An anonymous reader writes "For the first time, blind people could read street signs with a device that translates letters into Braille and beams the results directly onto a person's eye." According to the article, "In a trial conducted on a single patient who already used the [predecessor] device, the person was able to correctly read Braille letters up to 89 percent of the time, and most of the inaccuracy appeared when the participant misread a single letter. The user was able to read one word a second."
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mask.of.sanity writes "This custom Yamaha TRX 850 has been outfitted with wireless sniffing and attack tools, routers, a laptop, Raspberry Pi and even a heads up display integrated within the bike helmet. It was built from open source kit and cheap hardware by a security penetration tester who wanted to make his love of wardriving more nimble. The plans are detailed in a diagram and a video."
hypnosec writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced a new add-on – a camera module that will enable the credit card sized computer to snap pictures as well as record 1080p videos. Showcased by RS Components at the Elecontrica 2012 in Germany [watch video here] the £16 (apprx) module will be equipped with a 5MP sensor and will plug into the otherwise unused CSI pins of the Pi. The camera module's board is still in prototype stage and is expected to reach production sometime soon. Liz Upton, Executive Director of the Foundation said in a blog post, 'We've a (very) little way to go before we're able to send it out to manufacture.' According to Upton, testing slots have been booked in December to check on electromagnetic radiations from the ribbon cable."
Hugh Pickens writes "Richard Anderson reports on BBC that despite stringent carbon emissions targets in Europe designed to slow global warming and massive investment in renewable energy in China, coal, the dirtiest and most polluting of all the major fossil fuels, is making a comeback with production up 6% over 2010, twice the rate of increase of gas and more than four times that of oil. 'What is going on is a shift from nuclear power to coal and from gas to coal; this is the worst thing you could do, from a climate change perspective,' says Dieter Helm. Why the shift back to coal? Because coal is cheap, and getting cheaper all the time. Due to the economic downturn, there has been a 'collapse in industrial demand for energy,' leading to an oversupply of coal, pushing the price down. Meanwhile China leads the world in coal production and consumption. It mines over 3 billion tons of coal a year, three times more than the next-biggest producer (America), and last year overtook Japan to become the world's biggest coal importer. Although China is spending massive amounts of money on a renewable energy but even this will not be able to keep up with demand, meaning fossil fuels will continue to make up the majority of the overall energy mix for the foreseeable future and when it comes to fossil fuels, coal is the easy winner — it is generally easier and cheaper to mine, and easier to transport using existing infrastructure such as roads and rail, than oil or gas. While China is currently running half a dozen carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects — which aim to capture CO2 emissions from coal plants and bury it underground — the technology is nowhere near commercial viability. 'Renewed urgency in developing CCS globally, alongside greater strides in increasing renewable energy capacity, is desperately needed,' writes Anderson, 'but Europe's increasing reliance on coal without capturing emissions is undermining its status as a leader in clean energy, and therefore global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.'"
another random user writes with an excerpt from the BBC about Microsoft's vision for augmented reality glasses: "A patent granted to the U.S. tech firm describes how the eyewear could be used to bring up statistics over a wearer's view of a baseball game or details of characters in a play. The newly-released document was filed in May 2011 and is highly detailed. ... Although some have questioned how many people would want to wear such devices, a recent report by Juniper Research indicated that the market for smart glasses and other next-generation wearable tech could be worth $1.5bn by 2014 and would multiply over following years." Noticeable differences from Google's version: two lenses, a wrist computer, and wires.
concertina226 writes "Called the Raspberry Pi 'hack day', the competition will pit 100 entrants against one another in a number of categories using only the board, Internet access, soldering irons and as much coding as they think appropriate. Participants will have 24-hours to complete projects, at the end of which winners will be awarded from a variety of prizes including camcorders, Android tablets and the geek must-have, the Hubsan H107 Quadcopter."
angry tapir writes "As supercomputers grow more powerful, they'll also grow more vulnerable to failure, thanks to the increased amount of built-in componentry. Today's high-performance computing (HPC) systems can have 100,000 nodes or more — with each node built from multiple components of memory, processors, buses and other circuitry. Statistically speaking, all these components will fail at some point, and they halt operations when they do so, said David Fiala, a Ph.D student at the North Carolina State University, during a talk at SC12. Today's techniques for dealing with system failure may not scale very well, Fiala said."
