project is using a classic children's toy to increase literacy among visually impaired children, according to Adweek. Braille Bricks feature raised studs on top of a box base, similar to LEGO bricks. However, unlike those on LEGO pieces, the studs on each brick form the letters of the Braille alphabet and can be used to form words.
via Mental Floss

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