Communication

Voice recognition now beats typing

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Next-generation platform for ultradense data recording

credit: ITMO University
credit: ITMO University

A group of scientists from ITMO University in Saint Petersburg has put forward a new approach to effective manipulation of light at the nanoscale based on hybrid metal-dielectric nanoantennas. The new technology promises to bring about a new platform for ultradense optical data recording and pave the way to high throughput fabrication of a wide range of optical nanodevices capable of localizing, enhancing and manipulating light at the nanoscale. The results of the study were published in Advanced Materials.

Nanoantenna is a device that converts freely propagating light into localized light – compressed into several tens of nanometers. The localization enables scientists to effectively control light at the nanoscale. This is one of the reasons why nanoantennas may become the fundamental building blocks of future optical computers that rely on photons instead of electrons to process and transmit information. This inevitable replacement of the information carrier is related to the fact that photons surpass electrons by several orders of magnitude in terms of information capacity, require less energy, rule out circuit heating and ensure high velocity data exchange.

Until recently, the production of planar arrays of hybrid nanoantennas for light manipulation was considered an extremely painstaking process. A solution to this problem was found by researchers from ITMO University in collaboration with colleagues from Saint Petersburg Academic University and Joint Institute for High Temperatures in Moscow. The research group has for the first time developed a technique for creating such arrays of hybrid nanoantennas and for high-accuracy adjustment of individual nanoantennas within the array. The achievement was made possible by subsequently combining two production stages: lithography and precise exposure of thenanoantenna to a femtosecond laser – ultrashort impulse laser.

The practical application of hybrid nanoantennas lies, in particular, within the field of ultradense data recording. Modern optical drives can record information with density around 10 Gbit/inch2, which equals to the size of a single pixel of a few hundred nanometers. Although such dimensions are comparable to the size of the nanoantennas, the scientists propose to additionally control their color in the visible spectrum. This procedure leads to the addition of yet another ‘dimension’ for data recording, which immediately increases the entire data storage capacity of the system.

Apart from ultradense data recording, the selective modification of hybrid nanoantennas can help create new designs of hybrid metasurfaces, waveguides and compact sensors for environmental monitoring. In the nearest future, the research group plans to focus on the development of such specific applications of their hybrid nanoantennas.

The nanoantennas are made of two components: a truncated silicon cone with a thin golden disk located on top. The researchers demonstrated that, thanks to nanoscale laser reshaping, it is possible to precisely modify the shape of the golden particle without affecting the silicon cone. The change in the shape of the golden particle results in changing optical properties of the nanoantenna as a whole due to different degrees of resonance overlap between the silicon and golden nanoparticles.

Contrary to conventional heat-induced fabrication of nanoantennas, the new method raises the possibility of adjusting individual nanoantennas within the array and exerting precise control over overall optical properties of the hybrid nanostructures.

Narcissists post and care

Korean researchers studied how narcissism relates to a person’s selfie-posting behavior on Social Networking Sites such as Facebook and interest in the comments they receive back.

The authors describe the link between degree of narcissism and self-promotion through selfies in the article “Hide-and-Seek: Narcissism and ‘Selfie’-Related Behavior” published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Jung-Ah Lee and Yongjun Sung, PhD, Korea University (Seoul, South Korea), found that individuals with a higher degree of narcissism have a more favorable attitude toward the act of posting selfies. Their involvement in the comments received to their own selfies and their interest in other people’s selfies did not, however mean that they were more likely to provide feedback.

Technology

Windows 10 start button not working

On a number of occasions the Windows start button stopped working on computers running Windows 10 on this side. You might find a number of possible fixes online for this issue, but this one works here:

1. Open the Task manager (Press Ctrl+Alt+Del).
2. Click File > Run New Task
3. Make sure you have a check mark beside “Create this task with administrative privileges” Click “OK”
4. Type CMD. Press [Enter].
5. Type the following three commands at the CMD prompt, press [Enter] and wait for each to finish before you move to the next one (Tip: copy the last one):
dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
powershell
Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers |Where-Object {$_.InstallLocation -like “*SystemApps*”} | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}
6. Close the CMD window
7. Restart Windows.

Linguistics

Switching languages rewires brain

Bilinguals use and learn language in ways that change their minds and brains, which has consequences — many positive, according to Judith F. Kroll, a Penn State cognitive scientist.

