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Four Perspectives On Augmented Reality And Its Future | TechCrunch

Four Perspectives On Augmented Reality And Its Future | TechCrunch | Cyborg Lives |
Augmented reality (AR) -- the term does not exactly jump off the tongue. But the concepts behind the technology are beginning to change what we think of ourselves, objects and the people in the world that surrounds us...
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Cyborg Lives
Understanding our Cyborg lives, redescribing our reality
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No One Wins Gold for Practicing the Most

No One Wins Gold for Practicing the Most | Cyborg Lives |
Is it safe to assume that a gold medalist at the Olympics practiced more than a silver medalist—and that a silver medalist practiced more than a bronze winner? Definitely not, according to a new analysis, which looked at nearly 3,000 athletes. The study found that although becoming world class takes an enormous amount of practice, the success of elite athletes cannot be predicted based on the number of hours they spend in careful training.

In 1993 Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson published a highly influential paper that suggested performance differences between mediocre musicians and their superior counterparts—as determined by the evaluations of their professors—were largely determined by the number of hours they spent practicing. He would later publish work extending his theory to other pursuits, including sports, chess and medicine. Ericsson emphasized that there was no upper bound to the effect that deliberate practice had on success in these areas—the world’s best athletes, musicians and doctors were simply the ones who practiced the most. His work would eventually be popularized by journalist Malcolm Gladwell and others as the “10,000-hour rule,” which suggests that top performance in virtually any field is simply a matter of putting in 10,000 hours of work.

But a new study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science shows—as others have—that deliberate practice is just one factor that makes world sports champions. “More or less across the board, practice will improve one’s performance,” says Brooke Macnamara, a psychologist at Case Western University and lead author of the study. At a certain level of success, however, other factors determine who is the absolute best, she says.

Macnamara and her colleagues analyzed 34 studies that—put together—had tracked the number of hours 2,765 athletes had practiced. Those studies also recorded the athletes’ achievements, as determined by either objective measure such as a race time, expert rating of performance or membership in elite groups. For sports at all levels, including athletes performing at a state level or in clubs, deliberate practice could explain 18 percent of the differences in achievement between athletes. But when the researchers looked only at the very best competitors—those who had competed in the Olympics or other world competitions—differences in the number of hours they had practiced explained just 1 percent of the difference in their performance at sporting events. “This suggests that practice is important to a point, but it stops differentiating who’s good and who’s great,” Macnamara says. At the national and global level, a poorly understood mixture of genetics, psychological traits and other factors influence performance.

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Welcome to the Cyborg Olympics

Welcome to the Cyborg Olympics | Cyborg Lives |
Vance Bergeron was once an amateur cyclist who rode 7,000 kilometres per year—much of it on steep climbs in the Alps. But in February 2013, as the 50-year-old chemical engineer was biking to work at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyons, France, he was hit by a car. The impact sent him flying through the air and onto his head, breaking his neck. When he woke, he learnt that he would never again move his legs on his own, and would have only limited use of his arms.

Confined to bed for months while his body did what healing it could, Bergeron began to look for a way back to cycling. He started to study neuroscience, with an emphasis on research into robotic prostheses that could turn people like him into 'cyborgs': combinations of human and machine. He learnt that some of these prostheses used a technique known as functional electrical stimulation (FES) to deliver electrical signals to atrophied limbs or the stumps of missing ones, causing the muscles to contract and restoring some function.

As soon as Bergeron had recovered enough to use a wheelchair, he took that idea back to the lab, where he switched his research focus to neuroscience. Using himself as a guinea pig, he and his team worked out how to stimulate the nerves in his legs so that his muscles would flex and pedal a bike. “I have become my own research project and it's a win–win,” he says.

