hypnosec writes "A specially designed smartphone for the visually impaired or partially sighted has been launched in the UK. The device, dubbed Georgie, has many special features including a voice-assisted touch screen and apps that will allow for easy completion of day-to-day tasks like catching a bus, reading printed text and pinpointing a location. Designed by a blind couple, Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds, and named after Mrs Wilson-Hind's guide dog, the smartphone is powered by the Android operating system and uses handsets like Samsung XCover and Galaxy Ace 2, notes the BBC. The main reason for developing such a phone, according to the couple, was that they wanted to get the technology across to people with very little or no sight. 'It's exactly the type of digital experience we want to make easily available to people with little or no sight,' said Roger."
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First time accepted submitter cjsm writes "James and Janet Baker were the inventors of Dragon Systems' speech recognition software, and after years of work, they created a multimillion dollar company. At the height of the tech boom, with investment offers rolling in, they turned to Goldman Sachs for financial advice. For a five million dollar fee, Goldman hooked them up with Lernout & Hauspie, the Belgium speech recognition company. After consultations with Goldman Sachs, the Bakers traded their company for $580 million in Lernout & Hauspie stock. But it turned out Lernout & Hauspie was involved in cooking their books and went bankrupt. Dragon was sold in a bankruptcy auction to Scansoft, and the Bakers lost everything. Goldman and Sachs itself had decided against investing in Lernout & Hauspie two years previous to this because they were lying about their Asian sales. The Bakers are suing for one billion dollars."
MrSeb writes "Mechanical engineers and roboticists working at MIT have developed an intelligent automobile co-pilot that sits in the background and only interferes if you're about to have an accident. If you fall asleep, for example, the co-pilot activates and keeps you on the road until you wake up again. Like other autonomous and semi-autonomous solutions, the MIT co-pilot uses an on-board camera and laser rangefinder to identify obstacles. These obstacles are then combined with various data points — such as the driver's performance, and the car's speed, stability, and physical characteristics — to create constraints. The co-pilot stays completely silent unless you come close to breaking one of these constraints — which might be as simple as a car in front braking quickly, or as complex as taking a corner too quickly. When this happens, a ton of robotics under the hood take over, only passing back control to the driver when the car is safe. This intelligent co-pilot is starkly contrasted with Google's self-driving cars, which are completely computer-controlled unless you lean forward, put your hands on the wheel, and take over. Which method is better? A computer backup, or a human backup? I'm not sure."
Taco Cowboy writes "Here's yet another exciting project for DIY geeks. Modi-Corp, a Japanese company, has just unveiled a new electric car that you can actually build yourself. Not to be confused with the Toyota 'Prius,' the DIY electric car from Modi-Corp is called 'PIUS.' It's a single-seat electric car that will be released next spring in Japan. The company hopes that the PIUS kits can be used as educational tools, expecting to sell them to universities and mechanical schools with the opportunity to have customizable parts embedded in the EV for testing."
wiredmikey writes "Following a shutdown of its 'NVIDIA Developer Zone,' earlier this week after the online community for developers had been hacked, the graphics chip maker on Friday also shut down its online store. The group of hackers behind the attack, going by the handle of 'The Apollo Project,' made mention of the claimed compromise in its original post exhibiting its successful attack against the NVIDIA Developer Zone site. While the company has shut down the online store, it has not acknowledged that a successful attack has taken place. 'NVIDIA has suspended operation of the NVIDIA Gear Store (store.nvidia.com) as a precaution, following confirmed attacks on several of our other sites,' read a statement posted on the site posted. The claimed attackers wrote, 'We aren't acting extremely maliciously, we've used this database to target disgusting corporations who deserve to be brought to justice.. and we are getting there, slowly but surely.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at Time speculates that the recent hype surrounding 3-D display technology has finally peaked and begun to subside. As evidence, they point to comments from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who does not seem particularly enthusiastic about it, and concedes it won't be a major selling point if the company continues to have 3-D enabled products in the future. He said, 'So, now we've created the 3DS and 3DS XL and also have some games out there that are really using that 3D effect that we can see, from my point of view, that it's an important element. But as human beings are this kind of surprise effect wears off quickly, and just [having] this 3D stereoscopic effect isn't going to keep people excited.' Revenue from 3-D films is also dropping, and while 3-D television sales are rising, only 14 percent of potential buyers think 3-D is a 'must have' feature."
