Student turns table into an iPhone keyboard
November 13th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Student turns table into an iPhone keyboard

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Here's a new stab at a solution for that old fat-thumbs, small-phone problem: Turn your desk - or table or whatever - into a keyboard.

That's what Florian Kräutli demonstrates in a video called "Vibrative Virtual Keyboard," posted on Vimeo about a month ago. His unreleased virtual-keyboard software, which is making the rounds on design blogs like Fast Company's Co.DESIGN and designboom, lets him place his iPhone on a flat surface and then use the area in front of it to type.

"Touch screen devices, such as smartphones, lack a suitable method for text input which can compete with mechanical keyboards," Krautli is quoted as saying in a press release from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is studying cognitive computing. "The Vibrative Virtual Keyboard aims to appease the frustration felt by smartphone users when faced with drafting lengthy e-mails or notes on a small onscreen keyboard." FULL POST

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Filed under: Design • Future • Innovation • Smartphones
Microsoft computer speaks Chinese for you - in your own voice
November 9th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

Microsoft computer speaks Chinese for you - in your own voice

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - By now, everyone knows computers can talk.

There's Hal. There's Watson. And, of course, there's Siri.

But never before have computers been able to talk for you, in your voice, and in a foreign language.

That's the technology - or a precursor to it - that Microsoft Research recently demonstrated at an event in China. The company's research arm on Thursday posted a video of the talk and a blog post about the technology behind it. FULL POST

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Language • Tech
September 22nd, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Opinion: Brain science key in trial of alleged 'Batman' shooter

Editor's Note: Dr. David Eagleman directs the Eagleman Laboratory for Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.

By David Eagleman, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, many people are asking the same questions: What kind of derangement is revealed by the alleged acts of James Holmes, who has been charged with murder and attempted murder in a massacre during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises"? What is wrong with the brain that concocted this plot? How will information about Holmes' mental state play out in the courts?

My goal here is to bring a perspective on this tragedy from the point of view of a neuroscientist.

Few facts are publicly available about Holmes’ mental health background. Despite the dearth of data, however, several issues can be clarified and discussed.

To begin, it’s critical to understand the difference between two words: psychotic and psychopathic. These are two similar-sounding terms that commentators sometimes use interchangeably.

But, in reality, they are entirely different.

A person with a psychosis is disconnected from reality. For example, a homeless person arguing with himself is typically suffering from a psychosis such as schizophrenia. Someone with this sort of mental illness is termed “psychotic.” A person with a disorder of mood such as bipolar disorder (in which one alternates between depression and mania) can also have associated psychotic features such as hallucinations and delusions.

In contrast, a person with psychopathy has low empathy and low remorse. The psychopath can be smart, glib, charming and blend in perfectly with the society around him, but he lacks compassion and guilt. Behind his “mask of sanity” lurks a manipulative creature who can hurt others without compunction. A psychopath (or, synonymously, a sociopath) is someone like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. They are termed “psychopathic”.

Which, if either of these, was Holmes? If convicted of the crimes, did he suffer from a psychosis, or was he instead a cognitively intact but emotionless sociopath? When Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter told the media that Holmes was “a psychotic son of a bitch," it’s safe to guess that his statement stemmed from a confounding of the terms rather than a specific diagnosis.


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Filed under: Books • Future • The Next List • Thinkers • Video
September 4th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Why we should 'farm the ocean like we farm the lands'

Editor's note: CNN's "The Next List" will feature Brian O'Hanlon, founder of Open Blue, on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) - The lure of the open ocean has long been the stuff of poetry. For Brian O’Hanlon, it led to his life’s work.

O’Hanlon is the founder and president of Open Blue, the largest open-ocean fish farm in the world. He’s also a pioneer in raising fish far out at sea. O’Hanlon believes that the depth of the water and swift currents make for a much healthier environment to raise fish than traditional farms near shore or on land. Aquaculture in the open ocean also avoids damaging sensitive coastal ecosystems.

O’Hanlon’s team raises the fish from eggs so they control their diet at every stage of development. FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Future • Innovation • The Next List • Thinkers • Video
What if U.S. Olympic uniforms were designed by the masses?
August 3rd, 2012
02:39 PM ET

What if U.S. Olympic uniforms were designed by the masses?

Editor's note: Ben Kaufman is the CEO of, which helps inventors bring their ideas to the market. Kaufman is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.

By Ben Kaufman, Special to CNN

I am headed to London on Friday. Yes, for the Olympics. This will be the first time for me and the feeling is kind of amazing.  Sure, I have always grown up looking forward to and watching the Olympics. But since the opening ceremonies last week and every moment since then, I feel something different.

Maybe its because I am 25 - making me about the age of many competitors. I look at these athletes and think about their commitment, dedication and powerful accomplishments. I think (and hope) that watching these marvels makes everyone think about their own potential and what could be. It’s inspiring to no end.

