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Unearthing Information in an Avalanche of Voice Mail

April 30, 2002

AT&T Labs researchers have built a system that allows browsing through voice mail. The ScanMail system uses speech recognition technology to transcribe voice-mail messages so they can be searched on an automated speech recognition server.
Other researchers are developing systems capable of searching audio content on the Internet. Compaq Cambridge Research Laboratory’s SpeechBot spiders the Web for audio files, downloads, and transcribes them. The system has created transcripts for more… read more

First permanent wireless retinal prothesis implanted

April 30, 2002

Ophthalmologists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California have implanted the first permanent wireless microelectronic retinal prothesis.
Visual signals from a video camera will be sent to the 16-electrode intraocular electrode array attached to the retina via a receiver implanted behind the patient’s ear.

Researchers hope the retinal prosthesis, intended to stand in for the damaged retinal cells in people suffering from such blinding… read more

Bell Labs breaks through on Moore’s Law

April 30, 2002

Scientists at Bell Labs have developed a way to image a single impurity atom in silicon to understand how impurities affect the properties of microchips.
The finding will help in creating new manufacturing technologies for smaller chips. Impurities are introduced into silicon to provide charge carriers that control a chip’s electrical properties.

As components continue to shrink, just a few atoms of impurities could determine the function of a… read more

Artificial voice system says hello

May 1, 2002

Hideyuki Sawada of Waseda University in Japan is designing an artificial voice system to make interacting with robots more natural.

The system emulates the human lung, windpipe, vocal cords and throat by using a compressed air tank that forces air into a plastic voice-box chamber, where it makes rubber “vocal cords” vibrate. The sounds generated are then fed to a flexible tube that mimics a human vocal tract. The… read more

The Shape of Computer Chips to Come

May 2, 2002

As chips continue to shrink, researchers are combining the amazing properties of silicon with communications network research.

News tip: Walter Purvis

‘Robo-rat’ controlled by brain electrodes

May 2, 2002

Researchers at the State University of New York in New York City have turned a living rat into a radio-controlled automaton, using three electrodes placed in the animal’s brain. The animal can be remotely steered over an obstacle course, making it twist, turn and jump on demand.
The research will help pinpoint biochemical changes in the brain and which brain regions are involved in processing different behaviors.

“The researchers… read more

Method May Transform Cells Without Cloning

May 3, 2002

A team of scientists at the University of Oslo Medical School and Nucleotech say they are developing a technique that transforms one type of cell from the body into another type without using cloning or embryonic stem cells.

The scientists made human skin cells in a test tube behave as if they were immune system cells and previous converted skin cells to nerve cells. The work promises a new… read more

Liquid crystal displays ‘painted on’

May 3, 2002

Philips laboratories researchers are developing ways to paint liquid crystal displays on surfaces instead of between two layers of plastic or glass. The method could allow manufacturers to make displays more quickly.

‘Our Posthuman Future’: Biotechnology as a Threat to Human Nature

May 5, 2002

We are about to supersede evolution by direct intervention in the genetic process, argues Francis Fukuyama in “Our Posthuman Future,” which discusses cloning, germ-line genetic engineering, stem cell research, neuropharmacology, anti-aging medicine, and the potential for violations of human nature from the new biotechnology.

Mutant viruses order quantum dots

May 6, 2002

“A three dimensional grid of quantum dots created and held together by genetically-engineered viruses could enable a new generation of computer displays, memories and even nanoscale computer chips.”

News tip: Walter Purvis

The Matrix Reloads

May 6, 2002

Warner Bros. is producing two sequels to the Matrix, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, both scheduled for 2003. The films continue the scenario of the human race imprisoned in a computer-generated reality and include the underground city of Zion, inhabited by the few hundred thousand humans who have escaped.

Startup Uses Light, Not Electrons, For New Chip

May 7, 2002

Digital signal processing startup Lenslet Labs of Israel has developed a way to use properties of light as computational elements rather than electrons, eliminating problems from waste heat and allowing for more parallelism.

The EnLight 256, a specialized processor, is designed to be used in applications like cellular basestations, software-defined radio, and ADSL transceivers.

News tip: Sander Olson

Insect swarming inspires jazz software

May 7, 2002

University College London researchers have written a program that mimics insect swarming to “fly around” the sequence of notes the musician is playing and improvise a related tune of its own.

Lawrence Lessig: The ‘Dinosaurs’ are Taking Over

May 7, 2002

In “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World,” Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig warns that the Internet will soon belong to Hollywood studios, record labels, and cable operators, which co-opt the Internet and stifle innovation.

Cog — is it more than a machine?

May 7, 2002

“Robots are being made more human and people are becoming more robotic. Where will it all end?” MIT professor Rodney Brooks has some thoughts on that.

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