Meet the huggable, semi-robotic (and semi-creepy) pillow phone
April 30th, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Meet the huggable, semi-robotic (and semi-creepy) pillow phone

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - A Japanese roboticist recently showed off a giant, person-shaped pillow that also doubles as a cell phone and vibrates based on the frequency of the voice of the person you're talking to. If you're inclined to give this the benefit of the doubt, think of it as a step forward in "haptic" technology, which aims to bring the largely missing sense of touch into the realm of digital communications.

Or, if you're a skeptic: Just call it creepy.

The "Hugvie" robot reportedly is the work of Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, who, among other things, is known for making a robotic version of himself.  He also created a Telenoid robot that stands in for humans and, as IEEE Spectrum described it, looks like "a supersized fetus." FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Design • Innovation • Robots • Tech
How to hide from face-detection technology
April 29th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

How to hide from face-detection technology

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - If you take Adam Harvey's advice, here's what you might wanna wear to a party this weekend: A funny hat, asymmetrical glasses, a tuft of hair that dangles off your nose bridge and, most likely, a black-and-white triangle taped to your cheekbone. Optional: Cubic makeup patterns all around your eyes.

All of these otherworldly fashion accessories - which could leave a person looking kind of like an opulent villain from "The Hunger Games" - have a singular goal: to stop your face from being detected by cameras and computers. Called CV Dazzle (short for "computer vision dazzle;" more on the name later), Harvey's project is a provocative and largely theoretical response to the rise of surveillance cameras on street corners and face-detecting technology that's been incorporated into social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr.

If you employ these techniques, Harvey, 30, hopes computers won't even know you have a face:

I don’t want to be unrealistic about it. It’s a pretty conceptual project but it seems to touch on a subject that people are still trying to figure out, which is how to adapt to living in surveillance societies, where not only are you being watched by government surveillance but by citizen surveillance and social-media-type surveillance. FULL POST

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Filed under: Art • Culture • Design • Fashion • Future • Innovation • Tech
April 28th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Jad Abumrad: Reinventing radio for the 21st Century

Editor's note: Jad Abumrad is the co-host of the innovative radio show "Radiolab." Together with Robert Krulwich, he explores heady topics and scientific topics with a sense of curiosity and fun. Tune in to CNN on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET to see a 30-minute profile of Abumrad on "The Next List."

CNN: Okay, so what is "Radiolab"?

Abumrad: "Radiolab" is a kind of crazy, slightly psychedelic adventure through a big idea. So we take an idea every week and we kind of do an hour-long investigation of it.Myself and Robert Krulwich are the hosts, and the whole thing is supposed to be like two guys sitting at a deli table. That's sort of the superstructure, two guys just chatting.

The whole thing has a crazy kind of hi-fi soundscape that weaves through all the different things. But really, at the end of the day, I want it to feel like two guys having slightly surreal but completely ordinary chat about the world. It's like the stuff that everybody's been thinking about, back to Aristotle, that really has no answer, like what is time, what is space, what is consciousness, like how do I know I'm conscious? Like how can I reflect upon my own experience? I'm addicted to that feeling of standing in wonder, like looking at the world in awe. But it can't be a cheap wonder. FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Thinkers • Video
April 24th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

This week on 'The Next List': Jad Abumrad, the certifiable 'genius' from Radiolab

Although he's only 39-years-old Abumrad is redefining the age-old medium of radio. He's the co-host of the wildly innovative show called Radiolab (WNYC Radio).

To try to define Radiolab is a fool's errand; it simply has to be heard. Each show tackles complex topics that range from the mind-bendingly scientific to deeply human philosophical questions. Abumrad takes us on this journey of explanation and exploration with multi-layered sound design interlacing loose bits of fun banter between him and his co-host Robert Krulwich. It's a fully realized, highly produced blockbuster.

Radiolab has a cult-like following of millions of fans who eagerly await each new show. And it's consistently one of the most popular iTunes podcasts - over 2 million subscribers a month. It also airs on more than 300 NPR stations across the country. FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Innovation • The Next List • Thinkers
April 22nd, 2012
08:57 AM ET

Bjarke Ingels: Rethinking social infrastructure

By Bjarke Ingels, Special to CNN

The infrastructure of the industry of the past seems to be inevitably appropriated as the framework for the social and cultural life of the present.

