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Computers


— Wearables

Gabriel computer system offers a guiding voice to users

If you ever wished you had an angel at your shoulder to give tips on how to carry out a difficult job, a digital version may not be that far off. A team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a wearable cognitive assistance computer system named after the angel Gabriel that observes what a person is doing, provides prompts to help in completing tasks in real time, and avoids being a pest when not needed.

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— Electronics

"Designless" brain-like chips created through artificial evolution

Scientists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have devised a new type of electronic chip that takes after the human brain. Their device is highly power-conscious, massively parallel, and can manipulate data in arbitrary ways even though it doesn't need to be explicitely designed to perform any task. The advance could pave the way for computers that think more like we do.

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— Good Thinking

Google's neural networks create bizarre "Inceptionism" art

Having taken on everyone from chess grandmasters to chefs, computers are further exploring their artistic side with computer scientists demonstrating how artificial neural networks can create works of art reminiscent of William Blake on opium. The surreal images produced by a technique called "Inceptionism" are part of a process to better understand how such networks operate and how to improve them.

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— Electronics

It's touch and Go for Makey Makey

At about the size of a credit card, the original Makey Makey (now called the Classic) isn't exactly a behemoth, but it's not really something you could wear around your neck or dangle from your ear either. Aiming for portability, the boffins at JoyLabz have redesigned the board, stripping it down to its bare essentials, then adding a magnet (so tinkerers can stick it a fridge door between uses) and some LEDs (for colorful visual feedback), and wrapped it in protective plastic bumpers. The Makey Makey Go is now about the size of a USB thumb drive and, like the original, can be used to turn everyday objects into touch-enabled "buttons" – everything from bananas to someone's ear to jello to a potted plant. So long as it's able to conduct even the tiniest amount of electricity, it's fair game for some Makey Makey magic.

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— Computers

BBC to give away a million micro computers to coders of tomorrow

By today's standards, early 1980s home computing was a very BASIC affair (excuse the pun). But for those who lived through it, it was an enlightening period of simple wonder and creative experimentation. In the UK, the odds are pretty good that students of code performed their programming magic using a big beige box connected to a chunky monitor known as the BBC Microcomputer. Many of those early digital tinkerers went on to careers in computing and it's this pioneering spirit that the BBC is hoping to recapture with the launch of a new education initiative named Make it Digital. At its center is a new micro computing platform called, for the moment, the Micro Bit. Read More
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