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Computers

Use the Force Block Chrome extension to save yourself from Star Wars spoilers

For those unable to make the early screenings, navigating the online minefield of storyline giveaways for Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be nigh on impossible. But one forward-thinking developer has got your back. The Force Block extension for Chrome scans the dark side of the web to shun such spoilers and preserve the plot's purity for your own precious premiere.Read More

Disney software lets directors change actors' expressions in post-production

Already, audio engineers can use software such as Pro Tools to change the inflection of a person's voice after it's been recorded. Soon, however, movie directors may likewise be able to alter an actor's facial expressions after their performance has been shot. They could do so using FaceDirector, a program created through a collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and the University of Surrey.Read More

Courtroom fibs used to develop lie-detecting software

There's a challenge when you're developing new lie-detection software – you can get people to lie for you in a lab setting, but their behaviour won't be the same as it would be in a real-world scenario. In order to see authentic lying behaviour, you need to go somewhere where the stakes for the liars are higher. That's why scientists from the University of Michigan turned to videos of courtroom testimonies.Read More

3D animation tech puts other peoples' words in celebrities' mouths

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) recently demonstrated how 3D video images of Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig and several other celebrities could be created by piecing together still images and sound bites retrieved from the internet. They also showed how their algorithms could animate those digital models, getting them to say things that were actually said by someone else. Read More

Mid-air holograms respond to human touch

Researchers from Tsukuba University in Japan have created holograms that respond to human touch. Involving femtosecond lasers, which can stimulate physical matter to emit light in 3D form, the research could eventually lead to the creation of holograms that humans are able to interact with.Read More

nOb offers precision control of virtually any onscreen element

The scroll wheel of a computer mouse can be a bit of an imprecise monster when it comes to making fine adjustments in media production software like video editing suites or digital audio workstations, leading to frustrating back and forth marathons or manual interventions to get onscreen elements to behave. The delightfully retro-looking nOb is kind of like a supercharged scroll wheel that's used for making ultra-fine adjustments of parameters, settings and screen elements.Read More

Review

Review: ZuperDAC makes hi-res thumb-sized

With a few notable exceptions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that laptop audio circuitry is something of a manufacturing afterthought, with decisions on such things made at the very end of the design process when there's very little money left in the pot. Plugging a pair of top drawer headphones into a notebook's (often cheap and cheerful) audio out jack can therefore be a little disappointing, leading many music lovers to look to the USB ports for help. Though some USB digital-to-analog converters and headphone amps can be a good deal bigger than the laptop they're connected to, and have a suitably large price tag to match, smaller options are available. The successfully-crowdfunded ZuperDAC from Zorloo, for example, is about the size of a USB thumb drive and supports audio file resolutions right up to 24-bit/192 kHz. We've spent the last few weeks diving into our hi-res FLAC and WAV vault for some lossless easy listening.Read More

IBM's Watson gets chatty to act as a sounding board

While researchers around the world are making gradual gains in the monumental task of developing artificial intelligences that can creatively solve problems or produce art, IBM's Watson supercomputer has now learned how to help people get more creative. Six student teams at Georgia Tech trained Watson to chat with them about the many systems from nature that we could mimic in solving big problems such as long-term space travel and more efficient desalination processes. Read More

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