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App developed to measure emotional intelligence

March 29, 2014 Robots Comments Off

Emotional Apps, the enterprise of technological foundation at the Universitat Jaume I, has developed an application for mobile devices that enable to evaluate abilities to perceive, understand and control emotions easily and free.

More than 6,000 people from around one hundred countries have already downloaded the MEIT test (Mobile Emotional Intelligence Test) that offers important advantages in the face of emotional intelligence test on paper up to date. Advantages such as easiness to adapt it to the specific needs of a company or an organization, and the possibilities that offers the fact that it is used on a technological support, which enables to measure time of the answer of each question or to see how one person pass from a neutral mood to a specific mood, for example.

The main innovation of MEIT is that the test is not just a questionnaire: it consists of a skill test to evaluate three aspects: the ability to perceive emotions, the understanding of these emotions and the ability to manage them. Edgar Bresó, lecturer in Social Psychology at the UJI and one of the creators of the Emotional Test, explains that the first part of the test is already running. It enables to obtain much information to “elaborate a world map that collects average scoring in each country. Rumania, Denmark, South Africa and Vietnam are the countries with the best scores in this moment, but numbers are changing.”

Bresó highlights the advantages of using this on-line test: “It is fundamental to control the time in each question, for example. In a test on paper you can only know the time of the global answer of all the questionnaire, but not of each test, and there is a huge difference when a person, who is to be in front of a public, discerns a bad mood quickly and when this person takes a lot of time to see it.” Emotional intelligence tests are regularly used by companies and organisms in order to hire staff, to launch a product and so on. The lecturer in Social Psychology at the UJI highlights the possibility of adaptation to the needs of each client that MEIT offers, depending on the information that the client wants to compile and evaluate.

PicFeel, photography to share emotions

PicFeel is the second project in which the company is working. It is a social network that will enable to share emotions and to geolocatizate them through pictures. “The idea is that users can upload a picture and tag it with emotions that these pictures produce in them, such as surprise, sadness, envy and so on. It would be like Instagram, but with emotions,” explains Bresó. The uploaded and tagged pictures will generate a world map of emotions that users will notify. “This project can also have applications for future studies as, for example, in the marketing field to see with which pictures and colours people connect certain emotions,” he notes.

The last project of the company Emotional Apps of which Francisco Ramos, lecturer in Computer Systems and Languages is part will consist of developing an application in order to educate children in emotional intelligence through game. “The objective is that children learn to tag and manage their emotions through interactive games.” Technology and emotional intelligence are present again in products developed by the company, in this case, by making children to learn playing with emotions.

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BitTorrent Sync 1.3 Now Supports Windows Phones

March 28, 2014 Geek Comments Off
BitTorent sync-infographicBitTorrent Sync is an app that allows you to easily share your data through synced folders. It gives you an easy way to send important data from your computer or smartphone in a way that enables a client to access it. As a podcaster, I can see how BitTorrent Sync would be useful for sharing raw audio files that were recorded as part of a podcast with the person who will be doing the editing.

BitTorrent Sync previously offered an enhanced mobile experience for Android and iOS. Now, it has expanded to Windows Phone. This means those that use Windows Phone can now use BitTorrent 1.3. It also means that those who use Android or iOS can share their files through BitTorrent 1.3 with a person who is using Windows Phone.

You can download and use BitTorrent Sync for free. There are no size limits or caps on how much you can share through it. BitTorrent Sync skips the cloud, so your files are delivered at lightning speed.

Another great thing about BitTorrent Sync is the big idea behind it. The Official BitTorrent Blog explains it well:

Your data belongs to you. Not to advertisers. Not the NSA. Not the cloud. Sync lets you share information freely; direct to the people (and devices) you choose. Your information stays with you. Wherever you are.

 

An intersection of math and biology: Clams and snails inspire robotic diggers and crawlers

November 13, 2013 Robots Comments Off

 Engineering has always taken cues from biology. Natural organisms and systems have done well at evolving to perform tasks and achieve objectives within the limits set by nature and physics.

That is one of the reasons Anette Hosoi, professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies snails. Snails can move in any direction — horizontally, vertically, and upside down — on various surfaces, be it sand, shells, tree barks or slick walls and smooth glass. One of the reasons for this is the sticky substance on their underbellies, which acts as a powerful lubricant and reduces friction during movement.

By studying and adapting the biological properties of the snail to robotic devices, Hosoi’s group has been able to create a “RoboSnail,” which can climb walls and stick to overhead surfaces much like its living counterpart. Such a device can have potential uses in invasive surgery and oil well drilling, among other applications.

Another organism of interest to Hosoi is the razor clam, which has an amazing ability to dig and wedge itself; it can burrow up to 30 inches in the sand. Hosoi’s “RoboClam” has been developed with the intention of understanding the organism’s behavior and mechanics as well as to explore the possibility of automated digging devices that use less energy than current technology and equipment .