Even with regular exercise sessions to build muscle, Bergeron's artificially stimulated legs have produced at most 20 watts of power, barely one-tenth of the 150–200 watts produced by an average cyclist. But he and his team are building the FES controller and electrodes into a carbon-fibre recumbent tricycle that he hopes will help him to do better—and perhaps win a medal on 8 October, when he takes his machine to Zurich, Switzerland, to race against other FES cyclists in the Cybathlon: the first cyborg Olympics.
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Second skin blocks biological agents, but still gives soldiers room to breathe

Second skin blocks biological agents, but still gives soldiers room to breathe | Cyborg Lives |
Breathable clothing is important for soldiers looking to avoid heat stress and exhaustion, but in some situations, added protection is needed against biological and chemical agents. Current protective equipment struggles to effectively offer both at once, but now scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a material that begins to bridge the gap, using carbon nanotubes to actively block contaminants while still allowing water vapor to escape.

The material is a flexible polymer membrane containing an array of aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which function as extremely tiny pores. The key to how they block biological agents is simple: these tubes have a diameter of under 5 nanometers, which is 5,000 times smaller than a human hair, and crucially, less than half the size of most bacteria and viruses. Sweat, in the form of water vapor, can easily escape from the wearer's skin through these pores, yet bacteria are just too big to get in.

"We demonstrated that these membranes provide rates of water vapor transport that surpass those of commercial breathable fabrics like GoreTex, even though the CNT pores are only a few nanometers wide," says Ngoc Bui, the lead author of the paper.

During filtration tests, the nanotube membranes were exposed to liquid solutions containing dengue virus and successfully kept the bugs out, even when the material was wet.
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Can machines keep us safe from cyber-attack? - BBC News

Can machines keep us safe from cyber-attack? - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
After robot cars and robot rescue workers, US research agency Darpa is turning its attention to robot hackers.

Best known for its part in bringing the internet into being, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency has more recently brought engineers together to tackle what it considers to be "grand challenges".

These competitions try to accelerate research into issues it believes deserve greater attention - they gave rise to serious work on autonomous vehicles and saw the first stumbling steps towards robots that could help in disaster zones.

Next is a Cyber Grand Challenge that aims to develop software smart enough to spot and seal vulnerabilities in other programs before malicious hackers even know they exist.

"Currently, the process of creating a fix for a vulnerability is all people, and it's a process that's reactive and slow," said Mike Walker, head of the Cyber Grand Challenge at Darpa.

This counted as a grand challenge, he said, because of the sheer complexity of modern software and the fundamental difficulty one computer had in understanding what another was doing - a problem first explored by computer pioneer Alan Turing.
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Set It and Forget It: How Default Settings Rule the World

Set It and Forget It: How Default Settings Rule the World | Cyborg Lives |
We’ve seen how design can keep us away from harm and save our lives. But there is a more subtle way that design influences our daily decisions and behavior – whether we know it or not. It’s not sexy or trendy or flashy in any way. I’m talking about defaults.

Defaults are the settings that come out of the box, the selections you make on your computer by hitting enter, the assumptions that people make unless you object, the options easily available to you because you haven’t changed them.

They might not seem like much, but defaults (and their designers) hold immense power – they make decisions for us that we’re not even aware of making. Consider the fact that most people never change the factory settings on their computer, the default ringtone on their phones, or the default temperature in their fridge. Someone, somewhere, decided what those defaults should be – and it probably wasn’t you.

Another example: In the U.S. when you register for your driver’s license, you’re asked whether or not you’d like to be an organ donor. We operate on an opt-in basis: that is, the default is that you are not an organ donor. If you want to donate your organs, you need to actively check a box on the DMV questionnaire. Only about 40 percent of the population is signed up to be an organ donor.

In other countries such as Spain, Portugal and Austria, the default is that you’re an organ donor unless you explicitly choose not to be. And in many of those countries over 99 percent of the population is registered. A recent study found that countries with opt-out or “presumed consent” policies don’t just have more people who sign up to be donors, they also have consistently higher numbers of transplants.
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David Attenborough narrating Pokémon Go is everything you dreamed and more

David Attenborough narrating Pokémon Go is everything you dreamed and more | Cyborg Lives |
Just when you thought your favourite childhood science hero, Sir David Attenborough, couldn't get any more awesome, some genius over at the Lovin Dublin Facebook page has edited his pithy narration over the top of Pokémon Go game play.

