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Skull echoes could become the new passwords for augmented-reality glasses

May 2, 2016

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German researchers have developed a biometric system called SkullConduct that uses bone conduction of sound through the user’s skull for secure user identification and authentication on augmented-reality glasses, such as Google Glass, Meta 2, and HoloLens.

SkullConduct uses the microphone already built into many of these devices and adds electronics (such as a chip) to analyze the frequency response of sound after it travels through the user’s skull. The… read more

Deep neural networks that identify shapes nearly as well as humans

You're in your self-driving car, with heavy rain and poor visibility. All of a sudden, a blurred shape appears on the road. What should the car do?
April 29, 2016

(credit: Google)

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are capable of learning to identify shapes, so “we’re on the right track in developing machines with a visual system and vocabulary as flexible and versatile as ours,” say KU Leuven researchers.

“For the first time, a dramatic increase in performance has been observed on object and scene categorization tasks, quickly reaching performance levels rivaling humans,” they note in an open-access paper in… read more

Scientists turn skin cells into heart and brain cells using only drugs — no stem cells required

Closer to the natural regeneration that happens in animals like newts and salamanders and no medical-safety and embryo concerns
April 29, 2016

Neurons created from chemically-induced neural stem cells. The cells were created from skin cells that were reprogrammed into neural stem cells using a cocktail of only nine chemicals. This is the first time cellular reprogramming has been accomplished without adding external genes to the cells. (credit: Mingliang Zhang, PhD, Gladstone Institutes)

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have used chemicals to transform skin cells into heart cells and brain cells, instead of adding external genes — making this accomplishment a breakthrough, according to the scientists.

The research lays the groundwork for one day being able to regenerate lost or damaged cells directly with pharmaceutical drugs — a more efficient and reliable method to reprogram cells and one that avoids medical concerns… read more

Ultrasound allows for transmitting HD video through animal tissues

Imagine a miniature remote-controlled HD video camera that streams live video from a patient's intestines to a physician
April 27, 2016

Beef liver and pork loin were used to represent the density and moisture content found in human tissue (credit: UIUC)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineers have demonstrated real-time video-rate (>30Mbps) “meat comm” data transmission through tissue, which could mean in-body ultrasonic communications may be possible for implanted medical devices, including hi-def video.

For example, a patient could swallow a miniaturized HD video camera that could stream live to an external screen, with the orientation of the device controlled wirelessly and externally by a physician, according to Andrewread more

Just 1 minute of intense exercise produces health benefits similar to 50 minutes of moderate exercise

No time to exercise? Now you have no excuse.
April 27, 2016

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Researchers at McMaster University have found that a single minute of very intense exercise within a 10-minute session produces health benefits similar to those from 50 minutes of moderate-intensity continuous exercise.

Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective, a very time-efficient workout strategy, according to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, published online in an open-access paper in the… read more

Public beta of toolkit for developing machine learning for robots and games released

April 27, 2016

Make a three-dimensional bipedal robot walk forward as fast as possible, without falling over (credit: OpenAI Gym)

OpenAI (a non-profit AI research company sponsored by Elon Musk and others) has released the public beta of OpenAI Gym, a toolkit for developing and comparing algorithms for reinforcement learning (RL), a type of machine learning.

OpenAI Gym consists of a growing suite of environments (from simulated robots to Atari games), and a site for comparing and reproducing results. OpenAI Gym is compatible with algorithms written in any… read more

Artificial protein controls first self-assembly of C60 fullerenes

New discovery expected to lead to new materials with properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, and greater chemical reactivity, resulting in applications ranging from medicine to energy and electronics
April 26, 2016

Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, and his collaborators have created an artificial protein that self-organizes into a new material -- an atomically periodic lattice of buckminster fullerene molecules, or buckyball, a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball. (credit: St Stev via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND)

A Dartmouth College scientist and his collaborators* have created the first high-resolution co-assembly between a protein and buckminsterfullerene (C60), aka fullerene and buckyball (a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms and shaped like a soccer ball).

“This is a proof-of-principle study demonstrating that proteins can be used as effective vehicles for organizing nanomaterials by design,” says senior author Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer… read more

Do you trust robots?

