Have you HEARD ?

BUBBLES FOR THE BLIND

Austria-based Blitab Technology has developed the world’s first tactile tablet for the blind and visually impaired. Instead of a screen, the BLITAB tablet uses liquid-based technology to instantly generate small physical bubbles that rise to the tablet’s surface, composing patterns that form images in relief or text in Braille code. Unlike other mechanical devices that display only one line of Braille at a time, BLITAB can display an entire page. The company hopes to market the tablet by September 2016.www.blitab.com

CUSTOMIZING THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE

Engineers from New York-based Doppler Labs have developed an in-ear audio system called Here Active Listening that gives users total control over what they hear and how they hear it. The two wireless buds link via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that helps personalize the listening experience using three processes: sound effects; a music equalizer to emphasize or de-emphasize certain instruments; and a feature to block out ambient noise. The company is putting the finishing touches on Here Active and plans to ship its first products in December 2015.www.hereplus.me

BEAMING SOLAR ENERGY TO EARTH

Artemis Innovation Management Solutions in Santa Maria, California, has proposed a concept for collecting solar power in space for use on Earth. The solar-power satellite concept, or SPS-ALPHA, would be a large collection of small elements, assembled on a huge platform orbiting the planet. The satellite would harvest the sun’s energy and transmit it to receivers placed at different locations on the Earth’s surface. With the United Nations predicting that the Earth’s population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050, AIMS’ leader, John C. Mankins, hopes that his concept, initially studied under a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts grant, will receive the funding to build what he believes will provide affordable solar energy 24/7.bit.ly/nasa-alpha

A WINDOW INTO THE MIND

The absence of objective clinical psychiatric tests to predict and diagnose serious mental illness has prompted researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute and the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center to automate computerized speech analysis as an effective predictor of psychosis. The system detects speech patterns such as semantic coherence and syntactic structure that indicate a risk for psychosis. In a proof-of-concept study, interviews of study participants analyzed by computer predicted psychosis development with 100% accuracy. Automated speech analysis could open the door to more targeted preventive treatment, potentially delaying the onset of the illness or reducing its severity.bit.ly/autospeech

BLADE-FREE WIND ENERGY

Wind turbines may be set to lose their blades thanks to Vortex, a wind turbine that looks like a giant cone and leverages an aerodynamic effect called “vorticity” to transform wind into energy. Its inventors, Spanish company Vortex Bladeless, developed the process, which it claims to eliminate the need for noisy and cumbersome blades that can break and drive up maintenance costs. The inventors also claim their design is safer for birds and totally silent. The company is developing its first prototypes for testing in 2016.www.vortexbladeless.com

Back to top