The result is both hilarious and nostalgic, seeing as the game is probably the closest thing today's generation will get to actually sleuthing wild animals National Geographic-style.

The video really has to be seen to be appreciated, but the best part of all is when even Attenborough is sick of goddamn Zubats.

"Bats, with their fluttering zigzag flights, are not easy targets," he explains in the footage above. "That is one bat that will not return to the roost tonight."

For everyone (anyone?) who hasn't tried playing Pokémon Go just yet, it's not too late.

It might just be a game, but it's reportedly helping people to treat their depression and anxiety by getting them out of the house and socialising.

Plus, you get to walk around your neighbourhood, phone in hand, pretending to be a zoologist on the hunt for the next rare species. And, if you're lucky, you might even find it.

Happy hunting.
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Facial Recognition--My Favorite Alternative to Password Login

Facial Recognition--My Favorite Alternative to Password Login | Cyborg Lives |
Iris recognition, retina scanning, fingerprints, voice recognition—all of these show promise. But there’s one security tool that’s secure, effortless and available now. It’s a special kind of face recognition that’s available on some Windows 10 computers—those equipped with an Intel RealSense camera, such as the Surface Pro 4.

RealSense is actually a sophisticated set of three sensors: one each for infrared, color and 3-D perception. Some laptops come with the RealSense camera built in or you can buy one as an external gadget that plugs into your computer’s USB jack.

The feature is called Windows Hello. Actually, Hello can log you into your PC using fingerprint, iris orfacial recognition—but the facial thing is by far the most convenient. Once it’s set up, when you sit down in front of your computer, it recognizes your face and logs you in instantly. You can’t fool it with a photograph, a 3-D model of your head or even an identical twin. Thanks to the infrared camera, you can log yourself in even in the dark.
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Curiosity Is Not Intrinsically Good

Curiosity Is Not Intrinsically Good | Cyborg Lives |
Why do people seek out information about an ex's new relationships, read negative Internet comments and do other things that will obviously be painful? Because humans have an inherent need to resolve uncertainty, according to a recent study in Psychological Science. The new research reveals that the need to know is so strong that people will seek to slake their curiosity even when it is clear the answer will hurt.

In a series of four experiments, behavioral scientists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Wisconsin School of Business tested students' willingness to expose themselves to aversive stimuli in an effort to satisfy curiosity. For one trial, each participant was shown a pile of pens that the researcher claimed were from a previous experiment. The twist? Half of the pens would deliver an electric shock when clicked.

Twenty-seven students were told which pens were rigged; another 27 were told only that some were electrified. When left alone in the room, the students who did not know which ones would shock them clicked more pens and incurred more jolts than the students who knew what would happen. Subsequent experiments replicated this effect with other stimuli, such as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard and photographs of repulsive insects.

The drive to discover is deeply ingrained in humans, on par with the basic drives for food or sex, says Christopher Hsee of the University of Chicago, a co-author of the paper. Curiosity is often considered a good instinct—it can lead to new scientific advances, for instance—but sometimes such inquiry can backfire. “The insight that curiosity can drive you to do self-destructive things is a profound one,” says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University who has pioneered the scientific study of curiosity.

Morbid curiosity is possible to resist, however. In a final experiment, participants who were encouraged to predict how they would feel after viewing an unpleasant picture were less likely to choose to see such an image. These results suggest that imagining the outcome of following through on one's curiosity ahead of time can help determine whether it is worth the endeavor. “Thinking about long-term consequences is key to mitigating the possible negative effects of curiosity,” Hsee says. In other words, don't read online comments.
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How to Get Lost Data back from SD Card?

How to Get Lost Data back from SD Card? | Cyborg Lives |

"For a period of time, SD card data recovery has been a tough problem to deal with, but now, it is no longer difficult."

SD Card is short for Security Digital Card, also known as Security Digital Memory Card. It is actually a new generation of memory device based on the semiconductor flash memory device. SD card has been widely using in a variety of portable devices, including digital cameras, personal digital assistants (PDA) and multimedia players.