I think about the Quirky community and how there is something there that feels just a bit like the Olympics. There are these creative people from different countries bringing their best to one place and sharing it with the world, and some of them end up really winning. There’s definitely a little magic in that.

And then there is just Quirky - and the monumental game-changing things that I have seen since its launch. We have developed a brand new way of thinking about product development and made invention accessible. We have taken an industry, shaken it up and created this whole new kind of company that has never existed. This year, we started manufacturing in the United States and nothing makes me prouder.

I think about the impact Quirky is having on these U.S. manufacturers: creating jobs and revitalizing factories. I know it’s a drop in the bucket, but we are part of a group of companies who are going to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing industry. We did it with Crates and we will continue developing relationships and bringing more jobs home.

I will relish in the choices we made as a company as I sit and watch the Olympic games this weekend. In the coming years, I hope our uniforms will be made at home, too. Even better, maybe the Quirky community can come up with something great. How cool would that be? Maybe then we could see this headline: U.S. Olympic Uniforms Invented Together.

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • The Next List
July 27th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

The coolest tech stories of the 2012 Olympics

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Watching the Olympics, which kick off in earnest Friday with the opening ceremony in London, is more fun when you know the stories behind the Games.

No doubt, sports broadcasters will hammer on plenty of rags-to-riches, against-the-odds backstories about the Olympic athletes. (You can also find plenty of them on CNN's London 2012 page). And that's all good. But knowing the technological underpinnings of the Games is perhaps just as intriguing.

Here's a quick look at 10 of the most interesting tech stories to watch at the London Olympics:


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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Robots • Tech
Bill Nye: U.S. risks losing its space edge
July 2nd, 2012
09:21 AM ET

Bill Nye: U.S. risks losing its space edge

By Richard Galant, CNN

(CNN) – Years before Bill Nye became the Science Guy, he was a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University, where he took a course with astronomer Carl Sagan.

Sagan, who was instrumental in the planning of NASA missions to other planets and became widely known for his research, writing and public television series, was one of the founders of the Planetary Society. And his student dutifully signed up to become a member.

"I've been a member for over 30 years. And now I'm the head guy, it's quite odd," a surprised-sounding Nye told CNN in an interview in March at the TED2012 conference in Long Beach, California.

Read the full post at CNN Opinion

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An ancient instrument goes mobile
Cameron Carpenter and Robert C. Tall before organ performance on Venice Beach.
June 14th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

An ancient instrument goes mobile

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) – Perched high above Glendale, Calif., in the dry heat of the Verdugo Mountains sits an octagonal room that houses a musical instrument with a storied past and an uncertain future.

“There's no question about it that the pipe organ will always be the most revered of the organs, but it doesn't reach the masses now like the digital organ will,” said Robert C. Tall, PhD., 74, an organist who has played many of the great organs around the world.

If you've never stepped inside a church like the magnificent Milan Cathedral, or if you've never attended a concert at a hall like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, chances are you haven't heard live organ music. All of that could change. The fledgling digital organ, which has been relegated to second class, has a new generation of champions.

One of those champions is virtuoso and traveling sensation, Cameron Carpenter.

“The organ is in a kind of crisis. I think it needs radically outsider approaches to reestablish its connection with the world at large. And that's what I'm doing,” said Carpenter at the TED 2012 conference in Long Beach, Calif. earlier this year.

Carpenter is embracing new technology to design a digital touring organ invented specifically for the 21st century.


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Filed under: Future • Music • The Next List
May 23rd, 2012
11:36 AM ET

Digital avatars to guide travelers at New York airports

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - First Tupac. Now this.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced this week that digital projections of "virtual customer care representatives" will appear this summer in three New York-area airports, guiding flyers to their gates and providing other logistical info.

The 2-D projections can't respond to travelers who ask them questions, said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the authority. But that kind of technology may be added if the 6-month pilot project goes well, he said in a phone interview. "We’ll see if it works, you know," he said. "If people keep walkin' by it, then we wouldn’t renew (the contract for the avatars)."

He added: "Maybe customers will feel more comfortable listening to an avatar than a live person." FULL POST

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Intel: Smartphones will plug into your brain
May 3rd, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Intel: Smartphones will plug into your brain

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - This almost doesn't require comment. Check out David Goldman's CNNMoney story about a new white paper commissioned by Intel, in which researchers say it is inevitable - inevitable! - that smarpthones will plug into brains.

Here's Goldman's explanation of what could happen:

... Step one: a lag-free operating system that anyone can use intuitively to perform any computing task.

Step two: Interfacing with the body. These kinds of interfaces are already operating in a relatively rudimentary way, with implants and pacemakers. But in its paper, Intel suggests that the link-up will be much more robust.

How robust? Well, have you seen "The Matrix?" FULL POST

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Smartphones • Tech
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