Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sony's New Patent: Set Automatic Preferences By Reading Blood Vessels; Use in Computers, Toilets

diagram showing sony's patented vein reading system in use in a toilet
Image source: Engadget

When we think of finger prints,we think of criminals, or at least that's what the plethora of crime scene tv shows have made us to believe. However, Sony has recently been awarded a patent that uses similar technology it plans to use in computer mice to set certain types of preferences for users (especially elderly users). The new technology would capture the image of the user's blood vessels in the palm (on touch of the mouse), and compare the information obtained with preregistered blood vessel pattern information. If there is a match, the user is authenticated. After authentication,  preferences like monitor contrast, size of text etc. will be automatically set, instead of the user having to go through a complex set of manual operations.

However, this is not the only use of the patent. Sony plans to use this technology even in the toilet. On the turn of the door knob, the system would not only capture an image of the blood vessel but also the wrinkles on the hand to determine the age of the person. After authenticating the person by matching the information obtained with the information in its database, another set of preferences would initiate - the toilet seat would lift automatically, and the angle of the bidet would be set as per the user's preference. The system also controls the nozzle setting to set the appropriate water pressure for cleaning the hip. If the user is determined to be a child or an elderly person, the water pressure would be set to lower than the default water pressure. If the user is middle generational, the water pressure does not change and stays at its default setting.

Now how cool is this technology? Very, I think! Sony filed for this patent in 2009 but was recently awarded the claim, thanks to a backed up US patent system. To read more about the patent in greater technical detail, hit the source link!

Can you think of this technology being used in other scenarios?

Source: USPTO via Engadget

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sprint Speech-to-Speech: Service For People With Speech Disabilities

Sprint has started a new service for people with speech disabilities who may not be comfortable directly talking to other people due to their speech impairment/ unclear speech. The service is called Sprint Speech-to-Speech.

People with speech impairment have to deal quite many hurdles while talking on the phone - they can be easily misunderstood because of unclear speech. Of course, there's always the "What? I can't understand you" aspect of the process they have to face too. Last, but not the least, they have to depend on family and friends to make phone calls for them.

Now these folks can simply call 877 787 2660 (or *787) in the United States to connect to the Sprint Speech-to-Speech service that has specially trained operators. The caller can communicate their message to these operators and ask them to either repeat every word or just the important ones to the party for whom the call is intended. 

Sometimes these calls can get very long and tiring, and for that very reason Sprint has also introduced My Email Set Up. This service allows the users to send an email to the operator with the name and number of the person to be called, subject and message of the call, and any other instructions that would make the call easier for the operator.

These services are available 24/7 at no extra cost for Sprint customers.

Hit the source link to read more about these services.

Source: Sprint via Engadget

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mind Read: Typing With Your Brain

Scientists at Universiteit Maastricht have developed a new method that allows people who cannot speak and/or move to communicate via typing but without actually using a keyboard! In fact, the communication happens without moving a muscle or speaking a word.

image explaining how letters are obtained from brain using mri
Image source: Current Biology
The scientists have devised a mechanism that monitors the flow of blood in the brain using MRI , and associating the captured images with the letters of the alphabet. The setup requires patients to look at the letters on a screen for a specified amount of time. Once that is done, they can immediately start to "type". This allows natural brain to machine communication to take place - encoding thoughts letter by letter and thus enabling back and forth communication in case of absent motor behavior.

This method has been successfully tested on patients, however it is far from being practical as of now - patients don't have MRI machines installed at their homes. But, the idea right now is to keep testing and collecting more data, ultimately developing a setup that would be much more portable and easier to use.

Hit the source links to read more about this amazing technology.

Source: Science Daily, Current BiologyGizmodo