It can be challenging to wrap your head around new computing concepts that are supposed to turn the world on its head, but take a gander at this VentureBeat piece on Stephen Wolfram’s new computing paradigm. It combines the Wolfram Alpha search engine, the Mathematica computation platform, and natural language programming in a way that allows programmers to build apps that already “know” vast quantities of information.
Not everyone is a fan of Google Glass. While few doubt the utility of the augmented reality (AR) headset, privacy concerns have made just as many headlines as actual usage of Google’s devices. The company has banned the use of facial recognition software, but people have already figured out workarounds, making the ban appear rather worthless.
Solutions to the problem of the camera embedded in every pair of Google Glass have included a cap to block its recording capability in public, a red light to show the camera is on, and so forth. The eventual solution to the camera conundrum may eventually just be to remove it. A new challenger has already gone this route with GlassUp, a set of AR glasses that has no camera and has been designed with a more limited set of capabilities. Continue reading
Texting is either the bane of civilization or a breakthrough in mobile communications, depending on your point of view. Pretty much anyone under 35 can be spotted habitually tapping away on their phones, often blithely ignorant of what’s going on around them. While this is a detriment to the unwise who text and drive, a quick message can sometimes accomplish more than a 20-minute phone call.
The tech is less useful for the blind. While electronic readers can relay messages, and Braille smartphones can bridge the gap, those are mainly slight alterations to devices designed for sighted individuals. The Design Research Lab in Berlin, Germany has developed a haptic feedback glove designed specifically for blind users to improve texting capabilities. Continue reading
The idea of a house that responds to commands through high technology has been bouncing around for nearly a century. Mainly a sci-fi trope, the possibility of realizing such a house has become more likely with the development of wireless technology and the internet of things (IoT). For those unfamiliar with the term, the IoT represents everyday objects that are connected to the web via sensors, chips or some other bit of technology.
These objects can track user data (such as how many times you actually hit the fridge at 3 a.m.) and, increasingly, have interactive elements. Gestures and voice commands may eventually allow you to turn on the TV, turn off the lights and so forth. A MIT Media Lab group called the Fluid Interfaces Group isn’t sure that’s the best idea. They contend that much of human interaction is based on touch, and a lack of muscle memory involved in physically interacting with objects could have a negative long-term impact.
Maneuvering a remote controlled helicopter using a standard controller can be pretty challenging for a novice. I’m not sure how a new thought-control method developed at the University of Minnesota will compare. Researchers there have come up with a way to control a small quadicopter using electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain signals and transfer them to the copter. Continue reading