Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for February 23rd, 2017

Paralyzed Man Uses Brain Implant To Type Eight Words Per Minute

Posted by kenmay on February - 23 - 2017

A study published in the journal eLife describes three participants that broke new ground in the use of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) by people with paralysis. One of the participants, a 64-year-old man paralyzed by a spinal cord injury, “set a new record for speed in a ‘copy typing’ task, ” reports IEEE Spectrum. “Copying sentences like ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, ‘ he typed at a relatively blistering rate of eight words per minute.” From the report: This experimental gear is far from being ready for clinical use: To send data from their implanted brain chips, the participants wear head-mounted components with wires that connect to the computer. But Henderson’s team, part of the multiuniversity BrainGate consortium, is contributing to the development of devices that can be used by people in their everyday lives, not just in the lab. “All our research is based on helping people with disabilities, ” Henderson tells IEEE Spectrum. Here’s how the system works: The tiny implant, about the size of a baby aspirin, is inserted into the motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for voluntary movement. The implant’s array of electrodes record electrical signals from neurons that “fire” as the person thinks of making a motion like moving their right hand — even if they’re paralyzed and can’t actually move it. The BrainGate decoding software interprets the signal and converts it into a command for the computer cursor. Interestingly, the system worked best when the researchers customized it for each participant. To train the decoder, each person would imagine a series of different movements (like moving their whole right arm or wiggling their left thumb) while the researchers looked at the data coming from the electrodes and tried to find the most obvious and reliable signal. Each participant ended up imagining a different movement to control the cursor. The woman with ALS imagined moving her index finger and thumb to control the cursor’s left-right and up-down motions. Henderson says that after a while, she didn’t have to think about moving the two digits independently. “When she became facile with this, she said it wasn’t anything conscious; she felt like she was controlling a joystick, ” he says. The man with the spinal cord injury imagined moving his whole arm as if he were sliding a puck across a table. “Each participant settled on control modality that worked best, ” Henderson says. You can watch a video about the study here. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Frog saliva is even stranger than scientists expected

Posted by kenmay on February - 23 - 2017

Frog tongue mechanism has been well-documented, but only recently have scientists started looking at the remarkable combo of tongue softness and frog spit’s chemical makeup . (more…)

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Sony’s ‘world’s fastest’ SD card writes data at 299 MB/s

Posted by kenmay on February - 23 - 2017

Sony’s upcoming SF-G series of SD cards will be available this spring, the company announced today . When that time comes, Sony said they “will be the world’s fastest SD cards.” Boasting a maximum write speed of 299 MB/s, that claim is right on point. The cards (available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes) also have a slightly higher top read speed of 300 MB/s. Speed is a priority, so the cards also support the UHS-II interface, which adds a second row of connecting pins to the card for increased transfer rates on compatible hardware. More than any card before it, the SF-G series will be able to handle quick-shooting cameras smoothly, as well as capturing 4K video and other technically demanding uses. To fully take advantage of the tremendous speed, Sony also revealed it will offer a specialized card reader so users can quickly transfer files to and from their computers. The SF-G series will take good care of your files, too. In addition to being compatible with Sony’s file rescue software , these SD’s are also waterproof, temperature resistant, shockproof and X-Ray proof. For comparison, B&H Photo Video says that two of the fastest SD card lines out there today, SanDisk’s Extreme PRO UHS-II series and Lexar’s Professional 2000x UHS-II series, can achieve read speeds of 300 MB/s and write speeds of 260 MB/s. For the more casual user, Amazon’s best-selling card, the 32GB SanDisk Ultra Class 10 SDHC UHS-I , tops out at 80 MB/s for read and write speeds. Sony has yet to announce the pricing for these cards, but the 32GB version of the aforementioned SanDisk card sells for about $60 . The SF-G cards are technically superior, though, so expect them to retail for a bit more than that. Source: Sony

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After a deluge of teasing press releases and premature speculation , we can finally share some Very Important NASA News: Today, the agency announced that a team of scientists has confirmed seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a star located just 39 light-years away from our Sun. The six inner planets are… Read more…

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