In 1999, Panasonic put forward the concept of SD card, and Toshiba and SanDisk completed the substantive development. In 2000, these three companies finished the establishment of SD Association (Secure Digital Association, briefly called SDA), and it attracted a large number of companies to participate in this organization: IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, and so on.

Via Jenne
Jenne's comment, July 20, 1:33 AM
Thank you very much, Jim. :)
Jenne's comment, July 21, 3:51 AM
thank you very much. Marcel. :)
Jenne's comment, August 11, 1:09 AM
Thank you very much. :)
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Can cyborg locusts be used as tiny, biorobotic "sniffer dogs"?

Can cyborg locusts be used as tiny, biorobotic "sniffer dogs"? | Cyborg Lives |
For years, scientists have been experimenting with "biobots." Example include insects fitted with various electronic systems that can harvest kinetic energy from their wings, those that use the Xbox's Kinect interface to follow a set path, and those put to work mapping building interiors. Now, engineers at Washington University in St. Louis are developing a method to tap into the highly-tuned olfactory system of locusts, using them like tiny cyborg sniffer dogs to detect the smell of chemicals used in explosives.

Leading the project is Baranidharan Raman, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at WUSTL, who has previously conducted research into the sensory systems of locusts. Those studies determined how the insects' brains light up in response to olfactory stimuli, and found that even when clouded by other smells, locusts are able to single out odors they've been trained to identify.

Since the locusts' natural chemical-sensing system is far more powerful than any artificial ones, Raman plans to harness the power of that nose, attaching miniature electronics to the insects that monitors their brains and determines, through their neural activity, which chemical compounds the locusts are detecting.
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The next wearable technology could be your skin

The next wearable technology could be your skin | Cyborg Lives |
Technology can be awkward. Our pockets are weighed down with ever-larger smartphones that are a pain to pull out when we’re in a rush. And attempts to make our devices more easily accessible with smart watches have so far fallen flat. But what if a part of your body could become your computer, with a screen on your arm and maybe even a direct link to your brain?

Artificial electronic skin (e-skin) could one day make this a possibility. Researchers are developing flexible, bendable and even stretchable electronic circuits that can be applied directly to the skin. As well as turning your skin into a touchscreen, this could also help replace feeling if you’ve suffered burns or problems with your nervous system.

The simplest version of this technology is essentially an electronic tattoo. In 2004, researchers in the US and Japan unveiled a pressure sensor circuit made from pre-stretched thinned silicon strips that could be applied to the forearm. But inorganic materials such as silicon are rigid and the skin is flexible and stretchy. So researchers are now looking to electronic circuits made from organic materials (usually special plastics or forms of carbon such as graphene that conduct electricity) as the basis of e-skin.

Typical e-skin consists of a matrix of different electronic components – flexible transistors, organic LEDs, sensors and organic photovoltaic (solar) cells – connected to each other by stretchable or flexible conductive wires. These devices are often built up from very thin layers of material that are sprayed or evaporated onto a flexible base, producing a large (up to tens of cm2) electronic circuit in a skin-like form.
Maria E Araiza-Gutiérrez's curator insight, July 6, 8:24 PM
A screen on your arm?!!
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Wife cake and evil water: The perils of auto-translation - BBC News

Wife cake and evil water: The perils of auto-translation - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
Imagine a far flung land where you can catch a ride from the Jackie Chan bus stop to a restaurant called Translate Server Error, and enjoy a hearty feast of children sandwiches and wife cake all washed down with some evil water.

If such a rich lunch gets stuck in your gnashers, you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of Methodists on hand to remove your teeth.

And if by this point you've had enough of the bus, fly home in style on a wide-boiled aircraft. But whatever you do, please remember that when you land at the airport, eating the carpet is strictly prohibited.

No, I haven't gone mad. These are all real-world examples of howlers by auto-translation software.

