Tech Universe: Monday 1 October

By Miraz Jordan

A  new app is aimed at waking up sleepy drivers. Photo / Supplied
A new app is aimed at waking up sleepy drivers. Photo / Supplied

WAKEY WAKEY: The CarSafe smartphone app is used in conjunction with a phone mounted on the windscreen to warn drivers when they're drowsy or they drift out of a traffic lane. The front camera observes the driver's head position, gaze direction and blink rate, while the back camera watches the road, monitoring distance from the car in front and whether the car's straying across the lines on the road. The app switches rapidly between cameras. As more powerful smartphones emerge the developers expect to be able to make the system work at greater road speeds. Remember not to mute the phone before use. New Scientist.

TWO BEES OR NOT TWO BEES: How do you count how many bees you have? This might be an interesting question for apiarists. So how about a honey bee counter? One apiarist in the US built his own. A long row of tiny gates runs across the entrance to the hive. Each gate is monitored by a pair of infra red reflectance sensors that register a bee as it passes through the gate.

The device doesn't actually count distinctly individual bees, but plotting the entrances and exits on a graph does give a good idea of overall hive activity. That's infinitely better than trying to count them on the move. Gizmodo. Video.

FAST FONT: Drivers sometimes look away from the road to read devices in the car, such as a GPS. Researchers in the US tested to see if the typeface used on such screens affected how long drivers would look away from the road. They found that men spent less time with their eyes off the road if a Humanist typeface were used instead of the Square Grotesque face that's common now. The difference in glance time could mean 15 or 20 metres of travel — long enough to have an accident. The results for women showed little difference between typefaces. Now that difference is an interesting avenue for research.
IT World.

DOG GONE: Toyota's Human Support Robot is designed to help disabled people live more independently. Much like an Assistance Dog, it will fetch things, open curtains, and pick up objects that have fallen to the floor. The robot has a telescopic body so it can reach up to higher spots and a single arm that uses little power and moves slowly to prevent accidents and injuries. The owner operates it via a tablet. Well, I guess dogs can't reach up to high places, and they definitely can't be controlled by a computer. Gizmag.

DOCTOR'S LITTLE HELPER: If your doctor ever looks in your ear they use a thing called an otoscope. The Remotoscope could offer diagnosis at home though, especially for parents of young children who are liable to ear infections. It's a clip-on attachment and app that turn an iPhone into an otoscope. The Remotoscope would allow a parent to take a photo or video of the eardrum then send the images directly to a doctor for review. The iPhone's built-in flash lights up the eardrum and the app handles automatic zoom and crop, image preview and auto calibration. Doctors may be able to hold back on needless antibiotics by seeing images of the ear over several hours or days. Who'd have thought a few years ago that we were seeing the introduction of a new medical device called a smartphone? Georgia Institute of Technology.

Miraz Jordan, http://knowit.co.nz

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