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February 22, 2018

BROWSE NEWS RESULTS

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Technology Review
May 31, 2011

Sony Sets Its Sights on Augmented Reality

The future of mobile gaming will merge the virtual and real worlds.
Sony has demonstrated a new augmented reality system called Smart AR that can be built into the company's future gaming devices. Augmented reality involves mapping virtual objects onto a view of the real world, usually as seen through the screen of a smart phone. The technology has so far been used to create a handful of dazzling smart-phone apps, but has yet to take off in a big way. However, many believe that mobile gaming could prove to be an ideal platform for the technology. With Smart AR, certain real-world objects could become part of a game when viewed through a device such as the PlayStation Portable. This could allow game characters to appear on a tabletop, perhaps, or to respond to the movement of real objects.
MIT Research News
May 31, 2011

Finding an Edge

An algorithm for identifying the boundaries of objects in digital images is 50,000 times more efficient than its predecessor.
Determining the boundaries of objects is one of the central problems in computer vision. It's something humans do with ease: We glance out the window and immediately see cars as distinct from the sidewalk and street and the people walking by, or lampposts as distinct from the facades of the buildings behind them. But duplicating that facility in silicon has proven remarkably difficult.

One of the best ways for a computer to determine boundaries is to make lots of guesses and compare them; the boundaries that most of the guesses agree on are likeliest to be accurately drawn. Until now, that process has been monstrously time consuming. But Jason Chang, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and John Fisher, a principal research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), have figured out how to make it at least 50,000 times more efficient. Their findings could help improve systems for medical imaging, for tracking moving objects and for 3-D object-recognition, among others.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
Technology Review
May 30, 2011

The Kindle Swindle

What is and isn't good about reading on a device
I know that many, many people have observed that all books and articles tend to look the same on the screen of an iPhone or Kindle or on the Kindle app of the iPad, and this strips the reading experience of texture—the array of sensory experiences that have come to be represented as the "book smell." This has become such a cliché by writers nostalgic for the simpler, more book-smell-redolent past that some humorist has even invented a fictitious aerosol spray, "for sale" at smellofbooks.com, that purports to allow readers to "finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much." In the introduction to the 2006 edition of his prescient 1994 essay collection The Gutenberg Elegies, Sven Birkerts summed up the deeper concern that those superficial aesthetic concerns stand in for: "The electronic impulse works against the durational reverie of reading. And however much other media take up the slack ... what is lost is the contemplative register. And this, in the chain of consequences, alters subjectivity, dissipates its intensity." In other words, what's at stake when we lose the book-specific experience of reading isn't just the emotional connection to the book or magazine as an object; we've redefined what reading is. The consequences of this redefinition can be positive, negative, or indifferent. I set out to experience and describe device-reading with this set of concerns in mind, as someone who loves reading on, and writing for, both page and screen, but worries a lot about the growing primacy of the latter.
MIT Research News
May 27, 2011

Hotspot in the Hot Seat

New seismic imaging alters the picture beneath Hawaii.
The Hawaiian archipelago, and its chain of active and extinct volcanoes, has long been viewed as a geological curiosity. While most volcanoes arise at the boundaries of shifting tectonic plates, the Hawaiian chain lies smack in the middle of the Pacific plate, nowhere near its borders.

Now a study by researchers at MIT and Purdue University, published this week in Science, paints an unexpected picture of what’s beneath Hawaii. Using a new imaging technique adapted from uses in oil and gas exploration, MIT’s Robert van der Hilst and colleagues produced high-resolution images that peek hundreds of kilometers below the Earth’s surface.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
Technology Review
May 27, 2011

A Gas Power Plant to Make Renewables More Practical

GE says its new gas-plant design can address the sudden drops that occur with renewable forms of energy.
General Electric announced on Thursday that it's designed a gas-fired combined-cycle power plant that can start up rapidly. The goal is to help electricity grids adapt to the variability of renewable energy. With a small but growing proportion of electricity in Europe being supplied by wind and solar power, grid operators need new ways to deal with fluctuations in supply. The supply from solar drops dramatically at night, while wind installations only provide power when the wind is blowing. GE's new plant can ramp up electricity generation at a rate of more than 50 megawatts a minute—twice the rate of current industry benchmarks. The plant can start from scratch in less than 30 minutes.
Technology Review
May 27, 2011

A Blood Test for Depression

A commercial test could let doctors easily screen for major depressive disorder.
Doctors may soon have a more objective way to diagnose and treat depression: a blood test that provides a score between one and nine, with higher scores correlating with an increased probability of a patient having major depressive disorder. Developed by Ridge Diagnostics, based in San Diego, the test measures changes in 10 biomarkers in the blood and feeds the results into an algorithm that assesses four different body systems to compute the final score.
Technology Review
May 26, 2011

