Google Voice Recognition Having a Tough Time With British Accents

November 19 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Communication   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

Although Google finally got approval for its voice recognition upgrade released earlier this week for the iPhone, it has run into some snags overseas. Not downloading problems, but more of a language barrier.

Although there has been some amazing feedback to the voice recognition feature here in the US, people in the United Kingdom have some serious issues with the update. Mainly, the fact that it can’t understand their thick accents. “The free application, which allows iPhone owners to use the Google search engine with their voice, mistook the word “iPhone” variously for “sex,” “Einstein” and “kitchen sink,” said the Daily Telegraph.” It seems that the accents of those in the UK are responsible for limiting voice recognition technology. It makes one wonder if people will have to develop a North American accent until voice recognition is able to deal with the varied British accents.

Will there be a Universal Voice Recognition Voice?

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Chinese Armored Brigade Runs Into Technical Glitch, Loses Fake Battle

November 19 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

In a recent mock battle between two armored brigades (“Red” and “Blue”) in the Chinese Army, the Red Army was the victim of a virus attack which erased all their orders for re-supply.

“During the exercise, the Red Army basic command post, command and control station, received information from the main attack force that 3/4 of their ammunition had been depleted. A resupply order was immediately sent to the rear command post. However, after transmission, the order form appeared blank.”

Follow-up requests for ammunition were answered with the response that the request had been processed. The Red Army eventually lost the exercise once their ammunition ran out. It makes one wonder if all the money we’re pouring into the latest military gadgets could be compromised by a programmer working on a virus that would cost a few thousand.

It’s crazy to think that an army could be waylaid by a computer virus, but with our increasing reliance on technology for better and more efficient armies is was only a matter of time. You may have heard about how when Russia invaded Northern Georgia they preceded the attack by hacking Georgian systems as well as flooding Georgian government sites, shutting them down. There’s no doubt that cyber attacks are now a part of a nations battle-chest. This is the future of war.

via The Dark Visitor

Ecobee's Smart Thermostat Comes to America

November 20 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

By Ami Sampat

What happened?

Ecobee, the makers of the Smart Thermostat announced new sales offices opening in California and New England. The Smart Thermostat allows for the consumer to save time, energy, and money by controlling the thermostat of their home through touch screen programming and a personalized web portal.

Interest in Ecobee’s newest offices is taking off. “Our Regional Sales Managers on both coasts have been very busy due to the company’s phenomenal start,” says Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard.

Why is this important to the future?

Ecobee’s products symbolize a new wave of the future of appliances where we actively manage our energy appliances. With the Smart Thermostat, consumers have greater awareness and more control of when systems are used, for how long, and at what cost. This type of awareness, knowledge, and control over energy systems is fundamental in making an environmental and energy-centric change.

What to Watch

Keep a look out for appliances to be ‘smarter’ in the near future as companies integrate sensors, microcontrollers, and web-based software to create new levels of control that helps costumers save energy and money. The booming pre-sales of the Smart Thermostat is a positive indicator that people are thinking in the direction of a change.

Korean researchers use 3D silicon material to improve lithium ion batteries

November 21 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2018   Rating: 2

It’s very hard to build a better battery. The chemistry is just bad. Pulling together the right combination of elements is either expensive, toxic or the ideal performance is short lived. The long view favorite for portable power systems remains micro fuel cells, but until that day arrives it is likely to be lithium ion batteries that dominate the market share for micropower.

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power everything from cell phones and laptops to digital cameras. But they have failed to keep up with the pace of development in high performance, power hungry consumer electronics. iPhone owners struggle to get through a full day of use without running out of juice. And laptop carrying road warriors scramble inside airports, and geek freelancers position themselves in cafes just to find a plug. But hope for lithium ion batteries may be on the horizon!

What happened?
A Korean research team led by Dr. Jaephil Cho at Hanyang University has demonstrated a novel 3D silicon material used as a lithium-ion battery anode that greatly improves performance.

Li-ion batteries charge by transporting lithium ions from a positive cathode to a negative anode usually made of carbon (graphite). The energy charge is stored on the anode side of the unit, until needed by the device. Researchers try to expand performance by increasing the amount of energy that can be stored. Switching from carbon to silicon based materials is one path towards better performance.

Materials scientists have been exploring silicon as an anode material but, until now, have been unable to overcome its main barrier: maintaining its structural integrating after repeated charging and discharging.

A solution? Cho’s team of researchers have created a 3D porous silicon material that appears to hold its own and avoids collapsing on itself.

Why is this important to the future of energy?