An anonymous reader writes "Cloud-based personal data management is pretty cool... if you don't mind entrusting the entirety of your personal data to a gigantic corporation. Apart from the risks of their doing unseemly things with your data, also the security of your data is entirely in their unreliable hands. So, is it possible to build my own personal data repository, where for example, I can store my contacts and calendars to sync to multiple devices? This could be hosted on any third party hosting service assuming also that all of my data was encrypted at the data level. So even if the host wanted to look at my data, all they'd see is 1s and 0s. What are the options for the tinfoil hat wearing FOSS folks that want to participate in the cloud age?"
Jack Spine writes "The Raspberry Pi is likely to be blasted into space, according to project founder Eben Upton. The $35/$25 credit-card-sized single-board educational computer could be used in sounding rockets, satellites, and high altitude balloon tests, according to Upton. Raspberry Pi has proved wildly popular since its launch, with one developer planning to build into a model boat to sail it across the Atlantic."
MrSeb writes "Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are busy working on a type of 3D display capable of presenting a 3D image without eye gear. What you've been presented with at your local cinema (with 3D glasses) or on your Nintendo 3DS console (with your naked eye) pales in comparison to what these guys and gals are trying to develop: a truly immersive 3D experience, not unlike a hologram, that changes perspective as you move around. The project is called High Rank 3D (HR3D). To begin with, HR3D involved a sandwich of two LCD displays, and advanced algorithms for generating top and bottom images that change with varying perspectives. With literally hundreds of perspectives needed to accommodate a moving viewer, maintaining a realistic 3D illusion would require a display with a 1,000Hz refresh rate. To get around this issue, the MIT team introduced a third LCD screen to the mix. This third layer brings the refresh rate requirement down to a much more manageable 360Hz — almost within range of commercially produced LCD panels."
sciencehabit writes "Pity the builders of nuclear waste repositories. They have to preserve records of what they've buried and where, not for a few years but for tens of thousands of years, perhaps even millions. Trouble is, no current storage medium lasts that long. Today, Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA presented one possible solution to the problem: a sapphire disk inside which information is engraved using platinum. The prototype shown costs €25,000 to make, but Charton says it will survive for a million years. The aim, Charton says, is to provide 'information for future archaeologists.' But, he concedes: 'We have no idea what language to write it in.'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "Gartner has released figures showing that PC shipments globally declined 0.1 percent in the last three months, making it the seventh consecutive month of little-to-no growth in the PC market. This was despite the launch a number of new Ultrabooks, the much-vaunted slim-and-light platform promoted by Intel. The decline has been put down to the poor economic situation around the globe, increased spending on tablets and smartphones instead of PCs as well as the imminent launch of Windows 8, making people hold out on updating their PCs."
judgecorp writes "The parts for a Google Nexus 7 tablet cost only $18 more than the materials for an Amazon Kindle Fire, according to a teardown by IHS. This means while Amazon initially took a loss on each tablet sold, Google will break even on its 8Gb tablet, and make a small profit on the 16Gb model."
garymortimer writes "Lockheed Martin (LMT) and LaserMotive, Inc., recently demonstrated the capabilities of an innovative laser power system to extend the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flight time to more than 48 hours. This increase in flight duration represents an improvement of 2,400 percent. Stalker is a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions."
MrSeb writes "It seems like every time I set foot in an airport, there is some new machine I need to stand in, walk through, or put my shoes on. The argument can be made that much of this is security theater — an effort to just make things look safe. However, if a new kind of laser-based molecular scanner lives up to its promise and finds its way into airports as planned, it could actually make a difference. A company called Genia Photonics has developed a programmable picosecond laser that is capable of spotting trace amounts of a variety of substances. Genia claims that the system can detect explosives, chemical agents, and hazardous biological substances at up to 50 meters. This device relies on classic spectroscopy; just a very advanced form of it. In the case of Genia's scanner, it is using far-infrared radiation in the terahertz band. This is why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is so keen on getting it into airports. Understandably, some are calling foul on the possible privacy concerns, but this technology is halfway to a Star Trek tricorder."
Master Moose writes "Brisbane-based entrepreneur John Lambie currently has in beta an alternative to what he calls the 'dysfunctional' QWERTY keyboard. Given the way the world is abandoning their keyboards for smartphones he sees now as the perfect time to introduce a new layout. He calls his new keyboard Dextr and believes it is the natural progression from using a number pad to enter text — This is especially so in developing countries where users have not grown up with QWERTYs on thier phones. While he is not the first to ever propose an alternate or alphabetical keyboard — Are we locked into QWERTY for familiarity's sake, or as we shift to smaller, more mobile and new devices, is Mr. Lambie's project coming at the right time?"