Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #220
June 22nd, 2008

Online Medical Advice Goes Social

Trusera, a new social-networking website centered on health, officially launched today. The site, which features online communities and personalized health information, allows members to endorse one another’s contributions, as a way to identify reliable sources of information. [...] But Trusera is doing something different [from Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault]. Rather than deal with health records or data, it focuses on social networking and storytelling, hoping to foster communities in which users can learn from one another’s experiences and seek out knowledgeable advice.
Source: Lissa Harris, Technology Review, June 16, 2008

‘Oldest’ computer music unveiled

A scratchy recording of Baa Baa Black Sheep and a truncated version of In the Mood are thought to be the oldest known recordings of computer generated music. The songs were captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 during a visit to the University of Manchester. The recording has been unveiled as part of the 60th Anniversary of “Baby”, the forerunner of all modern computers.
Source: Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, June 17, 2008

Windows for GPS

Internet-enabled services could become more common in vehicles, thanks to a new operating system launched this week by Microsoft. Dubbed Windows Embedded NavReady 09, the operating system is designed to improve wireless connectivity and Internet access in GPS devices. It also includes Bluetooth features that allow GPS receivers to be coupled with other devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, and laptops.
Source: Duncan Graham-Rowe, Technology Review, June 18, 2008

Cell phones to measure blood sugar levels?

Three groups including Georgetown University teamed up Wednesday to develop a new way to measure the glucose levels of diabetes patients without a finger prick to draw their blood. The technique involves the use of disposable skin patches (embedded with a wireless sensor chip) that can monitor glucose levels, and then transmit that information to a cell phone. With the data, the mobile phone could conceivably control an insulin pump remotely, according to the researchers.
Source: Stefanie Olsen, CNET’s News Blog, June 18, 2008

Can Machines Be Conscious?

Yes, someday — and here’s one way to determine if they are.
We are among the few neuroscientists who have devoted a substantial part of their careers to studying consciousness. Our work has given us a unique perspective on what is arguably the most momentous issue in all of technology: whether consciousness will ever be artificially created. We think it will—eventually. But perhaps not in the way that the most popular scenarios have envisioned it.
[Note: This is a very long article about conscious machines which could be constructed within a few decades.]
Source: Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi, IEEE Spectrum, June 2008, Vol. 45, No. 6, P. 55

Experimental phone network uses virtual sticky notes

The rapid convergence of social networks, mobile phones and global positioning technology has given Duke University engineers the ability to create something they call “virtual sticky notes,” site-specific messages that people can leave for others to pick up on their mobile phones. “Every mobile phone can act as a telescope lens providing real-time information about its environment to any of the 3 billion mobile phones worldwide,” said Romit Roy Choudhury, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.
Source: Duke University news release, June 19, 2008

Warning: ID cards face fingerprint errors

Experts have warned the ID card scheme risks being derailed by mistakes in fingerprint matches. The £4.4bn National Identity Scheme’s (NIS) preference for relying on fingerprint and facial recognition biometrics exposes the system to error, according to the independent Biometrics Assurance Group (BAG). BAG urged the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to adopt iris scans as a “fall back”, for when there are problems taking or matching a fingerprint. BAG claims that “exception handling” – dealing with mismatched or unclear fingerprints — would occupy a large amount of NIS’ resources, putting the technology, delivery and costs under strain.
Source: Nick Heath, silicon.com, UK, June 20, 2008

Predicting Where You’ll Go and What You’ll Like

Sense Networks, a software analytics company in New York, earlier this month released Macrosense. Macrosense applies complex statistical algorithms to sift through the growing heaps of data about location and to make predictions or recommendations on various questions — where a company should put its next store, for example. Gregory Skibiski, 34, the chief executive and a co-founder of Sense, says the company has been testing its software with a major retailer, a major financial services firm and a large hedge fund. Tony Jebara, also 34, the chief scientist and another co-founder of Sense, said, “We can predict tourism, we can tell you how confident consumers are, we can tell retailers about, say, their competitors, who’s coming in from particular neighborhoods.”
Source: Michael Fitzgerald, The New York Times, June 22, 2008


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