Apple's Tim Cook is in the middle of his keynote at WWDC 2012, this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference, and just flipped the sheet off the new line of Apple laptops. They are better than last year's! There's a much bigger separation in price and features between the two laptop lines, the Air and the Pro--the Air is Apple's laptop for everyone, now. The Pro is for, well, pros.
You may not notice it — at least not as much as you notice when you smile sarcastically — but you smile when you’re frustrated. It’s more like a surprised grimace than a happy grin, but the difference is subtle. So subtle that humans can hardly detect it, actually — but a computer can. New research with smile-detection could help people interpret others’ expressions, including people with autism, according to scientists at MIT.
The promise of Microsoft's Kinect was never simply to allow us to play games sans peripherals, but that one day an entirely new peripheral-free language would arise between us and our machines (many writers might pause here to mention the film Minority Report, but we're going to refrain). We're not all the way there yet, but a San Francisco startup is making a sub-$100 attempt at throwing open the door.
Sorry wannabe Google Gogglers, but your Terminator-styled visual overlays are not going to be here as soon as you might have wanted. Google is still being quite dodgy with the details surrounding its much-anticipated augmented reality glasses, but CNET confirms after spending some time at Google HQ that informational overlays will be more restricted, displaying above the normal line of sight, “about where the edge of an umbrella might be.”
Your office mates, whether they're people or pets, can probably tell when you're feeling stretched too thin — heavy sighs, hand-wringing and general signs of stress are fairly easy to spot. Yet your computer takes no notice, its beach ball of death spinning away incessantly and its processor failing utterly to work any faster. Now a new brain-computer interface could turn your computer into a more sympathetic partner, taking over some of your tasks when it senses you're overworked.
WIth the Kinect, Microsoft opened up the world of gestural controls to the masses, allowing users to manipulate video games and otherwise control their devices with simple motion controls. Now Microsoft Research is doing it again, this time using inaudible sound waves to create the same kind of gestural interface, no cameras necessary.
If biomimicry is the instance of technology emulating nature, then this must be something like the opposite: researchers at Kobe University have built a computer out of crabs. Placed within a geometrically constrained environment, swarms of soldier crabs can be effectively used to emulate logic gates. In other words, researchers have replicated the fundamental workings of a computer--with crabs.
The maker of Minecraft has a new project in the works, and the first details appear pretty tantalizing: space-themed, set 281 billion years in the future, and rooted in “hard science fiction.” Markus “Notch” Persson and his development company Mojang plan to allow the game to grow much the way Minecraft did, letting users have a heavy hand in its maturation.
Google Maps is bringing traffic estimates back to its estimated travel time feature, and this time it’s relying on realtime data obtained from third party reports and drivers voluntarily running Google’s “My Location” feature on their Android phones. The reboot hopes to stifle user frustration with the old traffic estimate feature and, hopefully, to make Google Maps a more accurate predictor of transit times in urban areas around the globe.