The researchers found that while digging, the clam’s up-and-down movement accompanied by opening and closing of its shell turns sand into the consistency of liquid quicksand. This in turn allows the clam to move quickly through the sand. Similar to the human version, the RoboClam vibrates, changing the solid seabed into fluid, allowing a worm-like foot to push down.

Clam-inspired robotic diggers could find use as automatic tethers and lightweight low-cost anchoring devices for small robotic submarines and even large ships and oil platforms. Devices that burrow into the seabed could also potentially be used as detonators for underwater mines.

Hosoi is not alone in looking to biology to instruct robotics development. Engineers around the world are turning to natural organisms like insects, fish and turtles to inspire the design of robots capable of performing specific tasks that automated devices have traditionally been unable to achieve. Mimicking natural organisms can also aid in improving the efficiency of many applications that are energetically expensive, since biological entities perform the same tasks with much higher efficiency.

It is important to not only copy the animals, but also to understand the biology of their mechanisms in order to take away the key features that allow them to do what they do. These types of biomechanical studies have led to a mutually beneficial partnership between mathematicians and biologists. Biologists can inform mathematical scientists as a goldmine of data is emerging as biology becomes more and more quantified. Mathematicians, in turn, can employ the tools of engineering and computation to analyze this data and offer new insights into the way animals move.

 

Want to audition for Star Wars Episode VII? Here’s how!

November 12, 2013 Sci-Fi Comments Off

The studio and filmmakers behind Star Wars Episode VII are expanding their search for actors to star in the movie — and this could be your chance to get an audition.

After seeing loads of established Hollywood actors and holding open auditions in the U.K., Disney and director J.J. Abrams are now opening up the playing field to aspiring actors in the U.S. The open call, posted at Open Casting Call 2013, includes instructions on how to submit an audition tape along with descriptions of the two roles up for grabs.

Now, the site doesn’t actually say this is for Star Wars Episode VII, and the names of the two characters are almost certainly placeholders. It’s also not clear if the parts are lead or supporting roles. But here are the descriptions (which themselves might not reflect the final versions of the characters on screen):

RACHEL: Young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial).

Was quite young when she lost her parents. With no other family, she was forced to maker her way alone in a tough, dangerous town. Now 17 she has become street smart and strong. She is able to take care of herself using humor and guts to get by.

Always a survivor, never a victim, she remains hopeful that she can move away from this harsh existence to a better life. She is always thinking of what she can do to move ahead.

THOMAS: Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic. Must be over 18.

Has grown up without a father’s influence. Without the model of being a man, he doesn’t have the strongest sense of himself. Despite this, he is smart, capable and shows courage when it is needed. He can appreciate the absurdities in life and understands you can’t take life too seriously.

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to fit either of these characters? Do they ring some sort of bell in you that you might be able to translate into a real performance? Then go to that site above and start the process. 

For those of you just watching from the sidelines, do you think that an open casting call like this could work? Will Star Wars Episode VII end up with the new Harrison Ford — or the new Jake Lloyd? 

Star Wars Episode VII opens on December 18, 2015.

 

Whoa! Did Harrison Ford just say he wants to be in Star Trek 3?

October 29, 2013 Sci-Fi Comments Off

Do you think Capt. James T. Kirk & Co. could find a place for Han Solo on the Enterprise?

Oddly enough, the first inkling of a Star Wars actor heading over to Star Trek didn’t even come from their shared director J.J. Abrams. Instead, producer Roberto Orci and sci-fi veteran Harrison Ford just stole that thunder.

Star Trek writer Roberto Orci also produced Ford’s upcoming sci-fi flick Ender’s Game, and of course someone had to ask that question. In classic Ford fashion, he took the question in stride and got us all wondering how he might be able to fit into Abrams’ new Trek-verse.

The interviewer opened by asking Orci how work is going on Trek 3 — basically, they’re brainstorming potential story lines at the moment — and Orci put Ford on the hot seat to see if he’d be interested in stopping by the Federation for the next go ’round. His answer? “Sure!”

C’mon, Orci — make it happen!

What do you think? Should these acting pools stay separate, or would you like to see some Star Trek/Star Wars synergy now that the creative teams are (essentially) one and the same?

Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 (Review)

October 29, 2013 Geek Comments Off
t630-stock-image-side

The mouse has been around nearly since the humble beginnings of personal computing and, unlike the PC and its software, this tiny peripheral has changed little. But time and technology eventually catch up to even the simplest of objects and the lowly mouse is no exception.

We have witnessed the introduction of cordless versions, first with USB dongles and later with Bluetooth technology.  Buttons have changed, scroll wheels have appeared, lasers replaced track balls and countless other small, but meaningful, progressions have taken place. Mice have evolved from a simple input device to a specialized mouse – from desktop, to gaming, and even travel varieties.

It all leads to today’s innovations in peripheral technology, which Logitech is exploiting in its latest release – the Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630.

