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"Minority Report" Computing Gets Slightly More Real

Since 2002, the film Minority Report has inspired computer geeks the world over. At the time, touch interfaces were relatively rare, and where they did exist, they were typically limited to one finger at a time. In the film, Tom Cruise's character famously interacts with his computer by standing in front of a projected screen and basically waving his hands at it, manipulating objects without even touching them. In the film, computers had lept past mere touch, and moved to gestures, performed in the air.

In the years since, we've seen some impressive strides in computer interfaces that begin to approach the "Minority Report computer," as it were. Our own fearless leader Mangesh talked up what would become the Microsoft Surface as an Amazing Interactive Table in May, 2007. But that required actually touching the table. Earlier this year, I pointed to a TED Talk in which John Underkoffler, designer of the "Minority Report computer," gave us a demo of a mostly-working system that works today (though it did crash once).

The latest giant leap in "Minority Report computing" comes from an MIT group (read more in the YouTube description here -- credit to my LIS brethren!). To make a long, geeky story short, they adapted (er, hacked) a Microsoft Kinect sensor, hooked it up to a robotics system, and made their own "Minority Report computer." Again, it's not perfect, but given that they're using off-the-shelf hardware and free, open-source software...2002's future is now. (Note: there is no sound in this video.)

See also: Kinect Hack Makes Shadow Puppets Real(ish).

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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