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Siri, Cortana and Google Have Nothing On SoundHound's Speech Recognition 235

MojoKid writes: Your digital voice assistant app is incompetent. Yes, Siri can give you a list of Italian restaurants in the area, Cortana will happily look up the weather, and Google Now will send a text message, if you ask it to. But compared to Hound, the newest voice search app on the block, all three of the aforementioned assistants might as well be bumbling idiots trying to outwit a fast talking rocket scientist. At its core, Hound is the same type of app — you bark commands or ask questions about any number of topics and it responds intelligently. And quickly. What's different about Hound compared to Siri, Cortana, and Google Now is that it's freakishly fast and understands complex queries that would have the others hunched in the fetal position, thumb in mouth. Check out the demo. It's pretty impressive.

Telomere-Lengthening Procedure Turns Clock Back Years In Human Cells 183

Zothecula writes Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure to increase the length of human telomeres. This increases the number of times cells are able to divide, essentially making the cells many years younger. This not only has useful applications for laboratory work, but may point the way to treating various age-related disorders – or even muscular dystrophy.

Scientists Discover a Virus That Changes the Brain To "Make Humans More Stupid" 275

concertina226 writes that researchers have found a virus that appears to reduce people’s thinking power and attention span. "Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska have discovered an algae virus that makes us more stupid by infecting our brains. The researchers were conducting a completely unrelated study into throat microbes when they realized that DNA in the throats of healthy people matched the DNA of a chlorovirus virus known as ATCV-1. ATCV-1 is a virus that infects the green algae found in freshwater lakes and ponds. It had previously been thought to be non-infectious to humans, but the scientists found that it actually affects cognitive functions in the brain by shortening attention span and causing a decrease in spatial awareness. For the first time ever, the researchers proved that microorganisms have the ability to trigger delicate physiological changes to the human body, without launching a full-blown attack on the human immune system."

Amherst Researchers Create Magnetic Monopoles 156

An anonymous reader writes "Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, an international collaboration led by Amherst College Physics Professor David S. Hall '91 and Aalto University (Finland) Academy Research Fellow Mikko Möttönen has created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles in Hall's laboratory on the Amherst campus. The groundbreaking accomplishment paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron." That's quite a step beyond detecting monopoles; the Nature abstract is online, but the full paper is paywalled.

3D Printing of Human Tissue To Spark Ethics Debate 234

Lucas123 writes "In a report released today, Gartner predicts that the time is drawing near when 3D-bioprinted human organs will be readily available, an advance almost certain to spark a complex debate involving a variety of political, moral and financial interests. For example, some researchers are using cells from human and non-human organs to create stronger tissue, said Pete Basiliere, a Gartner research director. 'In this example, there was human amniotic fluid, canine smooth muscle cells, and bovine cells all being used. Some may feel those constructs are of concern,' he said. While regulations in the U.S. and Europe will mean human trials of 3D printed organs will likely take up to a decade, nations with less stringent standards will plow ahead with the technology. For example, last August, the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had invented the biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney."

New Object Recognition Algorithm Learns On the Fly 100

Zothecula writes "Scientists at Brigham Young University (BYU) have developed an algorithm that can accurately identify objects in images or videos and can learn to recognize new objects on its own. Although other object recognition systems exist, the Evolution-Constructed Features algorithm is notable in that it decides for itself what features of an object are significant for identifying the object and is able to learn new objects without human intervention."

Programming Molecules To Let Chemicals Make Decisions 28

Nerval's Lobster writes "Computer scientists at Harvard University have come up with a way to convert algorithms that teach machines to learn into a form that would allow artificial intelligence to be programmed into complex chemical reactions. The ultimate result could be smart drugs programmed to react differently depending on which of several probable situations they might encounter – without the need to use nano-scale electronics to carry the instructions. 'This kind of chemical-based AI will be necessary for constructing therapies that sense and adapt to their environment,' according to Ryan P. Adams, assistant professor of computer science at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), who co-wrote the paper explaining the technique (PDF). 'The hope is to eventually have drugs that can specialize themselves to your personal chemistry and can diagnose or treat a range of pathologies.' The techniques are part of a larger effort to program the behavior of molecules in manufacturing, decision-making and diagnostics, using both nano-scale electronics and the still-relatively-new study of bionanotechnology."

Protecting Your Tablet From a Fall From Space 130

First time accepted submitter xwwt writes "G-Form has a nice video of an iPad launched into the stratosphere via weather balloon and protected using its new protective gear 'Extreme Edge' to see how well the gear worked in the iPad free fall to Earth. The gear is being introduced at this year's CES where our own timothy will be attending and reviewing new products. The cool part of this whole video is really that the iPad survives the free fall from space, remaining fully functional."

