Sunday, October 28, 2012

Netflix To Caption All Its Content By 2014

Netflix logo

In a recent agreement with the National Association for the Deaf (NAD), Netflix has agreed to add captions to all its contents by the year 2014, thus making its entire catalog accessible to 48 million deaf users. Currently, 82% of Netflix's content is already captioned.

The company would also add captions on new content within 30 days by 2014; within 14 days by 2015, and within 7 days by 2016. This agreement brings to an end a class action lawsuit that NAD had filed in 2010 claiming that by not providing captions, Netflix was out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are over a thousand devices that stream Netflix content. Most of these are capable of showing captions too. Netflix will do its best to make all the devices show captions, however, it is not obligated to do so.

As part of the agreement, Netflix would be paying $755,000 in legal fees to the plaintiff's lawyers, and $40,000 for implementing the decree.

Source: Ars Technica

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Robot Wheelchair That Climbs Steps; Tackles Obstacles

robot wheelchair climbing up a step
Image source: Diginfo TV

A group at Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan has developed a new concept wheelchair that can climb stairs!

This robot wheelchair, equipped with four wheels, five axes, a joystick, and various sensors moves on regular surface just like any other wheelchair. However, whenever it sees a step, it lifts its legs off the ground and "climbs up" in a walking style. The user just needs to direct the wheelchair using the joystick. The robot has a bunch of sensors on its feet, and that helps it detect obstacles. These sensors are used to detect how big and far the steps are. On uneven surfaces, the robot uses these sensors to make sure the chair remains stable (the intention is to use this robot wheelchair on regular paved surfaces). This robot wheelchair also has the ability to line up its wheels, thus allowing it to make 360 degree turns even in narrow spaces.

As of now, Shuro Nakajima, the scientist leading the group behind this robot wheelchair wants more people to test this wheelchair so that he could get more data to tweak the user experience.

Check out the video to see this amazing robot wheelchair in action!

Source: DigInfo TV

Monday, October 15, 2012

Touch Bionics Releases New Prosthetic Fingers

image displaying prosthetic fingers
Image source: Engadget
Touch Bionics, a leading expert in prosthetic limbs, recently announced the global launch of new bionic finger technologies - a very good news for people with missing fingers.

The new additions to the product line include a finger that's shorter and lighter, and a wrist band that incorporates all of the processing and poer systems of the prosthesis.

This new development  enables prostheses to be made smaller, lighter and more anatomically accurate, e.g., for people with smaller hands and whose amputations are closer to the knuckles. 

Needless to say, these prosthetic fingers help people perform daily chores and activities, and pursue their hobbies and interests, thus boosting their self confidence and improving their quality of life.

Watch this video to learn about the benefits of prosthetic fingers.

Check out their website to learn more about the prosthetic fingers. To read the press release, hit the source link.

Website: Touch Bionics

Source: Engadget

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Implant For Age Related Macular Degeneration

close up of implant on finger tip

Scientists at UC Davis Health Systems have successfully started installing implants into eyes of patients who suffer from age-related macular degeneration, thus giving them brand new vision.
close up of virginia bane's eye after the surgery

Macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans over the age of 60, damages the macula - the part of the retina that provides central vision. This loss of central vision affects a person's ability to perform daily tasks. Unfortunately, macular degeneration has been known to cause depression and diminish quality of life.

The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) is an extremely tiny implant that has been approved for end-stage age-related macular degeneration. With a combination of mirrors, the implant magnifies the image 2-3 times of the normal size and projects on the retina for the eye to see.

Retina Specialists at UC Davis Health Systems started installing the implant in May, and so far 50 patients have received it. One of the recipients, an 89 year old artist named Virginia Bane who stopped   painting four years ago because of age related macular degeneration, is extremely enthralled. "I can see better now", she said after the surgery. "Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large prints with my glasses. I haven't been able to read for the past seven years. I look forward to being able to paint again."

Soon Virginia would be able to see even better as she retrains her brain how to see.

Approximately 60% of the patients were able to see three or more lines on the eye chart right after surgery.

The patient needs to met the following requirements to receive this implant:
  • Must be at least 75 years of age.
  • Must have retinal findings of geography atrophy or disciform scar with foveal involvement.
  • Must have BCVA of 20/160 - 20/800.
  • Must have evidence of a cataract in one eye.
  • Must be willing to undergo pre-operative screening and post operative training with a low vision therapist.

Hit the source links to read more.

Source: UC Davis Health Systems (1), UC Davis Health Systems (2), Fox News via Gizmodo
Image sources: UC Davis Health Systems (1)