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Microsoft Creates Kinect-Like System Using Laptop Speaker & Microphone 169

MrSeb writes "Microsoft Research, working with the University of Washington, has developed a Kinect-like system that uses your computer's built-in microphone and speakers to provide object detection and gesture recognition, much in the same way that a submarine uses sonar. Called SoundWave, the new technology uses the Doppler effect to detect any movements and gestures in the proximity of a computer. In the case of SoundWave, your computer's built-in speaker is used to emit ultrasonic (18-22KHz) sound waves, which change frequency depending on where your hand (or body) is in relation to the computer. This change in frequency is measured by your computer's built-in microphone, and then some fairly complex software works out your motion/gesture. The obvious advantage of SoundWave over a product like Kinect is that it uses existing, commodity hardware; it could effectively equip every modern laptop with a gesture-sensing interface. The Microsoft Research team is reporting a 90-100% accuracy rate for SoundWave, even in noisy environments."

Comment Chose winner with weighted random sample. (Score 1) 457

Hold a popular vote and then select from among the candidates randomly, weighted by their popular vote percentages.

In a two candidate race that both get 50% of the vote, the electorate has essentially said "We don't clearly know who's better." So flip a coin and go with that one. In a three way race where the 'spoiler' candidate receives 20% of the vote, select him as the winner with a 20% probability.

* The majority doesn't completely drown out the rest.
* Less susceptible to small counting errors. (i.e. the OP).

No chance of this being perceived fair. The conspiracy theorists are going to go apeshit the first time a 20% winner gets elected.

Perhaps use a non-uniform distribution to push the percentages further towards the extreme--e.g. a winner of 80% of the electorate should probably be chosen 95% of the time.


Submission + - Add-on lets IE6 apps live forever (networkworld.com)

Roberto123 writes: "A company called Browsium has come up with a solution to the compatibility problems between Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 and newer versions like IE8 and IE9. Its Unibrows browser add-on, introduced this week, replicates the IE6 search engine in IE8/9 so Web apps written for IE6 will render as designed. This avoids the time and expense of rewriting IE6 apps."

Submission + - SPAM: NASA shuttle to carry key space station upgrades

coondoggie writes: NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour is closed for the Christmas holiday but plenty of work is going on around it. NASA said that the shuttle’s hatch has been closed and warm air is being blown into the shuttle to keep critical internal systems at about 70 degrees during the holiday break as final preparations for the mission are set for a scheduled Feb. 7 launch. Endeavour will be carrying the 21 ft long, 14 ft wide, 27,000 pound life support module known as Tranquility to the International Space Station. A “room with a view” module known as the Cupola module is also part of the ISS package heading into orbit.
[spam URL stripped]

Link to Original Source

Submission + - The Fall of the Maya, New Clues Revealed (spacefellowship.com) 1

Matt_dk writes: For 1200 years, the Maya dominated Central America. At their peak around 900 A.D., Maya cities teemed with more than 2,000 people per square mile — comparable to modern Los Angeles County. Even in rural areas the Maya numbered 200 to 400 people per square mile. But suddenly, all was quiet. And the profound silence testified to one of the greatest demographic disasters in human prehistory — the demise of the once vibrant Maya society. What happened? Some NASA-funded researchers think they have a pretty good idea.

Submission + - Rome was built in a day (washington.edu)

spmallick writes: Researchers at the University of Washington, in collaboration with Microsoft, have recreated the city of Rome in 3D using images obtained from Flickr [ Press Release . The data set consists of 150,000 images from Flickr.com associated with the tags "Rome" or "Roma", and it took 21 hours on 496 compute cores to create a 3D digital model. Unlike Photosynth / Photo Tourism, the goal was to reconstruct an entire city and not just individual landmarks. Previous versions of the Photo Tourism software matched each photo to every other photo in the set. But as the number of photos increases the number of matches explodes, increasing with the square of the number of photos. A set of 250,000 images would take at least a year for 500 computers to process... A million photos would take more than a decade! The newly developed code works more than a hundred times faster than the previous version. It first establishes likely matches and then concentrates on those parts.

The project website is at http://grail.cs.washington.edu/rome/

DISCLAIMER: The primary author of the work Dr. Sameer Agarwal is a co-author and a close friend.


Submission + - New unmanned Japanese re-supply vessel for the ISS (examiner.com)

Joshua writes: "JAXA, Japan's version of NASA, has scheduled the launch of its new rocket, the H-IIB, for September 11th, 2009. The rocket will be carrying up the first in a series of unmanned supply vessels for the ISS called the HTV. The new Japanese addition to the international space fleet comes as a huge welcome sign to NASA, who has scheduled the space shuttle to retire in 2010. The HTV will be able to transport vital supplies, equipment, and experiments to the ISS, a job that the U.S. space shuttle has been doing largely up until now. Yearly launches for the H-II2 and HTV are scheduled between now and 2015. Until NASA can finish the next generation Ares I rocket, which isn't likely to be finished before 2017, taking astronauts into space and to the ISS will likely become the job of Russia."

