Extracting audio from visual information in video

Algorithm recovers speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag filmed through soundproof glass.


Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

In other experiments, they extracted useful audio signals from videos of aluminum foil, the surface of a glass of water, and even the leaves of a potted plant. 

Source: newsoffice.mit.edu

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Wearable computing gloves can teach Braille, even if you’re not paying attention

Several years ago, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers created a technology-enhanced glove that can teach beginners how to play pianomelodies in 45 minutes. Now they’ve advanced the same wearable computing technology to help people learn how to read and write Braille. The twist is that people wearing the glove don’t have to pay attention. They learn while doing something else.

Source: www.news.gatech.edu

App Lets iPad Users Explore Data with Their Fingers

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If you’ve ever wanted to chop data up into separate little piles, here’s your chance. Using a proof-of-concept called Kinetica, Ph.D. students at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute have created a system that lets you slide certain subsets of data out of a chart, order data along arbitrary lines, and even create charts and graphs with a quick swipe.


The app, which runs on the iPad, allows you to import a data set and then slide across it to separate out, say, outliers or specific values. You can automatically sort things along hand-drawn curves and even create multiple chart styles out of the same data.


Data points appear as magnetic dots that change color depending on another value. For example, you can separate the dots out by a certain statistic (allowing you to sort a list of cars by color or a list of foods by sugar content) and order them within those categories.

See on www.cmu.edu

Gecko-like Adhesives Now Useful for Real World Surfaces

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The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research teams across the world, but now a team of University of Massachusetts Amherst inventors describe a new, more versatile version of their invention, Geckskin, that can adhere strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko’s feet.

See on www.umass.edu

Turning old tires into material for new roads

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Americans generate nearly 300 million scrap tires every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Historically, these worn tires often end up in landfills or, when illegally dumped, become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. They also pose a potential fire hazard.


In recent years, however, interest has been growing in finding new, beneficial and environmentally friendly uses for discarded tires.

Magdy Abdelrahman, for example, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at North Dakota State University, is working on ways to turn old tires into new and improved roads.


The National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientist is experimenting with “crumb” rubber–ground up tires of different sized particles–and other components to improve the rubberized road materials that a number of states already are using to enhance aging asphalt.

See on www.nsf.gov

Engineering students invent virtual fitting room for online shoppers

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A virtual fitting room may help solve one of the biggest drawbacks to shopping for clothes online. Rice University students took advantage of Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect to create their senior design project.


With the software developed by the students, shoppers are able to see realistic details, even wrinkles in the garments. They can rotate the model to see how the garment fits from all sides. Thus far, Wong and Zhang have adapted the software to show dresses and shirts, and they are working on shorts.

See on news.rice.edu

Biodegradable Batteries May One Day Power Implantable Devices

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Medical implants would monitor vital signs or dispense therapies before vanishing.


In recent years, scientists have been trying to develop implantable devices that make it easier for the patient and doctors — most devices currently require maintenance, usually to replace an expired battery, every seven to 10 years. Scientists, however, have now developeda biodegradable battery that, once out of power, can be absorbed by the body.


“This is really a major advance,” Jeffrey Borenstein, a biomedical engineer at Draper Laboratory, a research and development center in Massachusetts, told Nature. “Until recently, there has not been a lot of progress in this area.”


The device was created by researchers at the University of Illiinois, who, in January, developed a rechargeable nanoribbon that relied on the electromechanical interaction, piezoelectricity, to power a device. Essentially, the rechargeable “battery” converted the movement of organs into electricity devices could use. 

See on www.nature.com