Report: Google is developing 'Terminator' glasses
Apps already use augmented reality technology; glasses would take the concept further.
February 22nd, 2012
11:06 AM ET

Report: Google is developing 'Terminator' glasses

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Looks like we're all about to get way more familiar with the concept of "augmented reality."

According to a report on The New York Times' Bits blog, Google is developing a set of glasses that will display digital information on top of the real world. Or, for the pop-culture inclined, they're making "Terminator" glasses.

Here are some details from the report, which CNN has not confirmed: FULL POST

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Filed under: Google • Smartphones • Tech
Can Braille be faster than QWERTY? App developer thinks so
February 20th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

Can Braille be faster than QWERTY? App developer thinks so

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - If Mario Romero has his way, we'll all be learning Braille soon.

The post-doc researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology has co-developed an app, called BrailleTouch, that could help blind people send text messages and type e-mails on touch-screen smartphones without the need for expensive, extra equipment. To use the app, people hold their phones with the screens facing away from them and punch combinations of six touch-screen buttons to form characters. The app speaks a letter aloud after it's been registered, so there's no need to see the screen.

The system is designed for blind and visually impaired people, who otherwise have to purchase thousand-dollar machines or cumbersome "hover-over" (more on that later) keyboards to be able to type on no-button smartphones. But Romero sees a spin-off for the technology: The touch-screen Braille keyboard is so fast that sighted people may start using it, too. FULL POST

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Filed under: Smartphones • Social change • Tech • Thinkers • Uncategorized
Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials
February 16th, 2012
09:51 AM ET

Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Here's the problem with the whole Gov 2.0 movement: People are lazy.

Plenty of apps - SeeClickFix among them - allow diligent, digitally minded citizens to snap photos of potholes and send them to city hall. But that takes effort and, let's be honest, it's not something many people will follow through with.

Further, the pothole data that comes from these apps can be haphazard and, by definition, is subjective. One person's pothole could be another's divot.

Perhaps the digital sensors in smartphones can do a better job all by themselves.

That's the idea behind Street Bump, an Android app piloted by the City of Boston. The app, which should be available to the public this summer, makes the smartphone's accelerometer do the job of sensing potholes. If you're driving and you hit a pothole while the app is loaded, Street Bump pairs up data about the size of the bump with a GPS coordinate - and sends that to a city database.

The hope, said Nigel Jacob, co-chair of the mayor's office of New Urban Mechanics, which is managing this project, is that Boston and other cities soon will have a "real-time" map of road conditions, allowing them to catch potholes - "pre-potholes," as the city says - earlier and to prioritize road repairs more broadly.

Ultimately, that will save the city money, he said. (For the curious, the city does have enough money to fix the potholes it finds with this app, he said. I'd wondered if ignorance might be bliss.)

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Filed under: Politics • Smartphones • Social change • Tech
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