People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time. According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600. The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project. Seth Weintraub, a blogger for 9 to 5 Google, who first wrote about the glasses project in December, and then discovered more information about them this month, also said the glasses would be Android-based and cited a source that described their look as that of a pair of Oakley Thumps. They will also have a unique navigation system. “The navigation system currently used is a head tilting to scroll and click,” Mr. Weintraub wrote this month. “We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.” The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/google-to-sell-terminator-style-glasses-by-years-end/?ref=technology
Category: HUMAN ENHANCEMENT
Technology has always strived to match the incredible sophistication of the human body. Now electronics and hi-tech materials are replacing whole limbs and organs in a merger of machine and man. Later this year a team of researchers will try out the first bionic eye implant in the UK hoping to help a blind patient see with their damaged eye, unlike alternative approaches that use a camera fitted to a pair of glasses. The light-sensitive chip is attached under the retina at the back of the eye. It converts light into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain. The patient is then able to interpret the light falling onto the tiny 1,500 pixel implant as recognisable images. The implant costs about £65,000 ($100,000; 80,000 euros) excluding surgery and maintenance costs. Clinical trials in Germany have restored sight to some patients who were completely blind due to retinal disease. They were able to read and see basic shapes after the chip was fitted. Prof Robert MacLaren, will lead the trial at Oxford Eye Hospital, along with Tim Jackson at King’s College Hospital. In the video Prof MacLaren demonstrates the Retina Implant It is one of the extraordinary medical breakthroughs in the field, which are extending life by years and providing near-natural movement for those who have lost limbs. Over the coming weeks, BBC News will explore the field of bionics in a series of features. We start with a selection of the latest scientific developments. The Bionic Bodies series on the BBC News website will be looking at how bionics can transform people’s lives. We will meet a woman deciding whether to have her hand cut off for a bionic replacement and analyse the potential to take the technology even further, enhancing the body to superhuman levels. The series continues on Wednesday with a look at some of the earliest prosthetics from ancient Egypt. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17235058
Energy: People power will come to life – Imagine being able to use every motion around you — your movements, the water rushing through the plumbing — to harness energy to power anything from your house to your city. It’s already being tested in Ireland, where IBM scientists are studying the effects of converting ocean wave energy into electricity. But instead of a buoy to capture motion, a smaller device that you wear or attach to your bicycle during a ride, for example, will collect the energy you create.
Security: You will never need a password again – The name “multifactor biometrics” sounds as intriguing as the thrillers that use it as a plot device. In real life, the use of your retinal scan or your voice as a passport to verification will replace multiple passwords for access to information and secret hideouts, should you decide to accept the option. Your unique biological identity becomes your only password as multifactor biometrics aggregate these characteristics in real time to prevent identity theft.
Mind reading: no longer science fiction – Dialing a telephone is considered so last century. Soon, overt communication with devices might be just as archaic. IBM scientists are researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone, so you only have to think about calling someone and it happens. For example, see a cube on your computer screen and think about moving it to the left, and it will. Beyond electronics control, possible applications include physical rehabilitation and understanding of brain disorders such as autism.
Mobile: The digital divide will cease to exist – Mobile devices are decreasing the information-accessibility gap in disadvantaged areas. In five years, the gap will be imperceptible as growing communities use mobile technology to provide access to essential information. New solutions and business models from IBM are introducing mobile commerce and remote healthcare, for example. Recorded messages can be transmitted to quickly deliver valuable information about weather and aid to remote or illiterate users who haven’t had ready access before.
Analytics: Junk mail will become priority mail – Imagine technology that replaces the unwanted messaging in your life with the next best thing to a personal assistant. IBM is developing technology that uses analytics and sensemaking to integrate data into applications that present only the information you want—and then do something about it. Combining your preferences and your calendar, for example, the technology will proactively reserve tickets to your favorite band’s concert when your calendar shows you’re free, or research alternate travel plans when it detects bad weather along your route, and then tell you where to go. http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibm_predictions_for_future/overview/index.html
Prototype robotic ”pack mule” stands up, lies down and follows leader carrying 400 lbs of squad’s gear. Today’s dismounted warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. Reducing the load on dismounted warfighters has become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development, because the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers. Recently the LS3 prototype underwent its first outdoor exercise, demonstrating the ability to follow a person using its “eyes”—sensors that allow the robot to distinguish between trees, rocks, terrain obstacles and people. Over the course of the next 18 months, DARPA plans to complete development of and refine key capabilities to ensure LS3 is able to support dismounted squads of warfighters. http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2012/02/07.aspx
Last fall at the TEDMED meeting in San Diego I watched a man walk who was paralyzed from the waist down. Injured a year earlier, Paul Thacker hadn’t been able to stand since breaking his back in a snowmobile accident. Yet here he was walking, thanks to an early-stage exoskeleton device attached to his legs. This wasn’t exactly on the level of “exos” we’ve seen in sci-fi films like Avatar and Aliens, which enable people to run faster, carry heavier loads, and smash things better. But Thacker’s device, called eLEGS — manufactured by Ekso Bionics in Berkeley, California — is one harbinger of what’s coming in the next decade or two to treat the injured and the ill with radical new technologies. Other portents include first-generation machines and treatments that range from deep brain implants that can stop epileptic seizures to stem cells that scientists are using experimentally to repair damaged retinas. No one would deny that these technologies, should they fulfill their promise, are anything but miraculous for Paul Thacker and others who need them. Yet none of this technology is going to remain exclusively in the realm of pure therapeutics. Even now some are breaking through the barrier between remedies for the sick and enhancements for the healthy. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/02/redesigning-people-how-medtech-could-expand-beyond-the-injured/253236/