This Electric Thinking Cap Boosts Learning and Decision Making

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Up until a few weeks ago, the proverbial thinking cap only had a figurative meaning, but apparently science has finally managed to catch up. A couple of American scientists have created a real thinking cap that could help people learn and make decisions quicker.

This unique device is the brainchild of psychology professor Geoff Woodman and Ph.D. student Robert Reinhart of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and works by sending very low electrical shocks to the brain when worn. The duo claim that the electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain could make the wearer learn new skills and make better decisions.

Indeed, studies performed on the human brain have revealed that negative voltage spikes occur in the medial-frontal cortex of the brain, milliseconds before we make a mistake. Woodman and Reinhart figured that a part of the brain can influence learning and decision making, helping us avoid the same mistakes later.

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Singapore Runs Out of Human Waiters, Uses Drones Instead

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A Singapore restaurant has come up with a very innovative solution to cope with the shortage of manpower affecting the whole island city – flying robot waiters! The Infinium Robotics’ drones are all set to be introduced at the local restaurant-bar chain by the end of this year.

Availability of manpower has become an issue all over Singapore, ever since the government introduced curbs on cheap and foreign labor in order to slow down immigration. The restaurant industry has long depended on foreign labor, because young Singaporeans tend to look down on service jobs.

Several well-known restaurants and food stalls have actually shut down in recent months due to manpower shortage and high rent costs. In order to cope with the situation, a few restaurateurs have been experimenting with new ways – right from robots who can wok-fry rice and noodles, to iPad menus and bullet train delivery systems. But this is the first time a restaurant will have drones that serving diners.

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USB Sticks Buried in Walls All Around the World Make Up an Anonymous File Sharing Network

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‘Dead Drops’, a five-year-old project created by Berlin media artist Aram Bartholl, is probably the world’s most amazing file sharing network. It consists of USB flash drives embedded into walls, buildings and curbs all over the world. Anyone is welcome to hook up their laptops or smartphones to these drives, to drop or download files, or expand the network by embedding USB memory sticks in any old, crumbling wall in their own city.

The premise of the project is rather simple – just cement a USB stick into a wall with the port protruding, and post its location with photographs on the central Dead Drops database. Bartholl said that he created the project as a way to ‘un-cloud’ file sharing. “Dead Drops is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space,” the project manifesto states.

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Chinese Teen Cut Off His Hand Because He Was Addicted to the Internet

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In a desperate attempt to cure himself of his internet addiction, a Chinese teenager simply chopped off his own left hand. The 19-year-old, from the city of Nantong, in Jiangsu province, took the drastic measure last week.

“We cannot accept what has happened,” said the kid’s mother, who refused to be identified. “It was completely out of the blue. He was a smart boy.” She had gone to her son’s bedroom at 11pm last Wednesday, only to find him missing from his bed. Instead, she found a handwritten note that said: “Mum, I have gone to the hospital for a while. Don’t worry, I will definitely come back this evening.”

In the meantime, the boy had snuck out of the house with a kitchen knife. Once safely out of sight, he severed his left hand at the wrist. He then called a taxi to take him to a nearby Emergency Room, leaving the hand lying on the ground.

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Artists Create Book Cover That Refuses to Open for Judgmental Readers

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While the age-old idiom tells us not to judge a book by its cover, this high-tech book-cover is designed to do the judging instead. Created by a group of artists at Amsterdam creative studio Moore, the book-sleeve has the ability to scan faces for prejudice. If it detects even the slightest hint of judgement, the book will simply refuse to open.

Aptly named ‘The Cover that Judges You’, the sleeve comes with an integrated camera at the top and facial-recognition software that scans the faces of people who approach it. “Our aim was to create a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech,” artist Thijs Biersteker said. “If you approach the book, the face-recognition system picks up your face and starts scanning it for signs of judgement.”

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High-Tech Helmet Lets You Hear Your Own Thoughts, Sort Of

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The ‘Experience Helmet’ is a new, high-tech wearable device that allows people to hear electronic representations of their thoughts. It uses Electroencephalography (EEG) technology to translate brain activity into data. This basically means that the helmet can read your thoughts, convert it into sound, and play it back to you!