What's missing is human-factors studies, say MIT Professor Emeritus Thomas B. Sheridan
April 26, 2016

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Trust in robots is a critical component in safety that requires study, says MIT Professor Emeritus Thomas B. Sheridan in an open-access study published in Human Factors journal.

For decades, he has studied humans and automation and in each case, he noted significant human factors challenges — particularly concerning safety. He looked at self-driving cars and highly automated transit systems; routine tasks such as the delivery of packages… read more

Micro-needle insertion into hippocampus stimulates brain regeneration in animal model of AD

Also improved performance on memory task and reduced beta-amyloid plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease)
April 25, 2016

micro-needel insertion in hippocampus ft

Sticking a needle into the hippocampus of mice modeled with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) improved performance on memory tasks, stimulated regenerative activity, and reduced β-amyloid plaques (a hallmark of AD). This area was chosen because the early and primary damage by AD appears to take place in the hippocampus.

Until recently, many diseases of the central nervous system could not be treated by this method because of inaccessibility of the… read more

System predicts 85 percent of cyber attacks using input from human experts

Merging human and machine intelligence reduces false positives by factor of 5
April 25, 2016

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Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the machine-learning startup PatternEx have developed an AI platform called AI2 that predicts cyber-attacks significantly better than existing systems by continuously incorporating input from human experts (AI2 refers to merging AI with “analyst intuition”:  rules created by living experts).

The team showed that AI2 can detect 85 percent of attacks —about three times better than previous benchmarks —… read more

Machine learning rivals human skills in cancer detection

April 22, 2016

Samsung Medison RS80A ultrasound system (credit: Samsung)

Two announcements yesterday (April 21) suggest that deep learning algorithms rival human skills in detecting cancer from ultrasound images and in identifying cancer in pathology reports.

Samsung Medison, a global medical equipment company and an affiliate of Samsung Electronics, has just updated its RS80A ultrasound imaging system with a deep learning algorithm for breast-lesion analysis.

The “S-Detect for Breast” feature uses big data collected… read more

Blocking pain by turning off specific neurons with light

May be an effective alternative to pain medication, such as the opiate percocet taken by Prince
April 22, 2016

Optogenetic inhibition of neurons (credit: McGovern Institute for Brain Research/MIT)

McGill University researchers have discovered an effective alternative to pain medication (such as the opiate percocet that Prince was reportedly taking): optogenetics — using light to control cells (such as neurons) in living tissue.

The scientists bred mice that were genetically engineered, causing specific peripheral neurons responsible for pain transmission to express an opsin (light-sensitive protein). (See Optogenetics switch turns neurons on and off and… read more

How to make the world’s fastest flexible silicon transistor

Engineers fabricate high-performance transistors with wireless capabilities using a radical fabrication method based on huge rolls of flexible plastic. "We don’t want to make them the way the semiconductor industry does now."
April 21, 2016

World’s fastest silicon-based flexible transistors, shown here on a plastic substrate (credit: Jung-Hun Seo/UW–Madison)

A team headed by University of Wisconsin—Madison engineers has fabricated a flexible transistor that operates at a record 38 gigahertz, but may be able to operate at 110 gigahertz.

The process could allow manufacturers to easily and cheaply fabricate high-performance transistors with wireless capabilities, using a radical fabrication method based on huge rolls of flexible plastic.

The new transistor can also transmit data or transfer power wirelessly, which… read more

A battery you never have to replace

New nanowire-based battery material can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times
April 21, 2016

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University of California, Irvine researchers have invented a new nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement.

It could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars, and spacecraft.

The design is based on nanowires, which are highly conductive and feature a large surface area for… read more

You can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy

Could one day replace fingerprints; initial use likely to be high-security locations
April 21, 2016

brainprint headset ft

Binghamton University researchers have developed a biometric identification method called Cognitive Event-RElated Biometric REcognition (CEREBRE) for identifying an individual’s unique “brainprint.” They recorded the brain activity of 50 subjects wearing an electroencephalograph (EEG) headset while looking at selected images from a set of 500 images.

The researchers found that participants’ brains reacted uniquely to each image — enough so that a computer system that analyzed the different… read more

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