Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

A Wall-Mounted Sensor Can Track Your Movement Better Than a FitBit

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

The way that a person walks can contain important information about their health. In 2011, a University of Pittsburgh study found that walking speeds could predict life expectancy. Now, MIT researchers have found an easy way to monitor how fast people are walking at home, as The Verge reports.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)—which has previously debuted technology to help people learn languages and evaluate their selfies—is working on a wall-mounted sensor that can track people’s movements via radio signals. WiGait sends out low-radiation signals that reflect off a person’s body as they walk through the room, then calculates how fast that person is moving based on how the signals come back. It’s 95 to 99 percent accurate at measuring people’s walking speeds and stride lengths, according to MIT. The team behind the device claims it is more accurate than trackers like FitBit, which don't measure velocity or stride length, just step numbers. WiGait can recognize the movements of up to four different people in a room and works at distances of up to 40 feet, including through walls.

The technology could be used to study older people’s walking speeds at home to analyze their health without requiring them to wear an intrusive wristband or other wearable device. Walking speed can be an indicator of a person’s risks for future falls and hospitalizations, and WiGait could be used to monitor patients with a high risk of falling or cognitive decline, especially in assisted-living homes.

The CSAIL research [PDF] tested out WiGait in 14 different homes, and found that users tended to forget it was there after a few days, and preferred it to the idea of installing a camera-based monitoring device in their home. Most people don’t want to be recorded 24/7, but radio signals that only recognize movement might be a more acceptable way to collect data on people’s gait speeds at home, where, in the case of older people with limited mobility, they probably spend most of their time.

[h/t The Verge]

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Finally! Windows Notepad Is Getting an Update for the First Time in Years
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iStock

While some of Window's core programs have evolved dramatically over the years, or disappeared all together, Notepad has remained pretty basic. But as The Verge reports, the text-editing app is about to get a little fancier: Microsoft is updating it for the first time in years.

Since it debuted in 1985, Notepad has become a popular platform for writing out code. One common complaint from programmers working in non-Windows coding language is that Notepad doesn't format line breaks properly, resulting in jumbled, messy text. Now, both Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad, making it even more accessible to developers.

For the first time, users can zoom text by holding ctrl and scrolling the mouse wheel. They can also delete the last word in their document by pressing ctrl+backspace. On top of all that, the new update comes with a wrap-around find-and-replace feature, a default status bar with line and column numbers, and improved performance when handling large files.

The arrow keys will be easier to navigate as well. You can now use the arrow keys to deselect text before moving the cursor. And if you ever want to look up a word online, Microsoft will allow you to connect directly to Bing through the app.

The new Notepad update will be made available first to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 Insider Preview, then to everyone on the forthcoming update, codenamed Redstone 5, likely later this year.

[h/t The Verge]

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New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals
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iStock

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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