The old train tracks on Manhattans lower west side turns into the highline - the most popular park of NYC today.

The Tate Modern in London is an old power plant. FULL POST

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Filed under: Architecture • Design • The Next List • Video
iPhone app aims to program your dreams ('Inception' anyone?)
April 17th, 2012
11:04 AM ET

iPhone app aims to program your dreams ('Inception' anyone?)

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Harvard PhD student Daniel Nadler is trying to bring a really rudimentary version of the movie "Inception" to life with a new iPhone app that aims to help you "program your dreams."

Called Sigmund, the 99-cent app builds off of pre-existing sleep science to help people "program" the content of their dreams from a list of 1,000 keywords. After you select one to five words from the list, a sorta-soothing, sorta-robotic female voice reads the words you select during the deepest moments of your sleep cycle - the REM cycles - when you're most likely to dream vividly. In a sleep study that was the basis for the app, 34% to 40% of participants' dreams were memorably altered by the suggestive readings, he said.

"Obviously what goes on in the sleeping brain is not entirely remembered so it could actually be a higher incorporation rate," he said. FULL POST

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Science • Smartphones • Tech
April 16th, 2012
03:44 PM ET

Jane McGonigal: 'A game saved my life'

By Jane McGonigal, Special to CNN

(CNN) - “When you’re on your deathbed, will you really wish you’d spent more time playing Angry Birds?”

It’s a question I hear all the time. And understandably so: I’m probably the world’s leading advocate of spending more time, not less, playing computer and video games.

Why am I so passionate about spending more time playing games (ideally, at least 30 minutes every day)? Because heaps of scientific evidence over the past few years – from an extremely diverse group of investigators, such as Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, the U.S Army’s Mental Health Assessment Team, Michigan State University’s Department of Psychology and Massachusetts General Hospital - have shown that games can increase our mental, emotional and social resilience.

Games can make us more resilient in the face of tough challenges, better able to learn from mistakes, more likely to cooperate with others on difficult problems and more creative in coming up with new solutions. They can alleviate depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. New research from Stanford University just this month even shows, through fMRI imagery of the brain, exactly how games boost our motivation and self-efficacy at the neurological level. Games build up our belief that we can take positive steps to affect the outcome of our lives – and game help us be more motivated to take those steps and not give up. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gaming • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Video
April 12th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Games 'tap into the best version of yourself'

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Think video games are evil? Spend some time with Jane McGonigal.

McGonigal - a designer who's queen of a genre called "Alternate Reality Games," or ARGs - believes games make us better people. They can be used to combat climate change, reduce poverty and, as she knows personally, help victims of conditions like depression, head injuries and cancer recover more quickly.

"Games are an extraordinary way to tap into the best version of yourself, the most determined, the most creative, the most resilient in the face of failure, the most likely to collaborate with other people - sort of heroic qualities," she said in a recent interview with CNN's "The Next List," which will feature McGonigal on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. "And it seems that if we play more games - games that we love - these qualities can actually spill over into our real lives." FULL POST

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Filed under: Future • Gaming • Innovation • Social change • Tech • The Next List • Uncategorized
April 11th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

GraFighters: A game that brings your drawings to life

By Nina Raja, CNN

(CNN) - When boredom struck, Eric Cleckner and David Chenell decided to get creative. They co-founded an online fighting game called graFighters, which lets users bring their own drawings to life.

Endless days of doodling during class led to the inspiration of game. Cleckner and Chenell envisioned a fighting game where they would take the characters they drew in class and plop them into a fighting game.

“So we were two broke college kids," said Cleckner. One was a designer and the other a programmer. “We got as far as we possibly could, which was about 1% done with the game." FULL POST

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Filed under: Future • Gaming • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Video
April 10th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

A game to make your life "SuperBetter"

Jane McGonigal is serious when it comes to playing games. She’s a world-renown game designer who insists playing games for an hour a day can change your life. That’s right. Playing video games can actually change your life. Gaming, Jane says, produces powerful emotions and social relationships that can really change lives, and potentially even change the world. Scientists call it “game transfer” phenomenon: what we think and feel in games starts to spill over into our real lives. Jane further believes that playing games can us help bond with our family and friends, strengthening our real-life and online social networks.

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Filed under: Gaming • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Video
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