Researchers from Microsoft Research Asia in collaboration with the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have used Kinect to recognise and translate sign language.
Their research uses the hand and body tracking features of Kinect to enable people whose primary language is sign language to interact with their computers in much the same way as speech recognition.
It also allows people to communicate with a deaf person by automatically translating their text into a sign language sentence. Interested in learning more? See the Inside Microsoft Research blog here.
Researchers are working to create a vaccine to help smokers quit. The vaccine will use nanoscale structures assembled from DNA to stimulate a person’s immune system to attack nicotine in the bloodstream.
This could helpers smokers to quit by removing their addiction to nicotine so they can focus on stopping their habits. Interested in learning more? See the article here.
Corning has announced its next revision of Gorilla Glass will be ten times more transparent than purified water, which will make it much easier to see mobile screens in direct sunlight.
It will also have an anti-microbial coating that can kill virtually all microbes on a screen’s surface in about two hours. Interested in learning more? See the Corning video by Jeff Evenson here, specifically between the 10- and 13-minute marks.
On 14 June 2013, SpaceX successfully tested its reusable rocket Grasshopper. It flew to an altitude of 325m and then smoothly landed back on the pad. To accomplish the landing, it used a full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms, which are more precise than sensors used in most rockets.
Standard rockets are designed to be used once and burn up during re-entry, whereas Grasshopper is designed to withstand re-entry and return to the launch pad for a vertical landing.
Grasshopper is made up of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure. Interested in learning more? See the YouTube video here.
To create ultra-realistic CGI faces, researchers have developed a camera that simulates light reflecting off human skin by splitting it into four rays: one that bounces off the skin and three that penetrate the skin at varying depths.
The camera can be used to photograph skin from people’s chins, cheeks and foreheads at a resolution of about 10 micrometres, so each skin cell is spread across roughly three pixels.
The photos are used to create a 3D model of the skin including pores, moles and wrinkles. Previously, in movies such as Avatar, details such as these were manually added to the blue-skinned Na’vi by artists. Interested in learning more? See the article here.
Researchers from the North Carolina State University have incorporated Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect system into an electronic interface that can remotely control cockroaches. The Kinect will also be used to collect data to help the researchers fine-tune the steering of cockroaches.
The researchers hope to equip cockroaches with microphones and have them automatically piloted through dynamic environments such as collapsed buildings to find survivors. Interested in learning more? See the NC State University website here.
Researchers have created a small portable device that can detect melanoma in skin’s odour. To do this, a nanotechnology-based sensor analyses the airborne molecules around a person’s skin to find traces of melanoma’s specific chemical signature.
The device can be used to detect melanoma far earlier than current methods, which rely mainly on visual exams and biopsies. Melanoma is difficult to catch early and it is the cause of three-quarters of skin cancer deaths.
Interested in learning more? See the researcher paper here.
Researchers working with DARPA have created a robotic arm that amputees can use to feel sensation. In one experiment, amputees are able to tell which finger is being touched without looking at the robotic arm.
In another experiment, amputees found it much easier to pick up little boxes they couldn’t see and move them off the board when sensation was enabled compared to when it was disabled. Interested in learning more? See the DARPA website here.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Lab have created a camera that can track fast-moving balls and keep them in the centre of the view. They have also managed to project an image on the ball while it is moving.
This technology could be used in replays of games with fast-moving balls to get a better sense of the action or to make line calls. Interested in learning more? See the article here.
(Warning: Video may cause motion sickness in some people.)
Volvo has shown off a prototype of its self-parking car. It is the first manufacturer to show off a car that can interact with other cars and pedestrians while it parks itself. Also, no additional infrastructure is needed, since it can use existing car parks.
The driver parks the car in a designated drop-off zone and then presses a button on a smartphone app to instruct their car to automatically park. After the car parks itself, it sends a notification to the app so the can see where the car is parked.
When the driver needs to be picked up, they can press a button on the smartphone app to instruct their car to automatically drive to the designated pickup area, where they can get in and then drive the car.
By 2020, Volvo hopes to develop self-driving cars that are safer and more fuel efficient than current cars and give drivers the convenience to do other things during their commute. Interested in learning more? See the Volvo website here.