Thursday, March 29, 2012

Google puts a blind man behind the wheel of its self-driving car (video)

Google self driving car

Sometimes it feels all too easy to succumb to cynicism when looking at the cutthroat competition in the tech world, but a new video from Google that demonstrates its self-driving car is more than enough to lead one's heart back to the optimism inherent in human technology. In the video, Google employees pick up Steve Mahan, a man who's lost 95 percent of his vision, and put him behind the wheel — and from the moment the car starts up to a gentle robotic voice that announces "auto driving," it's clear that this ride is going to be unlike any other you've seen. Steve explains how "you lose your timing in life, everything takes you much longer" — "there are some places that you cannot go, there are some things that you really cannot...
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Robot uses AI and camera tracking to rehabilitate stroke victims


Stroke patients don't always keep up with their rehabilitation exercises once they leave the hospital, so a team at the University of Toronto's Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering has come up with a solution — an intelligent robot that makes the process more fun. Associate professor Alex Mihailidis and his team developed a robot that helps patients with their exercises. It's also equipped with artificial intelligence and cameras so that it can track their progress and adapt accordingly. Exercises will change based on past performances or how tired the patient is, and the robot uses rehabilitation-related games to make things more enjoyable. It can even record sessions so that attendants can review progress remotely....
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Google Docs spell checker now features adaptive 'Did you mean...' suggestions

exhibit xzibit

We're regularly impressed by the accuracy of Google's "Did you mean..." functionality, so it's good news that the company has decided to integrate it into Google Docs' spell checker. It'll now give you suggestions based on context — examples given are the ability to correctly interpret "Icland is an icland" as "Iceland is an island," and correcting sentences like "Let's meat for coffee." It also checks words against content from the web, finally saving you from having to enter terms like "Skrillex" into traditional spell checkers. We tested these features out and found them to work relatively reliably, though not always consistently — typing in "your a idiot," for example, caught the first grammar mistake but not the second. Still,...
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Even cerebral palsy can't stop this dedicated video creator

Christopher Hill isn't your typical video producer. The youngster whipped up the clip after the break controlling his array of Macs almost entirely with a single switch. Chris has cerebral palsy, a severe motor function impairment that makes it all but impossible for him to interact with a computer through a traditional keyboard and mouse. Instead, a button is mounted behind his head on his wheel chair, which connects to a Discover Switch. That blue and green USB peripheral, which looks quite a bit like the Staple's Easy Button, allows him to manipulate anything on the screen with nothing more than the back of his head. The one thing Chris left to someone else in the clip below is the subtitles. While he could actually type them himself, it would have taken a very long time, so he graciously accepted some help from his father. Click on through for a nice heart-warming tale about the power of modern technology.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tek Robotic Mobilization Device helps paraplegics stand, huge improvement over the wheelchair

Tek Robotic Mobilization Device helps paraplegics stand, huge improvement over the wheelchair: Tek RMD

If you've ever spent any significant amount of time with a wheelchair user, you'll know that the tool isn't the perfect design — it often gets in the way, and it is difficult to get in and out of. The Tek RMD (Robotic Mobilization Device) looks to be a major improvement over the years-old wheelchair design. It's a "motorized standing movement device," and while it's not the first such product that'll hold a paraplegic in a standing position, the makers say it's the smallest of its kind. Size is important for a device like this; the world still is full of places that aren't designed for those who are paralyzed, and at 36cm wide and 62cm long (a third the size of a typical wheelchair), it looks much easier to squeeze through aisles at...
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

App turns Android tabs into math tools for the visually impaired (video)

Haptic graph
Two high school students are taking part in a bit of an experiment at Vanderbilt University. The college's Medical and Electromechanical Design Laboratory (MED Lab) is working on an Android app that turns tablets into a teaching aid for the visually impaired. Areas of math that rely heavily on visual elements, such as algebra and calculus, prove problematic for students with poor eyesight. A common solution involves pipe cleaners, a cork board and push pins, to recreate graphs, but the method is quite slow. The MED Lab is looking to haptic feedback as a way to help the visually impaired identify lines, graph points and other data that is normally represented visually. For more details about the project check out the video after the break.

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