It looks like Disney Research is working toward making cutlery and furniture servants, a la Beauty and the Beast, a reality.
A team of engineers from the U.S. and Japan, including two engineers from Disney Research in Pittsburgh, has created an electrode that reads the electrical signals the human body gives off, to recognize a range of things people do. Embedded in a device, the electrode knows the difference between a two- and a three-finger pinch.
In a tabletop, it recognizes elbows on the table. Worn as a wristband, it knows when its wearer is clasping his hands or covering his ears. The technology could turn anything into a touch-, gesture- and posture-sensitive device, from cellphones to couches to people’s bodies. The research team members will present their work May 7 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s human-computer interaction conference, where they’ve already won a best paper award.
Touch screens in devices today recognize the electrical signals the body gives off at one frequency. So they recognize two states: “Touch!” or “No touch.” The new technology, which researchers dubbed Touché, recognizes a range of frequencies, allowing Touché to recognize a range of states. So the system can recognize a variety gestures, including “two-finger pinch,” “three-finger pinch,” “one elbow,” “two elbows” and “all fingers touching like a plotting madman.”
Touché’s sensing electrode is small, inexpensive and doesn’t use a lot of power, Touché’s creators wrote in their paper. So manufacturers could embed it in a variety of devices. In their experiments, the researchers put the electrode in a doorknob, a tabletop, a piece of plastic shaped like a cellphone, wristbands people can wear and the bottom of a tank holding water. They demonstrated that in each of these objects, the electrode sent the data it gathered to a computer, via Bluetooth. The computer then correctly recognized all of the gestures mentioned above and more, including the dip of a fingertip in the water in the tank.
In a video presentation they prepared, the researchers imagined that Touché could let people manipulate their smartphones without taking the phones out of their pockets. Want to turn the volume down on some music? Users could stroke their palms and a wristband electrode could send the signal to the phone.
They also envisioned a cereal bowl that would recognize when small kids stick their fingers in and buzz them to remind them to use a spoon. And they imagined a couch that could sense when someone sat in it and turn on the TV in response. If the person fell asleep, relaxing his posture, the couch could dim the lights and turn the TV off. Seems almost as convenient as having a motherly, advice-dispensing teapot, or a footstool that can scuttle itself under your feet.
Want to learn more about the touch devices of the future? InnovationNewsDaily has covered a few of the other best papers from the same conference Touché’s creators are attending, including one about a system that would let users tap in a rhythm in place of keyboard shortcuts and another about a vending machine that asks computer science students to grade quiz questions in return for snacks.source – Mashable
SENIOR Eurocrats are secretly plotting to create a super-powerful EU president to realise their dream of abolishing Britain, we can reveal.
A covert group of EU foreign ministers has drawn up plans for merging the jobs currently done by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.
The new bureaucrat, who would not be directly elected by voters, is set to get sweeping control over the entire EU and force member countries into ever-greater political and economic union. Tellingly, the UK has been excluded from the confidential discussions within the shady “Berlin Group” of Europhile politicians, spearheaded by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.
Opponents fear the plan could create a modern-day equivalent of the European emperor envisaged by Napoleon Bonaparte or a return to the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne that dominated Europe in the Dark Ages.
They are concerned that David Cameron’s coalition Government is doing nothing to prevent the sinister plot. The secret talks were uncovered by Independent Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon.
“This is a plot by people who want to abolish nation states and create a United States of Europe,” he said.
“The whole thing is barmy. These people are determined to achieve their final objective. “The only hope for Britain is to leave the EU and become an independent nation.” The move will give further momentum to the Daily Express’s hugely popular crusade for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Tory backbench MP Douglas Carswell said: “It doesn’t matter how you arrange the offices of these technocrats, they are useless at arranging our lives for us and they are not elected so they have no legitimacy.
“My worry is that the president will end up having the charisma of Van Rompuy and the economic management skills of Barroso.”
Euro-MP Paul Nuttall, of the UK Independence Party, said: “This is a truly ridiculous idea that must never be allowed to happen. It sounds as if they are trying to go back to the days of the Holy Roman Emperor.”
At present, the two senior EU bureaucrats, Mr Barroso and Mr Van Rompuy, are locked in a bitter power struggle to determine who is the true big cheese or “grand fromage” in Europe. Former Portuguese premier Mr Barroso, who heads the EU’s executive arm and was elected to his post by members of the European Union, is understood to resent the rival fiefdom of Belgian Mr Van Rompuy, who was chosen by the heads of government of EU member states to represent them.
Under the plan, a single figure would be elected by Euro-MPs to perform both roles.
Supporters of the move believe that the rival presidencies are undermining the EU’s ability to speak with a single voice. They argue that merging the two jobs will create a powerful European leader who is capable of pursuing the federalist dream of a united Europe which has been severely shaken by the eurozone crisis.
