Technology

Most schools in the United States provide simple vision tests to their students; not to prescribe glasses, but to identify potential problems and recommend a trip to the optometrist.

Researchers
at Duke University
are now on the cusp of providing the same kind of service for autism. They have developed software that tracks and records infants' activity during videotaped autism screening tests. 

Their results show that the program is as good at spotting behavioral markers of autism as experts giving the test themselves, and better than non-expert medical clinicians and students in training.


We are surrounded with an abundance of clean energy, if we only had a way to harness it it. Most people probably know about solar energy, that we would only need to harness a tiny fraction of it to power the entire world (e.g. the Sahara desert has eighteen times the surface area needed to power the entire world).

However, solar power is intermittent, even in deserts, with day night cycles. Wind also is unpredictable. Tidal power is intermittent also. Hydro power on the land is limited - and also often has environmental impact because of the need, usually, to dam a river to get it.
Using artificial intelligence, computational geometry and geo/ultrasound techniques, a project begun in 2009 at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) have a success to report - a device to help people with low vision or blindness to navigate more easily.

The new navigation device consists of glasses with stereo sound sensors, GPS technology and a tablet, which guides the blind person to a specific point and avoids hitting static or moving obstacles - but it also recognizes currency of various denominations and the color of clothing. No more crazy plaids and stripes, no chance of getting cheated in a store.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today allowed marketing of the DEKA Arm System, the first prosthetic arm that can perform multiple, simultaneous powered movements controlled by electrical signals from electromyogram (EMG) electrodes.

Deka calls it "Luke", after Luke Skywalker of "Star Wars" fame, and the project was funded by DARPA.

EMG electrodes detect electrical activity caused by the contraction of muscles close to where the prosthesis is attached. The electrodes send the electrical signals to a computer processor in the prosthesis that translates them to a specific movement or movements.

The metronome seems such a simple thing, just a machine that goes tick tick, and you then play in time with it. So, why is it that beginner musicians often have so much difficulty keeping in time with it? And why is it that humans find it hard to play like a metronome, why doesn't that come natural to us?

Many musicians and entire musical cultures with a wonderful sense of rhythm don't use a metronome at all. Yet many western musicians spend hours every day with the tool. Do we need it, does it help - and if so what's the best way to work with a metronome? And what about ways of working on rhythm without using a metronome at all?

U.S. law requires posting summarized results on ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the National Institutes of Health, within one year of study completion for certain categories of industry-sponsored trials. 

The European Union is considering following the US lead yet in some fields compliance with the U.S. law is still rather poor. 

Does it matter? There is increasing public pressure to report the results of all clinical trials. The belief if this would eliminate publication bias and improve public access but that is not evidence-based. What is the point of reading about failed industry trials? The products can't be approved, they will never be released and the start-up company behind the work will be sold off for parts soon after. 


A new robot is capable of reacting quickly and catching objects with complex shapes, like bottles and tennis rackets, in less than 5/100ths of a second.

The robot arm measures about 1.5 meters long, has three joints and a hand with four fingers. It was programmed at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory at
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
 (LASA) and designed to test robotic solutions for capturing moving objects.


ST. LOUIS – Air and surface sampling techniques currently used by the US government are effective in fighting bioterrorism and potentially saving lives, according to a new paper in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism

The authors made the determination after reviewing the data from a series of experiments simulating a bioterrorism attack against the Pentagon. 


 The PRIORI project at University of Michigan says they have created a smartphone app that monitors subtle qualities of a person's voice during everyday phone conversations - and can detect early signs of mood changes in people with bipolar disorder. 

The app still needs a lot of testing before it can be used outside controlled conditions, but the creators say early results from a small group of patients show its potential to monitor moods while protecting privacy.  

The project is
led by computer scientists Zahi Karam, Ph.D. and Emily Mower Provost, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Melvin McInnis, M.D.  They presented first findings on PRIORI
at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing in Italy. 


Homemade, inexpensive stink bug traps crafted from simple household items outshine pricier models designed to kill the invasive, annoying bugs.