Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Technology of the future, January, 2010

Robots climb up the wall (w/ Video) - check out the video, the first robot is particularly creepy.
Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit (w/ Video) - this isn't new, but I'm glad they are thinking about it again (and improving it).
Fruit fly neuron can reprogram itself after injury. - so much about non-regenerating neurons.


  1. Two Retinal Imaging Display Devices at Prototype Stage
  2. Microsoft Researchers Developing Muscle-Based PC Interface (w/ Video)
  3. Brain scanners can tell what you're thinking about
  4. Implant-based cancer vaccine is first to eliminate tumors in mice
  5. Researchers develop anti-cancer 'nano cocktail'

Two Retinal Imaging Display Devices at Prototype Stage

October 30, 2009 by Lin Edwards
( -- NEC and Brother are both developing wearable prototype devices that use Retinal Imaging Display (RID) technology to project images directly on the wearer's retina. NEC's gadget is designed to interpret foreign languages and project a translation onto the retina, making it possible to have a conversation without an interpreter. Brother's device will project images of documents, allowing the wearer to read them in complete privacy.

NEC's prototype, the "Tele Scouter" consists of an eyeglass frame with a tiny projector and a microphone mounted on it. The microphone picks up the speech and transmits it to a small computer worn on the waist. The computer then converts the speech to text and translates it into the wearer's own language. A retinal display on the frame then projects the text directly into the wearer's peripheral vision. This allows the user to maintain eye contact with the other person even while reading the translation.

NEC says the device can be used for many hours without causing eye strain because the wearer does not need to focus on the text.

Brother's gadget is so far unnamed and consists of an eyepiece and optical scanner, and a power box that includes a light source comprising blue, red and green diodes. The device produces an image at 800 x 600 resolution, which appears to the viewer as an object about 10 cm square and one meter away.

NEC's Tele Scouter is not yet capable of translating well enough for business users or travelers, but a version is expected to be released in 2010. This device will be for factory workers and shop employees and will display of information such as operating instructions and diagrams. Brother also expects to release its device next year. source

My comment: Woah! Awesome! Like really!!! This is my total dream, to have one of those devices so that I put my sunglasses on and I can read a document while traveling. It's so stunningly cool. Or to load instructions for something, like making a cake and have them in your field of vision the whole time. It really really is amazing that they are so close to the market. I can only hope that they won't cost too much. And you of course could watch movies on them, while on a boring meeting :)

Microsoft Researchers Developing Muscle-Based PC Interface (w/ Video)

October 30, 2009 by John Messina
( -- Microsoft researches have teamed up with the University of Washington and the University of Toronto to develop a muscle-controlled interface that allows for hands-free, gesture-driven interaction with computers.
By attaching a band of electrodes to a person's forearm, can be read from different arm muscles. The signals are then compared to different hand and processed by software.

The current model uses six electromyography sensors (EMG) and two ground electrodes placed in a ring around a person's upper right forearm for sensing finger movement. Two additional sensors are placed on the upper left forearm for identifying hand squeezes.

Since the sensors can't accurately interpret activity, software must be used to train the associate electrical signals with different gestures. By using standard machine-learning algorithms, the software learns to recognize EMG signals produced by a user performing gestures.

The algorithms use three aspects of the EMG signal: the magnitude of muscle activity, the rate of , and the wave patterns taking place across several at once.

After the software is properly trained, using standard machine-learning algorithms, participants gestures were accurately determined 85 percent of the time. source

My comment: See the videos on the source page, they are amazing! But I still have my doubts that mouse and keyboards will become obsolete. Ok, the mouse maybe, if you can point on the screen with your thought. But if it is with your hand, that's other thing. Because the mouse offers a 2d interface supported by the surface of the table - it requires less energy than to actually point on the screen or make a 3d gesture. Sure, for some things it will be useful, but for everyday use, I'm not so sure. I mean, I have the ability to point on my phone, so far it's not very exciting or easy.

Brain scanners can tell what you're thinking about

Last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago, Jack Gallant, a leading "neural decoder" at the University of California, Berkeley, presented one of the field's most impressive results yet. He and colleague Shinji Nishimoto showed that they could create a crude reproduction of a movie clip that someone was watching just by viewing their brain activity. Others at the same meeting claimed that such neural decoding could be used to read memories and future plans - and even to diagnose eating disorders.

Understandably, such developments are raising concerns about "mind reading" technologies, which might be exploited by advertisers or oppressive governments.

Gallant's team drew international attention last year by showing that brain imaging could predict which of a group of pictures someone was looking at, based on activity in their visual cortex.

Nishimoto and Gallant started their most recent experiment by showing two lab members 2 hours of video clips culled from DVD trailers, while scanning their brains. A computer program then mapped different patterns of activity in the visual cortex to different visual aspects of the movies such as shape, colour and movement. The program was then fed over 200 days' worth of YouTube clips, and used the mappings it had gathered from the DVD trailers to predict the brain activity that each YouTube clip would produce in the viewers.

Finally, the same two lab members watched a third, fresh set of clips which were never seen by the computer program, while their brains were scanned. The computer program compared these newly captured brain scans with the patterns of predicted brain activity it had produced from the YouTube clips. For each second of brain scan, it chose the 100 YouTube clips it considered would produce the most similar brain activity - and then merged them. The result was continuous, very blurry footage, corresponding to a crude "brain read-out" of the clip that the person was watching.