Stanford Scientists Show Stretchable Skin-Like Sensor 19

SkinnyGuy writes with news of an invention out of Stanford that improves upon previous work: a transparent, stretchable, skin-like sensor that could have applications for prosthetic limbs and robotics. Quoting: "The sensor uses a transparent film of single-walled carbon nanotubes that act as tiny springs, enabling the sensor to accurately measure the force on it, whether it's being pulled like taffy or squeezed like a sponge. ... The sensors consist of two layers of the nanotube-coated silicone, oriented so that the coatings are face-to-face, with a layer of a more easily deformed type of silicone between them. The middle layer of silicone stores electrical charge, much like a battery. When pressure is exerted on the sensor, the middle layer of silicone compresses, which alters the amount of electrical charge it can store. That change is detected by the two films of carbon nanotubes, which act like the positive and negative terminals on a typical automobile or flashlight battery. The change sensed by the nanotube films is what enables the sensor to transmit what it is 'feeling.'"

NAND Gate Built From Bacteria 63

thodelu writes "Scientists have taken another step towards biological computing, with the creation of logic gates from gut bacteria and DNA. While something similar has been done before, the team says its logic gates behave more like the standard electronic version. They're also modular, which means that they can be fitted together to make different types of logic gates, paving the way for more complex biological processors to be built in the future."

Electrical Power From Humans 220

Coisiche writes "The BBC covers a team of scientists who are working on a new way to power medical implants: an internal biofuel cell. From the article: 'Their gadget, called a biofuel cell, uses glucose and oxygen at concentrations found in the body to generate electricity. They are the first group in the world to demonstrate their device working while implanted in a living animal. If all goes to plan, within a decade or two, biofuel cells may be used to power a range of medical implants, from sensors and drug delivery devices to entire artificial organs. All you'll need to do to power them up is eat a candy bar, or drink a coke. ... In 2010, they tested their fuel cell in a rat for 40 days and reported that it worked flawlessly, producing a steady electrical current throughout, with no noticeable side effects on the rat's behavior or physiology.' Of course, there's never been a sci-fi movie using such technology as a plot device..."

Scientists Developed Artificial Structures That Can Self-Replicate 127

First time accepted submitter mphall21 writes "New York University scientists have developed artificial structures that can self-replicate, a process that has the potential to yield new types of materials. In the natural world, self-replication is ubiquitous in all living entities, but artificial self-replication has been elusive. The new discovery is the first steps toward a general process for self-replication of a wide variety of arbitrarily designed seeds."

Graphene Creates Electricity When Struck By Light 132

MrSeb writes with news out of MIT about another interesting and potentially useful property of graphene. Researchers have known for several years that graphene generates electricity when exposed to sunlight, but incorrectly attributed it to the photovoltaic effect. A new paper shows that the current is actually generated from the much more unusual 'hot-carrier' response. Quoting: "The material’s electrons, which carry current, are heated by the light, but the lattice of carbon nuclei that forms graphene’s backbone remains cool. It’s this difference in temperature within the material that produces the flow of electricity. ... Such differential heating has been observed before, but only under very special circumstances: either at ultralow temperatures (measured in thousandths of a degree above absolute zero), or when materials are blasted with intense energy from a high-power laser. This response in graphene, by contrast, occurs across a broad range of temperatures all the way up to room temperature, and with light no more intense than ordinary sunlight." It will take more work to determine what new applications are reasonable from an efficiency perspective, but it does broaden graphene's already-impressive capabilities.
Input Devices

Thin Film Transforms Any Surface Into Touchscreen 81

kkleiner writes "Open up a cardboard tube, roll out a transparent film just millimeters thick, apply it on a flat object and *tada* you've got an interactive touch surface. Cambridge-based Visual Planet just launched its new massive-sized multitouch thin film drivers so you can create touchscreens from 30 to 167 inches in size! Their touchfoil is a transparent nanowire embedded polymer capable of sensing the touch of a finger, or even pressure from wind and translating that to a computer interface. It works on glass, wood, and other non-conductive surfaces."

Artificial Blood Vessels Created On a 3D Printer 33

rallymatte writes "A team at Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has managed to create artificial blood vessels with a 3D printer that may come to be used for transplants of lab-created organs. From the article: 'To print something as small and complex as a blood vessel, the scientists combined the 3D printing technology with two-photon polymerisation — shining intense laser beams onto the material to stimulate the molecules in a very small focus point.'"

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.