New technologies that help us detect illness and disease.
New technologies that help us detect illness and disease.
Spencer Kelly looks at some of the best of the week’s technology news – including a bullet that can change its trajectory once fired and a robotic system that can move cars safely.
It’s easy for conversations about advancing technologies to become oversaturated with discussions of new smartwatches or weighing the pros and cons of the latest cellphones.
The true heroes of technology, however, have always been the innovative creators who make strides in the medical field, revolutionize communication or help create a better understanding of the world around us.
That’s what makes the Mobile Lorm Glove from the Design Research Lab something truly worth getting excited about.
The lab, located at the Berlin University of the Arts, is continuing to develop the Mobile Lorm Glove, a comfortable glove that may forever revolutionize communication for the deaf-blind community.
The basic purpose of the glove is to translate text into a tactile alphabet known as Lorm that deaf-blind people frequently use to communicate with people around them.
In that sense, it is a new-age translator. An impressive feat, but not necessarily adding up to the “revolutionary” claims.
It’s the glove’s implications, however, that are truly groundbreaking.
The glove isn’t just a way for a deaf-blind person to talk to their friends without them having to learn Lorm. It’s a way to expand their freedom, social circles and even their economic opportunities.
The glove mocks the very barriers that used to be frighteningly hard to surpass without such technology — the barriers that once capped a deaf-blind person’s access to the rest of the world.
Pressure sensors on the glove create a sensation of touch on a person’s hand so they can feel the same sensations they would get if someone who understood Lorm was trying to communicate with them.
Since the glove can decode text messages and emails as well, it also makes it possible for deaf-blind people to have interactions with people who aren’t standing right next to them. This means they can receive text messages from a friend, respond to business emails and even dive head first into the digital comedy that rules Twitter.
The glove even comes with features that are similar to auto-correct.
The BBC explains that in Lorm, the letter ‘S’ would be represented by drawing a circle in one’s hand. If the user accidentally draws a square or triangle instead, the glove still recognizes an ‘S’ as the closest letter.
The glove will also allow its wearer to control how quickly the messages are translated in Lorm. So a younger person who may not be efficient in Lorm just yet could choose a slower pace while an adult who has communicated via Lorm for their entire life can use a faster pace.
These features alone make the glove a truly admirable technological feat, but researchers went a step further.
The glove could actually become a key tool for deaf-blind children in school.
“It supports mobile communication over distance… and it enables parallel one-to-many communication, which is especially helpful in school and other learning contexts,” a report by the Design Research Lab explains.
This means a teacher could send messages to an entire class of deaf-blind students rather than be forced to only use one-on-one communication.
Researchers say the glove is still considered a prototype, but based on its early stages, the glove could be one of the greatest technological achievements and finally create a convenient method of communication that will allow deaf-blind people to socialize more, take on certain careers and not feel quite as closed off from the world around them.
Proper maintenance of infrastructure like busy bridges or towering office buildings is key for any community and especially important for major metro areas.
Unfortunately, keeping up with such infrastructure is a daunting task that could allow many structural issues that need to be addressed to fall through the cracks.
This could ultimately lead to expensive repairs or catastrophic foundation failures that could have been prevented had the integrity of key infrastructure been maintained properly.
There is no arguing that it would all be much easier if walls could talk.
That’s exactly what the team of researchers behind the GENESI project is trying to accomplish.
Walls still wouldn’t be able to share the latest gossip or give you a conversational companion, but they would be able to give accurate reports about their status.
GENESI, which stands for Green Sensor Networks for Structural Monitoring, is a project funded by the European Union that aims to put these new sensors on various structures in order to keep better track of a city’s infrastructure.
“Vibrating strain gauges, displacement meters, pressure sensors, temperature sensors, [and] soil moisture sensors” would be some of the devices used to give buildings, bridges and tunnels a voice.
GENESI has already rolled out two pilot projects to test just how functional the new sensors would be.
So far, the sensors are giving impressive results, but the maintenance has shifted from the buildings to the sensors themselves.
The devices require batteries that still have to be replaced more often than researchers would like.
Popular Science pointed out that even the most energy-efficient sensors could still pose a serious problem when it comes time to monitor and replace the batteries.
While some sensors feature small wind turbines that help garner energy for the device, others rely on manual labor.
“For all other sensors, whether tucked away in tunnel walls or nestled in dark unlit crevices under bridges, replacing batteries isn’t always the easiest task for humans,” Popular Science contributor Kelsey D. Atherton explained. “So that might be a future job for drones.”
While sensor upkeep could be a bit of an annoyance, it’s still a far better option than playing guessing games with major infrastructure.
For that reason, researchers are hoping to perfect the technology and see the sensors popping up in cities all across the globe.
Google Earth Flight Simulator
The Google Earth Flight Simulator is the latest version of Google Earth. It allows users to view 3-D models of natural landmarks, like mountains, and urban areas all through the lens of a virtual plane. The feature arrived last year, but many people are unaware of it. To activate the flight simulator, users must download Google Earth and press CTRL + Option + A to activate it.
Google’s research lab Google X has been developing a space elevator capable of transporting people above the Earth. The elevator will be made of the hardest substance on Earth in the form of carbon nanotubes. These would support the elevator. It is likely a project like this will not become a reality until around 2025.
Voxel8 has created the world’s first 3-D electronics printer from the ground up. Novel conductive materials and 3-D printing technology from the Lewis Research Group at Harvard University. New software crafted for the Voxel8 printer called Project Wire by Autodesk.
Source: Voxel8: 3D Electronics Printing
Jaguar Land Rover is developing the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen, which allows drivers to get a complete, unhindered view of the road. Watch the video to see the transparent pillars, Heads-Up display and ‘Follow Me’ Ghost Car Navigation.
Source: Volvo Trucks — “Volvo Trucks has developed new technology that can do a 360-degree scan of its surroundings and suggest actions to avoid incidents. The technology is developed specifically to protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.”