May 25, 2015

In the future, a virtual heart may test your medical device for you

posted by Larra Morris

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“CyberHeart” sounds more like something we’d come across in a Terminator movie, but the new virtual heart platform, led by computer scientists at Stony Brook University, is very much tooled toward humans. CyberHearts will specifically be used to test and validate new medical devices early on during their design phase. By detecting flaws in such devices before animal and human trials begin, CyberHeart, researchers hope, will speed the development process along, while helping to prevent the rollout of products with dangerous and costly bugs.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Stony Brook University

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May 25, 2015

The brain's unique reaction to words could sign people into devices

posted by Larra Morris

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Blair Armstrong and his team of researchers from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language in Spain observed the brain signals of 45 subjects while they read a list of 45 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD. According to New Scientist, they found that the volunteers' brains reacted differently to each one, enough for the system to pinpoint their identities with 94 percent accuracy.

Brain signals are typically hard to analyze, so Armstrong's team decided to focus on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words. That part's in charge of recognizing word definitions, which can have subtle differences between people. It can't replace fingerprint scanners just yet, since you still need to be attached to electrodes for the method to work. But Armstrong believes that the technique could be refined further and developed into a viable alternative to fingerprints.
via Engadget

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May 22, 2015

Juvenile plasticity returned to adult mice brains

posted by Larra Morris

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By enabling the rigid brains of adult mice to return to the high levels of plasticity found in juvenile brains, scientists are opening new pathways to the treatment of brain injuries such as stroke. Back in 2013, researchers from Yale University reported the discovery of a molecular switch that achieved this result, and now scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have managed to make an old brain young again using a different approach.

The UC Irvine technique involved transplanting a type of embryonic neuron into the brains of adult mice. After transplantation, these neurons expressed GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), a chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system that aids in motor control, vision and numerous other cortical functions.
via Gizmag

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May 22, 2015

Hydrogen-powered drone will fly for hours at a time

posted by Larra Morris

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Even the nicer drones you can buy typically last for just minutes in the air, which isn't much help if you're delivering packages or shooting movies. Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) thinks it has a solution, however: hydrogen power. Its recently unveiled Hycopter drone runs on a lightweight hydrogen fuel cell that should deliver up to 4 hours of flight time unloaded, and 2.5 hours when it's carrying 2.2 pounds of cargo. That still may not sound like much, but it makes long-distance flights practical -- it's the difference between flying across the city and staying within the neighborhood. HUS won't even fly the Hycopter's prototype until later this year, but patience could well pay off if you're tired of piloting robotic aircraft in half-hour bursts.
via Engadget

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May 21, 2015

Glowing paper could pave the way for bendy devices

posted by Christy Wilding

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With the release of Apple Watch and Google Glass, personal electronics are breaking out from our pockets. But even these newest iterations are rigid; despite years of buzz about foldable electronics, you still can’t read a book on your Kindle then fold it up like a newspaper. Now a team of Chinese researchers has developed a glowing, flexible paper designed to bring foldable electronics closer to reality.

via Popular Science

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May 21, 2015

MIT’s humanoid robot goes to robo boot camp

posted by Christy Wilding

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AS RUSS TEDRAKE flings up the garage door to the dusty MIT lab, light whooshes in, revealing a 360-pound humanoid robot hanging from a rope. The hulky human form sways as the Cambridge breeze blows into the room.

The deactivated dangling thing looks like a metal rag doll, vulnerable and grotesque. But this is Atlas, one of the most sophisticated robots in the world. “The control system for a fighter jet is way simpler than this,” says Tedrake, leader of the Atlas team at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

via Wired

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Images courtesy of Harry Gould Harvey IV

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May 21, 2015

Oculus Rift hack transfers your facial expressions onto your virtual avatar

posted by Christy Wilding

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When Facebook bought Oculus VR back in March of 2014, many wondered exactly what the social network was going to do with it—let's face it, many of us are still wondering. But there are some interesting bits of tech starting to emerge from the now Facebook-owned Oculus that hint at what the future might hold for the Rift outside gaming. One such piece of tech—a "facial performance" tracking system—adds a vital element of social interaction to VR usage: facial expressions.

via Ars Technica

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Images courtesy of Hao Li

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