Tag Archives: wireless

Researchers develop ‘wireless’ activation of brain circuits

And it’s a unique collaboration between chemists and neuroscientists that led to the discovery of a remarkable new way to use light to activate brain circuits with nanoparticles.

Ben Strowbridge, an associate professor in the neurosciences department in the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Clemens Burda, an associate professor in chemistry, say it’s rare in science that people from very different fields get together and do something that is both useful and that no one had thought of before. But that is exactly what they’ve done.

By using semiconductor nanoparticles as tiny solar cells, the scientists can excite neurons in single cells or groups of cells with infrared light. This eliminates the need for the complex wiring by embedding the light-activated nanoparticles directly into the tissue. This method allows for a more controlled reaction and closely replicates the sophisticated focal patterns created by natural stimuli.

The electrodes used in previous nerve stimulations don’t accurately recreate spatial patterns created by the stimuli and also have potential damaging side effects.

“There are many different things you’d want to stimulate neurons for-injury, severed or damaged nerve to restore function- and right now you have to put a wire in there, and then connect that to some control system. It is both very invasive and a difficult thing to do,” says Strowbridge.

IIn principle, the researchers should be able to implant these nanoparticles next to the nerve, eliminating the requirement for wired connections. They can then use light to activate the particles.

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Bionic eye gives blind man sight

A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye.

Ron, 73, had the experimental surgery seven months ago at London’s Moorfield’s eye hospital.

He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks, using the bionic eye, known as Argus II.

It uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of the eye.

In turn, the receiver passes on the data via a tiny cable to an array of electrodes which sit on the retina – the layer of specialised cells that normally respond to light found at the back of the eye.

When these electrodes are stimulated they send messages along the optic nerve to the brain, which is able to perceive patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes have been stimulated.

The hope is that patients will learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

The bionic eye has been developed by US company Second Sight. So far 18 patients across the world, including three at Moorfields, have been fitted with the device.

It is designed to help people, like Ron, who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that cause degeneration of the retina.

The disease progresses over a number of years, normally after people have been diagnosed when they are children.

It is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 are affected in the UK.

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Google Is Taking Questions (Spoken, via iPhone)

Pushing ahead in the decades-long effort to get computers to understand human speech, Google researchers have added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone.

Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store, can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?” The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.

The search results, which may be displayed in just seconds on a fast wireless network, will at times include local information, taking advantage of iPhone features that let it determine its location.

The ability to recognize just about any phrase from any person has long been the supreme goal of artificial intelligence researchers looking for ways to make man-machine interactions more natural. Systems that can do this have recently started making their way into commercial products.

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New E-Newspaper Reader Echoes Look of the Paper

The electronic newspaper, a large portable screen that is constantly updated with the latest news, has been a prop in science fiction for ages. It also figures in the dreams of newspaper publishers struggling with rising production and delivery costs, lower circulation and decreased ad revenue from their paper product.

While the dream device remains on the drawing board, Plastic Logic will introduce publicly on Monday its version of an electronic newspaper reader: a lightweight plastic screen that mimics the look — but not the feel — of a printed newspaper.

The device, which is unnamed, uses the same technology as the Sony eReader and Amazon.com’s Kindle, a highly legible black-and-white display developed by the E Ink Corporation. While both of those devices are intended primarily as book readers, Plastic Logic’s device, which will be shown at an emerging technology trade show in San Diego, has a screen more than twice as large. The size of a piece of copier paper, it can be continually updated via a wireless link, and can store and display hundreds of pages of newspapers, books and documents.

Richard Archuleta, the chief executive of Plastic Logic, said the display was big enough to provide a newspaperlike layout. “Even though we have positioned this for business documents, newspapers is what everyone asks for,” Mr. Archuleta said.

The reader will go on sale in the first half of next year. Plastic Logic will not announce which news organization will display its articles on it until the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, when it will also reveal the price.

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Intel touts progress toward intelligent computers

I hope Intel warned the Luddites and pessimists away at the door, because the chipmaker had a lot of bullish statements Thursday about its belief that computers will become smarter than humans.

At the Intel Developer Forum here, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner showed off a number of technologies in computing, robotics, and communication that he cited as evidence that Ray Kurzweil’s concept of “singularity,” when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence, is impending. Demonstrations spotlighted the wireless transmission of electrical power, dextrous robots with new sensory abilities, a direct interface to the brain, programmable materials that can be used for shape-shifting devices such as resizable cell phones, and silicon photonics that enables chips to communicate with photons rather than electrons.

