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Cellphones

Japan Getting Real-Time Phone Call Translator App 113

another random user writes with news that NTT Docomo, Japan's largest wireless carrier, will be rolling out a real-time translation app for phone calls on November 1. At launch, the app will translate Japanese into English, Mandarin, and Korean, and later that month it will add French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai. No word on Klingon. From the article: "The products have the potential to let companies avoid having to use specially trained multilingual staff, helping them cut costs. They could also aid tourism. However, the software involved cannot offer perfect translations, limiting its use in some situations. ... It provides users with voice translations of the other speaker's conversation after a slight pause, as well as providing a text readout. ... NTT Docomo will soon face competition from France's Alcatel-Lucent which is developing a rival product, WeTalk. It can handle Japanese and about a dozen other languages including English, French and Arabic. The service is designed to work over any landline telephone, meaning the company has had to find a way to do speech recognition using audio data sampled at a rate of 8kHz or 16kHz. Other products — which rely on data connections — have used higher 44kHz samples which are easier to process."
Biotech

Scientists Resurrect 500-Million-Year-Old Gene Inside Modern Organism 135

An anonymous reader writes with news that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken a gene from 500-million-year-old bacteria and inserted it into modern E. coli bacteria. They then allowed the bacteria to evolve over the course of a thousand generations to see whether it would resemble its original 'evolutionary trajectory.' From the article: "After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kaçar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed 'ancient life' to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes. 'The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially,' said Gaucher, 'and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day.' The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart."
Government

Feds Plan 'Fog of Disinformation' To Track Information Leaks 263

skipkent tips a story at Wired's Danger Room, according to which "Pentagon-funded researchers have come up with a new plan for busting leakers: Spot them by how they search, and then entice the secret-spillers with decoy documents that will give them away. Computer scientists call it it 'Fog Computing' — a play on today's cloud computing craze. And in a recent paper for Darpa, the Pentagon's premiere research arm, researchers say they've built 'a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this "disinformation technology."'"
Google

Google Gets Driverless License For Nevada Roads 215

Fluffeh writes "On Monday, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles approved Google's license application to test autonomous vehicles on the state's roads. The state had approved such laws back in February, and has now begun issuing licenses based on those regulations. The state previously outlined that companies that want to test such vehicles will need an insurance bond of $1 million and must provide detailed outlines of where they plan to test it and under what conditions. Further, the car must have two people in it at all times, with one behind the wheel who can take control of the vehicle if needed. The Autonomous Review Committee of the Nevada DMV is supervising the first licensing procedure and has now approved corresponding plates to go with it, complete with a red background and infinity symbol."
The Military

Coming To a War Near You: Nuclear Powered Drones 202

An anonymous reader writes "American scientists and engineers are researching a new generation of UAV's that would be nuclear-powered. Why do this? They would have the capacity to stay over a target area for months and only be limited by the ordinance they could drop on a potential foe. They would be similar to a nuclear attack submarine but not limited to the amount of food on-board. The article notes: 'The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the U.S. government's principal nuclear research and development agency – and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time "from days to months" while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia,' the paper reported."
Hardware

Kinect Grocery Cart Follows Shoppers Around the Store 155

cylonlover writes "When Chaotic Moon Labs debuted the Kinect-powered Board of Awesomeness — and its mind-reading offspring, the Board of Imagination — that was apparently just a preview of a more practical product the company had in the works. Grocery store chain Whole Foods recently gave a demonstration of Chaotic Moon's latest device, which uses the same technology in a self-propelled shopping cart. The 'Smarter Cart,' as it's been named, can detect what items are placed in it, match those to a shopping list, and even follow shoppers around the store on its own."
Input Devices

Nano-Scale Terahertz Antenna May Make Tricorders Real 185

MrSeb writes "Researchers from Imperial College London and A*STAR in Singapore have shown off a terahertz antenna that's just 100 nanometers across — about 30,000 times smaller than existing terahertz antennae — and two orders of magnitude stronger than other T-ray beam-forming techniques. T-rays are a lot like EHF (extremely high frequency), which is used by millimeter wave scanners in airports, medical imaging, and emerging wireless networking standards like WiGig — but stronger, faster, and more detailed. Where EHF radiation can see through your clothes, T-rays can penetrate a few millimeters of skin. Furthermore, because atoms and molecules have a unique terahertz-range signature, T-ray scanners can detect toxic substances, bombs, drugs — or even cancerous tumors under your skin. Most importantly, though, due to the nano scale of these antennae, it's possible to create huge antennae arrays on a single silicon chip, meaning hand-held T-ray scanners are now a possibility. In the not so distant future, every household might have a Star Trek-like tricorder capable of detecting cancer or other diseases."
The Almighty Buck

Quant AI Picks Stocks Better Than Humans 446

Mr_Blank writes with this excerpt from an article at MIT's Technology Review: "The ability to predict the stock market is, as any Wall Street quantitative trader (or quant) will tell you, a license to print money. So it should be of no small interest to anyone who likes money that a new system that works in a radically different way than previous automated trading schemes appears to be able to beat Wall Street's best quantitative mutual funds at their own game. It's called the Arizona Financial Text system, or AZFinText, and it works by ingesting large quantities of financial news stories (in initial tests, from Yahoo Finance) along with minute-by-minute stock price data, and then using the former to figure out how to predict the latter. Then it buys, or shorts, every stock it believes will move more than 1% of its current price in the next 20 minutes — and it never holds a stock for longer."
Image

Oil Leak Could Be Stopped With a Nuke Screenshot-sm 799

An anonymous reader writes "The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could be stopped with an underground nuclear blast, a Russian newspaper reports. Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. The idea is simple, KP writes: 'The underground explosion moves the rock, presses on it, and, in essence, squeezes the well's channel.' It's so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once."
Portables

Cellular Repo Man 253

LateNiteTV sends in news of a "kill pill" from LM Ericsson AB that a wireless carrier could use to remotely disable a subsidized netbook if the customer doesn't pay the monthly bill or cancels their credit card. "...the Swedish company that makes many of the modems that go into laptops announced Tuesday that its new modem will deal with [the nonpayment] issue by including a feature that's virtually a wireless repo man. If the carrier has the stomach to do so, it can send a signal that completely disables the computer, making it impossible to turn on. ... Laptop makers that use Ericsson modules include LG Electronics Inc., Dell Inc., Toshiba Corp., and Lenovo." The feature could also be used to lock thieves out of the data on a stolen laptop.
Robotics

The World's Heaviest Robot 142

Roland Piquepaille writes "This distinction goes to a future autonomous version of the 700-tons Caterpillar mining truck. In this article, Discovery News reports that Caterpillar engineers and computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to develop this autonomous truck. Japan-based Komatsu has already delivered autonomous mining trucks to its customers, but these are smaller than the Caterpillar ones. Both companies are transforming their trucks into 'robots' for three reasons. Improvements in safety, efficiency and productivity will reduce costs and increase availability."

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