A Mobile Scanner Reveals Brain Activity of Patients Doing Everyday Tasks

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Children with mental and neurological disorders have plenty of challenges in their lives. The last thing they need is to sit still for a while with their heads stuck in a machine — the current technique that scientists use to take pictures of their brain activity. It’s inconvenient and unpleasant, but it’s also pretty limited, because it tells scientists nothing about how the brain behaves when the patient is active, going about their daily lives.

Scientists in the U.K. and U.S. decided it was time to make brain imaging way less stressful for patients, not to mention suitable for patients that struggle to keep still, such as toddlers.

They came up with a (scary-looking but) versatile helmet that allows them to move relatively freely as it scans their brain. The helmet is 3D printed, can be personalized to fit a patient’s head, and weighs less than one kilogram.

The researchers were able to shrink the machine without reducing its function by replacing the conventional sensors, which require a heavy cooling system, with tiny ones that use a different technique to capture the brain’s magnetic field.

As reported by New Scientist, the team tested the helmet on four volunteers. They were asked to move their fingers, to play a ball game and even have a cup of tea (because England). These experiments showed the portable scan worked as precisely and accurately as a conventional static one.

“This has the potential to revolutionize the brain imaging field, and transform the scientific and clinical questions that can be addressed with human brain imaging,” Gareth Barnes, a neuroimaging expert with the University College London and a partner of the project, told The Guardian.

Patients wearing the helmet can’t exactly forget about it — the scanner only works inside a special room designed to suppress the influence of the Earth’s natural magnetic field, which would interfere with the procedure. Oh, and it don’t just sit on the top of the head, but covers part of the face, too.

Still, the device could help researchers study child development, or brain activity of children with epilepsy. Better understanding could allow doctors to catch problems sooner, and treat them better.

Although still experimental, the device’s creators are confident that a mobile brain scanner holds great promises for science. They may do more tests, on people with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, or psychoses, and see if they learn anything new.

They also realize the design isn’t quite where it needs to be. So they’re working on making future iterations look similar to a bike helmet. Perhaps they realized that terrified patients with their heads stuffed in giant devices might not give the most reliable brain scans.

The post A Mobile Scanner Reveals Brain Activity of Patients Doing Everyday Tasks appeared first on Futurism.

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Amazon Alexa gains ‘Brief Mode’ with less verbose remarks after doing simple tasks

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Recently, Amazon added a ‘Follow-Up Mode’ to its Echo line of devices, which allows users to repeatedly say commands to the assistant without saying “Alexa” again. The company even added a ‘feature’ where the Echo would laugh at you sporadically. Today, the tech-giant is adding a ‘Brief Mode’ which disables the chatter aspect of the Echo, and replaces it with a simple chime once a task is completed.

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Sony on why it dropped the headphone jack: the other kids were doing it

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Sony dropped the headphone jack from the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact. Here’s their rational: Why did you remove the headphone jack on XZ2 and XZ2 Compact? This is part of the shift to our new Ambient Flow design language. In order to create the beautiful seamless design, our designers needed to remove the headphone jack. Plus, we’re aware of the major market trend toward wireless headphones over wired headphones. Now, we don’t mean to sound bitter, but this paints Sony as a trend follower, not a trend setter. To be fair, the HTC U11 and U11+ don’t have headphones jack either and…

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The Power of Doing Things For The Right Reasons

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keith krach

I believe in karma: we all reap what we sow. But I also believe in doing things for the right reasons without any expectation that you might somehow be paid back for your actions in the future.

This is what I call “pure heart” where you’re only motivation is to help others in need. And sometimes it is during the worst of times when someone’s true heart actions make the most impact.

For example, I’ll never forget the tragic events that unfolded on 9/11. As it happened, our company was hosting a large conference for our financial services customers in New Orleans the day the planes struck the World Trade Center. As the news trickled in—this was far more than just an accident—a dilemma quickly presented itself: many of our customers were based in New York City and were soon worried sick about their colleagues and family members.

But with the airports under lockdown, how were we going to get the 1,000 people attending our conference home?

And that’s when I witnessed one of the most amazing pure heart moments of my life. Without waiting to be told by anyone, our conference coordinator had called up several local bus companies and rented every vehicle she could inside the city. She then helped coordinate a plan where she set up tables by state as a way to get people organized.

We then gathered everyone together and explained what we knew about the situation. I asked everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence for the fallen. I then told them we had rented busses to take them back home. But, if anyone was more comfortable waiting until things quieted down, we told them we would cover their rooms.

Most people wanted to get home, however, so we loaded everyone we could on the busses along with food and alcohol to help pass the time.

But even as we loaded up the busses, we noticed people wandering over from a nearby hotel. They had also been attending a conference, they told us, but the people hosting it had just disappeared. “Do you have any room on your busses for us?” they asked.

“Of course,” we said, as we boarded as many people as we could before sending them off toward home.

Again, we did all of this without thinking and without a thought as to the cost. It was just part of our culture to take care of our customers because we thought of them as part of our family. We knew how scared they were and how much they wanted to be home with their families, so we did everything possible to make that happen. That’s what I mean by pure heart.

