TIME Innovation

Medicine’s Augmented-Reality Future Is Just Around the Corner

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Getty Images

How this new technology will change how your doctor treats you

This story was originally published at the Daily Dot.

Augmented reality is still a relatively new and unknown technology. People scoff at Google Glass face computers on the street while the device is being used by doctors as both a diagnostic tool and a way to train medical students.

The hardware and software that bends reality is expected to become a part of our everyday life. But when? In fields like healthcare, it’s already being used to treat patients and improve the quality of life for those suffering from things like mental illness and vision impairments.

Helen Papagiannis, augmented reality specialist and Ph.D researcher, studies practical applications of augmented reality, and at a HealthTech Women event in San Francisco, discussed some of the ways it’s already being used in work and research environments.

OrCam is helping visually impaired people “see” text. The Tel Aviv-based company created a wearable that clips onto a pair of glasses and contains a camera and a pair of sensors. It speaks to the wearer through a bone-conduction earpiece, describing what it sees. OrCam can tell when a person is pointing to a menu, book, or any other text, and can “read” the text to the wearer. This technology has allowed people to enjoy novels before bed, go out to lunch with friends without asking them to read the menu, and look at street signs while walking through a city.

In diagnostic environments, Evena Medical gives nurses and doctors complete vision of vascular anatomy with Eyes-On Glass—by slipping on a pair of glasses, they can see the veins underneath patients’ skin, making it easier to document the best care as well as insert needles quicker and more comfortably.

“In two to five years, the definition of augmented reality is going to extend,” Papagiannis said in an interview with the Daily Dot. “We’re not going to be calling it augmented reality anymore, it really will just be reality. It will be a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, all coming together.”

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Though the “No Child Left Behind” brand is thoroughly tarnished, the law sparked the revolution of data-driven educating.

By Nick Sheltrown in EdSurge

2. To help cities plan for flooding, drought, wildfires and other effects of climate change, the University of Michigan built an adaptation tool for the Great Lakes region.

By Lisa A. Pappas at University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute

3. Teachers are underpaid in America. Early childhood workers earns even less for setting the foundation of all future learning for our children. That should change.

By Laura Bornfreund at New America Foundation

4. Chicago’s ‘Crime Lab’ — which uses scientific research to understand and experiment with innovative ways to prevent crime — could be replicated in other cities.

By Tina Rosenberg in Fixes, at the New York Times

5. To reduce billions of needless miles driving, a startup is bringing the Uber model to the trucking industry.

By Liz Gannes in Re/code

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

See The Incredibly Goofy Evolution of Virtual Reality Headsets

Inventors have been experimenting with virtual reality headsets in a variety of sometimes wacky ways, from virtual roller coasters to virtual surgery

TIME Gadgets

How To Boost Your Wi-Fi With a Range Extender

phone
Getty Images

Here's how to get your Wi-Fi network to finally cover your whole house

I love the Wi-Fi service available in my home. I have my laptop, my smartphone and my tablet hooked up to it so I can surf the web from anywhere in the house. Well, almost anywhere.

The Wi-Fi gear is installed towards the back of my place. The further I go towards the front of the house, the worse the signal. If I try to do much more than check email in my front room, it takes forever. Streaming YouTube or Netflix is out of the question.

Fortunately, this is why they make wireless Wi-Fi range extenders. These are small boxes that can extend the range of your Wi-Fi signal by boosting it and retransmitting it.

What to buy

When looking for a wireless Wi-Fi range extender of your own, you don’t need to buy from the same manufacturer as your Wi-Fi box (though it doesn’t hurt, either.) The features you are looking for are easy set up, matching frequency band (2.4 and/or 5Ghz) and a signal-strength indicator.

Two-button set up

If you aren’t especially tech-savvy, you’ll want to stay away from extenders that require you to fiddle around with their internal settings through a web browser. Watch out for any product that comes with a CD or software.

The easiest set up is if both your Wi-Fi box and the expander have WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). Pushing the WPS buttons on both your Wi-Fi box and your extender at the same time allows the systems to talk to each other and take care of the setup without you having to muck around with the settings.

Match the frequency

Is your Wi-Fi box running on a 2.4 or 5Ghz band? Make sure the extender matches. If you have a choice, boosting a 2.4Gz signal will go further, but boosting the short-range 5Ghz signal will be stronger. Dual-band extenders cover both.

Signal strength indicator

How do you know where to put your extender for the best signal boost? Too close to your Wi-Fi box and you won’t get the best coverage. Go too far and the weakened signal won’t do you any good. Look for extenders that give an indication of signal strength so you can find just the right spot.

Our recommendation

Netgear’s WN2500RP Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender ($54 on Amazon) has all the bells and whistles we covered here. We particularly like the LED lights that give you a great indicator of the signal strength.