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IBM Gives Us a Look At The Future With Their "Five In Five"

December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2013   Rating: 3

IBM held its Third Annual "Five in Five" which looks at emerging trends as well as what IBM itself is developing in their own labs around the world.  Here's the vid.

 

While previous predictions given by these "Five in Five" releases can be somewhat fanciful (like mind-reading cellphones for instance), this latest list has the refreshing feel of being very near and very possible.

Solar technology will be built into everything

IBM states that within five years we could be seeing thin-film solar technology built into everything around us.  This includes sidewalks, driveways, paint, windows and even clothing.  Their belief is that thin-film solar will get so cheap that it can be applied everywhere in our lives.  It's ability to be flexible also makes it easy to wrap around our daily devices which could benefit from a little extra power boost.  It's interesting to think that while some people are clamoring for white asphalt and roofing tiles to reflect the Suns energy and save on lighting, another faction will emerge that will want solar film instead.  Of course the question remains: are you going to want to hook a battery up to your clothing?

Your health can be pre-determined

Mapping DNA keeps getting faster and cheaper as the years go along.  It only makes sense that very soon people will begin to use that genetic information to look for hereditary traits that could impact your health.  In finding out you have a high chance of becoming diabetic, you may try and change your diet to avoid or delay its effects.  Basically, it's the movie GATTACA without being able to actually alter the DNA before birth.  I wonder how you'll take the news when they tell you that the junk food you so love is literally killing your body and taking years off your life.

Surfing the Web through speech

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Linux Kernal on the iPhone — Does Android Dominate the Mobile Future?

December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

AndroidThe Linux community could be described as a group of people across the globe with the best of intentions, but even within the Linux community there are still splits and divisions.

While the idea is to create community-based software that is free to everyone, getting quality software can be hard since instead of working on one program which can, let's say, edit video, there are multiple programs out there to perform this function.  This has always surprised me about the Linux community.  I always figured there would be just one program developers would work on to make the best instead of wasting their resources by working on multiple programs that perform the same function.

Why are there tons of media players when there should just be one?  Why are there various operating systems when there should be just one?  Even Ubuntu has multiple off-shoots which is understandable since people want to gear their computer towards gaming or speed specifically.  But a media player?

But now it seems we might be seeing one platform dominating a field where previously there had been over 50 varieties.

Android has made Linux users happy with their Open Source Operating System.  You can tell by looking through many of the different forums or sites Linux users use.  Just about anytime you see a reference to a mobile phone operating system, Android is referenced in spades.  A team of developers recently put the Linux kernal onto the iPhone.  The reaction?  People couldn't wait to try and put Android onto the iPhone.  And while Apple has tried its best to keep the iPhone from being re-programmed, it may prove futile in the end.

The only hope Apple has now of avoiding the loss of its operating system (and becoming only a hardware manufacturer) is if it too opens up its programming to users and generates support from the community.  As of now the iPhone is a novelty that, once Android is able to replicate or exceed, will eventually wear off.  Then again, it may already be too late for Apple.

 

Emotiv Systems Hits Roadblock, Delays Release Until 2009

December 02 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 2

project-epoc-wireless-mind-reading-headset.jpgJohn Callaham over at Big Download reports that Emotiv Systems, the company that was expected to release a brain-wave controller by the end of the year, is delaying its release due to issues of it actually working.  The press release where it was unveiled at the Game Developers Conference may be a sign.  "The public demo didn't go as planned; the device simply didn't work in front of the media who attended the press conference."  And while the company later explained that the product didn't work properly due to "interference from wireless transmitters," it's probably safe to say that the product didn't work because it simply isn't working.

I guess we all should have seen it coming.  A Brain Controlled Interface which is good enough to control video game characters seemed too good to be true for a 2008 release, and I guess it was.  What Emotiv probably found out was that technology as specific as this, much like Google's Voice Recognition software, takes a lot of time to perfect.  Google 411 has been working for years, using hundreds of thousands of voices to finally make a viable product.  Emotiv needs more time to do just the same.  The real question is how long will it take?  2009?  Let's hope.

Build Your Own Rear-Projection Touchscreen Interface

December 02 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

It seems that once a technology is created and shown to work, it's not too long before someone creates a similar product in their basement for a fraction of the price.  Here's TradeMark Gunderson of the Evolution Control Comittee showcasing his rear-projection touchscreen he threw together using some LEDs and two WiiMotes.  Hope it inspires you to build your own since the Microsoft Surface costs about $12,500.

via Hacked Gadgets

Purchase a Holographic 3D Television in 2018

December 03 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

3473DTV.jpgThe University of Aberdeen in the UK has declared that a fully-holographic television (like in Star Wars, yes) is entirely possible by 2018.  They base this conclusion on research of their own on holograpic technologies as well as emerging 3D-like televisions that promise to go on sale in the next three to four years.  "Whilst the ultimate 3D experience, using fully interactive floating holographic images - similar to that which is seen when Princess Leia appears in front of Luke Skywalker as a hologram in Star Wars - could be on the market by 2018."  The team came to this conclusion after recieving $350,000 in funding to study timelines, possibilities and possible applications of a fully holographic television.

