Documenting the Coming Singularity

Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Your Next Smartphone May Be Transparent

The Verge - 2.15.13 by Amar Toor

"IT WILL HAPPEN NEAR THE END OF 2013. TRUST ME."
When will we see a transparent smartphone? It's a question that's been circulating for years, thanks to films like Minority Report and Iron Man 2 that sparked dreams of a diaphanous mobile future, and more than a decade later, it's one that's still without an answer. Sony Ericsson's Xperia Pureness fell flat when it hit the market in 2009, and subsequent concept designs never came to fruition, leaving only a trail of dashed hopes and semi-transparent feature phones in their wake.

Now, Taiwan-based Polytron Technologies is trying to revive the dream, with a transparent multi-touch display that it's begun marketing to OEMs. As Mobile Geeks reports, the key to Polytron's prototype is its so-called Switchable Glass technology — a conductive OLED that uses liquid crystal molecules to display images. When the phone is powered off, these molecules form a white cloudy composition, but once activated with electric current (flowing through transparent wires), they realign to form text, icons, or other imagery.


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Another Call to Rethink Email

New York Times - 2.9.13 by Jenna Wortham

I was starting to consider e-mail bankruptcy — ditching my account and signing up for a new one — until I heard about a new option in the e-mail wars, an iOS app called Mailbox, which promises to change how we manage our mail.
Jacqui Oakley
IN the not-so-distant past, the chipper AOL sound of “You’ve got mail!” filled me with giddiness and glee. I would eagerly check my in-box, excited to see what message had arrived.

Those days are long gone. Now, when I examine my various e-mail accounts, my main emotion is dread.

One morning last week, I sat at my desk and stared at my Gmail in-box; 40,000 unread e-mails stared back. (That big number is a function of my life as a writer, and of having five different accounts, work and personal.) Feeling unusually invigorated, I attacked the mountain, trashing subscription newsletters and social networking alerts en masse. I typed brief confirmations for various meetings, sent long-overdue R.S.V.P.’s and replied to a few friends who had sent warm notes of hello. In an hour, I worked my way through roughly 100 e-mails.




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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Billions of Smartphones Means...Mo' Money!

Read/WriteWeb - October 17, 2012 by Dan Rowinski


The first modern smartphone is generally considered to have been the Nokia Communicator, released in 1996. It was large and clunky, had a flip keyboard and a awkward antenna. Boy, how things have changed. Multiple companies now churn out increasingly amazing models with incredibly slick designs, intuitive features and hundreds of thousands of fun and useful apps. A billion people around the globe now have supercomputers in their pockets. The implications are dramatic and only beginning to be understood.

vudu.com

According to a new report from Boston-based Strategy Analytics, the global user base of smartphones surpassed one billion for the first time at the end of the third quarter of 2012. The report states that 1.038 billion smartphones in use, up from 959 million at the end of the second quarter and close to 300 million more than the 708 million counted at the end of the third quarter last year.

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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Wireless without limits?

Singularity & Futurism is always on the lookout for news of the next big thing. Could this be one?

Wired - June 30, 2011 by Eric Blattberg

Imagine if every mobile device had its own personal fat-pipe ethernet connection — without the CAT5 cable. That’s how Steve Perlman — inventor, entrepreneur, and CEO and founder of OnLive, the games-on-demand system — explains distributed-input-distributed-output (DIDO) technology, an experimental wireless communications system that could render cellular connections obsolete.

If a cell tower today broadcasts on channels that have a capacity of 100 megabits of bandwidth per second, and 100 people connect to that cell tower and share bandwidth equally, each person’s connection will measure roughly one megabit per second. If 1,000 people connect, each will get 100k bits per second. With DIDO wireless signals, everyone within range would get the entirety of the channel.

“I know that sounds impossible,” says Perlman, “but literally if you have a cell that has 100 megabits per second worth of bandwidth in it and you have 100 people, each person gets 100 megabits a second. It’s really pretty amazing; you don’t interfere with anybody else.”


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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The coming Superphone

Gigaom - 3.10.10 (by Stacey Higginbotham)

The future of media will be information consumed on superphones while on the go, said Rob Glaser, chairman of RealNetworks, today in his first public speech since stepping down from his CEO position. In the speech, given in Seattle at a Mobile Broadband Breakfast event, he forecast that by 2013 the installed base of smart and superphones (see chart for Glaser’s definition of each) will exceed the installed base of PCs, and those web-surfing devices will be mobile. In this world he sees five big opportunities:

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Dispense with all the wires!

Purdue Newsroom - 3.3.10

The wireless house of the future might use a system being developed at Purdue University that could eliminate wires for communications in homes, businesses and cars. The researchers designed and built a miniature device capable of converting ultra fast laser pulses into bursts of radio-frequency signals using innovative "microring resonators." Such an advance could enable all communications, from high-definition television broadcasts to secure computer connections, to be transmitted from a single base station. (Purdue University, Michael Esposito).