coondoggie writes "It may be a gimmick or the ultimate answer, but a California city this week okay-ed a draft ordinance that would let businesses install 7,000-volt electric fences to protect sites from rampant copper thieves. As reported by the Sacramento CBS station, the reaction from one business owner to the ordinance says it all: 'It'll be a little fun to watch one of these guys get electrocuted holding my fence trying to rob me.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that hardware vendors aren't too happy about expanded levies on media. From the article: "Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying. The entertainment industry estimates lost income of €40 million, which is much too high, according to the hardware companies. 'That amount is excessive and completely unfounded,' they said. The €40 million also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said."
An anonymous reader writes "3D Systems, one of the big fish in 3D printer manufacturing, filed a suit against Formlabs's hugely popular Form1 printer put forth on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding effort has amassed close to 3M US Dollars, of an initial 100K requested. 3D Systems accuses Formlabs and Kickstarter of knowingly infringing one of its still valid blanket patents on stereolithography and cross-sectional printing of 3D objects. The company is probably going to go for the kill, as one can deduce from the demands on their complaint." In "The State of Community Fabrication" presentation at HOPE9, Far McKon noted that no one had yet filed a patent lawsuit against a 3D printing company, but it looks like his fears have come true.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like the next generation of 'Battle Bots' is here: 'Syfy has greenlit and shot the first season of a new show where eight-foot-tall state-of-the-art humanoid robots will rock 'em and sock 'em in a boxing cage until one is defeated. The future-shock new series is called Robot Combat League and the project has been kept under wraps until today. The action resembles a real-life version of last year's hit movie Real Steel, with large menacing robots pounding away at each other in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid.' Pictures are included with the story."
MrSeb writes "In a year or two, augmented reality (AR) headsets such as Google Glass may double up as a virtual dieting pill. New research from the University of Tokyo shows that a very simple AR trick can reduce the amount that you eat by 10% — and yes, the same trick, used in the inverse, can be used to increase food consumption by 15%, too. The AR trick is very simple: By donning the glasses, the University of Tokyo's special software 'seamlessly' scales up the size of your food. You pick up an Oreo cookie, and then the software automatically scales it up to 1.5 times its natural size. Using a deformation algorithm, the person's hand is manipulated so that the giant Oreo appears (somewhat) natural. In testing, this simple trick was enough to reduce the amount of food eaten by 10%. The inverse is also true: shrinking the Oreo down to two-thirds its natural size increased food consumption by 15%. This new research dovetails neatly with an area of nutritional science that has received a lot of attention in the United States of Obesity recently: That the size of the serving/plate/cup/receptacle directly affects your intake. The fact is, there's a lot more to dieting than simply reducing your calorific intake and exercising regularly. Your state of mind as you sit down to eat, and your perception of what you're eating, are just as important — which is exciting news, because both of those factors can be hacked."
jfruh writes "Sharp, the Japanese LCD supplier in dire financial straits, is trying to cut staffing by offering an early retirement package. Unfortunately, it seems Sharp employees are eager to abandon a sinking ship. The company was planning on cutting its headcount by about 2,000 employees with the move; instead, it had to cut short the program after getting nearly 3,000 applicants."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft, FuelCell Energy and a collection of local Cheyenne, Wyoming companies are collaborating on a project to supply one of Microsoft's local data centers with biogas, in a bid to determine if what we poop can be turned into power. FuelCell and Microsoft will test a small 200-kilowatt data center with a fuel cell that can produce up to 300 kilowatts in a carbon-neutral manner. Microsoft estimates the total carbon savings at about 1,833 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour, compared to a typical fossil fuel plant. Although other data centers rely on biogas as a power source, Microsoft claims this is the first time a biogas source — specifically, a wastewater treatment facility — will be integrated directly with a data center."
An anonymous reader writes "The Google Samsung Chromebook was already interesting for its competitive $250 price-tag and that it can be loaded with Linux distributions beyond Chrome OS, but it turns out that its performance is particularly good, too. When loaded with Ubuntu Linux, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual ARM SoC on the Chrome notebook had outperformed a 1.8GHz Intel Atom, a quad-core Calxeda ARM server, and a TI OMAP4 PandaBoard."