In a market becoming divided by user behavior, the T630 falls squarely into the category of travel, thanks to its compact design. There is nothing fancy here – no software need be installed and there are none of the click buttons contained in today’s high-end gaming mice.

This is purely about form and style conquering added, and mostly unneeded and extraneous, features that simply are not a necessity to today’s busy traveler. The T630 is all about compactness and ease of use.

This is a mouse you grab from your travel bag, pop on the desk and get started with. There is no need to worry about the extras – there are none. It just works.

Design and Style

The T630 is tiny, measuring in at a scant 3.25 inches in length, 2.25 inches in width and 0.5 inches in depth, though that tapers quite significantly towards the front end.

The little wedge-shaped peripheral is black on the top, with metallic silver sides and a small Logitech logo running across the rear of the top surface. No buttons or scroll wheel are visible, giving the mouse a very clean and sculpted look.

Several small buttons are present on the outside of the T630, but these are carefully hidden on the underside so as not to subtract from the good looks.

Setting up the T630

Unlike the more sophisticated gaming mice on the market, the Logitech T630 Touch Mouse comes with no software to setup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tricks to getting underway – they simply are not complicated steps.

First, and fairly obvious, is that you must make sure your computer supports Bluetooth, but that is not a stumbling block for much of today’s hardware. You will also need to enable the service, which is frequently off in laptops due to battery-drain concerns.

In Windows 8, head to the Charms menu and hit Settings and then Change PC Settings. Next, tap Wireless and, under Wireless Devices, you will find the option to toggle Bluetooth on and off.

If you are using Windows 7, then first you will need to turn on the Bluetooth device and then look for it under Device Manager. It’s not uncommon to find the item marked with a yellow warning triangle, requiring you to right-click and update the driver.

t630-bottomWith these minor procedures behind us, turn the T630 belly-up, where you will discover three buttons. One is a channel-switch marked “1” and “2”. This allows you to pair the mouse with two different computers and move back and forth by simply toggling the little switch one position to the other. Choose the side you wish to begin with and then flip the on-off switch to “on” – it will now show green as opposed to the previous red.

Lastly, press the tiny button marked “connect” and turn the device right-side-up. At this point you should see a tiny pin-prick of light shining from a hole near the top-rear of the mouse – a spot so small you really can’t see it until it suddenly lights up. This will blink a blue color as it searches and turn solid one it has paired with your PC. After a few seconds it will go out. You are now connected and the mouse should work immediately.

If you do not see any light during this process then the mouse may need to be charged. It works with Micro USB and you will find the port on the bottom, near the rear end. A small cable ships with the T630, but today’s phone charging cords can also be used. The light will come on, this time in green, as the mouse charges. When the light is out then the device is fully charged.

Using the T630

As previously noted, the top surface of the peripheral is smooth, but the buttons are still present, though the clicking action, which is still audible, is actually carried out on the bottom of the device. Both left and right are located in the same positions as on any typical mouse.

Scroll wheel functionality is located in the center, just ahead of the Logitech logo. Click once to enable and again to disable.

t630-topThis peripheral also has several gestures that make it simple to use. For instance, while many of us are used to a scroll wheel, you may find scrolling up and down a page easier on the T630 Touch Mouse by simply swiping a finger towards the rear of the mouse for page down and towards the front for page up.

If you are using Windows 8 then you will encounter two additional handy gestures – swipe in from the right to access the Charms menu or in from the left side for the list of open apps. A slower swiping motion allows for side-to-side scrolling of a wide page.

Finally, tap two fingers simultaneously near the center of the mouse to gain easy access to the Start button, though this may be a Windows 7-only option, as it did not seem to work under Windows 8.1, which does have a Start button, though it’s less functional than its ancestor.

Final Conclusion

I should preface this by telling you that the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 is likely not for everyone. Users with large hands, for instance, may experience problems. In fact, despite that my hands are pretty average, using this mouse took some getting used to – it, at first, practically felt as if there was nothing at all under my hand. I came from a Logitech M185, which is a typically shaped mouse, though smaller than a standard “desktop size” mouse. The T630 dwarfs it.

When it comes to functionality, the Logitech device contains everything you expect from a basic mouse — left and right buttons and a scroll wheel. But it comes with several useful bonus features, such as swipe scrolling (a feature we’re all used to from today’s mobile devices) and easy access to the Windows 8 side menus.

Setup is also simple enough for any user – the Bluetooth links up to the computer with no hassle and adding a second paired device is just as easy. An on-off button allows you to save on battery when the peripheral isn’t in use, and recharging the battery can be done anywhere thanks to micro USB compatibility.

If I had to give you one complaint about the T630 then it would be sensitivity. Namely that the little device has too much of it. I find that the slightest movement of my finger has me scrolling down a page when I am not expecting to do so.

The bottom line here is that the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630, which has just gone on sale for $ 69.99, is a great mouse, providing you can adapt to using such a tiny device. For those just looking for an easy fit in a travel bag, as opposed to daily use, it excels, but may be a bit pricey for limited use scenarios.

 

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