“We’re making steady progress toward Ray Kurzweil’s singularity,” Rattner said.

Intel of course remains at its heart a chipmaker, and Rattner began with a brief tour, assisted by Mike Garner, senior technologist for Intel’s emerging materials group, of various successors to the current complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process used to make processors. Future ideas that pack ever more computing capacity into a given volume include spintronics, quantum computing, carbon nanotubes.

It’s good to see a big name such as Intel take seriously Kurzweil’s ideas on accelerating progress, the Singularity, etc.

The more people are working towards a common goal, the better.

‘Voiceless’ Phone Call

‘Voiceless’ Phone Call

Ambient Corporation has demonstrated a “voiceless” phone call. The call was made using a neckband called Audeo, which translates thoughts into speech by intercepting nerve signals. Although the device’s recognition abilities are currently limited to 150 words, is the company predicts it will be fully functional by the end of the year. Possible applications range from helping the disabled to performing discreet phone calls in public places.

In a recent conference held by microchip manufacturer Texas Instruments, the co-founder of Ambient Corporation, Michael Callahan, demonstrated the Audeo’s abilities. It seems that after careful training, a person can send nerve signals to his vocal cords, signals which can be ‘picked up’ by the Audeo and relayed wirelessly to a computer. The signals are converted into words, which are spoken by a computerized voice.

Users that might worry about the system voicing inner thoughts can relax. Callahan says that the production of nerve signals for the Audeo requires “a level above thinking”, meaning a conscious effort must be taken. A user must think specifically about voicing his words, or the Audeo will not intercept the signals. The new device has previously been used by handicapped people who were able to control wheelchairs using their thoughts.

New Electronics Promise Wireless at Warp Speed

New Electronics Promise Wireless at Warp Speed

Wireless networking technology will one day deliver high-definition video content and other large data files via the airwaves far faster than that information can be now be delivered over wired systems. But it will take major advances in the electronics that drive computer and radio-frequency systems to create such a high-powered wireless highway.

One of the most basic examples of such a system is a laptop computer equipped with a radio for wireless connectivity. The computer’s performance has generally been improved through upgrades in digital semiconductor performance: shrinking the size of the semiconductor’s transistors to ramp up transaction speed, packing more of them onto the chip to increase processing power, and even substituting silicon with compounds such as gallium arsenide or indium phosphide, which allow electrons to move at a higher velocity.

The key to squeezing higher performance out of the radio side of the equation, according to one company, is using metal-insulator components. “We are potentially at another stepping point, where instead of solid-state semiconductor electronics, we will have metal-insulator electronics,” says Garret Moddel, chief technology officer and chairman of Phiar Corporation in Boulder, Colo.

Electronic Contact Lenses for Better Vision

Electronic Contact Lenses for Better Vision

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Researchers at the University of Washington managed to embed an electronic circuit and LEDs directly into contact lenses, which seemed to look good on rabbit eyes. Though the circuit is not functional and the lights don’t light up, the development shows that future applications like direct video to the eye may indeed be possible.

The prototype contact lens does not correct the wearer’s vision, but the technique could be used on a corrective lens, Parviz said. And all the gadgetry won’t obstruct a person’s view.

“There is a large area outside of the transparent part of the eye that we can use for placing instrumentation,” Parviz said. Future improvements will add wireless communication to and from the lens. The researchers hope to power the whole system using a combination of radio-frequency power and solar cells placed on the lens, Parviz said.

Our Technological Future – Mixed Bag #19

Have I got some groovy new techstuff for you!

First off, Microsofts new technology that represents the future of computing (and management of… things that need management).DARwIn will be America’s first humanoid RoboCup competitor

My Electric Car is Faster Than Your Ferrari


Video Demonstration of Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL)PAL-V (Flying car)


64MW Solar Installation About To Be Switched On!


