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
Video urges Singapore couples to make babies - like, now
August 7th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

Video urges Singapore couples to make babies - like, now

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - This week's over-the-top marketing campaign is a YouTube video from Mentos that hopes to convince Singaporeans to get busy. Like literally. It asks them to "make a little human that looks like you and me" and "make Singapore's birthrate spike" on National Day, a Singaporean holiday, which will be celebrated on Thursday.

"This August the 9th, it's time to do our civic duty," a deep-voiced man says in the video, produced by an ad agency on behalf of Mentos mints. "And I'm not talking about speeches, fireworks or parades." (Woman in the background: "But I like that stuff.") "I'm talking about the stuff after that stuff. I'm talking about making a baby, baby. You ready?"

Just watch the thing: FULL POST

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Filed under: Internet • Social change
August 6th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Meet 'Mohawk Guy,' star of the Mars landing

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Forget Rick Moranis glasses, starchy button-ups and pocket protectors.

Meet the new generation at NASA: Bobak Ferdowsi, better known as "Mohawk Guy." Ferdowsi was spotted wearing a red-and-black mohawk with yellow stars dyed on the sides of his head during the U.S. space agency's overnight landing of its Mars rover, "Curiosity."

The Internet quickly turned him into a meme, superimposing text like "The Mohawk That Landed a Rover on Mars" and "Becomes an Internet sensation ... Too busy landing a robot on Mars to notice" over his images.

In case you'd forgotten, here's what the old guard at NASA looked like: FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Fashion • Science • Space
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:

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Robots • Tech
The Big Idea: Facebook's minimum age should be 21
June 5th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

The Big Idea: Facebook's minimum age should be 21

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - The U.S. legal drinking age is 21. Should Facebook have the same requirement?

Plenty of people light-heartedly say the 900-million-person social network is "addictive," since so many of us spend hours a day checking up on what our Facebook friends are doing.

But following a Monday story about whether Facebook should allow children younger than 13 to join the site - since stats show they're on Facebook anyway and Facebook reportedly is considering implementing parental controls that could allow it to lower the minimum age - some of CNN's commenters fired back, saying that the minimum age should not be lowered.

In fact, they said, it should be raised.

"No. Flying Green Monkeys. No," commenter AnneV99 wrote in response to our question about whether 11-year-olds should be allowed to join Facebook. "In fact, raise the age limit to 21. Why? Because many parents and teachers are already teaching their children to be irresponsible. But what is Facebook - It is all about ME-ME-ME. Facebook = Sickness (but not as bad as that evil-Twitter thing)." FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Internet • Tech
The Big Idea: Should the U.S. 'airdrop' millions of phones into Syria?
This photo, of a rally in Syria in April, was shot with a mobile phone.
May 29th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

The Big Idea: Should the U.S. 'airdrop' millions of phones into Syria?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Can communication tools stop a war?

That's basically the idea one CNN commenter put forward on Monday. Responding to a story about citizen journalists in Syria, who risk their lives to upload videos and photos of gruesome massacres by the government, a commenter called goingmeta had this to say:

Rather than bombing by air or invading by land or even sending in international observers, we should airdrop about 20 million video cell phones. If there are excesses and abuses, nothing would turn the tide so quickly as giving each man, woman, and child in Syria the opportunity to record them and hold the authorities accountable for their actions. FULL POST

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Innovation • Internet • Smartphones • Social change
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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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Tech
May 21st, 2012
02:52 PM ET

Should face-detection be used in San Francisco bars?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

Check out this video from CNN affiliate KGO, which profiles an app called SceneTap.

The gist is that the app works with surveillance cameras in bars to report the number of men and women who are at a  watering hole at any given time - and their average ages. The upside: You could go to the bar that has the mix you're interested in. The downside, as an Electronic Frontier Foundation representative tells the station, is that this could cut down on privacy.

The app's creator says he doesn't store face-detection data - only the gender profiles of bar patrons.

Creepy or helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Filed under: Culture • Innovation • Smartphones • Tech • Video
What's the next Facebook (or is there one)?
May 18th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

What's the next Facebook (or is there one)?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Facebook is trying to be the "forever network."

When the company's hoodie-wearing CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced a new feature called Timeline in September, he proclaimed that Facebook would be the website - or social network or app or whatever - to catalogue life from birth to death. The site even created a place for users to upload their baby photos, to signify the start of their Facebook lives.

This, of course, has happened in Internet history before. There was a time when tech pundits thought MySpace, Friendster and AltaVista would be around (and relevant) forever, too. But what's strange about Facebook's audacious birth-to-death claim is that, to many people, it didn't seem all that strange.

Maybe Facebook can last forever. Maybe, 901 million users later, it truly is something different. FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Internet • Tech
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