from the aibo-ate-my-homework dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers from Illinois and Florida are developing a networking system which will create virtual representations of real people to improve our knowledge. They will use artificial intelligence and natural language processing software to enable us to interact with these avatars. The goal of the project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is to give us the possibility to interact with these virtual representations as if they were the actual person, complete with the ability to understand and answer questions. We should see the results at the beginning of 2008 — if the researchers succeed."
Roland Piquepaille writes "In 'Things that show color in the night,' the Boston Globe reports that a company named Tenebraex is helping color blind people to travel. But it's also developing goggles to help soldiers and physicians to see all colors at night, and not only the green color of current night vision systems. These goggles, which should become available this summer, will be sold for about $6,000 to the Army. But as states one of the founders of the company, with monochrome night vision, 'blood is the same color as water.' So these expensive night vision devices might be more targeted to Army physicians than to regular soldiers."
Roland Piquepaille writes "If you were a law enforcement official searching for hunters who don't follow the rules, what would be a good gift for you? In 'Robot Deer Captures Poachers,' Brian Bull, reporting from Mosinee, Wisconsin, writes that you can buy robotic decoys for deer, elks, moose and even bears. These life-like creatures are made of animal hides or skins attached to polyurethane foam bodies and equipped with remotely controlled motors allowing the head and tail to move. After you pay about $2,000 for such a robo-deer, you put it on a side road. All you have to do is wait for an illegal hunter trying to shoot the fake deer and fine him. Many officers have reported collecting well over $30,000 in fines with a single robot. Not a bad deal."
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Rochester have found a way to change the properties of almost any metal by using a femtosecond laser pulse. This ultra-intense laser blast creates true 'black metal' from copper, gold or zinc by forming nanostructures at the surface of the metal. As these nanostructures capture radiation, the metals turn black. And as the process needs surprisingly low power, it could soon be used for a variety of applications, such as stealth planes, black jewels or car paintings. But read more for additional references and a picture of this femtosecond laser system."