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TechEmergence is the only news and media site exclusively about innovation at the crossroads of technology and psychology. We cover a variety of technologies, mainly homing in on augmented reality, virtual reality, and brain-machine interface. Our focus is on breaking news and the insights of top researchers, investors, and entrepreneurs in emerging technology.



Conor Russomanno is the founder and research developer of OpenBCI, a low-cost open-source hardware platform that records the brain’s electrical signals and uses devices and software languages to make the data easily accessible. Russomanno and co-founder Joel Murphy aim to accelerate the advancement of BCI through collaborative hardware and software development.

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Link to audio file (23:28), or  listen on iTunes

In this interview, TechEmergence talks to Dr. Beata Jarosiewicz from Brown’s BrainGate project about the science of making sense of the brain’s inner electrical activity, and how the brain might be used to control a variety of devices if calibrated correctly. 

Dan Bacher has always been fascinated by two things: electrical engineering and neuroscience. While these interests may seem divergent, the synthesis of them led him to Brown University’s BrainGate Group, where he is the Senior Research and Development Engineer. Says Bacher, “applying technology to the area of neuroscience just always fascinated me.”

When it comes to complex tasks like building a house, many people with different skills work together to accomplish a single, larger goal. Instead of trying to create a perfect robot capable of building a house solo, could scientists replicate how humans function and make a “swarm” of imperfect robots capable of working together to accomplish complex tasks? This is the question Dr. Jekan Thanga hopes to answer. Thanga is one of the leading researchers who are applying bio-inspired neuro-evolutionary methods to robotics, and heads up Arizona State University’s Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration Laboratory.

What looks like a fish, swims like a fish but isn’t a fish? The latest in soft-bodied robots created by team of engineers of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

António Câmara is a man with a vision.

Despite the widespread adoption of computers and digital technology over the last few decades, how we interact with that technology, and use technology to interact with the world around us has remained largely unchanged. For example, for over 30 years, the primary means of interacting with a computer has been the keyboard and mouse. Certainly there have been updates to the technology – trackpads, for example, have become a popular mouse alternative – but that essential method of interaction remains the same. Even touch screens, perhaps the most widespread change in how people interact with technology, date back to the 1980’s.

Astronauts all know how important it is to stay healthy in space. Weightlessness alone can cause a number of physiological changes including muscle atrophy, loss of blood volume and bone loss. Most astronauts complete medical training, which equips them with the skills to perform procedures such as first aid and basic surgery. But what happens if there’s an emergency and no medical expert to assist?

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Photo by Alex Jerez Roman, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

A paper in Nature Communications earlier this year reports on “bio-bots”. These tiny machines inspired by sperm, are a hybrid combination of live heart cells and a synthetic polymer body.

The new bots, developed by researchers from the University of Illinois and Arizona State University, are the first swimming micro-machines that mimic the flagellar movement of sperm to traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments. This means they can propel themselves onward, fired by the contractile power of heart cells.

BrainGateIf the human brain is considered a computer, what does that mean for science and our lives? Could we repair damaged areas, replace damaged parts, or even upgrade our own minds? It might sound like little more than the stuff of science fiction, but with current advances in brain-machine interfaces, science fiction is fast becoming science fact.

Imagine if playing music was as simple at looking at your laptop screen. Now it is thanks to Kenneth Camilleri and his team of researchers from the Department of Systems and Control Engineering and the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics at the University of Malta, who have developed a music player that can be controlled by the human brain.

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PackBots will be deployed in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup Soccer season to bring a high-tech approach to security. The nation’s government has secured a $7.2 million deal with PackBot’s creators for 30 of the military bots. The robots will be stationed throughout Brazil’s 12 host cities, during the soccer matches to boost security and help examine any suspicious objects.

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What has the capability to strengthen homeland security, produce a ball’s-eye view of a soccer match and swim underwater with dolphins? GuardBot: the latest development in unmanned amphibious vehicle systems.

The cutting-edge spherical robot was developed by Connecticut-based American Unmanned Systems. The 54-pound bot can roll over the roughest terrain including snow, mud, rocks and sand and is the only unmanned amphibious device that is capable of navigating through water.

human_computer_digital_gamingArtificial intelligence has it’s advantages. Systematically, over decades of research and development, AI has come to dominate human intelligence in a number of specific and often limited tasks. Yet, AI – at least thus far – has still lagged human intelligence in certain types of rich pattern recognition. For example, AI programs are still comparatively inept with regards to picking up and handling different kinds of objects, and until recently, AI seemed to struggle vehemently in discerning a “cat” from a “dog” on a screen (see: Kaggle).

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Photo credit: Image Agency

Why do people who use Facebook spend so much of their online time there? Why do people want to share, to comment?
Patrick Levy Rosenthal asked himself these answers and was drawn back again and again to: Emotion. Researcher and Parisian, Patrick now lives in London working on his startup, EmoSpace.

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Tjin Van Der Zant helped found “Robocup at Home” in 2006, and since then the organization has spread to include a number of new locations everywhere from Brazil to Thailand. As a professor at the University of Groningen in the Cognitive Robotics Lab, and founder of a Robotics startup and machine learning startup – he’s pretty “involved” when it comes to robots – and it made me eager to pick his brain about the future of home robotics.