Lord Stoddart confirmed the existence of the plot thanks to a parliamentary written answer in the House of Lords. He asked Foreign Office ministers to reveal what they knew about the merger talks.
In response to his inquiry, Tory Foreign Office minister Lord Howell of Guildford said: “We are aware of one group of EU foreign ministers meeting on an informal basis to discuss a variety of issues related to the future governance of the EU.
“While the UK is not part of that group, we understand that one idea under discussion is a merger of the positions of president of the European Council and president of the European Commission.”
Lord Howell added: “A merger of the two presidencies would create a potential conflict of interest, undermine the quality of the EU’s decision-making processes and upset the institutional balance within the EU.” Lord Stoddart said: “These sorts of informal discussions within the EU have a habit of rapidly being transferred into formal proposals.
“Since the Government is not party to these discussions, its reservations are academic.
“Such a merger would represent a massive shift of power into the hands of a single, unelected bureaucrat. The Government should be taking this far more seriously and voicing its objections very strongly.”
He added: “The holder of this new office would be both Europe’s political and administrative leader, giving them far more powers than those given to the US president.
“It really is a great disappointment that we have a Conservative-led Government that is supposed to be Eurosceptic yet ministers just go along with this.” source – Express UK
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”Revelation 13:15
RELATED STORY: Singularity
Two blind men can see again for the first time in more than two decades after an implant of a 3mm ‘bionic eye’ microchip. Doctors believe in time Chris James will be able to recognise faces, once his brain learns to see again.
Chris, from Wiltshire, said: ‘I’ve always had that thought that one day I would be able to see again.’
Surgeons in Oxford, led by Professor Robert MacLaren, fitted the chip at the back of Chris’ eye in a complex eight-hour operation last month. Chris was one of two British patients to receive the electronic microchips – and both were regaining ‘useful vision’ just weeks after undergoing surgery.
Robin Millar, 60, from London, is one of the patients who has been fitted with the chip along with 1,500 electrodes, which are implanted below the retina. The music producer said: ‘Since switching on the device I am able to detect light and distinguish the outlines of certain objects which is an encouraging sign.
‘I have even dreamt in very vivid colour for the first time in 25 years so a part of my brain which had gone to sleep has woken up! ‘I feel this is incredibly promising for future research and I’m happy to be contributing to this legacy.’
Eye experts developing the pioneering new technology said the first group of British patients to receive the electronic microchips were regaining ‘useful vision’ just weeks after undergoing surgery. The news will offer fresh hope for people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – a genetic eye condition that leads to incurable blindness.
Retina Implant AG, a leading developer of subretinal implants, fitted two RP sufferers with the wireless device in mid-April as part of its UK trial.
The patients were able to detect light immediately after the microchip was activated, while further testing revealed there were also able to locate white objects on a dark background, Retina Implant said. source – Daily Mail UK
Russia’s most senior military officer said Thursday that Moscow would preemptively strike and destroy U.S.-led NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe if talks with Washington about the developing system continue to stall.
“A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.
The threat comes as talks about the missile defense system, which the U.S. and its allies insist is aimed at Iranian missiles, appear to have stalled.
“We have not been able to find mutually-acceptable solutions at this point and the situation is practically at a dead end,” Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.
Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, insisted the talks about NATO plans for a missile defense system using ground-based interceptor missiles stationed in Poland, Romania and Turkey were not stalemated.
But she acknowledged Wednesday that the recent elections in Russia and the upcoming elections in the U.S. make it “pretty clear that this is a year in which we’re probably not going to achieve any sort of a breakthrough.”
She reiterated that the U.S.-built system, still in development, is being designed to shoot down Iranian intermediate-range missiles aimed at Europe, not Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Russian officials insist that the system has the capability to shoot down their ICBMs, thus robbing their nuclear deterrent of its credibility and destabilizing the Cold War-era balance of mutually assured destruction.
Neither the State Department nor the Pentagon had any immediate comment on the Russian threat Thursday. source – Washington Times
The coming Day of the Lord
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:10-12
From Reuters – Nearly 15 percent of people worldwide believe the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012, according to a new poll.
The end of the Mayan calendar, which spans about 5,125 years, on December 21, 2012 has sparked interpretations and suggestions that it marks the end of the world.
“Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming,” said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs which conducted the poll for Reuters.
“Perhaps it is because of the media attention coming from one interpretation of the Mayan prophecy that states the world ‘ends’ in our calendar year 2012,” Gottfried said, adding that some Mayan scholars have disputed the interpretation.
Responses to the international poll of 16,262 people in more than 20 countries varied widely with only six percent of French residents believing in an impending Armageddon in their lifetime, compared to 22 percent in Turkey and the United States and slightly less in South Africa and Argentina.
But only seven percent in Belgium and eight percent in Great Britain feared an end to the world during their lives. About one in 10 people globally also said they were experiencing fear or anxiety about the impending end of the world in 2012. The greatest numbers were in Russia and Poland, the fewest in Great Britain.
