Tech Today w/ Ken May

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Add / Remove Driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as drink driving, and yet there isn’t currently a way to test for tiredness in the event of a crash. Marketing campaigns such as Drive Awake have used facial recognition to detect if drivers are falling asleep, but required drivers to take it upon themselves to install the app. Spain’s Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) has now created the Harken project, which places sensors into seatbelts and car seats to track drivers’ alertness. The system uses smart textiles embedded with sensors to monitor the key indicators of the driver’s sleepiness. Connected to a signal processing unit that filters out the motion of the car from the data, the seatbelt features a heartrate monitor while the fabric covering the seat can detect breathing rate. When the user begins to become fatigued, the heartrate drops and breathing becomes heavier. When they drop below a certain threshold, an alarm is triggered to wake up the driver. Watch the video below to learn more about the project: The team has successfully trialled the system on a closed track test and aims to work with manufacturers to include the system as standard in vehicles. Are there other ways to use sensor technology to ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road? Website: http://harken.ibv.org/ Contact: www.harken.ibv.org/index.php/contact

Add / Remove Eco-minded consumers are increasingly looking to reduce the ‘dirty’ energy used in their home. In the past, marketplaces like the Netherlands’ Vandebron have handed control over to consumers by letting them decide how local and green they want their energy to be and choose their own suppliers. But now Ohmconnnect is taking a different route by notifying customers of the best times to reduce energy use and offering cash rewards for doing so. Unfortunately for consumers concerned about their environmental impact, all major energy companies use a multitude of different sources to power their customers’ homes. While these businesses typically publish a fuel mix ratio, consumers can never know exactly where their energy is coming from at any given time — except when peaker plants come into effect. These plants are typically used between once and three times a week in the case that energy consumption in a particular location peaks above the predicted amount allocated for the region. The plants can quickly generate and distribute energy, but they’re often expensive to operate and use fossil fuels inefficiently. By monitoring energy use across the US, Ohmconnect can detect when and where peak energy periods take place, something it calls #OhmHour. Those downloading the app receive alerts whenever a peaker plant near them becomes active. The app can be linked with popular devices such as Nest and the Tesla Smart House system so users can automatically reduce their home energy when an alert is sent out and the company can detect the drop. Alternatively, they can manually turn off energy-sucking appliances and Ohmconnect will detect reductions through smart meters located in 95 percent of homes served by PG&E . Users gain points whenever they save energy during #OhmHour, which can be converted into cash when they meet the required threshold. The app also offers a detailed breakdown of energy use for each user. Ohmconnect makes its money from selling this saved energy — essentially generated energy that’s gone unused — back to the energy market. By doing so, dirty energy consumption is reduced and consumers get a share of the reward. Are there ways that utilities companies could use big data in a similar way to help reduce bills for their customers? Website: www.ohmconnect.com > Contact: talk@ohmconnect.com

Microsoft Purges 1,500 Fake Apps From the Windows Store

Posted by kenmay on August - 28 - 2014

The cesspool that is the Windows Store available in Windows 8 is finally getting a clean up. Microsoft is getting rid of 1, 500 fake apps from the Store and will refund your money if you fell for a scam. Read more…

Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany

Posted by kenmay on August - 28 - 2014

An anonymous reader writes “Several fake NVIDIA cards — probably GeForce GT 440 — have had their BIOS reflashed to report themselves as GeForce GTX 660. They were sold under the brand “GTX660 4096MB Nvidia Bulk” but only deliver 1/4 of the speed of a real GTX 660. Investigations are ongoing into who did the reflashing, but several hundred of them have already been sold and are now being recalled.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

3D printing has taken root in a variety of disciplines, and medicine is no stranger to leveraging its tool kit . At Boston Children’s Hospital, surgeons are using printed models to prep for the operating room. “With 3D printing, we’re taking a step that allows experienced doctors to simulate the specific anatomy of their patients and allows the best of the best become even better, ” says Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD. Dr. Weinstock is working on an in-house service that’s capable of constructing the models in short order. Using scans from the hospital’s radiology department and a 3D printer capable of super high resolution output (16 microns, to be exact), the models allow doctors to examine details of a baby’s skull or brain. What’s more, the machine can use multiple materials to sculpt the final result, simulating the unique facets bone, skin and blood vessels individually. For surgeons-in-training, the custom-made prints can illustrate the details of a medical condition rather than an average look. Filed under: Misc Comments Via: ABC News Source: Boston Children’s Hospital

Instagram shows how Hyperlapse stabilizes your jittery videos

Posted by kenmay on August - 27 - 2014

Instagram has already revealed a bit about how Hyperlapse turns your shaky handheld footage into smooth time-lapses, but what if you really want to know what makes it tick? Don’t worry — the company will happily satisfy your curiosity with a deep dive into the app’s inner workings. Ultimately, you’re looking at a significant extension of the Cinema tech used in Instagram itself. It’s still using your phone’s gyroscope to determine the orientation of the camera and crop frames to counteract any shakiness. The biggest change is in how Hyperlapse adjusts to different time-lapse speeds. It only checks the positioning for the video frames you’ll actually see, and that crop-based smoothing effect will change as you step up the pace. Importantly, Instagram’s approach contrasts sharply with what we saw in Microsoft’s similarly-named technique . There, Microsoft is calculating a 3D path through the scene and stitching together frames to create a seamless whole. That approach is potentially nicer-looking, but it’s a lot more computationally intensive; Instagram is taking advantage of your phone’s built-in sensors to create a similar effect without as much hard work. You don’t need to know the nitty-gritty about Hyperlapse to appreciate the effect it has on your clips, but the post is definitely worth a read if you have unanswered questions. Filed under: Cellphones , Internet , Mobile , Facebook Comments Via: 9to5Mac Source: Instagram Engineering Blog

Mapping Wi-Fi dead zones with physics and GIFs

Posted by kenmay on August - 27 - 2014

A simulated map of the WiFi signal in Jason Cole’s two-bedroom apartment. Jason Cole A home’s Wi-Fi dead zones are, to most of us, a problem solved with guesswork. Your laptop streams just fine in this corner of the bedroom, but not the adjacent one; this arm of the couch is great for uploading photos, but not the other one. You avoid these places, and where the Wi-Fi works becomes a factor in the wear patterns of your home. In an effort to better understand, and possibly eradicate, his Wi-Fi dead zones, one man took the hard way: he solved the Helmholtz equation . The Helmholtz equation models “the propagation of electronic waves” that involves using a sparse matrix to help minimize the amount of calculation a computer has to do in order to figure out the paths and interferences of waves, in this case from a Wi-Fi router. The whole process is similar to how scattered granular material, like rice or salt, will form complex patterns on top of a speaker depending on where the sound waves are hitting the surfaces. The author of the post in question , Jason Cole, first solved the equation in two dimensions, and then applied it to his apartment’s long and narrow two-bedroom layout. He wrote that he took his walls to have a very high refractive index, while empty space had a refractive index of 1. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Some are calling it an invisible chair while others are going with bionic pants —semantics, perhaps, but considering that the chair is a canonical example of industrial design, it’s worth examining the distinction when it comes to Noonee ‘s “Chairless Chair.” “Based on robotic principles of Bio-Inspired Legged Locomotion and Actuation, ” the exoskeletal assistive device consists of a pair of mechatronic struts that run the length of the user’s leg, with attachment points across the thighs and at the heels of the user’s shoes. Hinged at the knee to allow for normal movement—viz. walking and running—while a battery-powered variable damper system can be engaged to direct body weight from the knees to the heels of one’s feet. Of course, the Chairless Chair is intended not for us deskbound office peons but for environments in which workers must stand for extended periods, if not entire 8-hour shifts. As the story goes, 29-year-old Keith Gunura was inspired by his experience working in a packaging factory in the U.K.; now, a decade later, he is the CEO and founder of Zurich-based company. CNN, which duly notes the precedent of the one-legged Swiss milking stool, sums up these workplace health concerns (as does the Noonee website ): Physical strain, repetitive movements and poor posture can lead to conditions called Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are now one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. In 2011, MSDs accounted for 33 percent of all worker injuries and illnesses in the U.S. with over 378, 000 cases, according to data from the United States Department of Labor. In Europe, over 40 million workers are affected by MSDs attributable to their job, according to a study entitled Fit For Work Europe and conducted across 23 European countries. Gunura demo’ing the Chairless Chair (more…)

A sixth-generation iPod Nano embedded in a watch band. Aaron Muszalski Re/code is reporting that Apple will introduce a wearable device on September 9 alongside two next-generation iPhones. Such a device from Apple has been highly anticipated since the wearable market received newcomers from Samsung, LG, and Motorola . Apple’s entry into this market was originally expected sometime in October based on an earlier report from Re/code. The site has had a good track record of correctly predicting the timing of Apple product releases since the AllThingsD days. John Paczkowski, who reported the news, says that the coming device will certainly be equipped to make use of Apple’s HealthKit platform for its Health app, as well as HomeKit, which is a platform to connect devices to smart appliances and light bulbs. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

3D printed bump keys make short work of high-security locks

Posted by kenmay on August - 27 - 2014

High-end locks rely on their unique key-shapes to prevent “bumping” (opening a lock by inserting a key-blank and hitting it with a hammer, causing the pins to fly up), but you can make a template for a bump key by photographing the keyhole and modelling it in software. Read the rest