Toshiba Matsushita Announces Development of Lightweight LED-Backlit LCD Panels


Rays light up life-like graphics


The Futurist: Hands-On With The Neatest New Nanotech

The Incredible Shrinking Engine

Hydrogen Storage: UNBF Researchers Achieve Technology Breakthrough

New Cell Type Identified in Cancer Development

Solar Plane to Fly Continuously Around Mars

Hair Cells Regeneration – Intercytex

Quantum mechanics may explain how humans smell

The Armed Robots Speak Hebrew

Solar Energy To Be Mainstream Power Source By 2025

Nano Projector

Artificial lymph node transplanted into mice

Catalyst could help turn CO2 into fuel

Teenager achieves nuclear fusion at home

Man Lives Pollution-Free in First Solar-Hydrogen House

Photons Trapped for Record Time

Powerful Little Light: LED With 1,000 Lumens

Molecular Switch Holds Key to Reserve Supply of Muscle Stem Cells

These Boots Were Made for 22 M.P.H.

UNC scientists discover cellular ‘SOS’ signal in response to UV skin damage

County to Vaporize Trash – Poof!

A Single-Photon Server with Just One Atom

‘Almost Human’ by Lee Gutkind (review of book about robot intelligence)

New Weight Loss Drug Acomplia On The Horizon

Is this the fabric of the universe?

Key to memory formation revealed

Scientists Make Ice Hotter Than Boiling Water

8 Signs Google is Planning to Build a National Wireless Network

New Biofuels Process Promises To Meet All U.S. Transportation Needs

Self-Propelled Diodes Could Traverse the Human Body

The Latest in Robots

We’ll All be Cyborgs Someday (This link acts weird in Firefox. the second time you visit it, it wil bother you with subscription information. Just use IE to view this, or clean your cookies in Firefox and then revisit the site)

Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, has firsthand knowledge. In 1998, he had a chip surgically inserted into his left arm, becoming, he thinks, the first human ever implanted with a computer chip.

Since then, he’s had a more sophisticated chip connected directly to his nervous system. He is still working toward his grandest experiment: having a chip implanted in his brain.

“I want to become a cyborg,” he said with an infectious grin. “I can see the advantages.”

In 2002, doctors sliced open Warwick’s left wrist and implanted a much smaller and more sophisticated device. For three months, its 100 electrodes were connected to his median nerves, linking his nervous system to a computer.

“I moved my hand, and my neural signals were sent over the Internet to open and close a robot hand,” he said.

Not only that: The robotic hand had sensors. As it grasped a sponge or a glasses case, it sent information back to Warwick.

“It was tremendously exciting,” Warwick said. “I experienced it as signals in my brain, which my brain was quite happy to recognize as feedback from the robot hand fingertips.”

A Robot in Every Home

I can envision a future in which robotic devices will become a nearly ubiquitous part of our day-to-day lives. I believe that technologies such as distributed computing, voice and visual recognition, and wireless broadband connectivity will open the door to a new generation of autonomous devices that enable computers to perform tasks in the physical world on our behalf. We may be on the verge of a new era, when the PC will get up off the desktop and allow us to see, hear, touch and manipulate objects in places where we are not physically present.

UK report says robots will have rights

“If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Robots and machines are now classed as inanimate objects without rights or duties but if artificial intelligence becomes ubiquitous, the report argues, there may be calls for humans’ rights to be extended to them.

“There will be people who can’t distinguish that so we need to have ethical rules to make sure we as humans interact with robots in an ethical manner so we do not move our boundaries of what is acceptable.”

Robots of the Future

First there was the DARPA Grand Challenge, a robotic contest for building a driverless car capable of successfully completing a 132-mile off-road course. In November 2007, DARPA will throw down the gauntlet once again in the form of the Urban Challenge. This contest raises the bar by requiring its autonomous contestants to negotiate a 60-mile course through simulated urban traffic in less than six hours. Bookies’ favorite is likely to be Sebastian Thrun and his team of roboticists from Stanford University, CA, who won the last challenge, in 2005.


Conscious computing debated at MIT anniversary event

The question of whether machines will be capable of human intelligence is ultimately a matter for philosophers to take up and not something scientists can answer, an inventor and a computer scientist agreed during a debate late last month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What if your laptop knew how you felt?

Faces reveal emotions, and researchers in fields as disparate as psychology, computer science, and engineering are joining forces under the umbrella of “affective computing” to teach machines to read expressions. If they succeed, your computer may one day “read” your mood and play along. Machines equipped with emotional skills could also be used in teaching, robotics, gaming, sales, security, law enforcement, and psychological diagnosis.

In Pictures: Robot Menagerie