Imagine the dangers when full Internet capabilities become available to drivers. Dr. Meirav Taieb-Maimon and her colleagues at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (South Israel) have developed a voice recognition system that enables drivers to surf the Net while keeping their hands on the wheel.

The "Maestro" system lets you verbally dictate a query to a search engine and listen to the results, read to you vocally and smartly arranged to help you get to the information you need as quickly as possible.

The system also allows selection of the different properties from search engine type, number of results returned, search methods and styles to voice pitch and volume settings.

"The effects of these systems on drivers must be investigated before approved for use while driving," Taieb-Maimon said. "We believe that the results of the study will have important implications for driving safety."

Via Usernomics< Israel 21c.

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Developed by Jodi Forlizzi, Francine Gemperle, and Carl DiSalvo from Carnegie Mellon University , these chair and pillow prototypes have been designed to improve the quality of life of the elderly.


The Hug is meant to augment phone calls and improve the way the elderly communicate with distant relatives. It vibrates, warms up and emits light and sound signals to mimic human interaction.

The SenseChair (picture) has sensors which record information about the sitter's position and length of time in the chair. The chair is then capable of providing peripheral responses in the form of gentle vibration motors, sounds and lights.

The products will be on view as part of "The Da Vinci Effect" exhibit, on April 12 and 13, at the Rhiga Royal Hotel, in New York.

Via GizMag. Press Release.
Related: Carnegie Mellon's previous prototype of the robotic pillow for grannies.

Japanese companies Yamato House and TOTO have created the "intelligent rest room" system which integrates into the bathroom monitors your family's vital statistics (urine sugar levels, blood pressure, body fat percentages and weight) at the same time every day. The results can immediately be checked on an LCd screen on the wall and are also uploaded to the family computer where a health care software can advise on diet, exercise, etc.


The urine measurement equipment is installed into the toilet bowl; the scales are into the floor in front of the mirror; the blood pressure meter is installed next to the toilet, enabling the seated subject to multi-task while the body fat meter is on the side of the handbasin.

Via Gizmag.

SNIF is a project from Noah Fields, Jonathan Gips, Philip Liang and Arnaud Pilpré at the MIT's Physical Language Workshop, that builds on the function of pets as natural social devices. The system allows pet owners to interact through their pets' social networks. The hardware can be unobtrusively affixed to pet accessories to augment pet-to-pet, pet-to-owner, and owner-to-owner interactions. SNIF devices aggregate environmental, social, and individual information that can be broadcast or addressed to other participating community members.


Scenario: Max puts the SNIF collar around Alia's neck and attaches her new leash to it before going for a walk. LEDs on the collar start flashing when a dog approach, showing that a secured ID transfer occurs between the two collars. If the other dog starts barking, Max pushes the button "Incompatible" on the leash.

At the park, Max releases Alia's leash. While the dog plays with the other dogs, her collar records the IDs of dogs she spends the most time with along with some information such as activity levels during the encounters.

When Max attaches the leash again, the information collected is transfered to the leash and updates the external SNIF server. On the way home, Max notices that the leash starts blinking red, indicating the presence of a dog, with whom Alia is not comfortable. He thus crosses the road to avoid a confrontation.

Back at home, Max checks on the SNIF website and learns about his dogs' new friends through the profiles left by their owner. Later in the day, he notices that one of Alia's friend, Sugar, just reached the park. Max met Sugar's owner a couple of times, a woman who teaches French cooking, and Max has always wanted to learn how to make a good quiche lorraine. He grabs the leash and calls Alia for a walk.

PDF of the project.
Via Josh Rubin.

A networked medicine cabinet, by ITP students Shannon Bain and Meghan Trainor


The Junkie's Little Helper communicates with a chat room so that the user's community is aware of his/her drug abuse and potential for overdose.

The cabinet is fitted with sensors that track pill use and abuse. The data are then converted to "chat" text. An emergency mode alerts the chat rooms as well as the user with a red flashing light that eminates from the cabinet.


RedTacton is a Human Area Networking technology developed by NTT Docomo, that uses the surface of the human body as a network transmission path. Communication starts when the skin comes in contact with a transceiver and ends with physically separation.

The system works through shoes and clothing as well.


Potential advantages include:
- services tailored to the individual needs of the user;
- as communication is triggered by natural human actions, there is no need to insert smart cards, connect cables, tune frequencies;
- setup, registration, and configuration information for an user can all be uploaded to a device the instant the device is touched, eliminating the need for the device to be registered or configured in advance;
- tables, walls, floors and chairs can act as conductors and dielectrics, turning furniture and other architectural elements into a new class of transmission medium. For example, you could have instant access to the Internet by placing a laptop onto a conductive tabletop.
- the system could be installed on any locations calling for secure access, such that each secure access could be initiated and authenticated with a simple touch.

Press Release.
Via engadget.

Related: Human Ethernet, augmented reality handshake and Human skin data transmission technology.

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