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Ben Coxworth

New software developed by Microsoft is able to reproduce the user's speech in another lang...

For some time now, speech-recognition programs have existed that attempt to reproduce the user’s spoken words in another language. Such “speech-to-speech” apps, however, provide their translations using a very flat, synthetic voice. Now, experimental new software developed by Microsoft is able not only to translate between 26 different languages, but it plays the translated speech back in the user’s own voice – complete with the inflections they used when speaking in their own language. It looks like a real-life version of Star Trek’s universal translator could soon be here.  Read More

Using a photolithography process, scientists have created flat polymer sheets that bend th...

When the petal of a flower is being formed, its shape is achieved by cells in one area expanding more than cells in an adjacent area. This uneven expansion causes the material to buckle, creating the desired curves and creases. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have taken that same principle, and applied it to flat polymer gel sheets that fold themselves into three-dimensional shapes when exposed to water. Some day, such sheets could serve a number of useful purposes.  Read More

The Kill Shot is a proposed camera-equipped replica rifle, that would allow hunters to cap...

Not too long ago, brothers Randy and Michael Gregg were out on a hunting expedition. It was the day after deer season had ended, yet they spied a handsome animal bedded down in the snow. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity, they silently crept up on their quarry, raised their rifle, lined the deer up in the crosshairs ... and then took a picture through the scope with a mobile phone. That photo provided all the proof they needed that they had successfully stalked their prey, without bringing home an illegally-obtained carcass. It also inspired them to create the Kill Shot photo/video-recording rifle.  Read More

A race car model no larger than a grain of sand, created using the new high-speed two-phot...

Are 3D printers not amazing enough already? Apparently some scientists at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) didn’t think so, as they have now built one that can create intricate objects as small as a grain of sand. While the ability to 3D-print such tiny items is actually not unique to the TU Vienna device, the speed at which it can do so is. According to the researchers, this makes the commercial production of things such as medical implants much more viable.  Read More

IBM's prototype 5.2 x 5 .8 mm Holey Optochip

Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named “Holey Optochip.” The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour. Stated another way, the Optochip is eight times faster than any other parallel optical components currently available, with a speed that’s equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users, if they were using regular 10 Mb/s high-speed internet.  Read More

One of Fraunhofer's artificial venous valves

Chronic venous insufficiency - or CVI - is a very common medical condition in which veins in the legs cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. It is caused by faulty valves within the leg veins, and causes blood to pool in the legs, which can lead to edemas and even open ulcers. Typically, treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics, along with the use of items such as compression stockings. Now scientists have developed a method of mass-producing artificial venous valves, that could replace the malfunctioning natural ones.  Read More

The simple, inexpensive, folded-paper-based oPAD could detect diseases in body fluid sampl...

In First World countries' medical systems, the standard way of checking a patient's body fluid samples is to send them off to a lab. In developing nations, however, such labs often don't exist, nor does the infrastructure for transporting biological samples. Fortunately, a number of groups have been developing simple, inexpensive testing devices that could be used by clinicians in these countries. One of the latest gadgets is the very simple origami Paper Analytical Device, or oPAD – it's made out of paper, could be purchased for under 10 cents, and is folded together by the user.  Read More

SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, is being developed to help put out fi...

If there's one thing that you don't want happening on board a ship, it's a fire. People on board burning ships can't simply run out onto the streets, as they hopefully could in the case of a structural fire, plus many people caught belowdecks don't have windows nearby to climb out of. Then, there's also the fact that crew members fighting such fires have to work in narrow, claustrophobic passageways, instead of wide-open roads. Given that fires are particularly possible on military ships, due to attacks by enemy forces, America's Naval Research Laboratory is now developing a special something to help fight fires at sea - it's called SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot.  Read More

A new algorithmic system allows AUVs to reach their destinations faster, or to use less po...

Autonomous underwater vehicles, better known as AUVs, are increasingly finding use in applications such as oceanographic research, mapping, military reconnaissance, and deep-sea oil-well maintenance. As these independent underwater robots make their way through the world’s oceans, they use GPS transceivers to keep themselves on a predetermined route. When they encounter challenges such as cross-currents, one might assume that their best course of action would be simply to power straight across them, in order to travel the shortest distance possible. Engineers from MIT, however, have developed a system that allows AUVs to reach their destinations sooner, by traveling out of their way to “go with the flow.”  Read More

Toshiba Tec's new supermarket scanner is able to identify grocery items based on nothing b...

At some point, we’ve probably all had a supermarket cashier ask us to identify the mysterious fresh produce that we’re attempting to buy. Once we’ve told them what it is, they have then had to manually type in its code – they have to enter it themselves, of course, given that fruits and vegetables don’t have barcodes. Thanks to Toshiba Tec, however, those days may be coming to an end. The company’s new Object Recognition Scanner is able to instantly identify grocery items of all types based on their appearance alone.  Read More

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