In a prototype of the helmet, a small halo-like coil generates a magnetic field above a person’s head; another coil, just above the ears, detects the magnetic field induced in the volunteer’s brain. Because liquid such as blood affects the magnetic field’s phase, the team behind the device was able to distinguish eight brain-injured patients from 46 healthy volunteers in a pilot study, they report in the journal PLOS One.
Sentry duty is a tough assignment. Most of the time there’s nothing to see, and when a threat does pop up, it can be hard to spot. In some military studies, humans are shown to detect only 47 percent of visible dangers.
A project run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) suggests that combining the abilities of human sentries with those of machine-vision systems could be a better way to identify danger. It also uses electroencephalography to identify spikes in brain activity that can correspond to subconscious recognition of an object.
An experimental system developed by DARPA sandwiches a human observer between layers of computer vision and has been shown to outperform either machines or humans used in isolation.
The so-called Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System consists of a wide-angle camera and radar, which collects imagery for humans to review on a screen, and a wearable electroencephalogram device that measures the reviewer’s brain activity.
A device that measures someone’s unique response to a weak electric signal could let medical devices such as blood-pressure cuffs automatically identify the wearer and send measurements straight to his or her electronic medical record.
For now, nurses, patients, and doctors juggle the job of keeping patients’ identities straight. But computer scientist Cory Cornelius at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, has developed a wristwatch-like device that measures a person’s “bioimpedance” to identify him or her to medical monitoring devices.
Cornelius and colleagues presented a prototype sensor at the Usenix Advanced Computing System Association workshop in Bellevue, Washington, on Monday
In the tradition of printed newspapers, most news websites reserve the prime real estate “above the fold” for their biggest headlines. Since late May, however, sites including the Financial Times and the Economist have instead been greeting visitors with a text box warning them that they are being tracked.
The notifications explain to readers that the publications have placed a cookie in their browsers—a bit of code that allows the sites to record what pages they visit. Cookies are hardly unusual: many websites (including Technology Review‘s) place a half-dozen in visitors’ machines. What is unusual is that a website would bother to tell anyone.