That’s all there is to it. With a repeater in place, you can be streaming music in your garage or checking Facebook on the porch in no time. But what if an extender can’t get the Wi-Fi to the room you want? Then it’s time to consider a wired alternative.

Wired extender alternatives

1. If your home has been wired for cable, you may have a coax (cat 5) jack in your home’s Wi-Fi dead zone that you can use to extend your coverage. A coax adapter creates a wired connection from your router box to the are where you need coverage without having to run a cable.

It’s as simple as plugging one adapter into a coax jack next to your existing router and using an Ethernet cable to connect them. Then plug the second adapter into a coax jack in the area where you need Wi-Fi coverage and use an Ethernet cable to connect the adapter to the included, second Wi-Fi router. You should get the same speeds as your current W-Fi network and higher speeds than a Wi-Fi repeater will provide.

If this sounds like the option for you, we recommend the Actiontec Dual-Band Wireless Network Extender and Ethernet Over Coax Adapter Kit ($149.99 on Amazon).

2. A powerline adapter creates a wired connection from your router box to the room you need it without having to run a cable between the two areas. It does this by using the existing electrical system already built into your house.

It’s as simple as plugging one adapter into a power outlet next to your router and using an Ethernet cable to connect them. Then plug the second adapter into an electrical socket in the room where you need it and plug another Ethernet cable from that one into whatever computer, game console or smart TV requires an internet connection. Pair the two adapters by pressing the buttons on the front of them and you’re good to go.

A powerline adapter will likely provide a faster internet connection than a Wi-Fi repeater, though it will depend on how your house is wired. It’s ideal if you’re only trying to connect one device that has an ethernet port.

If this sounds like the option for you, we recommend the TP-LINK TL-PA4010KIT AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit ($40 on Amazon). It is small, powerful, secure and has an energy-saving mode. You can buy extra adapters if you want a signal in more than one room.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 22

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Want to improve your bottom line? Diversify your workplace.

By Joann S. Lublin in the Wall Street Journal

2. Journalism shouldn’t be a transaction for communities. A local news lab can make it transformational.

By Josh Stearns in Medium

3. The spike of hysteria about artificial intelligence could threaten valuable research.

By Erik Sofge in Popular Science

4. A new vision for securing work and protecting jobs can ensure stability in the face of rising automation.

By Guy Ryder at the World Economic Forum

5. Purchasing carbon offsets is easy. With carbon ‘insetting,’ a business folds sustainable decisions into the supply chain.

By Tim Smedley in the Guardian

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Here’s What It’s Like to Use Microsoft’s Amazing New Holographic Headset

HoloLens
Windows

The coolest new product to come out of Microsoft in decades, the HoloLens, can overlay 3-D images on real-world surroundings, mixing of fantasy and reality

After tickling pint-sized sheep across a coffee table, blowing a holographic hole through a wall and touring the surface of Mars, it seems safe to say that Microsoft’s newly unveiled headset, the HoloLens, marks a major leap forward in the field of virtual reality.

Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens during a Windows 10 press conference at its Redmond, Washington headquarters on Wednesday. Rather than immerse the user in a digital fantasy world, like the Oculus Rift, the HoloLens overlays 3-D images on top of real-world surroundings, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

No recording devices were allowed into the demonstration rooms, which were hidden beneath the ground floor of Microsoft’s Visitor Center and secured behind locked doors. Unlike the sleek, donut-shaped headset unveiled on stage, the prototypes in the demonstration were skeletal contraptions that wrapped around the cranium and included a small computer slung around the neck. The weight was easy to ignore once the technicians fired up a game of Minecraft and the game’s fantasy world sprawled out over real world living room furniture.

As the headset’s spatial sensors scanned their surroundings, a pulse of blue light passed over the tabletop and slipped around the corners. Suddenly a slightly translucent image of a castle rose from the tabletop. Beneath it, a pool of blue water was spread across the floor and thumb-sized sheep grazed at the water’s edge. The images are projected directly into the user’s eye and precisely turn with the user’s movements.

While the images appear to fade away at the periphery, a turn of the head quickly fills in the blank with new terrain. Users can interact with their surroundings by training their eyes on any object of interest, holding out a pointer finger and “air tapping” it with a downward flick. Air tap a holographic shovel, for instance, and it punches a hole through the coffee table. A soft beam of light passes through the opening and casts a bright patch on the floor.

The holes can offer keyhole glimpses into new terrains. Beneath the side table was a lake of lava. After a blowing a hole through the wall, a passageway to a cave opened, complete with bats flitting back out towards the user. But the highlight of the demonstration had to be the bizarre-yet-satisfying pleasure of tickling miniature sheep across a table, and watching one poor creature take a lemming-like leap over the table’s edge.

