May 25, 2016

New study investigates why we hate digital assistants like Clippy

posted by Larra Morris

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Vocativ reports that researchers decided to investigate how consumers respond to digital assistants with human or non-human features. They recruited several hundred students to play a series of puzzle games on a computer. During each game, when participants got stuck or confused, they could click on a help icon which would either reveal a smiling face or a faceless interface to give them advice.

The team found that participants felt less autonomous, or less in control, when given help by the anthropomorphized interface, and enjoyed the game less as a whole. Even though the help given was the same regardless of interface, participants couldn’t help but feel a sense of unpleasant dependence when their helper seemed more human. On the flip side, researchers found that the faceless interface was seen as a tool and so did not detract from participants’ sense of autonomy.
via Mental Floss

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May 25, 2016

World's first 3D-printed office opens in Dubai

posted by Larra Morris

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The world's first 3D-printed office building opened this week in Dubai, Reuters reports. The 2,700-square-foot, single-story building was built in just 17 days using a gigantic, 20-foot tall 3D printer and a special mix of concrete, fiber reinforced plastic and glass fiber reinforced gypsum.
via Engadget

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May 25, 2016

Juries 'could enter virtual crime scenes' following research

posted by Larra Morris

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Virtual reality technology used in the gaming industry could be adapted to recreate crime scenes for juries, researchers have claimed.

A Staffordshire University project has experimented with technology and techniques to "transport" jurors to virtual crime scenes.

Associate Prof of Forensics, Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, said it was the first project of its kind in Europe.

Staffordshire Police said it was "a concept" that could become significant.

The project, which received a European Commission research grant of about £140,000, uses green screens, the latest virtual reality headsets and technology from gaming, engineering and computing.
via BBC News

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May 24, 2016

Floating parade brings the works of Hieronymus Bosch to life

posted by Larra Morris

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First launched in 2010, the Bosch Parade is typically held each June in Bosch’s hometown, 's-Hertogenbosch (colloquially referred to as Den Bosch). The event’s organizers recruit professional artists, designers, composers, and choreographers to build elaborate, Bosch-themed floats, which they float down the Dommel River with the help of volunteers. In 2015, 18 watercrafts participated in the event, and thousands of onlookers watched the town’s self-professed “cruise of the absurd” from the river’s banks.
via Mental Floss

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May 24, 2016

Alcohol-monitoring bracelet pings your phone when it's time to ease up

posted by Larra Morris

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Tracking your blood alcohol level is never a bad idea, but huffing, puffing and whipping out a breathlyzer isn't always an option. Looking to unearth a more inconspicuous way of keeping an eye on things, the National Health Institute's Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge put the call out for non-invasive solutions to this problem, and has now selected its winner. The wrist-worn BACtrack Skyn pairs with an app to offer real-time monitoring of alcohol levels, even alerting the user's phone when they are drinking too hard.
via Gizmag

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May 24, 2016

Drone catches incredible 70-shark feeding frenzy

posted by Larra Morris

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This footage, captured above the appropriately named Shark Bay in Western Australia, shows what happens when 70 sharks come across a whale. It involves rather a lot of blood.

The once-clear waters of the bay fill with plumes of blood as the tiger sharks chow down without mercy on the humpback whale.
via Gizmodo

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May 23, 2016

An incredible machine that sorts random river stones by their geological age

posted by Larra Morris

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With an interest in connecting industrial automation with historical geology, Czech artist Prokop Bartonícek and German artist Benjamin Maus collaborated to create the Jller, an incredible kinetic machine that easily sorts random stones from a specific river by their geological age using pre-defined data ranges to guide the process. The machine also emits a very soothing incidental music as it goes about sorting, categorizing, selecting and placing the stones. Jller was presented as part of the Ignorance exhibition in Ex Post in Prague.
via Laughing Squid

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