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[ReplieeQ2. via MouRa]

Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is the creator of the world's most human-like robot named ReplieeQ2 (a short video clip), is going forward with a seminal idea and hard work, some of which he may soon be able to delegate to an android of himself.

"I will not need to come here again" "I will send my android instead" - according to The Sydney Morning Herald, that is what he said at at an international conference that recently took place in Sydney. In order to ensure his new android would resemble him as closely as possible, he was already covered from top to toe in a plaster cast and precise measurements of his skull were taken. He expects to finish building the android of himself within a few months.

Last summer, Ishiguro gave a planery talk at a workshop, in which he talked about Android Science, a cross-interdisciplinary framework.

His paper is available for download from the workshop website. Androids and other robots are different in the way they are evaluated -- because androids are expected to resemble humans as much as possible. There are a number of unique research challenges that need to be addressed for building better androids. And one could say that many of these challenges are related to the issue of anthropomorphism.

Androids could also enable new methods for congnitive science research. Imagine an android version of Turing Test. Well, you can already do it with ReplieeQ2, I guess. Ishiguro discusses the issue of uncanny valley in relation to such a test. Uncanny valley corresponds to the state that androids imperfectly resemble humans and look like moving corpse. People will like them better if they look either more like humans or less like humans. I'm not an expert in this field, but it sounds like a key issues in this research.

[illustration by cami dodson]

Again, what's particularly interesting is the mutually benefitting relationship of android engineering and cognitive science -- because androids could help advance cognitive science research, which will perhaps help build better androids.

related website:
Android Science (Ishiguro Lab at Osaka University)

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Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Wisconsin have found out that "a naturally occurring mutant chicken," called Talpid, can grow tiny bumps and protuberances along the edge of the beak that look like alligator teeth - not surprising as birds are the closest living relatives of the reptile.

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The team have also managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens – activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

Professor Mark Ferguson says the research has major implications in understanding the processes of evolution. It could also have applications in tissue regeneration, including the re-growing of teeth in people who have lost them through accident or disease.

But the study has implications for tissue regeneration more widely. "The principle of activating specific dormant pathways to stimulate regeneration instead of repair has made applications, to injury, surgery and human disease," he added.

Via eurekalert and Scientific American.

Forensic scientists could use DNA retrieved from a crime scene to predict the surname of the suspect, according to a study carried out by the University of Leicester, UK.

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The method exploits genetic likenesses between men who share the same surname. It is based on work comparing the Y chromosomes of men with the same surname. The Y chromosome is a package of genetic material found only in males and passed down from father to son, just like a surname.

"The evidence would not be hanging on the Y chromosome, all it would give you is an investigative tool to prioritise a sub-set of your suspects," said co-author Dr Mark Jobling.

Mining the information would require building a database of at least 40,000 surnames and the Y chromosome profiles associated with them.

The researcher said police could consult the Y chromosome and surname database to help prioritise their search in cases where a crime scene sample had failed to turn up matches in the national DNA database.

However, the technology could have some predictive power in just under half the population, after the most common surnames like Smith, Taylor and Williams have been excluded. Besides, men with the same surname might have very similar Y chromosomes. But adoptions, infidelity, name changes and multiple founders for just one surname complicate the picture.

The researchers claim that their method could help in roughly 10 murders and 60 rapes annually.

Via BBC News.

Jefferson Y. Han has developed, together with Philip L. Davidson, Casey M.R. Muller and Ilya D. Rosenberg, a new project that investigates bi-manual, multi-point, and multi-user input on a graphical interaction surface.

Multi-touch sensing enables you to interact with a system with more than one finger at a time, as in chording and bi-manual operations. Such system can also accommodate several users simultaneously, which is useful for larger interaction scenarios such as interactive walls and tabletops.

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The sensing technology is force-sensing, and provides high resolution and scalability, allowing for sophisticated multi-point widgets for applications large enough to accomodate both hands and multiple users.

The drafting table style implementation on the images measures 36"x27", is rear-projected, and has a sensing resolution of ~0.1" at 50Hz. Applications receive events and stroke information using the lightweight OSC protocol over UDP.

Written by Camille Dodson

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Leah Buechley and Nwanua Elumeze have recently developed a light-shirt that plays the 'game of life' with cool blinking patterns. The lights come on and animate vibrantly, captured by me on video1 & 2 . The shirt also has an button for interacting with the lights, adding a blinker to the center of the shirt's grid to change the animating automata.

At a recent demoing session I attended, people gathered around Leah to watch the show and learn about the development of this cyber-fashion wear. After viewers had played with the display for a bit, Nwanua pulled out his pda, revealing the wireless programming capabilities of the shirt. Users were excited to draw new patterns and watch 'life' grow and change.

Behind the Scenes Look at this Magical Garment

Leah has sewn 140 LEDs onto the shirt in a tight grid pattern, using a needle and conductive thread. Each row connects back to the AVR Microcontroller that runs the show. Coded with the language C, this computer chip performs the rules of life and updates the display. If you want to learn how to make your own fabric based light-grid, Leah has full instructions on her site - www.cs.colorado.edu/~buechley/

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Nwanua joined in on the project by adding more interactivity with his drawing device. He created software for his PDA (Palm Zire) that interfaces with the user and the shirt. Infrared light transmits the data, one bit at a time, to the shirt's reciever. He wrote his part in C with help from prc-tools, a free-to-use communication protocol that lets the PDA's infrared port talk to the crystal-less, funky-time clock in the reciever.

A shoutout to Mike Eisenberg, the Computer Science Professor at CU who runs this Craft Technology Lab and acts as advisor to these young graduate students. The goal of this research lab is to create new craft techniques that incorporate high-tech devices. And with that, there's hope that teachers can educate men and women equally, in the art of engineering and mathematics.

University of Colorado at Boulder, USA

At the end of last year, i read about bio-ink and bio-paper that could make so-called organ printing a reality. Suwan Jayasinghe of University College London and colleagues at Kings College London has used a form of ink-jet printing to create "jets" of living cells. SThe biophysicists say their technique, which does not destroy the cells, could be used to grow biological tissue or even human organs. The technique involves jetting biological cells from a needle at fields of up to 30 kilovolts.

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Micrograph showing micron-sized cells that are unharmed (image credit: S Jayasinghe)

In medicine, ink-jet printers technology has been used to create 2D and 3D patterns of living cells by squeezing a solution containing the cells from a needle using piezoelectric crystals. However, the method is limited by the diameter of the needle and cannot produce droplets smaller than about 100 microns, which means that biological structures with fine features are difficult to make.

The "electrohydrodynamic jetting" developed in London overcomes this problem. A liquid suspension of live human cells is passed through a needle with a diameter of 500 microns. A voltage of up to 30kV is applied between the needle and an electrode, which charges the liquid. After leaving the needle, the external electric field turns the liquid into a jet that becomes unstable and disperses into a myriad of droplets.

The method can create droplets as small as just a few microns across from needles with diameters as large as hundreds of microns.

Via New Scientist and Physicsweb.

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