According to Aiste Noreikaite, who invented the helmet, it is meant to create an “audible reflection of one’s personal experience of the present moment.” Inspired by Buddhist meditation practices, the London-based artist said that she wanted to create a device to enhance self-awareness.

So she started with an ordinary bike helmet, took it apart, and installed an EEG wireless headset and headphones inside. Next, she researched ways to convert the data provided by the headset into sound. After much deliberation, she finally settled on pure electronic signals to represent brainwaves.

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Futuristic Bionic Boots Literally Put a Spring in Your Step

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‘Bionic Boots’ are high-tech footwear that can help you reach running speeds comparable to professional athletes like Usain Bolt. The ultra light boots feature innovative springs inspired by the Achilles tendon of ostriches or kangaroos, lending the wearer more force while running and literally putting a spring in their stride.

The boots are the brainchild of inventor Keahi Seymour, who has always been fascinated by the effortless speed and agility of ostriches, the fastest running birds on the planet, with a top speed of 45 mph. He has been working on the gadget for several years, producing dozens of prototypes in the process.

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Revolutionary Invisible Umbrella Shelters You from the Rain with Bursts of Air

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A team of engineers in China is currently involved in developing something called the ‘Air Umbrella’ – a revolutionary new device that uses blasts of air to shield people from the rain. The high-tech umbrella, shaped like a plastic microphone, is capable of producing horizontal gusts of air that repel raindrops, creating a dry, one meter wide circle around the user’s head.

There is a small catch, of course – the device works only for a short while. In true Cinderella style, the ‘magic’ wears off at the stroke of the 30th minute – the umbrella stops producing air and you’ll be drenched in no time at all. So you’d probably want to use it only if you’re confident you can get out of the rain in 30 minutes or less.

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Kokoro Scanner – A Japanese High-Tech Toy That Lets Others Know If You Are Lying or Telling the Truth

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The Kokoro Scanner (Heart Scanner) is a high-tech Japanese invention that can spice up classic party games such as ‘Truth or Dare’. It is a lie detecting device that is worn on the forehead and changes color to indicate the truthfulness of a person’s responses.

Created by Tokyo-based toy company ‘Takara Tomy’, the scanner works a lot like a polygraph machine – it monitors the pulse using infrared rays. So when you make a person wear it, it first monitors their heart rate to establish a baseline. Then, you ask them a question, the wearer responds, and the device monitors the heart rate once more to compare it with the baseline.

It then flashes green if the person’s pulse is normal indicating that they’re telling the truth, yellow if they might be lying, and red if they are lying for sure. Because the light is attached to the person’s forehead, they won’t be able to tell what color is flashing while they’re being interrogated with all sorts of embarrassing questions.

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Dutch Teen Turns Dead Pet Hamster into World’s First Ratcopter

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Devastated by his pet rat’s death, 13-year-old Pepeijn Bruins decided to do something really special for his furry friend. So he turned to Dutch inventors Arjen Beltman and Bart Jansen for help. Soon, Ratjetoe the rat was stuffed and converted into the world’s first radio-controlled ‘ratcopter’.

Bart and Arjen have a special talent for making dead animals fly; previously, we’d written about how they converted a dead ostrich and a cat into weird helicopters. Their last project was a flying jet powered shark. And they’ve done it again, this time helping a young boy overcome his grief over losing his best friend.

“I loved him very much,” said Pepeijn, who had to have the cancer-stricken rat put down. “He always liked to be cuddled and he would run up my clothes and hide. When I learned he had cancer and the vet had to put him to sleep I was very upset. I had seen Bart and Arjen and their flying cat, and I asked my dad if it would be possible to have the rat fly.”

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16-Year-Old Creates Revolutionary Flashlight Powered Solely by Body Heat

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16-year-old Ann Makosinski, from Victoria, Canada, has come up with a marvelous invention – a flashlight powered solely by body-heat. Her project won second prize at a local science fair, and made it all the way to the 2013 Google Science Fair, where she was declared the winner for her age group. She also updated it to a handsfree version this year – a body-heat powered headlamp, for which she won the 2014 Weston Youth Innovation Award.

