Wearing your emotions
"How was your day? Stressful, fun, boring? It might soon be easier to review the highs and lows," says the New Scientist. "Developed by MIT's Media Lab, the Inside-Out system uses a biosensor worn on the wrist to log how the electrical properties of the skin change, indicating heightened emotions. A smartphone around the neck takes pictures several times a minute to log what you were doing at the time. At the end of the day, the user views their experiences on a screen and can scroll through their day using gestures picked up by a Kinect camera."
Password in a pill
"Always forgetting your password? Tech company Motorola is working on some rather unusual solutions," reports BBC News. "They've unveiled an electronic 'tattoo' that sticks to your skin. It has a circuit so gadgets can identify you. Another experimental idea is a password pill you swallow that transmits a signal to devices outside the body. The pill doesn't need batteries because it is powered by stomach acid – but Motorola bosses say it won't be on sale any time soon."
A cure for distraction?
"Jennifer Roberts, a professor of the history of art and architecture at Harvard, thinks she has a fairly simple solution to help her American art history students appreciate the act of focusing: They must pick any painting, sculpture or object made by an American artist and stare at it – for three hours," writes Deborah Katz of The Boston Globe. Roberts says: "'They're usually skeptical at first, but afterward they tell me the process was really astonishing, enabling them to see things, make observations and develop original ideas about the work that never would have occurred otherwise.' " Roberts herself made a close analysis of John Singleton Copley's 1765 painting Boy With a Squirrel. After an hour with the painting, she noticed echoing patterns in the shapes of the boy's ear and the squirrel's ruff. After two hours, she got a different insight: that Copley is likely to have thought about the impact that his work would have on the London art world when he was painting it.
At last, a smart robot?
"A beer-pouring robot that can read your body movements and anticipate when you want another drink has been developed by American students," says The Mail Online. "Researchers from Cornell University used Microsoft Kinect sensors and 3-D cameras to help the robot analyze its surroundings and identify its owner's needs. The robot then uses a database of videos showing 120 various household tasks to identify nearby objects, generate a set of possible outcomes and choose which action it should take without being told. … As well as fetching drinks for thirsty owners, the robot can also work out when its owner is hungry and put food in a microwave, tidy up, make cereal, fetch a toothbrush and toothpaste, open fridge doors and more."
Russian scientists suggest that one way to protect Earth from the risk of asteroid collisions would be to use tame asteroids in a serious game of cosmic billiards, reports United Press International. Several near-Earth asteroids could be towed closer to the planet to serve as a cache of celestial projectiles against incoming space threats, Natan Eismont of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences said. The orbiting captured asteroids could be lined up so that one of them passes Earth every few weeks or months. Eismont admits: "I was skeptical about it myself, until we actually tried to do computer modelling of the situation."
Thought du jour
"If other people are going to talk, conversation becomes impossible."
James McNeill Whistler, American-born artist (1834-1903)