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AUTOMATED BLACKHAWK HELICOPTER COMPLETES FIRST FLIGHT TEST

Does it seem believable that the wars of the future will be fought entirely with robots while humans are safely miles away, monitoring and controlling? The US military is certainly making a case for such a scenario. The latest installation is a JUH-60A Blackhawk helicopter that flies, lands, and avoids threats – all without a pilot.

The autonomous Blackhawk’s official name is Rotorcraft Airscrew Systems Concept Airborne Laboratory, or RASCAL, and it has just completed its first test flight at the Diablo Mountain Range in San Jose, California. Pilots were actually aboard during the two-hour test flight for an emergency takeover, but turned out they weren’t needed.

Read the complete article at Singularity Hub.

How Videogames Could Help Train the Next Generation of Robotic Surgeons

 

Dr. Sami Kilic oversees doctors training to become surgeons at a hospital in Galveston, Texas, and he’s also the parent of a teenage boy. Like many parents, Kilic is concerned about how much time his son spends playing videogames. But now he’s also worried that his resident physicians aren’t playing them enough.

According to a study by Kilic and others at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, doling out death in the virtual world of first-person-shooter games might help the next generation of surgeons save lives in the real world. The study, presented at a meeting of the American Gynecologic Laparoscopists in Las Vegas in November, used simulators to compare the robotic surgery skills of med school residents against college and high school students who spend a lot of their time playing videogames — and the videogamers won.

Robotic surgery — where robotic machinery helps surgeons perform certain tasks through very small incisions — is growing rapidly, despite the criticism that these procedures are expensive and may not be any more safe than traditional minimally invasive operations. In recent years, around 75 percent of all prostate cancer surgeries are now done with Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Surgical Systems machines, according to the company (.pdf).

Intuitive Surgical – which currently enjoys a monopoly on robotic surgery equipment — also reports (.pdf) that there was a 29 percent increase in robotic-assisted surgeries from 2010 to 2010, and the number climbed another 24 percent from 2011 to 2012. For better or worse, the next generation of surgeons will likely need to learn to operate robotic equipment.

Read the complete article at Wired.

2.5 Years Of Computer Usage Turned Into A Stunning Data Visualization

All these years you’ve been surfing the web and messing around on your computer, have you ever put any consideration into what all that usage might look like? A blur of cat videos, status updates, and badly-authored Excel sheets, maybe?

Read the complete article at The Creators Project.

U.S. Government Will Launch a Dynamic Airwave-Sharing Scheme

Aiming to boost wireless bandwidth and innovation, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is poised to recommend the biggest regulatory change in decades: one that allows a newly available chunk of wireless spectrum to be leased by different companies at different times and places, rather than being auctioned off to one high bidder.

The step “is a critical milestone,” said David Tennenhouse, Microsoft’s vice president of technology policy, adding that it will not only release more spectrum but also enable “dynamic spectrum sharing that is particularly well suited for absorbing growing wireless data traffic.”

Cisco Systems estimates that mobile data traffic will grow by a factor of 18 by 2016, and Bell Labs predicts it will increase by a factor of 25. Many more airwaves could eventually be shared with the help of cognitive radios, which sense available frequencies and shift between them.

The move will open up a piece of spectrum in the 3.550 to 3.650 gigahertz band now used by radar systems. The move in effect allocates spectrum for another Wi-Fi—a technology that has had tremendous impact. But it is the sharing approach that represents a dramatic change in unleashing bandwidth.

Read the complete article at Technology Review.

Supreme Court review sought of $222K verdict in music piracy case

 

A woman ordered to pay $222,000 for pirating 24 copyrighted songs has taken her fight against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a petition filed Monday, lawyers for Minnesota native Jammie Thomas-Rasset urged the nation’s highest court to review both the fairness and the constitutionality of the fine.

The petition contends that the damages awarded against Thomas-Rasset violated her due process rights and was not tied to any actual injury suffered by the recording companies as the result of her piracy. Instead, by securing such a large verdict against her, the RIAA was hoping to send a message to other copyright infringers.

“Thomas-Rasset cannot be punished for the harm inflicted on the recording industry by file sharing in general,” the petition notes. “While that would no doubt help accomplish the industry’s and Congress’s goal of deterring copyright infringement, singling out and punishing an individual in a civil case to a degree entirely out of proportion with her individual offense is not a constitutional means of achieving that goal.”

Read the complete article at Computer World.

The Augmented Reality train window that lets you change the scenery

Staring out of the train at the landscape that whizzes by could be about to become a lot more interactive, if Japanese audiovisual collective Salad has its way.

For its project “Touch the Train Window” the team has used an iPhone, an Xbox 360 Kinect, a projector, a GPS sensor, and a stack of openFrameworks code to create a train window that allows users to place objects on the vistas in front of them in real time, thanks to Augmented Reality.

Read the complete article at Pocket-Lint.

Augmented reality contact lenses may be in the not too distant future

Curved LCD technology may be opening up a whole new world of technology
Augmented reality, combined with the latest in curved LCD technology, may be bringing concepts that had previously been available only in science fiction into reality.

This is the idea of combining a head up display with contact lenses for a whole new level of gadget.

This could become possible as a result of the latest announcement from the Centre of Microsystems Technology, which has said that curved LCD has now been successfully embedded onto a contact lens, for an important step closer to a glass-free augmented reality experience.

Read the complete article at QR Code Press.

Text messages direct to your contact lens

New technology that will allow information, such as text messages from a mobile phone, to be projected onto a contact lens worn in the human eye has been developed by Belgian researchers.

Ghent University’s centre of microsystems technology has developed a spherical curved LCD display which can be embedded in contact lenses and handle projected images using wireless technology.

“Now that we have established the basic technology, we can start working towards real applications, possibly available in only a few years,” said Professor Herbert De Smet.

Unlike previous contact lens displays, which are limited to a few small pixels to make up an image, the new technology allows the whole curved surface of the lens to be used.

Read the complete article at The Telegraph.

Doctors implant first ‘brain pacemaker’ to treat Alzheimer’s

For heart patients, signing up to implant a pacemaker in your chest isn’t casual choice. Nevertheless, the technology has saved numerous lives over the years. This week a new development was unveiled that uses a similar device to treat to Alzheimer’s patients with what’s essentially a pacemaker for the brain.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have announced the first successful implantation of a pacemaker-like device that delivers deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a means for reversing cognitive degeneration and memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s. The treatment is more commonly used on patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Read the complete article at DVice.

Apathetic Facebook Users Relinquish The Right To Vote On Facebook Privacy Changes

For the last few years, Facebook had a slightly odd nod toward corporate democracy. If a change to the agreements it made with its users sparked thousands of comments — indicating users were upset by the change — it would trigger a voting mechanism by which users could reject the change. The site, whose value is created by the personal information eagerly handed over by its hundreds of millions of users, wanted to maintain a sense that those users were in control of how that information was being used by Facebook. In order for the vote to be binding though, 30% of the site’s over one billion users had to participate.

The vote has been triggered three times now. Each time, the turn-out was worse than what you’d get at a state fair in the middle of a hurricane. While Facebook has previously lamented voter apathy, it did little to force users to vote. It sent out an email last week, and included a “share” button on the voting site so that people could tell their friends about it, but did not otherwise force it upon users when they signed onto the site. Facebookers were more likely to see that fake copyright notice than to encounter information about voting. “Ironically, as nonsensical as it is, that fake status update went viral because it was less confusing than Facebook’s actual site governance process,” writes Will Oremus at Slate.

Read the complete article at Forbes.