The Limits of Tornado Predictions

Meteorologists can use many technologies to forecast tornadoes, but the predictions aren't as precise as they'd like.
The residents of Joplin, Missouri, had 24 minutes of warning before a tornado hit their city on Sunday. That gave many people time to take cover, but despite the warning, 100 people were killed. Meteorologists would like to be able to warn people earlier and perhaps save more lives, and they have gotten better at predicting the conditions that produce tornadoes. But the swift and chaotic nature of tornado formation might defy our technological capacity to forecast them with greater precision anytime soon. The National Weather Service and its Storm Prediction Center issue two forms of tornado alerts: watches and warnings. Watches alert people to the presence of storm conditions that breed tornadoes, and can now be called up to five days in advance (10 years ago, warnings came three days in advance, at best). But watches only tell us that tornadoes might be coming—they're not precise about when or where.
Technology Review
May 26, 2011

Software Transforms Photos Into 3-D Models

Photofly uses overlapping photos to create high-detail 3-D copies of anything from bugs to Mount Rushmore.
Ever wished you could take an object in a museum home with you instead of settling for some photos? The design software company Autodesk will release free software next week that could turn those snapshots into your own personal replica from a 3-D printer. Called Photofly, the software extracts a detailed 3-D model from a collection of overlapping photos.
Technology Review
May 26, 2011

What Big Data Needs: A Code of Ethical Practices

Four key principles that companies should follow if they hope to analyze customers' data without alienating them.
In this era of Big Data, there is little that cannot be tracked in our online lives—or even in our offline lives. Consider one new Silicon Valley venture, called Color: it aims to make use of GPS devices in mobile phones, combined with built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers, to parse streams of photos that users take and thus pinpoint their locations. By watching as these users share photos and analyzing aspects of the pictures, as well as ambient sounds picked up by the microphone in each handset, Color aims to show not only where they are, but also whom they are with. While this kind of service might prove attractive to customers interested in tapping into mobile social networks, it also could creep out even ardent technophiles. Color illustrates a stark reality: companies are steadily gaining new ways to capture information about us. They now have the technology to make sense of massive amounts of unstructured data, using natural language processing, machine learning, and software architectures such as Hadoop, which handles high volumes of simultaneous search queries. Messy data of this kind, long relegated to data warehouses, is now the target of data mining. So is the information generated by social networks—user profiles and posts. Its quantity is staggering: a recent report from the market intelligence firm IDC estimates that in 2009 stored information totaled 0.8 zetabytes, the equivalent of 800 billion gigabytes. IDC predicts that by 2020, 35 zetabytes of information will be stored globally. Much of that will be customer information. As the store of data grows, the analytics available to draw inferences from it will only become more sophisticated.
Technology Review
May 26, 2011

Google Wallet: Who'll Buy In?

The company wants to play a key role in electronic mobile payments, but faces big challenges and big competition.
Google announced an app and a number of partnerships that could help it become a key gatekeeper in mobile electronic payments—a space that many expect to boom over the next few years. Google Wallet, announced today at an event in New York, is a app that lets users tap their smart-phone in stores to pay for purchases using near-field communication (NFC) technology—but only after they've entered their credit or debit card details. A related product called Google Offers will let users send coupons to their virtual wallets, via a Google search, for instance, or an advertising billboard using NFC.
Technology Review
May 25, 2011

Powering Your Car with Waste Heat

New thermoelectric materials will be tested in BMW, Ford, and Chevrolet vehicles by the end of summer.
At least two-thirds of the energy in gasoline used in cars and trucks is wasted as heat. Thermoelectrics, semiconductor materials that convert heat into electricity, could capture this waste heat, reducing the fuel needs of the vehicle and improving fuel economy by at least 5 percent. But the low efficiency and high cost of existing thermoelectric materials has kept such devices from becoming practical in vehicles. Now researchers are assembling the first prototype thermoelectric generators for tests in commercial cars and SUVs. The devices are a culmination of several advances made independently at thermoelectric device-maker BSST in Irwindale, California, and at General Motors Global R&D in Warren, Michigan. Both companies plan to install and test their prototypes by the end of the summer—BSST in BMW and Ford cars, and GM in a Chevrolet SUV.
Technology Review
May 25, 2011

What Bitcoin Is, and Why It Matters

Can a booming "crypto-currency" really compete with conventional cash?
Recent weeks have been exciting for a relatively new kind of currency speculator. In just three weeks, the total value of a unique new digital currency called Bitcoin has jumped four times, to over $40 million. Bitcoin is underwritten not by a government, but by a clever cryptographic scheme.