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Analog Over Digital? For a Better Ear Implant, Yes

May 30, 2003

An MIT researcher has devised a processor for cochlear implants that he says consumes only about .5 milliwatt, one-tenth of the processing power of current devices. The trick: using analog instead of digital processing, which requires more power.

Fire Up That Game, Boy

May 30, 2003

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that young adults who regularly played action video games showed better visual skills than those who did not.

The researchers suggest that video games could be used to help visually impaired patients see better or to train soldiers for combat.

Designing Robots That can Reason and React

May 29, 2003

Researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute are creating machines that can make complex decisions, using
a variety of techniques such as “learning momentum” — teaching a robot that if a behavior is working well, it should continue doing it — and reinforcement learning, using computer-generated “rewards” to tell the robot it has made good decisions and should continue doing so.

The researchers are also developing a colony of 100… read more

Mimicry makes computers personable

May 29, 2003

We would enjoy interacting with our computers more if they mimicked our speech patterns, says Noriko Suzuki’s team at the ATR Media Information Science Laboratories in Kyoto, quoted in an article in the New Scientist May 31 issue.

Suzuki asked volunteers to work on-screen with an animated character whose character hummed back sounds that mimicked characteristic features, such as the rhythm, intonation, loudness and pitch of the… read more

Gesture Your Mouse Goodbye

May 29, 2003

FingerWorks of Newark, Delaware, has developed a technology that turns hand gestures into some of the most common computing tasks, like opening files. The technology could gain favor with people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries.

Bubbles Oust Viruses in Therapy

May 29, 2003

Researchers have developed a wqy to use ultrasonic waves to deliver DNA and other molecules, such as drugs, into cells.

The goal is to reduce geneticists’ reliance on viruses to deliver genes into cells, a method that has led to cancers in some patients.

A solution of DNA and microscopic bubbles would be injected into a patient’s bloodstream. Ultrasonic waves would then cause the bubbles to compress. The… read more

Cloning First for Horse Family

May 28, 2003

Scientists in the United States have announced the birth of the world’s

first cloned mule. The foal is nearly a month old and appears to be

perfectly healthy. The scientist in charge of its creation says that

“We found calcium seems to be critically important for equine

reproduction. Once we boosted the level of calcium in our culture medium

we started seeing results.” Male show-jumping… read more

Analog Over Digital? For a Better Ear Plant, Yes

May 28, 2003

A acoustic processing chip that consumes only half a milliwatt, or one-tenth of the processing power of current devices, has recently been created and could be suitable for next-generation cochlear devices that are fully implanted. “Cochlear implants,” although they are called implants, still lie mainly outside the ear.

Researchers hope that one day the entire apparatus, which is designed to stimulate the auditory nerves of people who have lost… read more

As tools of surgery shrink, training expands

May 28, 2003

Minimally invasive surgery is a radical movement sweeping operating rooms across the United States. It uses new tools to minimize cutting, trauma, and hospital stay, such as small incisions and miniature cameras to guide the surgeon to the problem organ.

With SARS, Antivirus Arms Race Heats Up

May 28, 2003

The development of antiviral drugs has lagged behind that of antibacterial drugs, but a variety of approaches is currently being applied to developing defensive technologies against viruses.

Editorial comment: “Of all the things we can do for GNR [genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics] defense, developing defensive technologies against viruses is the most important right now,” comments Ray Kurzweil.

Mobile Gadgets Offer New Lessons

May 27, 2003

Using mobile phones and handheld computers to teach basic skills could help a generation of youngsters turned off by traditional education. That is the hope of those involved in the 4.5m euro (#3m) m-learning project, an EU-backed initiative taking place in the UK, Sweden and Italy.

The aim of the project is to see how mobile devices can be used to teach basic numerical and literacy skills to young… read more

From PlayStation to Supercomputer for $50,000

May 26, 2003

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has assembled a supercomputer from an army of Sony PlayStation 2′s for about $50,000.

The center’s researchers believe the system may be capable of .5 teraflops. It uses the PlayStation’s graphics co-processor, the Emotion Engine, which is capable of producing up to 6.5 gigaflops, rather than its microprocessor.

Earth Photographed from Mars in Surprising Detail

May 26, 2003

NASA has released a picture of Earth taken by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. It is the first picture of Earth from another planet that resolves our world into a disk, rather than a point of light.

This Palm Reads Your Mind

May 26, 2003

Researchers at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute claim their new “MiniCog” PDA application will help people determine if they “need to eat, sleep, exercise or better focus (their) thoughts.”

The program includes routines that ask users to pick lowercase letters out of groups of uppercase letters and correctly identify the color of “conflicting” text.

Working Remotely, Robots in Place

May 26, 2003

The most natural way to “meet” when people are not face to face is to use robots, say Hewlett-Packard researchers.

The robot is a surrogate for remote attendees, with the face and the voice of the person who remotely controls it.

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