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University researchers have developed a miniature device capable of converting ultrafast laser pulses into bursts of radio-frequency signals, a step toward making wires obsolete for communications in the homes and offices of the future.

Such an advance could enable all communications, from high-definition television broadcasts to secure computer connections, to be transmitted from a single base station, said Minghao Qi, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

"Of course, ideas about specific uses of our technology are futuristic and speculative, but we envision a single base station and everything else would be wireless," he said. "This base station would be sort of a computer by itself, perhaps a card inserted into one of the expansion slots in a central computer. The central computer would take charge of all the information processing, a single point of contact that interacts with the external world in receiving and sending information."

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What the Internet Looks Like

NYT - 3.1.10 (by John Markoff)

Photo credit: Peter Morance.

SAN FRANCISCO — In a dimly lit chamber festooned with wires and hidden in one of California’s largest data centers, Tim Pozar is changing the shape of the Internet.

He is using what Internet engineers refer to as a “meet-me room.” The room itself is enclosed in a building full of computers and routers. What Mr. Pozar does there is to informally wire together the networks of different businesses that want to freely share their Internet traffic.

The practice is known as peering, and it goes back to the earliest days of the Internet, when organizations would directly connect their networks instead of paying yet another company to route data traffic. Originally, the companies that owned the backbone of the Internet shared traffic. In recent years, however, the practice has increased to the point where some researchers who study the way global networks are put together believe that peering is changing the fundamental shape of the Internet, with serious consequences for its stability and security. Others see the vast increase in traffic staying within a structure that has remained essentially the same.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

What could you do with 100 megabits per second?

Networkworld - 2.16.10 (by Jeff Bertolucci)

There's little debate that the United States lags behind other industrialized nations in high-speed Internet use. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than 100 million Americans don't have broadband at home because they either can't get it, can't afford it, or aren't aware of its benefits. Some 65 percent of U.S. households have broadband, a far lower adoption rate than in other technologically advanced countries such as Singapore (88 percent) or South Korea (95 percent).

And that's why FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is proposing a National Broadband Plan that would greatly widen the data pipe to most American homes. Speaking in Washington D.C. on Tuesday at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners conference, Genachowski set an ambitious goal: His "100 Squared" initiative would bring 100-megabit-per-second broadband to 100 million U.S. households by 2020.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Automatic, instant voice translation in 2 years, via Google

TimesOnline - 2.7.10 (by Chris Gourlay)

GOOGLE is developing software for the first phone capable of translating foreign languages almost instantly — like the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

By building on existing technologies in voice recognition and automatic translation, Google hopes to have a basic system ready within a couple of years. If it works, it could eventually transform communication among speakers of the world’s 6,000-plus languages.

The company has already created an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being honed by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents. So far it covers 52 languages, adding Haitian Creole last week.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finally! A book-like e-reader from Kurzweil

Wired - 12.29.09 (By Priya Ganapati and Charlie Sorrel)



Ray Kurzweil, a prolific inventor who is best known for his prediction that machine intelligence will surpass that of humans around 2045, still has a few things to offer carbon-based life forms. Kurzweil has introduced new e-reader software, called Blio, that approaches e-reading from a completely different angle than the current E Ink-based devices like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader.

Blio is not a device. Rather, it is a “platform” that could run on any device, but would be most obviously at home on a tablet. The software is free and available currently for PCs, iPod Touch and iPhone.

“Everyone who has seen it acknowledges that it is head and shoulders above others,” says Kurzweil. “We have high-quality graphics and animated features. Other e-readers are very primitive.”

Blio is set to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.

E-readers have become a hot consumer electronics product. About 5 million e-reader devices are expected to be sold by the end of the year. Meanwhile, electronic books for the Kindle outsold physical books on Amazon for the first time this Christmas, said Amazon, one of the largest online book retailers.

Kurzweil — who is better known for his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near — has worked extensively in areas such as optical character recognition, speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis. His company Kurzweil Technologies has a joint venture with the National Federation of the Blind called knfb Reading Technology to create reading products for people with disabilities. knfb Reading is the company that has created Blio.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Typing by thought - Mind-machine interface breakthrough

Live Science - 12.6.09 (by Charles Q. Choi)

Electrodes placed directly on the surface of peoples' brains allow them to type just by thinking of letters. Image credit: stockxpert.

By focusing on images of letters, people with electrodes in their brains can type with just their minds, scientists now reveal.

These findings make up one more step on the road to mind-machine interfaces that may one day help people communicate with just their thoughts. Researchers have recently employed brain scans to see numbers and maybe even pull videos from inside people's heads.

