SPANISH ON THE FLY: The AT&T mobile network in the US is testing translation technology to let a person send a text message in one language and the recipient read it in a different language. After registering a phone as having a preferred language, text messages to that number would be automatically translated, for example, from Spanish to English. The technology works on any cell phone and doesn't require any extra software. The system will be tested in a working pilot soon, using employees of the company. All the usual caveats about automatic translation must still apply. Technology Review explains.
DROP ZONES: Blood tests are important to many people, including those using drugs to treat HIV and tuberculosis that can be toxic to the liver. But in some places blood tests are expensive and difficult to access.
Diagnostics for All, in the US, has created a 2-centimetre square of paper that filters a drop of blood into five zones, each containing a different dye. Within a few minutes the dye changes colour to signal different levels of enzymes that indicate liver damage. The test is quick and inexpensive and could be really useful in developing nations. Why not just release it to the consumer market in the wealthier nations and let a portion of each sale fund the tests in developing countries? New Scientist has further details.
SEA PLUS: The US Navy uses vast amounts of fuel (600 million gallons last year), and spends a lot of its time at sea. So they're developing a process to extract carbon dioxide from seawater and produce hydrogen gas. The CO2 and H2 are then converted into jet fuel, all while they're underway at sea. Their initial research is promising, but now they need to optimise and scale up the process. Jet fuel manufacturing ships, a cunning idea. US Naval Research Lab has the info.
HILL CLIMB: San Francisco has steep hills which make it hard for cyclists, and car parking isn't easy to find. So Scoot Networks have set up a scooter renting service with a fleet of electric scooters available for hire by the hour. A smartphone app lets a user find a scooter available for hire nearby and reserve it. Then the user docks their smartphone in the scooter's dash, where it serves as a key, dashboard and payment method. The battery-powered scooters can travel about 40 km on one charge. Using the smartphone as a key is clever. Discovery News elaborates.
HEAD GAMES: Eye tracking equipment can cost thousands of dollars, but researchers at Imperial College in London have created a headset that costs less than $50. The GT3D uses video game console cameras and could allow wearers to control a computer without touching a mouse, keyboard or screen. Two cameras are attached to a pair of glasses and then calibrated while the wearer looks at a pattern of dots on a computer screen. The device is very accurate and has been proven to work. The creators see the headset as particularly useful for people with disabilities. As such headsets become common I wonder if eye doctors will see an increase in related eye strain problems? CNN details.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz