CES named Eyetech has a solution for this problem: an eye tracker system that can control your computer or TV (or whatever) purely through eye movements. This isn't something you buy on a whim; the system costs $3000. That's a lot, but Eyetech claims they were the first ones to produce a high-accuracy eye tracker for less then $20,000. Obviously, this is a boon to profoundly disabled people. But Eyetech's Keith Jackson says, in the video, that they also have customers who use Eyetech instead of a mouse because of carpal tunnel syndrome, and that with voice recognition and on-screen keyboards -- and Eyetech, of course -- you can use your computer without (literally) lifting a finger.
New submitter sc30317 writes "My house got robbed on Friday, and all of our electronics got stolen. Everything. Now, I have to go out and buy all new electronics with the insurance money. We had five TVs (don't ask), three laptops, a Bose Sound dock with iPod, a digital camera, and a desktop stolen. It's looking like I am going to get around $10K from the insurance company to replace everything. What would you do if you had to replace ALL of your technology in your house at once? I'm thinking: replace TVs; nice Desktop; new speakers; and new, cool stuff I don't know about (suggestions welcome). I already added a DVR security system, so hopefully the new things won't get burgled! Looking for suggestions to utilize my money in order to get the best stuff. Also, no Windows computers allowed in my house."
New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."
Several readers sent word of a new addition to the 3-D printing industry. Most 3-D printers are roughly the size of regular printers, and require design files on the computer to guide the extruder. Now there's a much smaller and much simpler alternative: the 3Doodler pen, which lets you draw 3-D objects by hand. The people making the pen set up a Kickstarter project yesterday with a $30,000 goal. They reached that within hours, and now have pledges exceeding $800,000. "The 3Doodler pen is 180mm by 24mm. The pen weighs less than 200 grams or 7 ounces (the weight of a typical apple), although the exact weight will depend on the final shell specifications once in production. And we are using a universal power supply, so provided you have the correct adapter for your country, 3Doodler will work just fine on 110v or 240v. ... While the plastic extruded from 3Doodler is safe to touch once it has left the pen, the pen itself has a metal tip that can get as hot as 270C." The pen uses the same ABS/PLA plastic as most 3-D printers, and they're planning to host stencil designs on their website so that users have patterns to sketch from.
An anonymous reader writes "Whether or not you're an owner of Microsoft's Xbox 360, chances are you find the Kinect accessory intriguing, since you don't even need the company's console to use it. That's why there's so much excitement surrounding the console's successor, codenamed Durango: it will feature Kinect 2.0, the specifications for which allegedly leaked today. The new device will reportedly be able to track players with a height of one meter, feature a mode for both seated and standing players, detect hand states (such as open or closed), as well as extra and rotated joints. As for improved features, it will be able to supposedly track six rather than two active players, occluded joints, and sideways poses. This will all be possible thanks to an increased field of vision, 1920×1080 color stream, 512×424 depth stream, an added infrared stream, USB 3.0, and 60ms latency."
kkleiner writes "Planetary Resources last year boldly claimed that they would build a futuristic business out of mining space asteroids. To that end, the firm recently completed the Arkyd-100 satellite prototype. The satellite will use its telescope to look for suitable near-Earth asteroids from low-Earth orbit. Later expeditions will rocket out to prospective real estate, do spectral analysis, and if the asteroid contains valuable resources, lay claim with a beacon."
KermMartian writes "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition isn't the first color-screen graphing calculator, or even TI's first color calculator, but it's a refresh of a 17-year-old line that many have mocked as antiquated and overpriced. From an advanced review model, the math features look familiar, solid, and augmented with some new goodies, while programming looks about on par with its siblings. The requisite teardown uncovers the new battery, Flash, ASIC/CPU, and LCD used in the device. Although there are some qualms about its speed and very gentle hardware upgrades beyond the screen, it looks to be an indication that TI will continue this inveterate line for years to come." Lots of screenshots and pictures of the innards too.
rtoz writes with a quick bite from rtoz.org about Google's latest news about Project Glass: "Google has released video preview of its forthcoming Google Glass wearable headset, providing a fresh, and more realistic look at the device's user interface. Based on the demo, Google Glass will allow users to receive and execute onscreen directions, send voice-controlled messages, and search the web through speech. The UI also includes voice-controlled photos, and suggests that the device will offer onscreen translation support. And, it looks like the Google Glass will be water-resistant. Google has previously said it is aiming to launch Glass by early 2014, though it is already pushing out developer editions priced at $1,500." They're looking for developers, but only if you're hip enough.
An anonymous reader writes "We've watched patents slow down the smartphone and tablet markets. We've seen patent claims thrown against Linux, Android, and countless other software projects. Now, as 3-D printing becomes more capable and more affordable, it seems a number of patents threaten to do the same to the hobbyist and tinkerer crowd. Wired has highlighted some of the most dangerous ones, including: a patent on soluble print materials that support a structure while it's being printed; a ridiculously broad patent on distributed rapid prototyping, which could affect "every 3-D printing service that has launched in the past few years"; and an 18-year-old patent on 3-D printing using a powder and a binding material, held by MIT."
Vigile writes "NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX TITAN graphics card is being announced today and is utilizing the GK110 GPU first announced in May of 2012 for HPC and supercomputing markets. The GPU touts computing horsepower at 4.5 TFLOPS provided by the 2,688 single precision cores, 896 double precision cores, a 384-bit memory bus and 6GB of on-board memory doubling the included frame buffer that AMD's Radeon HD 7970 uses. With a make up of 7.1 billion transistors and a 551 mm^2 die size, GK110 is very close to the reticle limit for current lithography technology! The GTX TITAN introduces a new GPU Boost revision based on real-time temperature monitoring and support for monitor refresh rate overclocking that will entice gamers and with a $999 price tag, the card could be one of the best GPGPU options on the market." HotHardware says the card "will easily be the most powerful single-GPU powered graphics card available when it ships, with relatively quiet operation and lower power consumption than the previous generation GeForce GTX 690 dual-GPU card."
nk497 writes "The vast majority of PCs sold by British PC makers are running Windows 7 — not Windows 8. PC Pro spoke to several PC builders, with some reporting as many as 93% of recently sold machines were on the older OS. One company initially sold its PCs with Windows 8, but feedback from users soon changed that. Customers quickly began to specify systems with Windows 7, those with Windows 8 'took delivery and wanted to change back to Windows 7' – a process the firm described as a 'nightmare.' Another firm found success by installing a 'start menu' tool on Windows 8 machines, and others said the switch would have gone smoother if Microsoft has offered a Windows 8 tutorial or better explained the new OS."
New submitter jyujin writes "Ever wonder how long your SSD will last? It's funny how bad people are at estimating just how long '100,000 writes' are going to take when spread over a device that spans several thousand of those blocks over several gigabytes of memory. It obviously gets far worse with newer flash memory that is able to withstand a whopping million writes per cell. So yeah, let's crunch some numbers and fix that misconception. Spoiler: even at the maximum SATA 3.0 link speeds, you'd still find yourself waiting several months or even years for that SSD to start dying on you."
An anonymous reader writes "From the article: 'Bombardier's electric transit technology will be tested next winter on buses in Montreal, followed in early 2014 on a route in the German city of Mannheim. The transportation giant's Primove technology is designed to allow buses to be charged by underground induction stations when they stop to let passengers hop on and off.' This technology while impressive may not make it to the U.S. even if proven successful due to the lack of popularity of public transportation. If they could only get my phone to charge wirelessly." The article says that the induction charging stuff could also be used to charge trains.
ptorrone writes "In a welcome turn of events, President Barack Obama spoke directly to the patent troll problem and the need for more comprehensive patent reform yesterday in a 'Fireside Hangout' — a live question and answer session (video) hosted in a Google+ hangout. The President was responding to a question by the prominent electrical engineer and entrepreneur Limor 'Ladyada' Fried of Adafruit Industries, who in 2009 won an EFF Pioneer Award for her work with free software and open-source hardware."
9to5Google cites "an extremely reliable source" in reporting that "Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas. The mission of the stores is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome, and especially upcoming products into the hands of prospective customers. Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase. Google competitors Apple and Microsoft both have retail outlets where customers can try before they buy."
