Surround sound? That's old technology. How about surround vision?
The folks at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new system called surround vision that can let you follow objects outside of your regular TV screen by viewing them on smartphones and handheld Internet devices. Imagine you're watching a movie on your regular TV, and a drives off the screen. You could follow and view that car as it drives away by looking at and pointing your smartphone or tablet in its direction.
The person leading this promising new project is Santiago Alfaro, a graduate student at the lab. To kick-start his testing, Alfaro attached a magnetometer to an existing handheld device. A type of digital compass, magnetometers are already used in smartphones like the iPhone to detect the direction the device is pointing. He then created the necessary software to sync the magnetometer with other sensors on the device.
After outfitting the handheld with motion sensors, Alfaro shot video on campus from three different angles--center, left, and right. Watching the TV screen straight on played video from the center. But by pointing the handheld to the left or right, Alfaro was able to view the footage shot from both side angles.
As a further test of the technology, Alfaro took advantage of the alternate takes found on many DVDs. He created a demo that let him switch between the final footage and the alternate takes and angles by changing the direction of the handheld device.… Read more
If you're looking for a weight loss boot camp, the Tent City Jail in Phoenix may be your solution. Controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who dubs himself "America's toughest sheriff," is providing the inmates there with a new amenity: cable television. But to watch their favorite shows, they're going to have to pedal.
Arpaio installed an energy-generating stationary bike (PDF) attached to a TV when he found that 50 percent of the inmates were overweight, many morbidly so. As long as an inmate is pedaling, the bike will produce 12 volts of energy--just enough to power a 19-inch tube TV. But if an inmate stops pedaling at a moderate speed, the TV shuts off.
Because inmates can't be forced to exercise, access to cable TV could provide incentive for them to do so. Female prisoners will test the program first, because they were more receptive to it, Arpaio says.
This isn't Arpaio's first attempt to trim inmates' waistlines. Some years back, he cut inmates' food intake from 3,000 calories to 2,500 calories. "You're too fat," CNN reported Arpaio as saying to the inmates. "I'm taking away your food because I'm trying to help you. I'm on a diet myself. You eat too much fat."
"America's toughest sheriff" hasn't always had an easy time implementing his standards, which have included assembling a female chain gang and making inmates pay $10 every time they need to see a nurse. Human-rights groups consider Tent City jail to be among the harshest in the nation, according to CNN, and numerous civil-rights lawsuits have been filed against the sheriff.
The program that Arpaio is calling "Pedal Vision" might be received with less criticism, though. Watching TV while serving time is a privilege, not a right, so inmates are choosing to take advantage of it. But what if every prisoner pedaled to produce energy? … Read more
In a bid to up its smartphone game, Nokia has acquired Chicago-based mobile Web browser firm Novarra.
Eleven-year-old Novarra is known for developing the Vision browser, as well as platforms to serve content, advertisements, and analytics. It previously supplied its technology to Palm and U.S. Cellular. [Official Nokia statement]
The acquisition makes sense for the world's largest phone maker, which has come under fire recently for not being aggressive enough in the emerging smartphone market.
Read more of "Nokia buys mobile web browser firm Novarra" at ZDNet's Between the Lines.
This 30-second video demonstrates how BMW Night Vision works.
A digital zoom feature captures objects far away. A panning function turns the camera image automatically when the vehicle is cornering, enabling the driver to detect obstacles in the road. Drivers are safer negotiating dark courtyards and garages.
Visions has everything you need to get the most out of digital photos. It takes a multifaceted approach to managing and manipulating digital files. So many photo editing programs are complex and expensive. Visions is not only free, but it's also designed for every skill level. In addition to its photo-editing and file-managing capabilities, it offers useful extras, such as automatically resizing images for sending via e-mail.
Visions is attractively designed and easy to use. A Wizard gets you started off well. The Help menu includes a user's manual, a hints menu, and a link to an online … Read more
Earlier this week, Asus unveiled a 15-inch laptop with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology built in. The $1,699 Asus G51J 3D has a 120Hz LCD panel, an Intel Core i7 CPU, and a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M GPU, and comes bundled with a pair of Nvidia's active glasses and the USB-powered IR emitter required to make the glasses work.
We've just had a chance to take the system for a test drive, and came away largely impressed with the results, especially compared with Acer's Aspire 5738DG, a 3D laptop that uses a pair of passive … Read more