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Your Cell Phone Lets You Know If You’re Losing Weight and Going Green

Your Cell Phone Lets You Know If You’re Losing Weight and Going Green

So your phone already… keeps you connected to your boss 24/7… lets your friends bother you in the middle of a date by texting… alarm when you were right in the middle of that great dream…

And soon it will have a whole new way to micromanage your life for you thanks to researchers at the University of Washington. Now, your cell phone will be able to point it out when you gain a few extra pounds.

Oh, and they will also let you know when you are not being green enough.

Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, they are just two applications for your cell phone that are designed to help you manage your life.

Researchers at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone’s background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.

UbiFit and UbiGreen are part of a larger project at the UW to use mobile computing in everyday activities and long-term goals such as fitness, said project leader James Landay, UW computer science and engineering associate professor. “You can’t get fit in a short period of time in one place,” he said. “It happens long-term, in many different places and ways.”

How does it work, you want to know?

screenshot of the applicationThe device includes an accelerometer to sense the user’s movement. The programs could run on phones with built-in accelerometers, such as the iPhone and the new Android G1, with no need for external equipment, Landay said. UbiGreen also relies on changing cell phone tower signals to determine whether a person is taking a trip. The sensing device determines what the user is doing based on how it gets jiggled around, Landay said — the localized motion at your waist will be different if you’re walking, jogging, or sitting in a car. The sensing device sends signals three times per second via Bluetooth to the cell phone, where the application averages these rapid signals and translates them into, for example, a 20-minute jog or a drive to work.

How do you know when you have reached your goals? Well each program has a unique way to display your progress.

UbiFit displays an empty lawn at the beginning of the week, and flowers grow as the user works out during the week. Different kinds of workouts yield different colored flowers. Users set weekly workout goals and are rewarded with a butterfly when the goal is met.

UbiGreen displays a tree on the cell phone’s background that grows leaves, flowers, then fruit as the user makes green choices. Icons light up when a choice saves money, incorporates exercise, or allows the user to multi-task. A green bar and number also display how many pounds of carbon dioxide each trip saves compared to a car ride.

“The last 30 years of personal computing has been in support of people sitting at their desks,” Landay said, “but the next wave will be these little computers that are with us all the time and have an understanding of our context in the physical world.”

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Surgeons To Do Surgeries Without Actually Being There

Surgeons To Do Surgeries Without Actually Being There

Research from a multi-university partnership is testing the live broadcast of surgeries from one facility to multiple others. This is not just as a teaching tool. This will allow the surgeon in your hometown to collaborate on a surgery without having to actually be in the operating room and allow doctors in remote locations could receive immediate expert support from top specialists in hospitals around the world.

Rochester Institute of Technology is collaborating with a team led by the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine that recently tested technology, which allows for the transmission of high quality, real time video to multiple locations. Using a secure, high-speed network, an endoscopic surgery at the University of Puerto Rico was broadcast to multiple locations in the United States. The experiment also included a multipoint videoconference that was connected to the video stream, allowing for live interaction between participants.

Of course, this is just a new application of an older technology used to broadcast surgeries in a more limited capacity.

“The University of Puerto Rico has been performing this type of transmission between two sites for more than a year, but we are now able to utilize a combination of technologies that allows us to transmit to multiple sites simultaneously,” notes José Conde, director of the Center for Information Architecture in Research at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.

“Being isolated geographically from major research centers, we need to use information technology to foster research collaborations with scientists around the world,” Conde adds.

“Previous efforts in telemedicine have been hampered by the quality of the video stream produced and the potential for network interruptions,” says Gurcharan Khanna, director of research computing at RIT and a member of the research team. “This test demonstrates that by using the speed and advanced protocols support provided by the Internet2 network, we have the potential to develop real-time, remote consultation and diagnosis during surgery, taking telemedicine to the next level.”

The system uses a 30-megabit-per-second broadcast quality video stream, and configured it to be transmitted via multicast using Microsoft Research’s ConferenceXP system. This system allows for extremely high resolution images.

In the future there are other, non-surgial applications avaliable for the system.

“Today, physicians often need to travel to both examine patients and conduct consultations,” says Khanna. “Given the growing capacity of Internet technologies, the development of live remote consultation with high quality video could revolutionize medicine and greatly enhance the care patients can receive while reducing overall costs to the health care system.”

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Instant Beauty Coming to A Photo of You

Instant Beauty Coming to A Photo of You

The results of the image software, before on top, after on bottomHave you ever wondered what you would look like if you could be as beautiful as a super model? It is only human nature, at least for those of use who were born without the perfect genetics, to try and figure it out.

