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What if your laptop knew how you felt?

December 22, 2006

Computers can now analyze a face from video or a still image and infer almost as accurately as humans (or better) the emotion it displays.

Developed at MIT, “Mind Reader” uses input from a video camera to perform real-time analysis of facial expressions.

Vision of life in the middle of the century

December 22, 2006

Chinese astronauts walk on the moon, the world has splintered into currency blocs after an international exchange rate shock, and even robots have the vote: these are among the scenarios of what life might be like around the middle of the century.

They have emerged from 270 rigorously researched papers commissioned by the government that together purport to be the world’s most extensive look into the future, The Horizon… read more

New Chemical Is Said to Provide Early Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease

December 22, 2006

A new chemical called FDDNP could give earlier signals of Alzheimer’s disease and provide a new way to test treatments.

The FDDNP signal can be seen in people years before they develop Alzheimer’s disease.

UK report says robots will have rights

December 21, 2006

We may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans, according to the British government-commissioned Horizon Scan report.

“If granted full rights, states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time,” it says.

Pluggd: A Google for Podcasts

December 21, 2006

Pluggd has found a way to index podcasts, talk shows and other spoken-word content. The company’s service then allows users to search the audio files for specific words, which are spoken in context by the original speaker.

How Plug-In Hybrids Will Save the Grid

December 21, 2006

A new concept, “vehicle-to-grid,” would allow plug-in hybrids to help stabilize the power grid.

Millions of cars, each with several kilowatt hours of storage capacity, would act as an enormous buffer, taking on charge when the system temporarily generates too much power, and giving it back when there are short peaks in demand.

Maintaining Moore’s Law without Silicon

December 20, 2006

At the International Electron Device meeting in San Francisco last week, MIT scientists presented research that revealed a possible silicon-free future for electronics. The team showed that a transistor made of a compound semiconductor called indium gallium arsenide could operate more than two times faster than a silicon transistor of the same size. The findings could keep Moore’s Law alive after silicon has reached its limit.

Nano-welds herald new era of electronics

December 20, 2006

Researchers have developed new welding techniques that can be used to assemble electronic components at smaller scales than have ever been possible.

One of them uses a 50-nanometer-wide carbon nanotube filled with copper inside a nanorobotic manipulator to connect objects in the same way that a human electrician might use solder.

New firm aims to be a Google for photos

December 20, 2006

Polar Rose, based in Sweden, has unveiled a new image search tool that uses 3D mapping techniques to recognize facial patterns.

Surgical Robots Get a Sense of Touch

December 20, 2006

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a haptic feedback system for surgical robots, which lack subtle sensations.

Their goal is to understand the forces of the robot interacting with the patient and to use motors on the master robot–controlled by the surgeon–to create forces that are equal to those being applied to the patient.

Printing Muscle and Bone

December 19, 2006

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have successfully directed adult stem cells from mice to develop into bone and muscle cells with the aid of a custom-designed ink-jet printer. They say it’s a first step toward better understanding tissue regeneration, which may one day lead to therapies for repairing damaged tissues, as occurs in osteoarthritis.

In Memory-Bank ‘Dialogue,’ the Brain Is Talking to Itself

December 19, 2006

New recordings of electrical activity in the brain may explain a major part of its function, including how it consolidates daily memories, why it needs to dream and how it constructs models of the world to guide behavior.

The finding by MIT researchers showed that during nondreaming sleep, the neurons of both the hippocampus and the neocortex replayed memories — in repeated simultaneous bursts of electrical activity — of… read more

Red light debut for exotic ‘metamaterial’

December 19, 2006

The race to build an exotic material with a negative refractive index for visible light has been won by a team of University of Karlsruhe researchers in Germany. The demonstration could open the door to a new generation of optical devices such as superlenses able to see details finer then the wavelength of visible light.

NASA Ames Schedules Briefing to Discuss Google Agreement

December 17, 2006

NASA Ames Research Center plans to announce a NASA/Google collaboration Monday to make NASA’s vast collection of data and imagery more easily available to the world.

Researchers Demonstrate Direct Brain Control Of Humanoid Robot

December 17, 2006

“Thought commands” generated by analysis of EEG signals can control the actions of robots, University of Washington researchers have found.

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