The second demonstration suspended a Skype video screen in mid-air. The caller, a Microsoft engineer, shared my view on her screen and directed me toward a scattering of tools. She then guided me through a real world installation of a light switch, with her drawing holographic arrows at the tools I needed each step of the way. It worked, and it showcased the HoloLens ability to stick an expert into a novice’s field of vision, instantly eliminating the skills gap.

A third demonstration projected photographic landscapes of Mars, snapped by NASA’s mars rover, in a surprisingly crisp image of its cracked and rocky surface. Microsoft has partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to simulate exploratory missions on Mars. A real-world monitor showed the two-dimensional landscape on a conventional screen, but pull the mouse cursor beyond the screen’s edge and it floats seamlessly into the 3-dimensional landscape, where a mouse click can plant a holographic flag into the ground.

A final demonstration showed how models can be constructed in space, by pinching pre-fabricated shapes, rotating them and gluing them together. A “perfect print preview for 3-D printing,” explained a Microsoft engineer as a coworker put the finishing touches on a koala wearing a space helmet. Moments later they distributed 3-D printed models of the same koala in a goodie bag.

To be sure, these were highly stage managed interactions with the HoloLens, and it remains to be seen how it will fare for the average consumer. When that will happen remains an open question. The HoloLens has been under development for at least five years, and its lead inventor, Alex Kipman, said the product would release sometime “within the Windows 10 timeframe,” which could mean a matter of years.

Still, the technology is mind-bendingly cool. If the experiences in the demonstration rooms can be carried over into the real world, Microsoft may have a shot at reclaiming the mobile market, leapfrogging over the current jumble of smartphones, tablets and phablets, and into the next generation of augmented reality.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 21

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. China’s scramble to lock up resources in Africa has forced it to act more like a conventional superpower.

By Richard Javad Heydarian in Medium

2. Adaptive learning technology can give educators tools to keep kids who learn differently from falling through the cracks.

By Susan D’Auria and Ashley Mucha at Knewton

3. 2015 might be the year America starts to get online identity right.

By Alex Howard in Tech Republic

4. Changing a long-standing rule prohibiting sororities from hosting parties could reverse the power imbalance that underlies campus sexual assault.

By Michael Kimmel in Time

5. Ominous headlines notwithstanding, offline fraud and scams are still more costly to individuals and the government than cybercrime.

By Benjamin Dean in the Conversation

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Researchers Make Super Mario Self-Aware

I, for one, welcome our new plumber overlords

Mario doesn’t need you anymore to help him rescue the princess. A new project by German researchers, called Mario AI, gives the famous Italian plumber the ability to understand speech and learn new skills as he navigates his colorful world.

Plopped into a level from Super Mario World, this super-smart version of Mario can understand verbal commands from humans spoken in both English and German. He can explore the level of his own volition and make discoveries that he relays to a human observer. For instance, ask Mario what a Goomba is (the most famous of Mario enemies) and he’ll initially say he doesn’t know. Wait until he’s killed one of the creatures, though, and he’ll say, “If I jump on Goomba, then it maybe dies.”

Mario also has different emotional states that dictate his activities in the game world. When he’s hungry, for instance, he’ll search out coins to eat, and when he’s curious, he’ll perform more acrobatics to explore more parts of the level.

The project was developed by a team at Germany’s University of Tubingen. It makes use of speech recognition software developed at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy.

[Mashable]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is America willing to do the hard work to mend its racial divide?

By Eric Liu in CNN

2. The first new antibiotic developed in 30 years could turn the tide against the rising resistance of many diseases.

By Brian Handwerk in Smithsonian Magazine

3. Adapting to climate change will buy time, but rising sea levels are a major threat to low-lying cities.

By Laura Parker in National Geographic

4. Is four years too much? More college students are jumpstarting careers by graduating early.

By Rachel Rosenbaum in USA Today College

5. The cargo ship of the future will have a hull that acts as a giant sail, slashing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

By Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics in Phys.org

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A simple plan pairing a low-income first-time mom with a nurse for advice through pregnancy and her child’s early years can give that family stability and even a better life.

By Nancy Cook in the Atlantic

2. Google will pilot test a build-your-own modular smartphone, operating out of a mobile phone-lab that looks like a food truck.

By Nathan Ingraham and Josh Lowensohn in the Verge

3. The belief that some scientific fields require innate genius or natural ‘brilliance’ may keep women out.

By Rachel Bernstein in Science Magazine

4. The FDA has cleared a ‘pacemaker for the stomach’ that could be a silver bullet against obesity.

By Thomas M. Burton in the Wall Street Journal

5. Offshore wind farms — if we can build them — stand to provide twice as much energy and create twice as many jobs as offshore drilling.

By Lindsay Abrams in Salon

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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