Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Sensory

Float is a simple product designed to aid total relaxation of body and mind

In an increasingly busy and relentless world where information is flowing all around us, it's more important than ever to switch off once in a while. There are many ways to relax, but floating in water is one of the best ways of completely and utterly drifting away. Which is where Float – designed to make floating in water a more pleasurable experience – could prove useful.  Read More

SensaBubble provides information and feedback to users in the form of colored bubbles whic...

Rating as probably one of the stranger human-computer interfaces we’ve seen, the Sensabubble allows users to receive alerts and feedback from their connected devices in the form of images, text, and smell – all encased in and projected on smoke-filled bubbles. Popping away annoying alerts is viscerally more satisfying than swiping them off, but this isn’t a toy. It's part of research being presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems by researchers from the University of Bristol.  Read More

The robot makes a bee-line for a red cylinder, after learning that 'red is good'

Because of bees' small size, maneuverability and almost machine-like swarm mentality, it shouldn't come as a surprise that scientists are developing tiny flying robots based on the insects. In order to navigate autonomously, however, those robots' artificial bee brains will have to be capable of identifying objects in their environment, and reacting accordingly. Well, thanks to research recently conducted in Berlin, they may soon be able to do so.  Read More

Dennis Aabo Sørensen, using his sensory-enabled prosthesis

A man who lost his left hand in an accident nine years ago has had his sense of touch restored using a prosthetic hand surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. During the trial Dennis Aabo Sørensen was able to grasp objects, detect the strength of grip, distinguish shape and identify objects by touch while blindfolded. The work was carried out by scientists from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA).  Read More

Is reading a book like living the story? (Image: Shutterstock)

Stories, whether fact or fiction, are at the heart of human culture. A strong narrative can resonate with your personality and experiences, and help set a framework for your future. "That book changed my life" is a cherished maxim. So can a book change your brain too? A recent study led by Emory University's Gregory Berns has demonstrated that reading a novel produces physical changes in the brain similar to those that would result from living as one or more of the characters.  Read More

The tongue interface and control system assembly (Photo: National University of Singapore)

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a holiday in which we celebrate the blessings granted by Life, the Universe, and Everything. A central part of Thanksgiving traditions involves a massive feast, often featuring turkey or ham, and a selection of delicious side dishes. It may soon be possible to virtually experience such a repast as enjoyed by a character in a movie or a video game, aided by a new method for digitally actuating the sense of taste through electrical and thermal stimulation of the tongue.  Read More

Experiments suggest that electrodes implanted in the sensory cortex of the brain can simul...

It's something most of us take for granted, but our sense of touch is every bit as useful to us as our sight and hearing. Though it seems simple, picking up and holding an object requires nearly instantaneous sensation in the parts of our hands and fingers in contact with the desired object, as well as a sense of the pressure we're applying. Many experimental efforts to simulate a sense of touch in amputees fitted with prosthetics require the subject to learn new associations between touching an object and some abstract sensation. But new research at the University of Chicago suggests that it is possible to map the individual finger pads of a prosthetic hand to the corresponding parts of the brain. In other words, prosthetic hands which offer a realistic sense of touch may theoretically be possible.  Read More

Reconstructed images of letters viewed by the test subjects

If someone were looking at a letter of the alphabet that was blocked from your view, would you be able to accurately guess what that letter was? Well, if you were at Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands, you might not have to guess or call in a psychic. Scientists there have used an MRI scanner and a mathematical model to read observed letters, right out of test subjects’ brains.  Read More

The Match Cooking Prep System  aims to provide practical tools that assist in enabling som...

Syracuse University graduate Amanda Savitzky’s thesis project, known as “The Match Cooking Prep System for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD), has not only been a successful personal journey for her family, but has also seen her awarded the top prize in the 2013 Metropolis Next Generation Competition. Her Match Cooking Prep System is designed to provide practical tools that assist in enabling someone with ASD to learn how to cook.  Read More

Eidos Audio uses bone conduction to send sound to the inner ear

They may look somewhat bulky and a bit like someone wandered out of an avant garde theater, but a pair of concept pieces developed by students and the Royal College of Arts in London allow wearers to fine tune their senses of sight and hearing. Called “Eidos,” from the Greek for "form," "essence," "type," or "species," the system uses sensors and computer processing to select sensory input and alter it for applications in sport, the arts and medicine.  Read More

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