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Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a computer system that's able ...

While computer systems are now very capable of recognizing vocal input, they offer minimal interactive feedback. A team of Cambridge University researchers have now developed a system that can not only detect a user's emotional state, but can also make expressive responses of its own. Using a robotic likeness of the godfather of the programmable computer, Charles Babbage, the team has hooked the system up to a driving simulator and created a computerized driving companion and navigator that reacts to the driver in much the same way as a human passenger.  Read More

How many friends you have can be predicted by the size of your ... (Image: dan taylor via ...

The number of friends you have can be accurately predicted by measuring the size of small part of the human anatomy, according to a university study published this week. The strong correlation between the size of this organ and a full social life holds true regardless of age or gender – can you guess what it is?  Read More

The prototype pen, that is reportedly able to identify and reduce stress in its user (Phot...

Industrial Design PhD student Miguel Bruns Alonso from the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology has created a prototype pen that he claims can identify short-term stress in its user, and that can then proceed to alleviate some of that stress. The “anti-stress pen” doesn’t measure a persons heart rate or their galvanic skin response – instead, it detects when it’s being fidgeted with, and gets the user to stop.  Read More

Researchers have determined that playing Tetris minimizes the mind's tendency to flash bac...

If you’ve seen something you’d prefer to forget, then playing Tetris might be just what you need – provided you do it within six hours. That’s the conclusion reached by a team of psychiatric researchers from Oxford University, led by Dr. Emily Holmes. In a study involving 60 test subjects, it was found that people who played the video game within six hours of viewing traumatic images had less of a tendency to experience flashbacks of those images afterward. It all has to do with the way in which the brain processes experiences.  Read More

Proloquo2Go is an iPhone/iPad app that helps autistic children to communicate with others

iPad and iPod Touch application developers have recently created several programs which help aid the learning and development for children with autism. The success and usability of many of these programs has not only offered a new platform to help autistic children with their education, but can also offer much-needed relief to their parents. Autistic children are said to be adapting to these iPad programs like ducks to water, whilst the supervising parents can finally get some quiet time for a cup of coffee or to simply read the newspaper in peace.  Read More

Test subject Bob Melia tries out the UCF robotic arm

Researchers have created a computer-controlled robotic arm designed to help wheelchair-bound people perform actions such as grasping and lifting objects. It has both an automatic mode, in which the computer identifies objects and figures out how to grasp them, and an option for full manual control. When physically-challenged people were selected to try the device out, the researchers were surprised to discover that most of them preferred going manual. It’s all about something called Flow.  Read More

One of the test subjects playing an action video game (Photo: J. Adam Fenster, University ...

For some time now, it’s been one of those “well-known facts” that playing video games increases one’s hand-eye coordination... much to the consternation of parents and spouses trying to convince family members that their obsessive gaming has no redeeming value. Now, research conducted at the University of Rochester indicates that playing action video games also increases peoples’ ability to make right decisions faster. Ironically, an activity that involves sitting on the couch helps people to think on their feet.  Read More

Prof. Ronald Arkin (left) and research engineer Alan Wagner with their hide-and-seek-playi...

Robots can perform an ever-increasing number of human-like actions, but until recently, lying wasn’t one of them. Now, thanks to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, they can. More accurately, the Deep South robots have been taught “deceptive behavior.” This might sound like the recipe for a Philip K. Dick-esque disaster, but it could have practical uses. Robots on the battlefield, for instance, could use deception to elude captors. In a search and rescue scenario, a robot might have to be deceptive to handle a panicking human. For now, however, the robots are using their new skill to play a mean game of hide-and-seek.  Read More

P300 brain wave reading technology could possibly prevent terrorist attacks, such as the s...

Recently, 29 students from Northwestern University in Illinois planned a terrorist attack. Researchers from the university were subsequently able to learn details of the attack, even though the students never admitted to anything. How was this possible? Well, essentially, the researchers read the students’ minds. More specifically, they monitored their P300 brain waves – brief electrical patterns in the cortex, which occur when meaningful information is presented to someone with “guilty knowledge.” In this case, it was a mock planned attack, but the research team believe their process could be used to prevent the real thing.  Read More

'I'm outta here' - a crayfish performs a tail-flip (Photo: David D. Yager/Jens Herberholz,...

A team from the University of Maryland has studied the decision-making processes of crayfish in an effort to better understand the workings of the human brain. “Matching individual neurons to the decision making processes in the human brain is simply impractical for now,” explained psychologist Jens Herberholz, the study’s senior author. “History has shown that findings made in the invertebrate nervous systems often translate to more complex organisms."  Read More

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