A few weeks later, we also did our best to help the victims of the attack, which included purchasing a new fire truck for a firehouse in Manhattan that had lost five of its brothers. Again, we didn’t do this as a PR stunt or to get attention: we just felt it was the right thing to do.

Did karma ever pay us back for those good deeds? Perhaps. I know many of the customers we helped bus home that day remain friends to this day. But the biggest takeaway is that we knew we made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.

How can you put a price on that?

The post The Power of Doing Things For The Right Reasons appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Apple Isn’t Doing Enough to Fight Smartphone Addiction, SSAAD Claims

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Indicating that they hope Apple will implement new iOS features designed to curb the “smartphone addiction epidemic,” a passionate group of Stanford University students gathered over the weekend to rally outside the company’s Palo Alto, California Apple Store. There, with their flashy signs and empirically derived statistics in tow, they demanded that the company should […]
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Stanford students put down their iPhones to protest Apple not doing enough to curb device addiction

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Students from Stanford staged a technology addition protest outside the Palo Alto Apple Store on Saturday, declaring Apple is not doing enough to prevent iPhone and iPad users from constantly checking their devices, urging the company to make changes that could help take the user’s focus away from their smartphone’s apps.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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IDG Contributor Network: How Xfinity Mobile is doing in wireless

In May of last year Xfinity Mobile entered the wireless marketplace as a competitor. Since that time, everyone is wondering how they are doing. After meeting with them, getting a better understanding of their strategy and seeing their performance, I would say, so far, they are on target. However, their growth strategy is different than you may think.

It’s important to understand the reasons Comcast entered wireless and why they have different goals. They are not taking the same strategy as the top four wireless competitors, namely Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Sprint. These four are all competing with each other, trying to win market share in more traditional ways.

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AIs Are Finally Doing Something Useful: Fighting Hospital-Acquired Infections

With all the attention given to artificial intelligence (AI) that can do impressive stunts like play chess, name paint colors, and write weird sci-fi shorts, it’s easy to forget that some of these systems are actually really useful. Case in point: A new algorithm that can predict a patient’s risk of contracting clostridium difficile (C-diff), a potentially deadly healthcare-related infection.

While the primary purpose of a hospital is to help sick people get well, it doesn’t always work out that way. Each year, 453,000 people contract a C-diff infection during or after exposure to a hospital setting in the United States, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. C-diff causes diarrhea, intestinal distress, and in some cases, life-threatening inflammation in a patient’s colon.

These infections can prove deadly if not diagnosed and treated quickly enough; in the U.S., 29,000 people die annually of C-diff infections.

To address this issue, Erica Shenoy, an infectious-disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Jenna Wiens, a computer scientist and assistant professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, decided to see if they could use AI to predict which patients were most vulnerable to these infections.

A Life-Saving Algorithm

For their study, Shenoy and Wiens extracted information from a dataset of 374,009 adult inpatient admissions from MGH and the University of Michigan Health System. Given that C-diff spreads through physical contact with infected objects or people, the researchers had to take into account every possible interaction between patients and the infection when developing their algorithm.

“We have data pertaining to everything from lab results to what bed they are in to who is in the bed next to them and whether they are infected. We included all medications, labs, and diagnoses. And we extracted this on a daily basis,” Wiens told Scientific American. “You can imagine, as the patient moves around the hospital, risk evolves over time, and we wanted to capture that.”

Using that information, the duo created a model to predict the likelihood that a patient would contract a C-diff infection at each hospital. According to their research, these models predicted the infection an average of five days sooner than doctors could.

If their system is widely implemented, those five days could be the difference between life or death for hospital patients in the United States and across the globe.

The post AIs Are Finally Doing Something Useful: Fighting Hospital-Acquired Infections appeared first on Futurism.

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Stop doing this.


I can’t stress how much I despise these browser pop-ups. I see them all the time, and put simply, they’re ruining the Internet. Every site that uses them fundamentally undermines their readability, and makes me never want to go back. News sites don’t need to know my location. And nobody wants random, shrill notifications in their browser. Twitter and RSS are things, y’know? And they’re everywhere. Everywhere. No. Wrong. Stop. Why? Ew. Gross. This sucks. You’ve probably figured out that I feel really strongly about these browser notifications. By and large, they ruin the user experience. The sooner they cease…

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Meltdown and Spectre: Here’s what Intel, Apple, Microsoft, others are doing about it

Enlarge (credit: Jen)

The Meltdown and Spectre flaws—two related vulnerabilities that enable a wide range of information disclosure from every mainstream processor, with particularly severe flaws for Intel and some ARM chips—were originally revealed privately to chip companies, operating system developers, and cloud computing providers. That private disclosure was scheduled to become public some time next week, enabling these companies to develop (and, in the case of the cloud companies, deploy) suitable patches, workarounds, and mitigations.

With researchers figuring out one of the flaws ahead of that planned reveal, that schedule was abruptly brought forward, and the pair of vulnerabilities was publicly disclosed on Wednesday, prompting a rather disorderly set of responses from the companies involved.

There are three main groups of companies responding to the Meltdown and Spectre pair: processor companies, operating system companies, and cloud providers. Their reactions have been quite varied.

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