Archive for April, 2012


Monday, April 16th, 2012


In what is being touted as “the world’s largest dream experiment,” a psychologist from Britain’s University of Hertfordshire is inviting volunteers to try using an iPhone app to control their dreams. Prof. Richard Wiseman teamed up with the developers at software company YUZA to create Dream:ON, an app that plays soundscapes while its user sleeps, intended to shape what sort of dreams they have. The project comes in response to a UK survey conducted by Wiseman, in which 15% of respondents claimed that they frequently suffered from unpleasant dreams.

To use Dream:ON, people start by indicating the time at which they would like to wake up. Next, they select an alarm tone, followed by one of several “soundscapes” – examples include titles like Peaceful Garden and A Trip to Tokyo. The phone is then plugged into an external power source, and left turned on at the bedside.

Throughout the night, the phone uses its microphone to monitor the user’s movements. Approximately 20 minutes before their selected wake-up time, and once a decrease in their movements indicates that they’ve entered REM sleep (the sleep stage at which dreams occur), the soundscape will be played. Theoretically, that audio will be incorporated into the existing dream. Of course, it’s possible that someone could simply end up dreaming that an axe murderer was chasing them through a peaceful garden – that’s the sort of thing that the project is looking at.

Once the person starts moving again, indicating that they are no longer dreaming, the alarm will sound to wake them. As a side benefit, by not being woken up while in deep REM sleep, users should wake up feeling more refreshed – a strategy already employed by products like the sleep-monitoring Sleeptracker alarm.

The app will subsequently prompt users to submit a report of their dream.

After a few months, Wiseman and his team will review the various users’ reports, to see how well the app works. Dream:ON is available now as a free download at the App Store, while an Android version is expected to come out later this year. If it does indeed work, more soundscapes could be on the way – some of them would be free, while others would have to be purchased.

Should the idea behind Dream:ON sound at all familiar to some readers, it’s because something similar already exists, in the form of the Japanese Yumemiru app. There’s no word on how effective that one has proven to be.

The video below provides an outline of Prof. Wiseman’s project.

Source: University of Hertfordshire

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Friday, April 6th, 2012

AT AGE three, Lili Viall is an avid iPad app user. She has 20-minute ”app time” sessions on her mother’s iPad, which she likes to think is hers.

She is ”hungry for it”, her mother, Justine Lange, 43, of Clovelly, says.

But Ms Lange emphasises app time is ”by no means a substitute for all the other games, physical games and other activities we do together”.

She is so concerned about the potential for inappropriate app use by toddlers that she is working up a one-minute presentation to audition for TED, the non-profit organisation and internet phenomenon that promotes people with ”ideas worth spreading” at exclusive summits and posts their talks online to an audience of millions.

The replacement of the mouse and keyboard with simple to use tap and swipe technology for iPads and tablet PCs meant ”my little girl, from as young as 18 months, is able to interact with technology”, Ms Lange said.

Having worked with online platforms in the media all her life, she recognised ”how vulnerable these children are, now that they are a new market”.

Ms Lange is backing her views in a start-up company, PaddleDuck Learning, developing interactive educational apps for toddlers with a group of artists, musicians and educators.

Not that Ms Lange will be promoting her wares at TED. Hawkers, jargon junkies, dullards and motivator wannabes need not apply, say the organisers. It is undiscovered prodigies, sages, sparks and storytellers they want.

In a break from its 26-year invitation-only policy for speakers, TED’s global search for new talent spans 14 cities from Europe and Africa to Japan and the Middle East between April and June, including Sydney in May.

The best performers will join the ranks of such luminous TED speaker alumni as Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson, Isabel Allende and Philippe Starck. The most viewed is the British educator Sir Ken Robinson’s take on how schools kill creativity, with 9.6 million views.

Other Sydney applicants will include Darryl Nichols, whose Garage Sale Trail is galvanising communities around selling junk; Matt Noffs on the Street University for youth at risk; web entrepreneur Rebekah Campbell on a new model for helping small businesses thrive; Cathy Kezelman on treating child abuse and Janine Weir on lifting barriers to international adoption.

Successful first round applicants will be invited to speak at the audition event to be held at Carriageworks in May. Their talks will be posted online and put to a vote of TED’s global audience.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Friday, April 6th, 2012

Google has given the world a glimpse of its vision for letting people look at life through internet-tinted glasses.

A video posted at a Project Glass page at Google+ social network confirmed the rumour that the technology titan is working on eyewear that meshes the online world with the real world.

“We think technology should work for you – be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” members of the project team said in a Google+ post.

project glass

Google plans to release Android-powered internet glasses with a heads-up display.

“A group of us from Google X (Labs) started Project Glass to build this kind of technology; one that helps you explore and share your world.”

Images showed people wearing eyeglasses with stylish silver frames that featured tiny cameras and on-lens displays to discretely show information such as walking directions, weather forecasts or messages from friends.

Built-in microphones let wearers command the internet-linked glasses by speaking.

“We took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do,” Google said, stressing that the glasses were a concept far from being brought to market.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input.”

The project team invited people to express ideas for the glasses at the Google+ page.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is deeply involved with the California company’s X Labs, best known for its work on a self-driving car.

A YouTube video of legally blind Steve Mahan “driving” an autonomous Google car in his California neighborhood has been viewed more than 1.2 million times since it was uploaded on March 27.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha