The Sound of Words

March 7, 2002

Speech-recognition technology is taking off, especially in industrial and medical fields, where there’s a need for hands-free computer use.
Current key applications include systems to ask a car for directions, operate cell phones, automate call centers and directory assistance operations, get connected to a telephone number simply by saying the name of a business or person they are dialing into a handset, and entering patient information by voice.

Games fizz with proper physics

March 7, 2002

Game designers are turning to “physics engine” software to make their games more realistic.
Physics engines model collisions between objects, make cloths and fluids flow convincingly, capture the movement or reactions of jointed objects like people, and allow players to use objects like they do in real life.

New Neurons Work in an Old Brain

March 7, 2002

Neurogenesis, the formation of new functioning neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampus has been definitively proven, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.
The finding suggests a potential for neurogenesis-based therapies for some types of brain damage or disease. The researchers also noted that the rate of neurogenesis increases when the adult mouse is physically active.

Nature 415, 1030 – 1034 (28 Feb 2002)

Designer Baby or Problem Child?

March 7, 2002

Designer babies can now be achieved without cloning, Gattaca-style.
“It’s much more important than the debate about cloning people, which is a sideshow,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “While we’re all spending a lot of time thinking about cloning, that is not the main area where genetics is going to force hard choices.”

Gamers set for sensory overload

March 7, 2002

Rez, a new PlayStation 2 video game, aims to overload the senses with its psychedelic visuals and pulsating dance beats to create a sense of synesthesia.
The game takes place in a virtual world inside a computer. You play a hacker, flying through six levels of cyberspace in search of the AI at the center. Destroying one of the insect-like enemies causes synchronized music and images to be generated.

Robo-Scribe: Perfect for War?

March 7, 2002

MIT’s Computing Culture Department is developing a “robo-journalist” remote-controlled reporting machine that will be initially assigned to cover the war in Afghanistan.
The robot is equipped with a 10 kbps, two-way voice/data satellite uplink that allows compressed voice and video information to be relayed between the robot and mission control and a video screen to display the interviewer’s image.

It is solar powered, with a global positioning system and… read more

Kurzweil teleports to nanotech conference

March 7, 2002

Richardson, Texas, March 7, 2002 — Ray Kurzweil “teleported” today to the Nanoventures 2002 conference, which is focusing on commercialization of nanotechnology.

Photo: Nathen Fox

Speaking from an office in New York City, Kurzweil gave a keynote address on the future of nanotechnology to more than 400 venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and others in Texas via Teleportec’s two-way “Teleportation Technology,” which creates the appearance… read more

3-D Med School, Hold the Cadavers

March 11, 2002

A new virtual reality room at the University of Calgary lets researchers and medical students visualize body structures instead of requiring dissection. Four projectors display representations of the body on the walls of a 2.5-cubic-meter room, allowing scientists to view the images via stereoscopic lenses. They can also program the simulations remotely, using Java3D technology on a PC.

The University of Calgary plans to add the image set of… read more

Dr. Aibo, You’re Wanted in O.R

March 11, 2002

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Richmond, British Columbia is developing a robotic arm that will enable surgeons to perform more precise brain surgery.
The robot will perform a variety of procedures, including placing biopsy needles into the brain and dissecting blood vessel abnormalities during micro-surgery. It consists of two robotic arms and a two cameras, providing 3-D stereoscopic views for the surgeon.

The company is also working with… read more

Software finds possible anthrax cures

March 11, 2002

Scientists, using distributed computing via a million home computers, have come up with 300,000 potential compounds that could be developed as a cure for anthrax.
The project was completed in 24 days, versus years with traditional methods, according to Graham Richards, a chemistry professor at Britain’s Oxford University who helped organize the project.

The list of drug candidates goes to the U.S. Department of Defense and Britain’s Office of… read more

Asia to spend billions in nanotech research

March 11, 2002

Asia is investing big in nanotech. South Korea plans to spend US $1.3 billion over the next 10 years, said Professor Y. Kuk, Professor of Physics at Seoul National University, speaking at the recent Inaugural Conference of the recent Asia Pacific Nanotechnology Forum in Tsukuba, Japan.

Japan, Taiwan, and China are also making substantial investments.

Taiwan will spend about $600 million over the next six years and make… read more

Factor in accelerating tech progress, Kurzweil advises Science Talent Search award winners

March 12, 2002

The Intel Science Talent Search (STS) has announced the winners.

Ryan Patterson, 18, of Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo., won first place and the $100,000 Intel Science Talent Search scholarship for his project, “The American Sign Language Translator,” a glove that converts American Sign Language to written text on a portable display.
Jacob Licht, 17, of West Hartford High School in West Hartford, Conn., won… read more

Unstoppable Trend? Survey Says Online Music Swap Pervasive

March 18, 2002

Despite controversy over Web-based downloadable music, recent surveys show that this online trend is gaining momentum.

American youth, turned off by limited radio song selections and lured by the ease of Internet access, collect thousands of songs online without ever paying a cent.In particular, rising CD costs have turned many US college students into Web music download aficionados. Many have even traded in their stereos, using their PCs as… read more

Computer Screen Controlled with Monkeys’ Brain Signals

March 18, 2002

Researchers at Brown University have demonstrated that brain patterns can be used to control machines. The development could lead to techniques that allow paraplegics to articulate artificial limbs through thought alone.In the experiment, which resembled a computer game, monkeys initially used a joystick to chase red and purple dots around a screen.

Then, unknown to the monkeys, the joystick was disconnected — but the animals were still able to… read more

Soldier of the Future: Army Turns to Nanotechnology

March 18, 2002

Backed by a US Army grant of $50 million over five years, MIT has launched a new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

The institute is tasked with innovating materials and designs that will reinvent soldiers’ uniforms, turning them into high tech gear that rivals the best science fiction.
Among the capabilities of the futuristic fabrics: morphing to improve camouflage, stiffening to splint broken limbs, and storing energy that can be… read more

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