Well researchers at the Tel Aviv University may just give you the chance to find out, without the amazingly high bills and associated risks of getting plastic surgery. They have built a computer designed to enhance the human face, a kind of instant beautifier for your photos.  How does it do this, why with that most sexy of fields, math.

Beauty, contrary to what most people think, is not simply in the eye of the beholder,” says lead researcher Prof. Daniel Cohen-Or of the Blavatnik School of Computer Sciences at Tel Aviv University. With the aid of computers, attractiveness can be objectified and boiled down to a function of mathematical distances or ratios, he says. This function is the basis for his beauty machine.

Of course, these type of things always come with a debate.

Beauty is, after all, a quality that has captivated artists since time immemorial, and its definition has eluded even the world’s greatest philosophers. Prof. Cohen-Or sees things more scientifically.

“Beauty can be quantified by mathematical measurements and ratios. It can be defined as average distances between features, which a majority of people agree are the most beautiful,” says Prof. Cohen-Or. “I don’t claim to know much about beauty. For us, every picture in this research project is just a collection of numbers.”

I bet that you are wondering how they made up that algorythm after all turning personal preference into hard data is no easy task. Well, I will tell you how it was done:

In a study, recently published in the journal Siggraph, for  computer graphics, Prof. Cohen-Or and his graduate student Tommer Leyvand  together with two colleagues  surveyed 68 Israeli and German men and women, aged 25 to 40, asking them to rank the beauty of 93 different men’s and women’s faces on a scale of 1 to 7. These scores were then entered into a database and correlated to 250 different measurements and facial features, such as ratios of the nose, chin and distance from ears to eyes.  From this, the scientists created an algorithm that applies desirable elements of attractiveness to a fresh image.

While this technology is not on the market yet you could end up seeing it in a lot of different places like:

– The offices of plastic suregons who want to develop more natural guides for working on their patients.

– In the offices of magazines, where cover models are often used.

– In your next digital camera. Imagine looking like a model in all of your family photos.

I know what you are thinking, “Is this really a breakthrough? I bet I could do the same thing at home with photoshop.”

While you can enhance your images with photoshop there is a difference between the two methods. Unlike heavily processed Photoshop images that can make magazine cover models and celebrities unrecognizable, Tel Aviv University’s “beautification engine” is much more subtle. Observers say that the final image it produces retains an unmistakable similarity to the original picture, unless, as it turns out, you happen to be a celebrity.

“We’ve run the faces of people like Brigitte Bardot and Woody Allen through the machine and most people are very unhappy with the results,” Prof. Cohen-Or admits. “But in unfamiliar faces, most would agree the output is better.” Of course, if you are a celebrity, you could just pay for a team of professionals to air brush you, then you won’t need the software.

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Firefox Mobile Coming in a Few Weeks

Firefox Mobile Coming in a Few Weeks

Mozilla, the makers of many products for users of the web generation, most famously the web browser Fire Fox, is taking it to the streets. The mobile version on Fire Fox will be on its way to users all around the world much earlier than we originally thought that it would.

Firefox MobileA little more than week ago, Mozilla stated that the release was to be coming along to the general public “before 2010”, but that seems to have been a little bit of a long estimate. The CEO of Mozilla, John Lilly now states that we will be seeing the new browser as soon as “in a few weeks.”

Not exactly a specific release date, but a lot closer than then the original expected date.

The phone will come in two different versions, a touch screen and a non-touch screen.

The Non-Touch Screen Version

The browser will be available for non-touch screen models of PDA’s or mobile phones, which means that users of the iPhone are stuck out of luck.

The Touch Screen Version

This version will work with touch screens, sadly the user the iPhone are still out of luck due to SDK issues. Ha, tricked you. Users of other touch screen devices however, will have a raging good time.


Right now little to no information is available about special plugins or toolbars for the mobile browser, but we can all dream….

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Five Much Loved Gtalk Tools

I always wanted to make a list of google talk tools for active gtalk users. I use Gtalk 8-15 hours a day. So, i need to do a lot more than just chatting. Take a look at the following Gtalk tools to enhance your Gtalk experience.

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Macbook Air Update Your Software For Better Power Usage

Macbook Air Update Your Software For Better Power Usage

The MacBook Air patch realeased.

If you are one of the owner of this sexy slim Macbook Air, i am telling its time to update your software. Apple has recently released a patch “MacBook Air Update”, no less – designed to address “issues with video playback and processor core idling.”

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