Archive for February, 2010

2/25/2010 Music From the Future

This week i wanted to write about how technology changes the arts, specifically music.  We’ve  come a long way from the Bladder Pipe to Electric Guitar.  Technology has allowed us to make fantastic music without getting our mouths anywhere near an animal’s bladder.  So what is the instrument of the future?

The Reactable looks like an illuminated, round table with a diameter of about 1 m (3 ft.) and a glass top. At first glance, the musical instrument of the 21st century does not make such a futuristic and complicated impression. And it is exactly this that is the secret of the Reactable: The interaction between musician and instrument takes place simply and intuitively via the smooth surface of the table on which the artist places and moves different objects in relationship to each other. No buttons, no switches, no keys.

To operate the Reactable, various Plexiglas objects are placed on the table, related to each other and moved. These objects fulfill different functions based upon their geometric shape. For example, square shaped elements generate basic tones, while round objects act as sound filters, which modulate these basic tones. The symbol on the selected elements determines the type of the basic tone and/or the filter; the spatial relationship of the objects to each other determines the extent to which one element affects another. A special collection of symbols was conceived for the Reactable which meet the system requirements for easy and fast recognition. Due to the fact that they look like one celled organisms, the symbols were given the nickname “amoebae” by the researchers.

How does the reactable work?  Like this!

How does the reactable work? Like this!

The Reactable projects markings onto the surface of the table to make the instrument easier to operate. These not only confirm to the musician that the object has been recognized by the system, but also provide additional information regarding the status of the generated tone and its interaction with neighboring objects. This allows the artist to see the connections and a dynamic graphic presentation of the generated sound waves on the table. The kicker: The musician can change individual sound parameters by touching the projected information with his finger.

Thanks to Allied vision tech for the material



February 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm 1 comment

02/22/2010 – The digital revolution has offered new ways to fight epidemics…but the question is: are they reliable?????

With the rapid advancement in Information Technology, it has become a difficult tasks for people to expect what new product will be coming next and in which form. Innovation can be in the form of new software, hardware, social networking products, and others.

Most of the people might not know about the fact that the uses of IT products such as iPhone apps, social networks, Wikipedia and flu-tracking sites have been used now-a-days to share information, shape conversations and keep tabs on health threats like never before.

By disseminating information quickly, people could be warned about outbreaks (such as the swine flu) sooner and preventive measures can be taken faster. This is the reason why IT experts are developing the products and applications that keep track of health threats and their spread percentage.

There would not be any problem at all if these IT products disseminate correct and reliable information all the time. But, these digital tools could open the door to mass panic from unreliable or false reports. The public, after all, is often unfamiliar with medical terminology and can mistake ordinary colds for more serious illnesses such as the swine flu. Also, there is no ample evidence that people are actually changing their behavior as a result of these tools.

The software developer Clark Freifeld and epidemiologist John Brownstein started HealthMap in 2006, first as a Web site before introducing apps for the iPhone in September and for mobile phones using the Android operating system later. There are now more than 100 H1N1 apps for iPhone — and several other apps dedicated to identifying, locating, and reporting the outbreak of epidemics; these digital tools could help people take preventive measures earlier than otherwise would have been the case, but they also open the door to mass panic from unreliable or false reports.

Generally, the reports on health cases from local officials have to be verified, so they take longer to reach federal agencies and ultimately to reach the public. Although HealthMap tries to verify each user-submitted report, it does not do so as vigorously. It is willing to take the chance that some inaccurate information slips through so that all the reports — good or bad — get out more quickly. Moreover, HealthMap is planning to get information out even faster by looking for the patterns in the symptoms reported by groups of people in an area, rather than waiting for an individual to report only cases confirmed with a doctor.

For this specific issue, it looks like IT industry is giving more focus on quick dissemination of information rather than on the reliability issues. In your opinion, which factor between these two  should be valued more?

Thanks for reading ~

Don’t forget to take the quiz on Blackboard.


February 22, 2010 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Windows Phone 7 Series: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Microsoft has just revealed its newest device and all I have to say is, “Holy. Cow.”  Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is to be the successor to previous windows mobile operating systems, except that this one completely re-invents the Smartphone user interface.

If you’ve ever seen a Zune HD, you’ll be pretty familiar with the interaction on this device, but after you see this video, you’ll definitely agree that it’s even more.

I’m pretty excited that there is talk that the phone will go to AT&T, which is awesome for me because personally, I want this phone and qualify for an upgrade this year ;).  Microsoft says that the Windows Phone 7 operating system is kind of like a combination of the Zune’s and the interface of Windows Media Center that they call “Metro.”  Still, it will include great features from the previous Windows Mobile, such as a Mobile Office, including Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.

The article is pretty lengthy and filled with more videos and as the title states:  everything you’ll want to know about the phone including a ton of extra sweet features on the phone.  For example, that interesting “home screen” with all the little animated boxes? You can make your own “Tiles,” as they’re called that can be linked to an app (like Internet Explorer), a specific contact, website, photo gallery, playlist, downloaded widget, or sub-menus of the phone.  What’s even wilder is that the order the Tiles are given on the start screen are determined by which ones you touch on more. So you link to the Facebook app, which the animated Tile will also show you live updates on, it would be the first Tile on the list.  Awesome.

