06 Mar

Even when on the lookout for the perfect photo opportunity, it isn't always possible to raise the camera and snap a shot at precisely the right moment.

But what if the camera could send you a message that the time for taking the perfect picture was right now?

That's the idea behind the Prosthetic Photographer, a device dreamed up by Peter Buczkowski, who included the project along with two others as part of his master's thesis, "Experiments in Human Computer Interaction through electrical body part stimulation."

When the camera's Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered brain figures out that a vista is suitable for capturing, the device sends an electric shock to the user. The attachment is said to be compatible with any DSLR or mirrorless camera, which means that anyone could theoretically be trained/equipped to take professional-quality shots. Then again, the quality of the shots is determined by a machine, which may have a different interpretation of beauty and professional quality than the user's.

04 Mar

The concept car, known as the I.D. Vizzion, is the fourth in VW's I.D. collection. And like the others, the low-profile sedan is designed for both speed and power.

There are no pedals or steering wheel; rather, the driver is free to enjoy the ride and interact with passengers.

How? By interacting as needed with the vehicle's automated host through voice or gesture control. According to Volkswagen, the virtual assistant will have knowledge of “the personal preferences of the vehicle guests” in ways that permit the Vizzion’s “digital ecosystem” to adjust to each of them.

A report from The Verge says that "the I.D. Vizzion sounds like could let each vehicle guest (there it is!) zone out to their own preferred entertainment, all while having the car dial in the perfect seat position, climate controls, and other preferences."

02 Mar

The novel gizmo is intended to "challenge our cultural understanding of what an interface is and can be," say its Danish makers.

By combining machine learning with "capacitive sensing," Pour Reception transforms two glasses of water into a digital medium that the user can play around with and manipulate as they wish. The overall aim, say the creators, is "to change the users perception of what a glass is -- both cultural and technical."

Lead creator Tore Knudsen points out that the radio includes internal speakers, an auxiliary output, a modest guide, and a pair of glasses stationed atop a smooth surface. When water is added to one or both of the glass vessels, the radio starts up and beckons the user to hop around its interface, which manages typical radio functions.

Rather than operating the device with tried-and-true buttons and dials, however, this device runs as a user interacts with the two glasses. Want to change a channel? Simply pour water from one glass into another. Fine tune a station? Touch and hold the glass of water. Crank the volume? Merely touch the water in the glass.

28 Feb

For nearly four decades, says the company's web site, outfitter Patagonia has thrown its support behind grassroots activists looking to find practical solutions to various environmental issues.

"But in this time of unprecedented threats," the pitch for Patagonia Action Works continues, "it’s often hard to know the best way to get involved. That’s why we’re connecting individuals with our grantees, to take action on the most pressing issues facing the world today."

The new initiative has been created in order to build bridges between people and organizations that are committed to the same environmental causes in their community. It is hoped that, through Patagonia Action Works, anyone with a serious interest in getting involved with environmental causes can translate their concern into concrete action, thereby strengthening the causes of environmental groups and individuals alike.

26 Feb

By 2050, the sun is expected to be seven percent cooler, a process that could begin as early as 2020. The process, called solar cooling, is caused by a periodic event known as a grand minimum and experts say there’s no reason for concern.

The most recent grand minimum occurred in the mid-1600s and was called the Maunder Minimum. It happened during a time when parts of the Earth reached temperatures that led to the period being called the Little Ice Age, which started in 1300 and lasted until 1850. The cooling was not uniform across the planet, with Europe cooling while areas like Alaska experienced warmer weather.

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