Gottfried also said that people with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 years old, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012, or have anxiety over the prospect.
“Perhaps those who are older have lived long enough to not be as concerned with what happens to their future,” she explained.
Ipsos questioned people in China, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Argentina, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Great Britain, Indonesia, Germany. source – Reuters
The IDF has issued emergency call up orders to six reserve battalions in light of new dangers on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. And the Knesset has given the IDF permission to summon a further 16 reserve battalions if necessary, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
An IDF spokesperson said intelligence assessments called for the deployment of more soldiers.
According to 2008′s Reserve Duty Law, combat soldiers can be called for active reserve duty once every three years, and for short training sessions during the other two. Rising tensions between Israel and Egypt and the ongoing unrest in Syria caused the army to ask the Knesset for special permission to call up more soldiers, more often.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the request recently, enabling the IDF to summon up to 22 battalions for active duty for the second time in three years. Already, the army has called up six of them.
“This signifies that the IDF regards the Egyptian and Syrian borders as the potential source of a greater threat than in the past,” the former deputy chief of staff, Dan Harel, said on Wednesday night.
“The army needs a better ‘answer’ than in the past to the threat,” he said, citing Egypt’s deteriorating control over the Sinai, marked by an upsurge in Bedouin smuggling of weapons and other goods. He also spoke of the growing threat of terrorism from Sinai, as exemplified by an infiltration last August in which eight Israelis were killed.
The Syrian situation was also highly combustible, Harel said, “and it could explode at any moment… and pose a direct challenge to us.”
Maariv said the army had to decide whether to cancel training sessions for enlisted soldiers or to summon additional reserve units, and it chose the latter; canceling training would mean soldiers would not be prepared in the case of an all-out war.
The IDF spokesperson said all the letters summoning soldiers for reserve duty were sent after the IDF received the approval of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the larger call-up.
One of the reservists summoned told Maariv he hadn’t expected his call-up letter until next year. Leaving home for more than three weeks is something you have to prepare for, he noted.
Activists from the Reserve Soldiers Forum said they were disappointed time and again by the way the IDF treated its reserve soldiers. The law was supposed to help reservists, but it has been repeatedly bypassed and ignored, they said. “At the end, all that will remain of the law will be its title.” source – Times of Israel
Never mind spiking the football after Osama bin Laden’s death; President Obama has turned his re-election campaign into one big end-zone dance. And last night, on national TV, he practically claimed “Mission Accomplished.”
It’s not just premature; it’s shameless. Obama flew to Afghanistan ostensibly to sign a “strategic partnership” agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But Obama’s real point was impossible to miss: to air a dramatic, taxpayer-funded campaign ad with a high-value, if expensive, backdrop — and claim credit for ending two wars in that region.
“Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership,” the prez boasted. “And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
Are there no depths to which Obama won’t stoop to get re-elected?
He spoke of emerging from “a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home.” It’s time, he said “to renew America.” Taxpayers should send him a bill. Let’s stipulate, yet again: Obama deserves gratitude for OK’ing the SEALs’ mission. Right after bin Laden’s demise, we wrote: “Three cheers for the president.”
We noted that, despite his earlier opposition to Team Bush practices that figured in bin Laden’s takedown — i.e., terrorist interrogations and keeping Gitmo open — Obama “chose policy continuation over partisan advantage-taking.” The result, we said, was “two bullets in Osama’s head — a very good day’s work.”
The president, for his part, vowed at the time not to “spike the football” — to boast excessively about the deed. Maybe he should’ve added: except during election season. In the last few days, he has:
* Launched a campaign ad with Bill Clinton touting the accomplishment — and suggesting, ludicrously, that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have made the same call.
* Dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to drive the point home in speeches.
* Bragged about the mission himself and suggested — misleadingly — that in 2007 Romney doubted that killing bin Laden was worth the effort.
“I assume that people meant what they said when they said it,” Obama huffed this week, in a clear reference to Romney’s ’07 remark. “That’s been at least my practice.”
(Except, perhaps, regarding footballs . . .)
Whatever happened to speak softly and carry a big stick? When it comes to bin Laden, Obama can’t seem to shut up. Too bad. Because, this is one subject where humility is warranted.
For starters, it was SEAL Team 6 that actually dispatched the terror chief, even if the prez gave the OK. A number of SEALs now are reportedly slamming Obama for using them as “ammunition” for his re-election bid.
As Sen. John McCain — a true American hero — put it: Heroes don’t brag. As for ending the wars in the region, Obama’s spin is, let’s say . . .interesting. For one thing, Afghanistan’s future, particularly with US troops drawing down, remains an open question, to say the least.
Even Iraq’s fate is unclear. (And by the way, any success there might have at least something to do with President George W. Bush’s surge in 2007 — not that Obama, who opposed it, would note that.) Trouble is, Obama has little else to crow about. And that’s sad news for America — in more ways than one. source – NY Post