MojoKid writes "If you've paid any attention to the PC industry in the past few years, you're aware that things aren't as rosy as they used to be. After decades of annual growth, major manufacturers like HP and Dell have both either floated the idea of exiting the consumer space (HP) or gone private (Dell). Contrast that with steady growth at companies like Asus and Lenovo, and some analysts think the entire PC industry could move to Asia in the next few years. The ironic part of the observation is that in many ways, this has already happened. Asia-Pacific manufacturers are more focused on the consumer electronics market and better able to cope with low margins thanks to rapid adoption and huge potential customer bases. Apple has proven that high margin hardware can be extremely profitable, but none of the PC OEMs have been willing to risk the R&D costs or carry new products for a significant period of time while they adapt designs and improve market share."
dmfinn writes "With less than 5 days until the reported PS4 launch event, new details are emerging regarding some of the console's next-gen capabilities. Since last June, Sony has been quietly sitting on its $380 million dollar acquisition of Gaikai, a cloud based gaming company. The Wall Street Journal, among other sources, is now reporting that the PS4 will have GaiKai's cloud-based gaming technology directly integrated, thought it is unclear exactly what types of games will be available for streaming. Back in June, a rumor circulated that Sony was planning to use the technology to support backwards compatibility with PS2 and PS1 games, though no further details have arisen regarding whether or not the new console will be able to play previous generation games. It appears that Sony will most likely be using the service to stream PS3 and indie games to the console, as the current technology only supports 720p, not high enough quality for blockbuster games. Constantly streaming interactive graphics, even if only at 720p, will still require a fast internet connection. Services like OnLive have struggled in the past due to the large amount of bandwidth they require, and many consumers complained of laggy connections and horrendous graphics. There is no word yet regarding the features of the games being streamed, including whether or not they will support online or local multiplayer."
Tooke writes "I've developed focal hand dystonia from playing clarinet. It affects my right pinky (and my ring finger, but to a lesser extent). My pinky isn't totally unusable when typing; however, it isn't nearly as agile as it used to be. When I must press a key with it, I tend to keep the whole finger rigid and move my entire hand instead. I also use my ring finger to press the P and semicolon keys (on QWERTY) which is a bit awkward but better than using the pinky. Thus my question: are there any keyboard layouts that are optimized to reduce right pinky/ring finger usage? I switched to Programmer Dvorak a few years ago, but Dvorak seems to make me use my right hand significantly more than my left. I'm considering mirroring the letter keys so my left hand would be used more. I also came across the Workman layout which looks interesting. I might try using that after switching the numbers and symbols around to be more like Programmer Dvorak. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What else could I do to make typing more comfortable? I've got a long career ahead of me as a programmer (I'm currently a high school senior) and I'd like to take care of my hands as much as possible."
Lucas123 writes "Electrical engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) said yesterday that they have found a technique to use high-frequency sound waves to improve magnetic data storage.The data write-technology breakthrough could allow greater amounts of data to be stored on both hard disk drives and NAND flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs), they said. Typically, when magnetic recording material is temporarily heated, even for an instant, it can become momentarily less stiff and more data can be stored at a particular spot. But, the technique has proven difficult to effectively increase capacity because heating tends to spread beyond where it is wanted and the technology involves complex integration of optics, electronics and magnetics, the researchers said. With the new technique, known as acoustic-assisted magnetic recording, ultrasound is directed at a highly specific location on the material while data is being stored, creating elasticity that allows "a tiny portion of the material to bend or stretch." After the ultrasound is turned off, the material immediately returns to its original shape, but the data stored during the process remains in a dense form."
First time accepted submitter BadassFractal writes "I'm in the market for a new large desktop monitor (or two) which I intend to use almost exclusively for programming and all sorts of software development-related work. I'm trying to keep the cost down reasonable, and I do enjoy as large of a resolution as possible. What do people 'in the know' out there use these days for that purpose? I'm thinking a 1920x1200 24" would be good, unless there's an affordable 2560xFoo option out there. I keep hearing about nameless Korean 27" screens, any thoughts on those?"