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Article from Dr. Wunsch II about detecting subtle face expressions

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128191.600-specs-that-see-right-through-you.html?full=true&print=true

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Categories: General Tech, News Stories

Evernote update

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/business/21novel.html?scp=1&sq=Evernote&st=cse

THREE-BY-FIVE index cards, those hallmarks of research, may be fading away in these digital times, but the need to take notes endures…companies including Simperium and Evernote offer applications you can install on your various mobile and stationary devices. The companies’ servers gather and coordinate those notepads, keeping all the entries up to date…source of the notes may be typed text, Simperium’s specialty. Evernote’s expanding services, meanwhile, can handle notes sent by keyboard, digital pen, scanner or camera phone….Simplenote, a free application from Simperium, runs on desktops and laptops via the Web. It can also be installed on iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch, says Michael Johnston, a co-founder of Simperium, a start-up begun this year in San Francisco. Other companies, he says, also use Simperium’s synchronization platform as part of apps that run, for instance, on Android phones…company is already profitable, he said, in part from premium subscriptions ($12 a year) and in part from advertising displayed on the site…may write down ideas for his blog in the morning on his iPad; then, when he switches to his laptop later in the day, the rough draft is waiting for him…Simplenote app is intended for keeping text notes. For those who want to capture additional information — like Web page clippings, photos and voice memos — Evernote offers both a free and a premium service ($45 a year) that work across most devices and platforms…Evernote has been adding and refining its offerings, buoyed in part by $20 million in recent funding led by Sequoia Capital…One of its new services, available to those who install Google’s Chrome browser, is a dual search — one of public sources found by Google, and another of the private data on a user’s Evernote account…also uses his phone to take photos of business cards and white boards at meetings, and sends them to his Evernote account, which is equipped to decipher the printed and handwritten text…“I use it as my own personal scanner,” he says. “I don’t have to retype business cards, and all of the text is searchable.”…

 

Hacking Kinect

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/technology/22hack.html?_r=1&ref=technology

 

Mr. Kreylos, who specializes in virtual reality and 3-D graphics, had just learned that he could download some software and use the device with his computer instead. He was soon using it to create “holographic” video images that can be rotated on a computer screen…part of a crowd of programmers, roboticists and tinkerers who are getting the Kinect to do things it was not really meant to do. The attraction of the device is that it is outfitted with cameras, sensors and software that let it detect movement, depth, and the shape and position of the human body…Microsoft has had two very different responses since the Kinect was released on Nov. 4. It initially made vague threats about working with law enforcement to stop “product tampering.” But by last week, it was embracing the benevolent hackers…Ms. Fried and Phillip Torrone, a designer and senior editor of Make magazine, which features do-it-yourself technology projects, announced a $3,000 cash bounty for anyone who created and released free software allowing the Kinect to be used with a computer instead of an Xbox…Microsoft quickly gave the contest a thumbs-down…other companies whose products have been popular targets for tinkering have actively encouraged it. One example is iRobot, the company that makes the Roomba, a small robotic vacuum cleaner. That product was so popular with robotics enthusiasts that the company began selling the iRobot Create, a programmable machine with no dusting capabilities…Other creative uses of the Kinect involve drawing 3-D doodles in the air and then rotating them with a nudge of the hand, and manipulating colorful animated puppets on a computer screen. Most, if not all, of the prototypes were built using the open-source code released as a result of the contest sponsored by Ms. Fried and Mr. Torrone, which was won by Hector Martin, a 20-year-old engineering student in Spain…KinectBot, cobbled together in a weekend by Philipp Robbel, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, combines the Kinect and an iRobot Create. It uses the Kinect’s sensors to detect humans, respond to gesture and voice commands, and generate 3-D maps of what it is seeing as it rolls through a room…In late 2007, Johnny Lee, then a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, was so taken by the Wii that he rigged a system that would allow it to track his head movements and adjust the screen perspective accordingly…A video of Mr. Lee demonstrating the technology was a hit on YouTube, as were his videos of other Wii-related projects. By June 2008, he had a job at Microsoft as part of the core team working on the Kinect software that distinguishes between players and parts of the body…

 

fMRI for feedback

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/26768/?p1=A1

 

new way to create and interpret real-time brain scans could help addicts control their cravings…scientists used a combination of brain-scanning and feedback techniques to train subjects to move a cursor up and down with their thoughts. The subjects could perform this task after just five minutes of training…scientists hope to use this information to help addicts learn to control their own brain states and, consequently, their cravings…reviously shown that people can learn to consciously control their brain activity if they’re shown their brain activity data in real time—a technique called real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)… efforts have been difficult to put into practice. Part of the problem is that scientists have had to choose which part of the brain to focus on, based on existing knowledge of neuroscience…focusing on a limited region adds extra noise to the system…whole-brain information cancels out a lot of the noise…researchers found that both addicts and healthy people could control their state of mind equally well…Addicts’ cognitive control issues are not linked to more general thinking, but instead limited to more emotionally charged thoughts, like cravings…

 

Mixing real and virtual

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/google-earth-pushes-boundaries-between-real-and-virtual/?ref=technology

 

Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, explained at a press event that he wanted Google to be “the third half of your brain.” Mr. Brin wasn’t just referring to the company’s search products when he made that somewhat eerie proclamation. He was also alluding to a number of  products that should be expected in the coming years…Google took its “third half” concept to another level with its Google Earth software, creating a more realistic world that blurs the line between virtual life and reality and helps make the program look more like a variation of the Star Trek Holodecknew Google Earth software introduces two major new features: the integration of Street View, Google’s photos of streets and locations, and millions of 3-D trees. The company has also made it easier to browse historical images and maps on the platform…inclusion of Street View makes it easy for users to swoop in and out of the 3-D version of Google Earth, and then easily enter an experience that is more realistic and true-to-life through the Street View photos layer…

 

Motion sensing video games

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/arts/video-games/28video.html?_r=1&ref=technology

 

Music games like Power Gig and Rock Band 3 are beginning to incorporate real musical instruments. Microsoft’s new Kinect system sees you and listens to you in your living room, letting you jump, swing, kick, or just sit on your couch and speak aloud to control what happens on your television. Meanwhile Internet games like Eve Online and World of Warcraft are defined not by the adventures created by their developers but by the global social communities and political systems created autonomously by the players within them.. there has never been even the conceit that a video game could approximate or represent a genuine, nonelectronic human activity…result is that video games are poised to become more engaging — physically, emotionally and perhaps even intellectually — than they have ever been. But they will do so not by dehumanizing players but rather by bridging the gap between media and actual personal experience…Guitar Hero and its offspring Rock Band have always seemed to offend certain sorts of music snobs. “Well it’s not a real guitar.” But that was always the point of the plastic guitar-shaped controller with its colorful buttons: self-consciously to mimic the reality of a guitar in a way that could convey at least a bit of the visceral, rhythmic joy of making music (which they certainly do) without the responsibility of actually having to make music…what if your body itself is the game controller?… Nintendo was the first to start doing away with buttons. While Microsoft and Sony were busy trying to make more realistic high-definition explosions, Nintendo was realizing that all those buttons on game controllers were alienating hundreds of millions of potential players around the world. The answer of course was the Wii, with its intuitive motion-sensitive controller that has drawn families and women into gaming in a way they never had before…big boys, Microsoft and Sony, have not been too proud to learn from their rival, and this fall they introduced systems that go beyond the Wii in bringing natural human movement into games. The less ambitious of the two is Sony’s Move for the PlayStation 3, which is basically a more accurate and precise version of the Wii control wand. Coupled with the PS3’s high-definition graphics (the Wii is not high-def), the Move replicates certain types of physical activity, like golf, Frisbee tossing, bowling and sword fighting, more accurately and enjoyably than has ever been possible in the living room…Microsoft’s Kinect does away with electronic controllers altogether. With Kinect you just stand in front of the TV and move your body to make things happen on the screen. You actually dance and throw and kick and punch and running (in place). You are performing the actual yoga pose or exercise. You can even talk to it and it understands (though only for basic menu commands at the moment)….

 

Stuxnet update

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/26/secret-agent-crippled-irans-nuclear-ambitions/?test=latestnews

 

mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected…job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran’s nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe….have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they’ve all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department’s acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”… onstruction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,”… have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus…Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program…target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility…When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions…after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace…That is what we are learning happened at Iran’s nuclear facilities — both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran’s nuclear power plant…At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component — the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges’ control panel…At Bushehr, meanwhile, a second secret set of codes, which Langner called “digital warheads,” targeted the Russian-built power plant’s massive steam turbine…nuclear facility in Iran runs an “air gap” security system, meaning it has no connections to the Web, making it secure from outside penetration. Stuxnet was designed and sent into the area around Iran’s Natanz nuclear power plant — just how may never be known — to infect a number of computers on the assumption that someone working in the plant would take work home on a flash drive, acquire the worm and then bring it back to the plant…Once the worm was inside the plant, the next step was to get the computer system there to trust it and allow it into the system. That was accomplished because the worm contained a “digital certificate” stolen from JMicron, a large company in an industrial park in Taiwan. (When the worm was later discovered it quickly replaced the original digital certificate with another certificate, also stolen from another company, Realtek, a few doors down in the same industrial park in Taiwan.)… Once allowed entry, the worm contained four “Zero Day” elements in its first target, the Windows 7 operating system that controlled the overall operation of the plant. Zero Day elements are rare and extremely valuable vulnerabilities in a computer system that can be exploited only once. Two of the vulnerabilities were known, but the other two had never been discovered. Experts say no hacker would waste Zero Days in that manner…After penetrating the Windows 7 operating system, the code then targeted the “frequency converters” that ran the centrifuges. To do that it used specifications from the manufacturers of the converters…worm then ordered the centrifuges to rotate extremely fast, and then to slow down precipitously. This damaged the converter, the centrifuges and the bearings, and it corrupted the uranium in the tubes. It also left Iranian nuclear engineers wondering what was wrong, as computer checks showed no malfunctions in the operating system….Estimates are that this went on for more than a year, leaving the Iranian program in chaos. And as it did, the worm grew and adapted throughout the system…worms reported back to two servers that had to be run by intelligence agencies, one in Denmark and one in Malaysia. The servers monitored the worms and were shut down once the worm had infiltrated Natanz. Efforts to find those servers since then have yielded no results…“the lives of the scientists working in the facility have become a living hell because of counter-intelligence agents brought into the plant” to battle the breach. Ironically, even after its discovery, the worm has succeeded in slowing down Iran’s reputed effort to build an atomic weapon…