Joking aside, poor translations can have big implications for firms who run the risk of offending customers and losing business, or at least looking very amateurish.
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Is tech addiction making us far more stressed at work? - BBC News

Is tech addiction making us far more stressed at work? - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
We are the distracted generations, wasting hours a day checking irrelevant emails and intrusive social media accounts.

And this "always on" culture - exacerbated by the smartphone - is actually making us more stressed and less productive, according to some reports.

"Something like 40% of people wake up, and the first thing they do is check their email," says Professor Sir Cary Cooper of Manchester Business School, who has studied e-mail and workplace stress.

"For another 40%, it's the last thing they do at night."

The Quality of Working Life 2016 report from the Chartered Management Institute earlier this year found that this obsession with checking emails outside of work hours is making it difficult for many of us to switch off.

And this is increasing our stress levels.

So what can we do about it?
Smarter working

The more enlightened firms have been stepping in to help. In 2012, Volkswagen began shutting off employees' email when they are off shift.

Daimler has allowed its workers to have all the work emails they receive while on holiday automatically erased. And France's new labour law, enacted a few weeks ago, encourages all companies to take similar measures.

Dave Coplin, Microsoft UK's chief envisioning officer, believes artificial intelligence tools will learn when we are busy and block alerts, waiting until we're less busy before bringing us the most relevant or interesting messages.
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Beyond "Pokémon Go": Future Games Could Interact with Real Objects

Beyond "Pokémon Go": Future Games Could Interact with Real Objects | Cyborg Lives |
The augmented-reality game "Pokémon Go" may be the hottest thing in mobile gaming right now, but new advances in computer science could give players an even more realistic experience in the future, according to a new study. In fact, researchers say a new imaging technique could help make imaginary characters, such as Pokémon, appear to convincingly interact with real objects.

A new imaging technique called Interactive Dynamic Video can take pictures of real objects and quickly create video simulations that people, or 3D models, can virtually interact with, the researchers said. In addition to fueling game development, these advances could help simulate how real bridges and buildings might respond to potentially disastrous situations, the researchers added.

The smartphone game "Pokémon Go" superimposes images onto the real world to create a mixed reality. The popularity of this game follows a decades-long trend of computer-generated imagery weaving its way into movies and TV shows. However, while 3D models that can move amid real surroundings on video screens are now commonplace, it remains a challenge getting computer-generated images to look as if they are interacting with real objects. Building 3D models of real items is expensive, and can be nearly impossible for many objects, the researchers said. [Beyond Gaming: 10 Other Fascinating Uses for Virtual-Reality Tech]

Now, Interactive Dynamic Video could bridge that gap, the researchers said.

"When I came up with and tested the technique, I was surprised that it worked quite so well," said study lead author Abe Davis, a computer scientist at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Why Niantic banned third party Pokémon Go apps

Why Niantic banned third party Pokémon Go apps | Cyborg Lives |
Many Pokémon Go players were saddened this week when an update prevented the use of unofficial tracking services. It also made it harder to catch Pokémon on your travels - problems developer Niantic has finally addressed.

The most recent version of the phenomenally successful Pokémon Go banned third party apps such as Pokévision and Pokéhound, which allowed players to see where Pokémon were spawning in the world around them. It also removed the game's 'Nearby' feature, a footstep indicator that was supposed to show how far a Pokémon was from the player, but which rarely worked.

In a blog post, Niantic has revealed what many had suspected - that the server drain caused by the tracking apps was impacting Pokémon Go's already volatile performance.
"Running a product like Pokémon Go at scale is challenging. Those challenges have been amplified by third parties attempting to access our servers in various ways outside of the game itself," wrote Niantic founder John Hanke. "We were delayed in [launching the game in Latin America] due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon Go game client and our terms of service. We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday."
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Pokemon Go away: Troublesome Sydney Pokestop shut down - BBC News

Pokemon Go away: Troublesome Sydney Pokestop shut down - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
One of Australia's best places to catch Pokemon has been deleted in the latest update to the augmented reality game.

Three Pokestops, the game's real-world locations, attracted hundreds of players to a park in inner Sydney.

Nearby apartment residents endured traffic jams, piles of rubbish and noise until the early hours.

