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Google’s self-driving car prototype: no steering wheel, brake, or accelerator

May 30, 2014

Google car

Google is exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like without a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal. “Our software and sensors do all the work,” says the company.

The early prototypes have sensors that remove blind spots, and can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lotsread more

Supersonic spray creates high-quality graphene layer

Could lead to Industrial-scale applications
May 29, 2014

Supersonic spray

A simple, inexpensive spray method that deposits a graphene film can heal manufacturing defects and produce a high quality graphene layer on a range of substrates, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University — an alternative to the chemical vapor deposition process developed by MIT and the University of Michigan for creating large sheets of graphene, recently reported by KurzweilAI.… read more

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to regenerate teeth

Low-level light therapy confirmed
May 29, 2014

tooth regeneration

A Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue.

The research, reported in Science Translational Medicine and led by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member David Mooney, Ph.D., lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration, and more.… read more

Brain-controlled airplanes

May 29, 2014

Project Brainflight (credit: TUM)

Pilots of the future could fly a plane by just thinking commands, say scientists at the Institute for Flight System Dynamics at Technische Universität München (TUM) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) involved in the EU-funded Brainflight project.

The system uses electroencephalography (EEG) to detect brain waves. An algorithm developed by scientists from Team PhyPA (Physiological Parameters for Adaptation)… read more

Improved optical brain-scanning tech rivals fMRI and PET without the risks

May 28, 2014

Research participant Britt Gott wears a cap used to image the brain via diffuse optical tomography (DOT)

Washington University School of Medicine researchers have developed a new form of brain-scanning technology that improves on diffuse optical tomography (DOT).

The new technology now allows researchers to image brain processes taking place in multiple regions and brain networks such as those involved in language processing and self-reflection (daydreaming). DOT was previously limited to small regions of the brain.

DOT avoids the radiation exposure of positron… read more

Large-scale DARPA-funded brain-research program seeks to reduce the severity of neuropsychological illness in service members and veterans

Will focus on neural plasticity, single-neuron recording, and neural stimulation
May 28, 2014

DARPA’s SUBNETS program seeks new neurotechnology for analyzing neuronal activity across sub-networks of the brain to enable next-generation therapies tailored to individual patients (credit: DARPA)

Work on DARPA’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) program is set to officially launch on June 1, 2014, with teams led by UC San Francisco (UCSF) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

The $26 million, multi-institutional research program was announced last October in support of President Obama’s Brain initiative.

The SUBNETS program seeks to reduce… read more

A new way to make large sheets of graphene

Could enable advances in display screens, solar cells, other devices
May 28, 2014


Researchers at MIT and the University of Michigan have developed a process that lends itself to making graphene directly on materials such as large sheets of glass.

Previous processes have used tiny flakes of graphene or graphene films on metal foil, with limited success.

The new process, described in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports (open access), makes graphene on both the film’s top and… read more

Seeing sound: visual cortex processes auditory information too

May 27, 2014

Ten healthy subjects wearing blindfolds were given  solely auditory stimulation in the absence of visual stimulation. In a separate session, retinotopic mapping was performed for all subjects to define early visual areas of the brain. Sound-induced blood-oxygen-level-dependent activation patterns from these regions of interest (ROIs) were fed into a multivariate pattern analysis. (Credit: Petra Vetter, Fraser W. Smith, nd Lars Muckli/Current Biology)

University of Glasgow scientists studying brain process involved in sight have discovered that the visual cortex also uses information gleaned from the ears when viewing the world.

They suggest this auditory input enables the visual system to predict incoming information and could confer a survival advantage.

“Sounds create visual imagery, mental images, and automatic projections,” said Professor Lars Muckli, of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of… read more

A machine that trains you to feel affection

May 27, 2014

Distributed voxel patterns that best distinguished between tenderness/affection vs. pride within the neurofeedback group, measured across all fMRI sessions. The color range shows voxels present in at least 40% (blue) or above 66% (red-yellow) of the subjects. (Credit: Jorge Moll et al./PLOS ONE)

It’s possible to create brain patterns associated with affection or tenderness toward loved ones, using neurofeedback while being scanned in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine, researchers at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) in Brazil have shown.

The finding, described in PLOS ONE (open access), could open up new possibilities for treatment of conditions such as antisocial personality disorder, the researchers suggest.

An empathyread more

Quantum Computing Playground lets you run a simulated quantum computer

May 27, 2014

Quantum Computing Playground (credit: Google)

Google engineers have developed a simulated quantum computer called Quantum Computing Playground that allows you to write, run, and debug software using quantum algorithms.

Quantum Computing Playground runs in a Chrome browser with a simple interactive interface. A scripting language called QScript includes debugging and 3D quantum-state visualization features.

You can efficiently simulate quantum registers up to 22 qubits and run Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms. There’s also a… read more

New sensor could lead to low-cost medical imaging and night vision using smartphones and cameras

May 26, 2014

SEM image showing C60 fullerene nanorod photoconductor fabricated by depositing C60 nanorod film onto pre-patterned gold electrodes. Inset: SEM image showing C60 nanorods bridging 10-micron-wide electrodes. (Credit: Rinku Saran et al./Scientific Reports)

Low-cost medical and security cameras could be possible in the future thanks to a new multispectral light sensor developed by University of Surrey researchers. The sensor can detect the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet (UV) to visible and near-infrared light.

“Until now … multiple sensors were required to measure different ranges of the light spectrum, significantly increasing cost,” said lead researcher Richard Curry, PhD. from the… read more

Hacking Higher Ed

May 25, 2014

U of People

How much would it cost to educate all those currently priced out of education? “Realistically, only a drop in the bucket in relation to the billions floating within the higher education industry,” says Shai Reshef, founder and president of University of the People, a free, non-profit, online university.

Reshef joined five other guests on Radio Open Source, a weekly WBUR radio program produced by… read more

Bioinspired drones of the future

May 25, 2014

Bat-inspired flying robot (credit: Sharon Swartz/Kenny Lab/Brown University)

Using mechanisms adopted by birds, bats, insects and snakes, 14 research teams have developed ideas for improving drone-flying performance in complex urban environments.

The research teams presented their work May 23 in a special open-access issue of IOP Publishing’s journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics devoted to bio-inspired flight control. Here are a few examples.

An algorithm developed by Hungarian researchers allows multiple drones… read more

‘Roombots’ transform into movable furniture and objects

May 24, 2014

Movable table with Roombot feet (credit: EPFL)

EPFL scientists have developed LEGO-like adaptive robotic modules called “Roombots” that can change their shape to create reconfigurable, movable furniture and objects.

Like LEGO bricks, Roombots can be stacked upon each other to create various structures and combined with furniture and other objects, changing shape and functionality during the day as needed.

“It could be very useful for disabled individuals to be able to ask objects… read more

‘Thermal Touch’ will turn any surface into an AR touch screen

May 23, 2014

"Thermal Touch" makes any surface or object touchable (credit: Metaio)

Metaio (as in meta I/O) has developed a prototype of a system called  “Thermal Touch” that the Germany-based company says would allow a user of a future wearable headset to make any object touchable.

The prototype system combines a thermal infrared and standard camera connected to a tablet PC (in the future, Metaio assumes, these cameras would be built into augmented reality (AR) glasses).

The system… read more

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