chiaralily, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
chiaralily, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

GPS-Enabled Top Hat Helps You Navigate in Style

chiaralily, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
chiaralily, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Finally, there’s a piece of wearable tech that combines the navigation technology of today with the snappy style of the past. A group of students from Cornell University have created a GPS top hat that uses directional sound cues to help users find their destination hands-free.

According to Hackaday, the hat feeds ambient audio tones into earbuds. A mix of phase shifting and amplitude make it seem like sounds are coming from a specific direction. Users simply follow the sounds, which guide them left, right, forward, or backward, until they arrive at their destination. According to the students’ study, “[the hat] does this by using the user’s current GPS coordinates, the destination’s GPS coordinates, and the user’s head orientation to produce sound through two-channel stereo headphones that can be perceived as coming from the direction of the destination.”

Of course, the sound navigation hat isn’t really a viable replacement for other GPS devices. Instead, the student project is a stylish illustration of new developments in navigational technology. Hackaday explains that the interface the students have created, which replaces visual cues with non-verbal audio cues, could one day be employed by apps to help users navigate without looking at their GPS device. 

The technology, they explain, could be of particular use for the visually impaired. Instead of feeding step-by-step audio directions into an earpiece, the GPS top hat emits a constant tone, that shifts as you change direction, providing constant directional input. “The device represents a step towards a walking-friendly hands free navigation solution that allows a user’s attention to remain on their surroundings,” the study explains. “Sound localization is also more intuitive so that the user can spend less time and attention to process the instructions.”

[h/t: Hackaday]

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Sensorwake, Kickstarter
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Wake Up to the Aroma of Cappuccino With This Scent-Emitting Alarm Clock
Sensorwake, Kickstarter
Sensorwake, Kickstarter

Some people need an aggressive alarm clock to get them out of bed, like Simone Giertz's slapping robot, or the singNshock, which zaps you if you hit the snooze button. For others, a gentler wakeup call is what does the trick. That's what you get with Sensorwake, a new alarm clock on Kickstarter that gradually stimulates three of your senses to ease you into the day.

During the first minute of the alarm's three-minute wakeup process, it releases a pleasant aroma. You have your choice of scent cartridges, including cappuccino, peppermint, rose garden, chocolate factory, orange juice, and pine forest. A single cartridge lasts 30 days before it needs to be switched out.

After reviving your nose, Sensorwake activates its visual component: a soft light. For the final minute, the gadget plays sound like a traditional alarm clock, but instead of a blaring buzzer, you hear one of five upbeat melodies. If all that isn't enough to get you on your feet, you can hit snooze and wait for the cycle to start over in 10 minutes.

With more than three weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign, Sensorwake has already multiplied its original funding goal of $30,000. To reserve a clock and two scent capsules of your own, you can pledge $59 or more. Shipping is estimated for November of this year.

[h/t Mashable]

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Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
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MIT’s New AI Can Sense Your Movements Through Walls Using Radio Signals
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL

New artificial intelligence technology developed at MIT can see through walls, and it knows what you’re doing.

RF-Pose, created by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), uses wireless signals to estimate a person’s pose through a wall. It can only come up with a 2D stick figure of your movements, but it can nonetheless see your actions.

The system, described in a new paper [PDF], uses a neural network to piece together radio signals bouncing off the human body. It takes advantage of the fact that the body reflects radio frequency signals in the Wi-Fi range. These Wi-Fi signals can move through walls, but not through people.

Using data from low-power radio signals—1000 times lower than the power your home Wi-Fi router puts out—this algorithm can generate a relatively accurate picture of what the person behind the wall is doing by piecing together the signals reflected by the moving body.

The system can recognize movement in poor lighting and identify multiple different individuals in a scene. Though the technology is still in development, it’s not hard to imagine that the military might use it in surveillance, but the researchers also suggest that it may be useful for video game design and search-and-rescue missions. It might also help doctors monitor and analyze the movements of patients with disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

This is just the latest in a series of projects using radio signals to mimic X-ray vision. CSAIL has been working on similar technology using Wi-Fi signals for several years, creating algorithms to recognize human forms and see motion through obstructions. In the future, they hope to expand the system to be able to recognize movement with 3D images rather than the current 2D stick figures.

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