The creators of the game are working to remove some real-world locations that do not wish to be included in the mobile game.

Pokemon Go: All you need to know
Player claims to have caught all UK characters
Nintendo shares plunge on Pokemon profit fears
Game finally launches in Japan

"There is loud shouting throughout the night, people dumping rubbish and cigarette butts and constant traffic jams," one of the apartment's residents told the Sydney Morning Herald last week.

The local council has put on extra rangers and undertaken extra garbage collection to deal with the influx of players at Peg Paterson Park in Rhodes.
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Why Niantic didn't need marketing to make Pokémon Go viral

Why Niantic didn't need marketing to make Pokémon Go viral | Cyborg Lives |
It’s not hard to see why Pokémon Go has become so popular. Its simple gameplay and social element have made the augmented reality game an instant hit, eclipsing the daily active user figures of giants such as Candy Crush Saga and Tinder. Yet the company behind Pokémon Go, Niantic, has done very little to promote the game since it launched. Beyond a handful of release notifications from the official Pokémon Go Twitter account, no TV commercials have been commissioned and in-app advertising is minimal.

Niantic has instead relied on word-of-mouth to promote its take on Pokémon, particularly in the form of unofficial viral pictures, videos and social media posts shared online (internet memes) that reference or parody the game. This user-generated content ensures the title is on the lips of the masses, even if many of them haven’t even played it yet.

The term “meme”, coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, refers to an idea, behaviour or style that propagates across culture, just as a successful gene spreads through a population. Internet memes pervade the web in a similar way. Carried via text, images or videos, the idea (often a quip or funny observation) is replicated by being shared and reposted, transforming over time to spawn hundreds of thematic variants.
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Transparent screen displays free-floating "holograms" in your home

Transparent screen displays free-floating "holograms" in your home | Cyborg Lives |
Even before a realistic-looking Tupac Shakur was "resurrected" on-stage for a live performance, holograms have captured the minds and imaginations of many. But the gap between fantasy and reality has narrowed significantly over the past few years. HoloVit, which recently proved a prototype, is seeking funds on Indiegogo for its personal holography system. HoloVit recording sets and screens are designed to capture and display holograms projected from smartphones, tablets, laptops, or TVs.

There are number of different hologram technologies currently being developed. Some, like Microsoft's "holoportation," involve complex 3D video capture systems while others, such as Holho's "hologram generator," employ simple mirrors set upon mobile devices to create the illusion of moving, three-dimensional images. HoloVit is a bit of a cross between the two, with the way it displays floating video on transparent screens.

The system is designed to work with devices without the requirement of a projector or special equipment. In a sense, a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or TV becomes the projector as it faces a HoloVit screen. When set at the optimal distance (for best results), images and video come to life, even in brightly-lit rooms – a challenge common to many projectors. One caveat is that only content that has been formatted as a hologram will work.
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VR headset that relays facial expressions to the virtual world

VR headset that relays facial expressions to the virtual world | Cyborg Lives |
VR hardware is already capable of tracking your head, your hands, your eyes and in some cases, your feet, but Veeso is claimed to be the first VR headset to capture your face and transmit your expressions – and as a result, your emotions – onto a virtual avatar in real time. With it, the company is emphasizing emotional connections through chat apps and social games like poker.

Like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, Veeso is a smartphone-based VR headset, which the company claims is compatible with Android and iOS devices. Unlike those aforementioned headsets, however, Veeso has two infrared cameras mounted on it to capture the wearer's facial expressions.

One of these cameras is located between the eyes to capture pupil movements, eyebrows, and how open or closed the eyelids are, while the second hangs off the bottom of the unit, taking in the jaw, lips and mouth. Together, from what we see in the videos, they seem to do a pretty solid job of covering the whole face and mimicking the facial expressions on a digital avatar in real time.
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How augmented reality technology erases the human v machine boundary

How augmented reality technology erases the human v machine boundary | Cyborg Lives |
In his 1963 book God and Golem, the founder of the cybernetics movement Norbert Wiener suggested a compelling thought experiment. Imagine cutting off someone’s hand, he wrote, but leaving intact the key muscles and nerves. Theoretically, a prosthesis could connect directly both to nerves and muscles, giving the subject control of the replacement organ as if it were real.

So far so sensible: this scenario was a reasonable extrapolation at the time, and is close to becoming a reality today. Wiener, however, went further. Having imagined an artificial hand able to replace its original, he wondered why we should not now imagine the addition of an entirely new kind of limb or sensory organ? “There is,” he wrote, “a prosthesis of parts which we do not have and which we never have had.” There was no need to stop at nature. Human-machine integration could in theory blur its boundaries well beyond replacement.

It’s 14 July 2016, and between typing this paragraph and the last I dashed outside with my iPhone to catch a Pokémon lurking next to a tree (a cute orange lizard: Charmander, weight 8.5kg, height 0.6m).

What would Wiener have made of this? I suspect he would have been delighted. While I’m playing Pokémon, my smartphone functions much like a sensory prosthesis. In order to move my avatar around a map, I must move myself. When I get close enough to a target, I hold the device up and through its camera see something superimposed on the world that would otherwise be invisible. It’s like having a sixth sense. My Pokémon-gathering escapades place me somewhere between a cyborg and a stamp collector.
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"Wearable" for plants to let you converse with a chrysanthemum

"Wearable" for plants to let you converse with a chrysanthemum | Cyborg Lives |
Houseplants have never been known as great conversationalists, but it's possible we just can't hear what they're saying. Swiss company, Vivent SARL, is hoping to rectify that with its Phytl Signs device that picks up the tiny electrical signals emitted by plants and broadcasts them through a speaker. The ultimate goal is to translate what the plants are actually "saying."

The system, which is currently the subject of a crowdfunding campaign, features two receptors – a stake that is inserted into the soil next to the plant, and a clip that gently connects to a leaf. These measure the voltage coming from the plant, which feeds into a signal processor. From there the plant-speak is output through a built-in speaker. A smartphone app can also receive raw data from a plant, allowing analysis of the signals using data analysis software.

Unlike current plant monitors on the market that measure environmental metrics like soil moisture and sunlight, the Phytl Signs device is claimed to pick up on whether your plant is thriving or stressed, active or quiet, or besieged by pests. The plant responds immediately to a change in lighting or the cutting of a leaf with a spike in sound, which is an electronic howl akin to a theramin. But decoding what the audio output means is still being worked out by the company.

To that end, the company encourages device owners to share their data with an online community of fellow users, allowing the company to crowdsource the data to help them decode and translate the plant signals so they can be understood.
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Forget Iron Man: skintight suits are the future of robotic exoskeletons

Forget Iron Man: skintight suits are the future of robotic exoskeletons | Cyborg Lives |
Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton. These devices – which are essentially robotic suits that give artificial movement to a user’s limbs – are set to become an increasingly common way of helping people who’ve lost the use of their legs to walk. But while today’s exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin.

Exoskeletons have been in development since the 1960s. The first one was a bulky set of legs and claw-like gloves reminiscent of the superhero, Iron Man, designed to use hydraulic power to help industrial workers lift hundreds of kilogrammes of weight. It didn’t work, but since then other designs for both the upper and lower body have successfully been used to increase people’s strength, help teach them to use their limbs again, or even as a way to interact with computers using touch or “haptic” feedback.

These devices usually consist of a chain of links and powered joints that align with the user’s own bones and joints. The links are strapped securely to the user’s limbs and when the powered joints are activated they cause their joints to flex. Control of the exoskeleton can be performed by a computer – for example if it is performing a physiotherapy routine – or by monitoring the electrical activity in the user’s muscles and then amplifying the force they are creating.
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A Sneak Peek at the First Cyborg Olympics - The Crux

A Sneak Peek at the First Cyborg Olympics - The Crux | Cyborg Lives |
While working as a professor in the sensory-motor systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), Robert Riener noticed a need for assistive devices that would better meet the challenge of helping people with daily life. He knew there were solutions, but that it would require motivating developers to rise to the challenge.

