Hacked Kinect taught to work as multitouch interface

11 11 2010
 

We gotta say, the last time we were this excited about hardware hacking For The Greater Good was when people started using the Wiimote for all sorts of awesome projects. Kinect is naturally a lot more complicated, but there’s also a lot of potential here, and we can’t wait to see what people come up with. Florian Echtler took that open source driver and hooked the Kinect into his own multitouch UI “TISCH” software library (which actually supports the Wiimote as an input already, funny enough). The result is a bit of MS Surface-style multitouch picture shuffling and zooming, but it uses full body tracking instead of touchscreen input, of course. The self-effacing Florian had this to say in the video description: “I thought I’d get the mandatory picture-browsing stuff done so it’s out of the way and everybody can focus on more interesting things.” You’re still a hero in our book, man. Always a hero.

Feeling left out on all these Kinect shenanigans because you’re rocking a Mac? Well, libfreenect has also now been ported over to OS X by Theo Watson (who sounds unenthused about his accomplishment in the video embedded after the break). Also: once you’re done admiring your IR-rendered visage on your shiny Apple-built hardware, scrounge yourself up a working Linux box. All the cool people are doing it





iOS 4.2 bringing speed improvements to iPhone 3G?

8 11 2010
The recent iOS updates have mostly been welcome improvements for iPhone 4 and 3GS users, but it’s been a decidedly different story for folks sticking to their venerable iPhone 3G. Not only have they been left out of some of the fun, but they were dealt a serious performance hit with iOS 4.0 that was only somewhat corrected by IOS 4.1. Could iOS 4.2 finally bring things back up to speed? According to the folks at TiPb, it just might — they’ve now tested the iOS 4.2 gold master on an iPhone 3G and found that performance was noticeably improved across the board. Head on past the break to check out their results for yourself, and keep your fingers crossed that you’ll actually see a similar improvement when the official update finally hits your 3G.




Shocker! Cellphone touchscreens are dirty

18 10 2010

If you have even the slightest inclination towards Mysophobia then please, do yourself a favor and stop reading now. A Stanford University study found that if you put a virus on a touchscreen surface then about 30 percent of it will make the jump to the fingertips of anyone who touches it. From there it goes into the eyes, mouth, or nose — whichever face-hole is in most urgent need of a rub. And just to drive the point home, the Sacramento Bee adds this little nugget from an unspecified British study: “Mobile phones harbor 18 times more bacteria than a flush handle in a typical men’s restroom.” Eww. You know, sometimes it’s best not to know how the sausage is made.





Google’s driverless car drives interest in driverless cars

18 10 2010

Self-driving cars are hardly new. We’ve seen dozens of automatic vehicles over the years, many of which have seen advances driven (so to speak) by various DARPA challenges. But now that Google’s involved — whoa! — the mainstream media is suddenly whipped into a frenzy of hyperbolic proclamations about the future. Still, it is fascinating stuff to watch. So click on through if you like having your tech salad tossed with a side of smarmy TV-news voiceover. Trust us, it’s delicious.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/test-driving-google-car-11857670?&clipId=11857670&cid=embedded

 

sourceABC News





HP’s Photosmart eStation Android tablet hands-on

7 10 2010

So here it is, after months of details coming to light an inkdrop at a time, the HP eStation all-in-one printing solution. But we’re not gonna dwell but on half of that: the 7-inch tablet skinned out by Yahoo and powered by Android 2.1. As we expected, though, the Google experience is decidedly less that you’re accustomed to: search is Yahoo only, and our attempt to find an alternate method was met with a barebones settings menu (search via the browser page still works). Additionally, there is no access to Android Market, relegating your customization instead to HP’s print-heavy app store — sorry, no games, as that’s not what the company wants to focus on here, according to the rep. That also means no native Gmail, much to our dismay. What Yahoo has provided is a suite of apps and widgets that actually work well in their simplicity, from weather to stocks and search.

We were reminded at numerous points that this is a prototype build, and for good reason — the responsiveness was questionably slow, especially in the browser. That said, the Nook store and e-reading app was as fluid as you’d ever need. WiFi is equipped on both the tablet and the printer for cloud-based connectivity on the go. Battery life is measured at four to six hours, and Android 2.2 is expected by holiday still sans Market, but beyond Flash (and at this point we question its performance on this hardware), there’s probably not a lot of value-add in the update. Expect this AIO to be shipping the in the next few weeks.





MIT Medical Lab Mirror tells your pulse with a webcam

7 10 2010
MIT Medical Lab Mirror tells your pulse with a webcam

Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the highest arterial palpation of them all? If you went to MIT you might be able to answer that question thanks to the work of grad student Ming-Zher Poh, who has found a way to tell your pulse with just a simple webcam and some software. By looking at minute changes in the brightness of the face, the system can find the beating of your heart even at a low resolution, comparable to the results of a traditional FDA-approved pulse monitor. Right now the mirror above is just a proof of concept, but the idea is that the hospital beds or surgery rooms of tomorrow might be able to monitor a patient’s pulse without requiring any wires or physical contact, encouraging news for anyone who has ever tried to sleep whilst wearing a heart monitor.





Berkeley Bionics reveals eLEGS exoskeleton, aims to help paraplegics walk in 2011

7 10 2010

Wondering where you’ve heard of Berkeley Bionics before? These are the same whiz-kids who produced the HULC exoskeleton in mid-2008, and now they’re back with a far more ambitious effort. Announced just moments ago in San Francisco, the eLEGS exoskeleton is a bionic device engineered to help paraplegics stand up and walk on their own. It’s hailed as a “wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic device,” and it’s expected to help out within the hospital, at home and elsewhere in this wild, wild place we call Earth. Initially, the device will be offered to rehabilitation centers for use under medical supervision, and can be adjusted to fit most people between 5’2″ and 6’4″ (and weighing 220 pounds or less) in a matter of minutes. We’re told that the device provides “unprecedented knee flexion,” and it’s also fairly quiet in operation; under ideal circumstances, speeds of up to 2MPH can be attained, and it employs a gesture-based human-machine interface that relies on legions of sensors to determine a user’s intentions and act accordingly. Clinical trials are going on as we speak about to begin, and there’s a limited release planned for the second half of 2011. We’re still waiting to hear back on a price, so keep it locked for more as we get it live from the event.

Update: We just got to see the eLEGS walk across stage, and you’ll find a gallery full of close-up pics immediately below. We also spoke to Berkeley Bionics CEO Eythor Bender, who detailed the system a bit more — it’s presently made of steel and carbon fiber with lithium-ion battery packs, weighs 45 pounds, and has enough juice to run for six hours of continuous walking. While he wouldn’t give us an exact price, he said they’re shooting for $100,000, and will be “very competitive” with other devices on the market. Following clinical trials, the exoskeleton will be available to select medical centers in July or August, though Bender also said the company’s also working on a streamlined commercial version for all-day use, tentatively slated for 2013.