The question I find myself asking (other than why someone would still use "whilst" in a sentence) is why someone would even want a holographic television.  In every view of the future we see, holograms aren't used for television, but for interactions and display.  It will be interesting to see how the public will react to holographic televisions, and how long it will take for them to give way to holographic commmunication and fake girlfriends (Sixth Day).  If anything, expect at least five months of Princess Leia parodies once this comes out.

Thin film 'energy harvesting' device maker raises another $13 million (Infinite Power Systems)

December 04 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2017   Rating: 3

IPS Banner

While most companies are focused on growth opportunities around powering homes, cars and factories of the future, some entrepreneurs and startups are targeting another 'next big thing' in micro-power and energy storage systems. 

What's the Big opportunity around Small devices?
A new era of expanded integration of smart sensors and microcontrol systems is likely to change our world, in the same way computer chips and PCs did in the last half of the 20th cenutry.   Technology futurists call this the 'embedded age', or era of ubiquitous and pervasive computing.  Even IBM sees a Smart Planet based on an 'instrumented world' where the number of sensors and micro-devices feeding small bits of data onto the 'web' vastly outnumbers today's connected 'computers and servers'.

Imagine new information flows from every product, car, boat, airplane, person, pet, and farm animal all being gathered by low-powered sensors.  Imagine building a global smart infrastructure where every connection point along the energy grid, highway and pipeline is monitored in real-time.  All these embedded devices sending small packets of mundane, but important data.  Each of these devices will need small amounts of power and an integrated energy storage system.

This could be one of the biggest market opportunities in energy over the next century- powering billions of new portable gadgets, sensors (e.g RFIDs), and micro-electromechanical (MEMS) devices integrated into future everyday objects. 

Seeing a future in 'Energy Harvesting'
Colorado-based Infinite Power Solutions, Inc. (IPS) has raised a Series B round of $13 million to commercialize its solid-state, rechargeable thin-film battery that could be used to 'harvest' ambient energy from micro-power systems driven by light, motion, or heat.  Energy futurists imagine these types of energy storage systems integrated into other micro power systems, rather than rely on the old battery schematic of plugging into a wall socket. Energy Harvesting

The money will go to ramp up volume production of its new THINERGY™ micro-energy cell (MEC™) product family from its new (and 'the world’s first') facility for volume manufacturing of solid-state,rechargeable thin-film batteries.

A Little Energy Device with Big Backers

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Cyborg Creatures Already Exist as Bugs, Birds, Rats and Sharks

December 04 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2015   Rating: 2

If there's one thing that could creep you out this morning, it's that cyborg creatures (bugs, rats, birds and sharks) already exist.  Researchers have been working heavily into cyborg creatures in order to reduce the cost of developing miniature robots.  "The motivation is simple: why labour for years to build robots that imitate the ways animals move when you can just plug into living creatures and hijack systems already optimised by millions of years of evolution?"  DARPA has heavily funded research into this kind of field, possibly hoping for a bug which can buzz around a room, spying on inhabitants.

Cyborg creatures feature heavily in science fiction movies, and not just for spying.  Often cyborgs are touted as superior to robotic creatures since they combine real intelligence with robotic structure.  It's weird to think of, but we may well be seeing rat-brain powered personal robots before robotic intelligence gets good enough to take over.  Your dog can be taught to fetch the paper and all other sorts of tricks, why not more complicated tasks if given a better body?  Fido, go do the laundry!

Check out the full article regarding cyborg developments at the NewScientist.

Robotic Tank Built by Two Guys In Maine For Only $1 Million

December 05 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

What you're looking at is a robotic tank that is capapble of ruining your world.  Built by twin brothers in Maine, the Ripsaw MS1 is capable of speeds up to 60mph, can perform maneuvers that would leave a crew bruised and battered, and can be outfitted with a remotely operated machine gun.  On top of this, it's extremely rugged, easy to fix, and can caarry a payload of up to 2,000 pounds.  This is one mean machine.

The crazy thing is that this was built by two guys in Maine for about $1 million dollars.

via HackaDay