The quiz for you guys will be on the video shown as well as this post, and feel free to check out the article here. There are lots of other great facts on the phone.

Thanks for reading!


February 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm 1 comment

Augmented Reality: The Future of Online Maps

I’m sure you’ve all used Mapquest or Google Maps at some point. They’re generally very simple and do not allow you to virtually wander around. In the case of Google Maps, they offer something called “street view” which, to an extent, allows you to virtually travel down the street. The problem with Google’s ‘street view’ is that it is not very fluid, and it does not offer much freedom to explore. For your quiz today, check out this video below. At 8 minutes, it’s a little bit longer than most of the stuff we’ll have you watch or read, but I promise it’s worth it. This new technology is really awesome and I can’t wait until it gains popularity!

After watching the video, what do you guys think? Is this unnecessary, or is it a cool feature that would be fun to virtually explore other cities? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Don’t forget about your quiz, though!


February 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

2/11/2010 – Brain Games

Now that we’ve been through  a few week’s together I want to ask you all for your input.  If you have any comments or suggestions suggestions about how we can improve things let us know!  Either leave a comment after our posts or visit our twitter.

This week i thought I would focus on something typically thought of as “children’s  games” which are being developed in new directions with uses beyond entertainment.

You may have seen games like Big Brain Academy or Brain Age for the Nintendo DS.  These are simple brain teasing puzzle games which are very entertaining when you’re stuck someplace with nothing to do (maybe a lecture hall).  Inspired by games like these, Posit Science has begun developing “brain training software.” Armed with money from four grants, over 50 professors and scientists from around the world have teamed up to work on the project.  The brain games they produce are some of the first to be proven, through clinical research, to improve brain functions.

The games are designed to promote strong brain function that supports a variety of cognitive skills, increase the quantity of sensory information the brain takes in, and improves the quality with which the brain processes and records this information.  The games work by focusing on what Posit Science calls “root problems.”  These are deteriorating trends which occur in the human brain after age 30.  These trends include slower speed, “fuzzier” accuracy, and decreasing amounts of chemicals called neuromodulators.

You probably aren’t over 30, so how does this affect you?  Well besides the fact that you aren’t Dorian Grey, and will someday be older than you are now; the project is indicative of developing trends in technology.  Posit Science has combined the talents of knowledge of neuroscientists, psychologists, and others with that of technology enthusiasts.  An indicator that any future career can benefit from experience with technology.

If you want to test out the brain games, you can play some on Posit’s website for free.  (email and name are  required) Otherwise, head back to blackboard and take the extra credit quiz!

Thanks, David


February 11, 2010 at 10:54 am 1 comment

02/08/2010 – Are you prepared to work with your robot co-worker?

This topic might sound weird to most of us. But due to rapid technological advancement, it will be soon considered normal for us to see robots in our workplaces.

Engineers have unveiled perhaps one of the biggest innovations in manufacturing since the invention of the assembly line. reports that the “the world’s most dexterous robot,” the Robonaut2, was created in a joint project from NASA and General Motors researchers. The Robonaut2 or R2 was constructed to look like a human from the waist up to better fit into human work spaces. That means R2 can replace humans on the job or work alongside them.

NASA and General Motors introduced Robonaut2 – or R2 for short – is faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced than its predecessors and a step closer toward becoming a co-worker in the aerospace or automotive industries. R2 is able to use its hands to do work beyond the scope of previously introduced humanoid robots according to NASA. For GM, R2 would be used to test car safety and develop safer manufacturing plants. GM hopes to integrate robots with human workers. NASA would use R2 as a helper—or stand-in—for humans on space missions.

This is not NASA’s first venture into robotics. The Robonaut was originally created by NASA and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The R2 follows a similar design as the original Robonaut, which was created to mimic the work of a spacewalker without the pesky problem of putting a person in space.

A video of what R2 can do shows the robot writing in cursive and lifting a 20lb weight. The robot uses bleeding edge control, sensor and vision technologies. The R2 has a human torso, head, arms, hands and fingers. And in the future, the robot might have a leg to help it shimmy along in space with ease.

Thanks for reading ~

Don’t forget to take the quiz on Blackboard.


February 8, 2010 at 2:29 am 3 comments

Mobile Health Text Messaging Service Begins

It’s pretty obvious that technological advancements have massively impacted how our society can communicate and work together to reach a goal, find out what makes a good chili, share important information, or what have you.  We’ve seen businesses take advantage of the simplicity of a text message and turn it into profit, but shouldn’t we also use this system to our advantage with some more important info?

Text4Baby is a program that was announced Thursday by Aneesh Chopra, the federal chief technology officer and associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Text4Baby is a free service supported by major wireless carriers that sends important medical information via text messages to subscribers.   Created for expecting mothers to promote mother and child health through baby’s first year, Text4Baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology, and make a real difference for moms and babies across the country.

Subscribing to this service gets you three weekly text messages free of charge containing information that is timed up with the baby’s date of birth focusing on topics, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health and safe sleep.

I think that this service is a something that many women, or men for that matter could find useful, especially since it’s free and you can’t really have too much information when it comes to safety and health 🙂

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget the quiz.  Oh, here’s a link to the article.


February 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm 4 comments

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