Submission + - Swine Flu Outbreak at PAX (penny-arcade.com)

whisper_jeff writes: "There's been a confirmed outbreak of Swine Flu at PAX. Those who attended and are feeling under-the-weather after the con should not write it off as a typical convention cold and go see a doctor to make sure, just in case."

"Overwhelming" Evidence For Magnetic Monopoles 256

Thorfinn.au sends along big physics news: magnetic monopoles have been detected at low temperatures in "Dirac strings" within a single crystal of Dysprosium Titanate. Two papers are being published today in the journal Science and two more on arXiv.org, as yet unpublished, provide further evidence. "Theoretical work had shown that monopoles probably exist, and they have been measured indirectly. But the Science papers are the first direct experiments to record the monopole's effects on the spin-ice material. The papers use neutrons to detect atoms in the crystal aligned into long daisy chains. These daisy chains tie each north and south monopole together. Known as 'Dirac strings,' the chains, as well as the existence of monopoles, were predicted in the 1930s by the British theoretical physicist Paul Dirac. Heat measurements in one paper also support the monopole argument. The two, as yet unpublished, papers on arXiv add to the evidence. The first provides additional observations, and the second uses a new technique to determine the magnetic charge of each monopole to be 4.6x10-13 joules per tesla metre. All together, the evidence for magnetic monopoles 'is now overwhelming,' says Steve Bramwell, a materials scientist at University College London and author on one of the Science papers and one of the arXiv papers."

Submission + - Omega Nebula Struts its Stuff in New, Multicolored (takefreetime.com)

slreboy writes: "The Omega Nebula, a stellar nursery 5500 light-years away towards the constellation Sagittarius (the Archer), is looking positively dashing in this new image released today by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO). The subtle color shades across the three-color composite image comes from the presence of different gases (mostly hydrogen, but also oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur) that are glowing under the fierce ultraviolet light radiated by hot young stars..."

Submission + - Malware Increasingly Targets Task Manager (channelinsider.com)

dasButcher writes: "A sound bit of advice regarding Windows security may soon become passe — using Task Manager to stop unauthorized and mysterious applications. As security blogger Larry Walsh writes (http://blogs.channelinsider.com/secure_channel/content/windows_security/windows_task_manager_targeted_by_malware_writers.html), malware writers are increasingly targeting Task Manager to prevent users from circumventing and stopping their Trojans and scareware. McAfee's Avert Labs (http://www.avertlabs.com/research/blog/index.php/2009/09/01/task-manager-still-working-can-you-change-your-windows-password/) has reported finding a Trojan that specifically targets the Task Manager. Is this vital Windows tool being taking out of the security game?"

Submission + - How many bits does it take to kill you? 1

pegr writes: Andrew "bunnie" Huang, Reverse Engineer, XBox hacker, and generally smart guy, muses over the H1N1/swine flu virus as only a reverse engineer can: "I now know how to modify the virus sequence to probably make it more deadly." Not that he would, of course. bunnie has consistantly made the esoteric available to us mere mortals, and his overview of the H1N1 virus is a fascinating read from a unique perspective.

Submission + - Why the Google Phone Isn't Taking Off 2

Hugh Pickens writes: "Farhad Manjoo writes in Slate that while the iPhone commands nearly 14 percent of smartphone sales and BlackBerry about 21 percent. Android has only 3 percent and that even though it's far friendlier to developers, Android has failed to attract anywhere near the number of apps now clogging the iPhone. Manjoo writes that Google went wrong by giving handset manufacturers and carriers a great deal of control over the design and marketing of Android phones so there is no idealized "Google phone"--instead, Android devices get names like the T-Mobile G1 or the myTouch 3G, and each is marketed separately and comes with its own distinct capabilities and shortcomings. "Outside handset manufacturers lack ambition--none of them even seems to be trying to match the capabilities of the iPhone, let alone to knock us down with features that far surpass those of Apple's device," writes Manjoo. "A smart handset manufacturer could build a top-of-the-line Android device that outshines Apple's phone in at least a few areas--better battery life, a much better Web browser, a brighter or bigger screen, faster or more functional controls ... something that might help Android inspire gadget lust. But so far, that's not happening." John Gruber adds that the goal should be to make a phone that is better than the iPhone. "Carefully select a handful of areas where you can beat the iPhone, and then promote the hell out of these features," writes Gruber. "If your hope is to gain a strong foothold in the market with a sub-par device, you are mistaken. If Apple is BMW, you can be Porsche.""

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