The neuroscientists were monitoring two patients with epilepsy for seizure activity with electrodes placed directly on the surface of their brains to record electrical activity generated by the firing of nerve cells. This kind of procedure requires a craniotomy, a surgical incision into the skull.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wiring up the earth - putting sensors everywhere

NYT - 11.18.2009 by RICHARD MACMANUS

HP Labs has joined the race to build an infrastructure for the emerging Internet of Things. The giant computing and IT services company has announced a project that aims to be a "Central Nervous System for the Earth" (CeNSE). It's a research and development program to build a planetwide sensing network, using billions of "tiny, cheap, tough and exquisitely sensitive detectors."

The technology behind this is based on nano-sensing research done by HP Labs. The sensors are similar to RFID chips, but in this case they are tiny accelerometers which detect motion and vibrations.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Implanted Chips - Be the first kid on your block to have one!

ComputerWorld - 11.19.2009 (by Sharon Gaudin)

Brain waves will replace keyboard and mouse, dial phones and change TV channels.

By the year 2020, you won't need a keyboard and mouse to control your computer, say Intel Corp. researchers. Instead, users will open documents and surf the Web using nothing more than their brain waves.

Scientists at Intel's research lab in Pittsburgh are working to find ways to read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones. The brain waves would be harnessed with Intel-developed sensors implanted in people's brains.

The scientists say the plan is not a scene from a sci-fi movie -- Big Brother won't be planting chips in your brain against your will. Researchers expect that consumers will want the freedom they will gain by using the implant.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Undoing Babel

NetworkWorld - 10.27.09 (by Bob Brown)

A new iPhone 3GS app that turns the mobile device into an English-Spanish/Spanish-English speech translator is the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Professor Alex Waibel. The application is being sold via Jibbigo, a company launched by Waibel.

CMU says the app has a vocabulary of about 40,000 words and is ideal for world travelers and medical doctors. Speak a couple of sentences intothe phone and it spits back an audible translation.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Providing power to omnipresent sensors by tapping into trees

Editor's Note: One day in the near future everything will be connected to everything else through omnipresent sensor arrays. This has nothing to do with a mystical eastern religion, but rather the proliferation of electronic sensors. And now we know how to power them.

PhysOrg.com - September 8, 2009

Electrical engineers Babak Parviz and Brian Otis and undergraduate student Carlton Himes (right to left) demonstrate an electrical circuit that runs entirely off tree power. Credit: University of Washington

You've heard about flower power. What about tree power? It turns out that it's there, in small but measurable quantities. There's enough power in trees for University of Washington researchers to run an electronic circuit, according to results to be published in an upcoming issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Transactions on Nanotechnology.

"As far as we know this is the first peer-reviewed paper of someone powering something entirely by sticking electrodes into a tree," said co-author Babak Parviz, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering.

A study last year from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that plants generate a voltage of up to 200 millivolts when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the surrounding soil. Those researchers have since started a company developing forest sensors that exploit this new power source.

The UW team sought to further academic research in the field of tree power by building circuits to run off that energy. They successfully ran a circuit solely off tree power for the first time.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Big changes coming in college education

Editor's Note: Technology is transforming human culture and society in ways that most of us haven't even considered and do not expect. The way people get a college education is going to experience a transformation that will fit the increasing ease with which information is available. We may end up seeing more students getting an online education in the future.

Washington Monthly - September / October 2009, by by Kevin Carey

Like millions of other Americans, Barbara Solvig lost her job this year. A fifty-year-old mother of three, Solvig had taken college courses at Northeastern Illinois University years ago, but never earned a degree. Ever since, she had been forced to settle for less money than coworkers with similar jobs who had bachelor’s degrees. So when she was laid off from a human resources position at a Chicago-area hospital in January, she knew the time had come to finally get her own credential. Doing that wasn’t going to be easy, because four-year degrees typically require two luxuries Solvig didn’t have: years of time out of the workforce, and a great deal of money.

Luckily for Solvig, there were new options available. She went online looking for something that fit her wallet and her time horizon, and an ad caught her eye: a company called StraighterLine was offering online courses in subjects like accounting, statistics, and math. This was hardly unusual—hundreds of institutions are online hawking degrees. But one thing about StraighterLine stood out: it offered as many courses as she wanted for a flat rate of $99 a month. “It sounds like a scam,” Solvig thought—she’d run into a lot of shady companies and hard-sell tactics on the Internet. But for $99, why not take a risk?

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who let the crickets out?

Editor's Note: Blanketing the landscape with robotic insects in order to establish an omnipresent early-warning network is an idea that has some money behind it, as you'll see below.

