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Posts Tagged ‘university of washington’

Here’s a new idea. A couple of young entrepreneurs have found a way to convert sign language into audible speech with their prize-winning electronic gloves.

National Public Radio has the story.

“For years, inventors have been trying to convert some sign language words and letters into text and speech. Now a pair of University of Washington undergraduates have created gloves called SignAloud. Sensors attached to the gloves measure hand position and movement, and data is sent to a computer via Bluetooth and is then converted into spoken word and text.

“Theirs is one of seven inventions recently awarded a Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, with awards ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.

“Inventors Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor, both college sophomores, say the gloves will help create a communication bridge between deaf and hearing communities. The gloves, they say, will help deaf people better communicate with the rest of the world without changing the way they already interact with each other.

“However, the invention has been met with criticism that the bridge they want to create goes only one way — and it’s not necessarily one the deaf community has been clamoring for. …

“Azodi says he and Pryor are moving beyond their prototype and are working closer with those who use American Sign Language to develop new versions. They’re also working on better understanding ASL, which is more than just hand movements; it also uses facial expressions and body language to convey meaning.” Read more.

I don’t know much about the culture of the deaf community, but I do remember reading about resistance to cochlear implants a few years ago. It’s hard for people who can hear to understand that some people really don’t mind deafness and prefer their own ways of dealing with the world. But kudos to all inventors anyway, especially young ones open to continuous revision!

Photo: Conrado Tapado/Univ of Washington, CoMotion
SignAloud gloves translate sign language into text and speech.

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Boston Globe arts correspondent Cate McQuaid tweeted a link to this Seattle Times article a while back. I thought you would like it.

Reporter Sandi Doughton writes about the ice cap at Mount Rainier’s summit and how it provided a lab of otherworldly grottoes for scientists last summer. The adventure described is both harrowing and thrilling. Here are some teasers.

“The caves form as heat rises from the volcano’s depths and melts the base of the ice cap that fills Rainier’s twin craters. …

“With little shelter on the exposed ridge, the group [of explorers] bolted for the lowest ground in sight. They huddled in a small saddle, cringing as lightning flashed through the clouds. Thunder echoed from all directions and the wind blasted them with snow.

“It was an hour before the lightning abated enough for the team members to take refuge in their tents. The storm raged all night. …

“[Zoe] Harrold, a University of Washington graduate now at Montana State, sees the caves as a natural laboratory to study microbes that flourish where most life withers.

“The combination of volcanic heat and gas, frigid water and icy soil is similar to conditions on Earth when the first living things appeared. It’s also what scientists expect on Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa — two other places in the solar system that might harbor life.”

Read the story here, and be amazed by the photos. The story reminds me so much of the spooky Danish mystery Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

Photos: François-Xavier de Ruydts/Special to the Seattle Times
Microbiologist Zoe Harrold, a University of Washington graduate, says the Mount Rainier caves can be a natural laboratory for study of microbes that can flourish in conditions hostile to most life.

 

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I was reading an article by Kathleen Wolf, a social scientist whose “work is based on principles of environmental psychology and focuses on the human dimensions of urban forests and ecosystems.”

The following words struck me: “Interviewees say that merely looking at trees tends to reduce mental and physical stress. A walkable green environment is also thought to increase life satisfaction in later life and even longevity.” Hmm.

So to borrow some words from local honcho H.D. Thoreau, “I went to the woods to see if I could live” longer.

Photos include the Hapgood Wright Town Forest, Joe Pye Weed, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a log like a scaly snake, and various fungi indicating mysteries beneath the surface.

hapgood-wright-town-forest

scaly-snake-log

joe-pye-weed

10-fott-weed-and-swallowtail

fungus

lonely-mushroom

something-is-below-the-surface

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