In some cases, this was more successful than others. That's because the algorithm is more adept at reading off brain patterns evoked by watching movement than those produced by watching apparently stationary objects.

A brain structure called the hippocampus is critical for forming memories, so Maguire's team focused its scanner on this area while 10 volunteers recalled videos they had watched of different women performing three banal tasks, such as throwing away a cup of coffee or posting a letter. When Maguire's team got the volunteers to recall one of these three memories, the researchers could tell which the volunteer was recalling with an accuracy of about 50 per cent.

That's well above chance, says Maguire, but it is not mind reading because the program can't decode memories that it hasn't already been trained on. source

My comment: That's also nice, but I think they are putting the emphasis on the wrong place. It shouldn't be about reading people's mind forcefully, because that should be forbidden by law. Nobody should be forced to allow his mind to be read, no matter why (well, there might be such cases, but this must be very seriously regulated). And what's even more, for now, one has to think of something in order for the machine to see it - thus, even if they want to read your mind, you still can resist it quite easily. So, we shouldn't focus on that. Instead, think of all the things, you can do with your computer, if it is able to read your commands from your mind. That's awesome, right?! Or if even better, it can induce visions directly in your brain. What a future...

Implant-based cancer vaccine is first to eliminate tumors in mice

November 25, 2009
( -- A cancer vaccine carried into the body on a carefully engineered, fingernail-sized implant is the first to successfully eliminate tumors in mammals, scientists report this week.

The new approach, pioneered by bioengineers and immunologists at Harvard University, uses plastic disks impregnated with tumor-specific antigens and implanted under the skin to reprogram the mammalian immune system to attack tumors. The new paper describes the use of such implants to eradicate melanoma tumors in mice.

Most easily skirt the immune system, which operates by recognizing and attacking invaders from outside the body. The approach developed by Mooney's group redirects the immune system to target tumors, and appears both more effective and less cumbersome than other cancer vaccines currently in clinical trials.

Conventional cancer vaccinations remove immune cells from the body, reprogram them to attack malignant tissues, and return them to the body. However, more than 90 percent of reinjected cells have died before having any effect in experiments.

The slender implants developed by Mooney's group are 8.5 millimeters in diameter and made of an FDA-approved biodegradable polymer. Ninety percent air, the disks are highly permeable to immune cells and release cytokines, powerful recruiters of immune-system messengers called dendritic cells.

These cells enter an implant's pores, where they are exposed to specific to the type of tumor being targeted. The dendritic cells then report to nearby lymph nodes, where they direct the immune system's T cells to hunt down and kill tumor cells.

"Inserted anywhere under the skin -- much like the implantable contraceptives that can be placed in a woman's arm -- the implants activate an immune response that destroys tumor cells," Mooney says.

And, much as an immune response to a bacterium or virus generates long-term resistance, researchers anticipate cancer vaccines will generate permanent and body-wide resistance against cancerous cells, providing durable protection against relapse. source

My comment: Well, I can only wish them luck. But I'm not yet convinced that those discs will induce a long-term resistance. Because otherwise, we'll have to keep them in our bodies forever, and that's not fun at all. But I guess it's better than nothing.

Researchers develop anti-cancer 'nano cocktail'

January 4, 2010
( -- A team of researchers in California and Massachusetts has developed a "cocktail" of different nanometer-sized particles that work in concert within the bloodstream to locate, adhere to and kill cancerous tumors.

In their study, the UC San Diego chemists, bioengineers at MIT and cell biologists at UC Santa Barbara developed a system containing two different nanomaterials the size of only a few , or a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, that can be injected into the bloodstream. One nanomaterial was designed to find and adhere to tumors in mice, while the second nanomaterial was fabricated to kill those tumors.

Treating tumors with has been challenging because immune cells called mononuclear phagocytes identify them and yank them from circulation, preventing the nanomaterials from reaching their target.

Ji-Ho Park, a graduate student in Sailor's UC San Diego laboratory, and Geoffrey von Maltzahn, a graduate student in Bhatia's MIT laboratory, headed the effort to develop two distinct that would work in concert to overcome that obstacle and others. The first particle is a gold nanorod "activator' that accumulates in tumors by seeping through its leaky blood vessels. The gold particles cover the whole tumor and behave like an antenna by absorbing otherwise benign infrared laser irradiation, which then heats up the tumor.

After the nanorods had circulated in the bloodstream of mice that had epithelial tumors for three days, the researchers used a weak laser beam to heat the rods that attached to the tumors. This sensitized the tumors, and the researchers then sent in a second nanoparticle type, composed of either iron oxide nanoworms or doxorubicin-loaded liposomes. This "responder" nanoparticle was coated with a special targeting molecule specific for the heat-treated tumor.

While one type of nanoparticle improves detection of the tumor, he said, the other is designed to kill the tumor. The researchers designed one type of responder particle with strings of iron oxide, which they called "nanoworms," that show up brightly in a medical magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, system. The second type is a hollow nanoparticle loaded with the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin. With the drug-loaded responder, the scientists demonstrated in their experiments that a tumor growing in a mouse can be arrested and then shrunk. source
My comment: Great, right? I don't understand how could we be so helpless in front of cancer. With all of our knowledge and technology. It's very sad. I can only wish them luck.

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