PhysOrg.com - July 13, 2009, by Lisa Zyga

By taking advantage of the way crickets communicate, researchers are building "cyborg crickets" that could form a mobile communications network for emergency situations, such as detecting chemical attacks on the battlefield, locating disaster victims, monitoring gas leaks, and acting as smoke detectors.

This kind of living, mobile communication network would include groups of not only crickets, but also cicadas and katydids. Like their natural counterparts, the cyborgs would communicate through wing beats. Containing a package of electronics and sensors, the insects would change their call tone in the presence of various chemical and biological agents on the battlefield, or even the scent of humans trapped in rubble after natural disasters.

The technology's designer, Ben Epstein, came up with the idea during a visit to China, where he heard cicadas changing calls in response to each other. Recently, the Pentagon has awarded Epstein's Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey-based company, OpCoast, a six-month contract to develop a mobile communications network for insects. The biggest challenge will be to fit all the necessary electronics into a tiny body, and then make hundreds or thousands of them in each network.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Puffing our way to space - Inflatable tower may offer easier access to space

Editor's note: First, I don't like it that the word "space" has such faraway connotations. Space is not that far away. One only has to get out of the thin film of our atmosphere to be in "space." That's only a little over 19 miles. Second, that being said, getting there, and getting into a stable orbit, is quite difficult yet useful to humanity. Useful earth orbits are low (100 - 1,240 miles), medium (1,240 - just under 22,240 miles) geosynchronous (22,236 miles), and high (beyond geosynchronous). Modern communications are dependent on orbiting satellites. No-gravity science can only be done in orbit. And of course there's observation of the earth from on high. So getting to "space" is important, and getting there cheaply even more so.

MSNBC - July 2, 2009, by Eric Bland

At 9-miles tall, it could also enable creation of new wireless data network

A nine-mile-high inflatable tower (a smaller-scale model is shown here), tethered to a mountain top could also cut the cost to launch spacecraft, according to a new paper.

An inflatable tower nine miles tall and tethered to a mountain top could cut the cost to launch spacecraft, reduce the need for geostationary communications satellites and improve cell phone signals.

"This structure could be made of commercially available materials," said Brendan Quine, who, along with Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto wrote an article detailing their tower in the journal Acta Astronautica.

The tower itself would be 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) tall, 230 meters (754 feet) across, and weigh approximately 800,000 tons, or about twice the weight of the world's largest supertanker when fully inflated with a variety of gases, including helium.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Lifelike Avatars - The Next Best Thing to You

PhysOrg.com - May 15th, 2009

This is a still image of a Project LifeLike avatar conversing with a person. Credit: University of Chicago/University of Central Florida

Have you ever wished you could be in two places at once? Perhaps you've had the desire to create a copy of yourself that could stand in for you at a meeting, freeing you up to work on more pressing matters. Thanks to a research project called LifeLike, that fantasy might be a little closer to reality.

Project LifeLike is a collaboration between the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that aims to create visualizations of people, or avatars, that are as realistic as possible. While their current results are far from perfect replications of a specific person, their work has advanced the field forward and opens up a host of possible applications in the not-too-distant future.

The EVL team, headed by Jason Leigh, an associate professor of computer science, is tasked with getting the visual aspects of the avatar just right. On the surface, this seems like a pretty straightforward task--anyone who has played a video game that features characters from movies or professional athletes is used to computer-generated images that look like real people.

But according to Leigh, it takes more than a good visual rendering to make an avatar truly seem like a human being. "Visual realism is tough," Leigh said in a recent interview. "Research shows that over 70% of communication is non-verbal," he said, and is dependent on subtle gestures, variations in a person's voice and other variables.

To get these non-verbal aspects right, the EVL team has to take precise 3-D measurements of the person that Project LifeLike seeks to copy, capturing the way their face moves and other body language so the program can replicate those fine details later.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

One of my best friends is a robot - How to make (robot) friends and influence people

Technology Review - May 5, 2009

The world's first robot with its own Facebook page is part of an ambitious experiment to build long-term meaningful relationships with humans

We all love robots, right? And yet that special relationship never seems to materialise. However intensely they begin, our relationships with robots gradually wane as the realisation dawns that it wasn't love that brought us together, but mere infatuation. The relationship quickly and inevitably breaks down, like the morning after a Las Vegas wedding. (Japanese researchers have even measured the decline in interaction levels as humans lose interest in robot toys.)

But building a meaningful relationship with a robot may soon get easier if Nikolaos Mavridis and pals from the Interactive Robots and Media Lab at the United Arab Emirates University have anything to do with it. They say the key to building a longer, meaningful relationship with a robot is to become embedded in the same network of shared friends and together build a pool of shared memories that you can both refer to. Just like a real friend.

So the team has created the world's first robot that does both these things--it has its own Facebook page and it can use the information it gathers from this social network in conversations with "friends".

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