So, Riener created Cybathlon, the first cyborg Olympics where teams from all over the world will participate in races on Oct. 8 in Zurich that will test how well their devices perform routine tasks. Teams will compete in six different categories that will push their assistive devices to the limit on courses developed carefully over three years by physicians, developers and the people who use the technology. Eighty teams have signed up so far.

Riener wants the event to emphasize how important it is for man and machine to work together—so participants will be called pilots rather than athletes, reflecting the role of the assistive technology.

“The goal is to push the development in the direction of technology that is capable of performing day-to-day tasks. And that way, there will an improvement in the future life of the person using the device,” says Riener.

Here’s a look at events that will be featured in the first cyborg Olympics.
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From dating profiles to Brexit – how to spot an online lie

From dating profiles to Brexit – how to spot an online lie | Cyborg Lives |
There are three things you can be sure of in life: death, taxes – and lying. The latter certainly appears to have been borne out by the UK’s recent Brexit referendum, with a number of the Leave campaign’s pledges looking more like porkie pies than solid truths.

But from internet advertising, visa applications and academic articles to political blogs, insurance claims and dating profiles, there are countless places we can tell digital lies. So how can one go about spotting these online fibs? Well, Stephan Ludwig from the University of Westminster, Ko de Ruyter from City University London’s Cass Business School, Mike Friedman of the Catholic University of Louvain, and yours truly have developed a digital lie detector – and it can uncover a whole host of internet untruths.

In our new research, we used linguistic cues to compare tens of thousands of emails pre-identified as lies with those known to be truthful. And from this comparison, we developed a text analytic algorithm that can detect deception. It works on three levels.
1. Word use

Keyword searches can be a reasonable approach when dealing with large amounts of digital data. So, we first uncovered differences in word usage between the two document sets. These differences identify text that is likely to contain a lie. We found that individuals who lie generally use fewer personal pronouns, such as I, you, and he/she, and more adjectives, such as brilliant, fearless, and sublime. They also use fewer first-person singular pronouns, such as I, me, mine, with discrepancy words, such as could, should, would, as well as more second-person pronouns (you, your) with achievement words (earn, hero, win).

Fewer personal pronouns indicate an author’s attempt to dissociate themselves from their words, while using more adjectives is an attempt to distract from the lie through a flurry of superfluous descriptions. Fewer first-person singular pronouns combined with discrepancy words indicate a lack of subtlety and a positive self-image, while more second-person pronouns combined with achievement words indicate an attempt to flatter recipients. We therefore included these combinations of search terms in our algorithm.
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Man-machine collaboration at heart of new Artificial Intelligence XPrize

Man-machine collaboration at heart of new Artificial Intelligence XPrize | Cyborg Lives |
Registration has just opened up for an all new US$5 million XPrize, this time focusing on getting humans collaborating better with artificial intelligence to solve major global issues. Unlike previous competitions, this XPrize, sponsored by IBM's Watson division, doesn't feature a set of pre-determined goals, but instead challenges teams to come up with their own.

You might be familiar with XPrize from its ongoing Google Lunar effort, which is seeing small teams from around the world compete to successfully land a robot on the Moon. It's a seriously ambitious project, and one that has seen rivals team up in the hope of winning out against the competition.

This new project is totally different to the Lunar XPrize, but it's no less ambitious. Aside from the different focus, the big difference here is that the competition is "open," with teams being given the opportunity to pick their own direction. Each participant will be deciding which issues to tackle, and working out how to reach their own goals.

Participants could focus on anything from fixing healthcare or improving education, to taking on major green energy and environmental issues, to any other issue they choose to tackle. XPrize thinks the competition could have a big impact, harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence to solve some of humanity's greatest challenges.

"The IBM Watson AI XPrize will stir innovation and empower a global group of developers, entrepreneurs, and organizations to push the boundaries of human-machine collaboration, forever changing for the better the way in which we live and work." said IBM Watson vice president Stephen Gold.
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