Ann’s project is truly remarkable for its sheer simplicity and brilliance. I mean, it isn’t every day that you come across a light source that doesn’t use batteries, solar power, or wind energy. The device just powers on as soon as you hold it in your palm. If that isn’t genius, I don’t know what is!

The secret behind Ann’s invention is thermoelectric technology, and devices called Peltier tiles. And it’s really surprising that no one’s ever thought to use that kind of technology to power a flashlight before. Think of all the AA batteries we could avoid using!

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Israeli Designer Creates Gas Mask for the Fashion-Conscious

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Let’s face it – gas masks might be incredibly useful in case of a catastrophe, but they’re not the most fashionable accessories and often make it difficult for users to interact with other people. But Israeli industrial designer, Zlil Lazarovich, is trying to change the way people perceive gas masks. She has created the world’s first ‘Social Gas Mask’ which not only looks sleek and stylish, but also allows for seamless social interactions.

With the new Social Gas Mask, you can enjoy movie nights on your couch, go outside without having people stare at you, and pretty much do everything you normally do. “The large window allows to show a greater range of facial expressions by exposing the upper cheeks, eyebrows and full width of the eyes area,” Lazarovich says. “The wide, cheeky shape of the filters gives the impression of a wide, healthy and happy face instead of a long, skeleton-like one. As opposed to current masks that often hide the user’s face, restrict communication and facial expressions, and look like an alien, the Social Gas Mask has a number of features designed to offer an empowering image and a positive experience.”

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Norwegian City’s Ingenious Bicycle Lift Makes Cycling Uphill a Breeze

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The city of Trondheim in Norway is the first and only one in the world to have a lift specially designed to help cyclists travel uphill. The contraption is called ‘Trampe’ and it can get you up a very steep hill with practically no effort on your part.

Trampe was first opened in 1993, and quickly turned Trondheim into a very popular tourist destination for cyclists. Over 200,000 cyclists have used it to go up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents reported so far. In 2012, the original lift was dismantled and replaced with a more industrialized version in 2013, called the CycloCable.

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Engineers Build Coolest Water Gun Ever

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Finally, we have an engineer who’s putting his degree to proper use! 27-year-old Londoner Alex Bygrave has used all his technical know-how to come up with the ultimate invention – an awesome Gatling water gun. Believed to be the world’s most sophisticated Gatling-style weapon of its kind, the gun features a 10-liter water tank, six barrels and a 40-foot firing range.

Alex spent 50 hours designing and building the pistol from scratch, making use of 55 separate parts made of everyday objects. “I had to first break down the mechanics of how the Gatling gun worked, and then build it up using a mix of all sorts of components,” he said.

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Meet Hitchbot, the Robot Hitchhiking His Way Across Canada

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While picking up hitchhikers is generally considered unsafe, Canadian motorists are going to find it difficult to refuse this cute, fun-loving robot. His name is Hitchbot, and he’s about the size of a six-year-old child. Equipped with a GPS, 3G wireless connectivity, a camera, and a built-in child booster seat in its bum, he will soon try to catch rides all the way across Canada – from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Throughout the coast-to-coast journey that starts on July 27, Hitchbot will be completely by himself. He is expected to find rides by signalling with the only movable part of its tiny body – his arm. He can talk too; researchers are expecting him to be able to charm his way into getting the rides that he needs. Along the way, he will even share all his adventures via social media. “It’ll sort of be like having an out-of-control teenager in your car, taking pictures of you and posting them on Facebook,” said David Harris Smith, the brains behind the project.

“Simply put, I am a free-spirited robot who wants to explore Canada and meet new friends along the way,” Hitchbot declares on his website. According to Smith, “Hitchbot can ask people if they have a story they would like to share with others and this would be posted as video to Hitchbot.me. We will moderate posts to avoid inappropriate content.”

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