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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May 03, 2016

Software update destorys $286 million Japanese satellite

posted by Larra Morris

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The Japanese X-ray telescope Hitomi has been declared lost after it disintegrated in orbit, torn apart when spinning out of control. The cause is still under investigation but early analysis points to bad data in a software package pushed shortly after an instrument probe was extended from the rear of the satellite. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, lost $286 million, three years of planned observations, and a possible additional 10 years of science research.
via Hack a Day

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May 03, 2016

This app lets parents read their children bedtime stories in virtual reality

posted by Larra Morris

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Whether they travel a lot or just pull the occasional late shift at the office, it’s difficult for parents to make sure they’re at home to tuck in their kids every night. That can be tough on both parents and children who've grown accustomed to the comforting ritual of the goodnight hug or bedtime story. But now, Samsung is developing a new app that lets parents and children reunite for bedtime stories in virtual reality.

The Verge reports that Bedtime VR Stories by Samsung will let parents and children go on a virtual journey together. The app combines elements of the traditional bedtime story—words appear on screen, and parents can read them aloud—with games and animation. The child doesn’t just passively listen to their parent read a story. Instead, they travel with them through an animated world of animals, dinosaurs, and robots, and are asked to interact with their environment in different ways (for instance, by counting the animals on screen).
via Mental Floss

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