“Recent studies reveal the remarkable ways in which bilingualism changes the brain networks that enable skilled cognition, support fluent language performance and facilitate new learning,” said Kroll, Distinguished Professor, psychology, linguistics and women’s studies.

Researchers have shown that the brain structures and networks of bilinguals are different from those of monolinguals. Among other things, the changes help bilinguals to speak in the intended language — not to mistakenly speak in the “wrong” language.

And just as humans are not all the same, bilinguals are not all the same and the changes in the mind and brain differ depending on how the individual learned the language, what the two languages are and the context the languages are used in.

“What we know from recent research is that at every level of language processing — from words to grammar to speech — we see the presence of cross-language interaction and competition,” said Kroll, Distinguished Professor of psychology, linguistics and women’s studies. “Sometimes we see these cross-language interactions in behavior, but sometimes we only see them in brain data.”

Kroll presented recent findings about how bilinguals learn and use language in ways that change their minds and brains today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Both languages are active at all times in bilinguals, meaning the individuals cannot easily turn off either language and the languages are in competition with one another. In turn this causes bilinguals to juggle the two languages, reshaping the network in the brain that supports each.

“The consequences of bilingualism are not limited to language but reflect a reorganization of brain networks that hold implications for the ways in which bilinguals negotiate cognitive competition more generally,” said Kroll.

Kroll was instrumental in establishing the first U.S. chapter of Bilingualism Matters at Penn State, within the University’s Center for Language Science. Bilingualism Matters is an international organization that aims to bring practically applicable findings from current bilingual research to the public.

Technology

Atlas, The Next Generation

A new version of Atlas, designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings. It is specialized for mobile manipulation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects. This version of Atlas is about 5′ 9″ tall (about a head shorter than the DRC Atlas) and weighs 180 lbs.

Communication Office applications

Type, edit and format with your voice in Docs—no keyboard needed!

To get started, select ‘Voice typing’ in the ‘Tools’ menu when you’re using Docs in Chrome. Say what comes to mind—then start editing and formatting with commands like “copy,” “insert table,” and “highlight.”

https://support.google.com/docs/answer/4492226

Technology

Gecko grippers in space

Grasping and releasing objects in microgravity on the NASA parabolic flight program with JPL and Stanford using BDML gecko-adhesive gripper.

Office applications Technology

Park that chair

Location applications

GPS tracking down to the centimeter

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new, more computationally efficient way to process data from the Global Positioning System (GPS), to enhance location accuracy from the meter-level down to a few centimeters.

(photo: UC Riverside)
(photo: UC Riverside)

The optimization will be used in the development of autonomous vehicles, improved aviation and naval navigation systems, and precision technologies. It will also enable users to access centimeter-level accuracy location data through their mobile phones and wearable technologies, without increasing the demand for processing power.

The research, led by Jay Farrell, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, was published recently in IEEE’s Transactions on Control Systems Technology. The approach involves reformulating a series of equations that are used to determine a GPS receiver’s position, resulting in reduced computational effort being required to attain centimeter accuracy.

First conceptualized in the early 1960s, GPS is a space-based navigation system that allows a receiver to compute its location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive radio signals from four or more overhead satellites. Due to various error sources, standard GPS yields position measurements accurate to approximately 10 meters.

Differential GPS (DGPS), which enhances the system through a network of fixed, ground-based reference stations, has improved accuracy to about one meter. But meter-level accuracy isn’t sufficient to support emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, precision farming, and related applications.

“To fulfill both the automation and safety needs of driverless cars, some applications need to know not only which lane a car is in, but also where it is in that lane–and need to know it continuously at high rates and high bandwidth for the duration of the trip,” said Farrell, whose research focuses on developing advanced navigation and control methods for autonomous vehicles.

Farrell said these requirements can be achieved by combining GPS measurements with data from an inertial measurement unit (IMU) through an internal navigation system (INS). In the combined system, the GPS provides data to achieve high accuracy, while the IMU provides data to achieve high sample rates and high bandwidth continuously.

Achieving centimeter accuracy requires “GPS carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution.” Until now, combining GPS and IMU data to solve for the integers has been computationally expensive, limiting its use in real-world applications. The UCR team has changed that, developing a new approach that results in highly accurate positioning information with several orders of magnitude fewer computations.

“Achieving this level of accuracy with computational loads that are suitable for real-time applications on low-power processors will not only advance the capabilities of highly specialized navigation systems, like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture, but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost,” Farrell said.