LOW COST LOOK: Eye tracking has been used for many purposes, such as finding out where web visitors look. But it could serve a more useful real-world purpose too: allowing people with physical disabilities to interact with objects. A low-cost eyetracker from Imperial College London is made up of 2 fast video game console cameras attached to a cheap pair of glasses. The cameras take pictures of the eye, working out where the pupil is pointing then a processor calculates where and how far into the distance the wearer is looking. While testers played video games this could be used for controlling a prosthetic arm or a wheelchair. The device uses one watt of power and can transmit data wirelessly over Wi-Fi or via USB. Now imagine a wheelchair with a robotic arm, both controlled by eye movements. Science Daily has more. Check out the video here.
TALKING HANDS: The Ukrainian EnableTalk claims to be the voice of sign language. The system includes a pair of virtual reality gloves that send signals via Bluetooth for computer processing. The gloves include a microcontroller, 15 flex sensors, accelerometer, gyroscope, and a compass in order to define the position of the glove in space. They also have a lithium ion battery and a USB port for charging and for synching with the computer. A person wears the glove and uses sign language to communicate. The glove captures the hand movements then sends signals to the processor that turns the signs into spoken words. So can they make the reverse work too? Speak and the gloves create the signs? EnableTalk spills the beans. Video here.
SOUNDS OF MUSIC: EyeMusic turns visual input into sound and is intended to help blind people. The system from Hebrew University in Jerusalem mounts a camera on a pair of glasses. A processor converts the location, brightness and colour of pixels in the image into musical sounds with differing pitch, timing and instrument. For example, a violin represents yellow and high pitch represents a high vertical location. After brief training testers were able to accurately locate objects. That shirt's a nice shade of violin. AlphaGalileo details.
GROW THE BUCK: Buckyballs are rather interesting C60 molecules formed from a hexagonal sphere of interlocking carbon atoms. Recently when researchers fired lasers at Buckyballs they expected the carbon molecules to be destroyed. Instead the Buckyballs absorbed carbon from surrounding hot gases and grew. With crystals of C60 in orbit around distant suns, according to NASA, this research could help us understand the Universe a bit better. It could also make for an interesting shield against lasers that gets stronger as it's fired on. LiveScience explains.
CABLE FACE: Those submarine Internet cables are crucial in our part of the world. Now Facebook is buying into the new 10,000 kilometre Asia Pacific Gateway cable to help connect several Asian countries. Over here, folks, over here! Wired details.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz