You are here[New Idea]

[New Idea]

NEC's Eyewear Translator May Do Away With Language Barriers In The Future

While most of today's eyewear may cut back on radiation damage to the eyes, one of Japanese company NEC's devices in development may cut back on language barriers instead. NEC is developing an eyewear translator device that can translate foreign languages into your own in real-time -- definitely a handy tool at a business meeting in a foreign country.

Unlike previous prototypes, NEC's eyewear translator doesn't have any lens, which makes wearers look much friendlier -- very important when trying to make a good impression as a stranger in a strange land. With the help of a mic, the device translates languages in real time and recites the translation into your ear via an earpiece -- and at the same time projects a text translation directly into your retinas.

While using the eyewear translator, you may feel like you're watching a movie with dubbing and subtitles (except, of course, you have to talk back). The great thing about the eyewear translator is that if everyone around the table wears the device, everyone can talk in their native language and be understood completely by everyone else. Translators no longer required.

The technology is still in development, but NEC is confident it'll have it available for commercial use in two years or less. A company set of 30 eyewear translators is estimated to cost around $83,300 -- that's almost $3,000 for one set, and you'll need at least two.

Will it be worth the investment? If it closes business deals, builds friendships, and sets the tone for world peace, then I'll take two.

Twitter Opera -- The Next Crowdsourced Work Of Art?

You might remember my article on "Live Music," the first-ever crowdsourced animated film. It only ran for five minutes, and the Romeo-and-Juliet-esque plot wasn't something to write home about, but it was good enough to merit a screening by Sony. The simple fact that hundreds of thousands of Facebook users lent their talents to bring the short to life was by itself "Live Music's" main draw.

Of course, "Live Music" wasn't the first crowdsourced work of art to be created -- what makes it so special is the fact that it made mainstream fame. Crowdsourced success stories are hard to come by -- for instance, there were attempts to create crowdsourced novels, which all ended up dead on the water. (Sometimes the road less traveled doesn't make all the difference, after all -- the greatest stories are almost always told from a single mind.)

But apparently that's not going to stop London's Royal Opera House to announce the first-ever crowdsourced opera. The writers are creating an opera based on ideas by contributors on Twitter. That means you could contribute to the storyline one line, one scene, one action at a time -- in 140 characters or less.

So far, so good -- Act 1, Scene 1 has already been completed, with the protagonist being kidnapped by a flock of birds and is now held captive in a tower, awaiting rescue. Oh, and there's also a talking ginger cat in the cast, too. Hmmm.

Okay, so I've never really been a fan of opera. But I AM a fan of crowdsourcing and other advances the Internet has gifted civilization, and this is enough to make me keep an eye on this story. If this proves so popular that it gets young people interested in opera all over again, then I might need to tweak my preferences in the performing arts.

Now I'm wondering if John Mayer, Miley Cyrus, and Lil Wayne are going to contribute too.

Yahoo Revamps Homepage To Match Google's

Yahoo's in the middle of revamping in hopes of catching up with Google (actually, I think everyone is), and just recently released a brand-spanking-new homepage for their users. Taking the cue from Google, the new homepage now lets its users customize it to their liking -- even letting them browse other websites like Facebook and Twitter on the homepage itself.

The new homepage doesn't have movable Apps like iGoogle, but it does have a sidebar of options that expand when you hover your pointer over them. There were buttons for cars, business, horoscopes, games, jobs, and Facebook, as well as Yahoo Messenger and Mail. You could also customize this part of the page by adding your own preferred homepages, as well.

I tried adding Engine Alpha to the sidebar, and it immediately showed on top of the list. When I hovered over it, though, there wasn't much to see in the expanded field -- just a link to the site, and no preview. Hopefully the preview options improve down the line.

But one thing I do like about the new homepage is the lack of ads. Yahoo scrubbed its "marketplace" section entirely, so the whole thing looks very clean and minimalistic. Not quite as flashy as Apple and not quite as functionalist as Google, but a comfy middle ground. (The ads were relegated to the sidebar, and only showed when a button expanded to the preview.)

Yahoo has been pretty aggressive with their revamping efforts lately -- they closed once-popular online applications like Yahoo 360 (their social media platform) and Yahoo Briefcase, and integrated everything into a new, singular interface that represents Facebook. Yahoo Mail users see this new interface the moment they log on, and some would swear it's looking more like Facebook and Twitter with every new update.

It's obviously a step in the right direction -- moving to what works always is -- but there's only one thing that worries me. Yahoo is trying to make their new homepage a sort of kick-off point for their users, with all their favorite pages a click away. But guess what? Browser bookmarks do the same thing, and you can browse to your favorite pages straight from a blank page.

Still, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there with faith in Yahoo -- a 20% market share isn't something to laugh at, and the merger talks with Microsoft are definitely something to keep an eye on. Yahoo plans to release their new homepage in a few days, and a mobile version of it over the weekend.

Shades Of WALL-E And The Matrix In The US Army's New Robot

I recently stumbled upon a news story about the US Army building a new robot prototype that fuels itself with biomass. Its military purposes are of course classified, but I can guess it's going to be a reconnaissance robot that the army can leave for months or years without refueling or servicing. I see this as a rare good way for the US Army to use their citizens' tax dollars.

The prototype reminds me quite a bit of WALL-E. After all, the robot's name is Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or -- get this -- EATR. When it gets low on fuel, it forages the landscape to find biomass, such as wood chips and paper scraps, to heat water into steam, which in turn powers it to keep going.

The online reaction to this development was both positive and negative. Some said this was a great way to power military drones by living off the fat of the land, and should drive down defense and energy costs. Some even hoped that other things, like cars, could be powered by this technology in the near future.

The funniest comment I've seen all day: "I for one welcome our new robot overlords."

But nothing's probably funnier than rumors that EATR will also likely consume human and animal bodies. has the dubious honor of posting one of the first of these stories, saying that dead bodies on the battlefield was "biomass" and that they were apparently "full of energy."

The laughable stories went on to say that EATR was a war crime in the making, since the families of slain soldiers would want to see their relatives buried back home, and that even terrorists were people, etc.

The joke was on when the US military later issued a statement that EATR was a vegetarian -- it will only forage for fuel "no scarier than twigs, grass clippings, and wood chips," and will be programmed not to consume animal or human remains.

Why does EATR remind me of The Matrix? Because maybe the guys at FOXNews watched too much of it.

Google Going Up Against Real Estate Giants... And Microsoft

Seems like there's never a dull moment at Google these days. Just days after announcing tweaks to its search engine (that very likely sent Bing's creators in a panic), the guys at Google came out with two big announcements that may change the world as we know it. Well, almost.

The first big change came with a Google Maps tweak. Google Maps in Australia and New Zealand now tell give users detailed information about land values, rental rates, and other real estate-related bits of data. This is apparently to help people find homes, buy land, and basically do what most big names in real estate do.

Of course, the announcement put the big names in real estate on edge. Some see it as Google trying to dabble encroaching in their lucrative business, although no one's really sure how this will impact the industry. For now, I'm sure users will love the idea that it's easier to find a cheap place to live in Australia. Now if only they'll unveil the service in Singapore...

The second big thing to come out of the Google grapevine this week is the announcement of an entire operating system. Google's planning to unveil Google Chrome OS next year, and it will power various systems from netbooks to fully-loaded desktop PC's.

Naturally, the first question to pop up was whether Google was cannibalizing Android. The answer, of course, was no -- Android is meant to run on mobile devices and netbooks, while Chrome OS will run on netbooks, laptops, and PC's. The little overlap will prove to be insignificant, Google says.

Chrome OS will be borrowing heavily from Android's architecture, but will be running its own show. Google has been leading the drive to cloud computing for the past several years. The Chrome browser will essentially be the OS, since you'll pretty much be doing all your work there.

There's just one problem. Working on the cloud is all well and good, and it's very optimistic to think that it's going to be the future of computing. But what happens when the world gets overloaded by Chrome OS users? Will the world's digital infrastructure cope with bandwidth-hungry cloud computers?

I'd like to think Google has that covered too, but I guess there are things that even Google can't control. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Google Wave -- The Next Big Thing?

Recent developments in the search and collaborative media industry has taken some of the luster from Google's image, especially when Twitter revealed where Google falls short -- real-time search results. And nope, no matter what you hear, Google isn't out to buy Twitter. Apparently it has other, much bigger things in mind.

Enter Google Wave, Google's next ambitious project. It's out to revolutionize the way we do things on the Internet, supposedly merging e-mail, blogging, file sharing, cloud computing, and other common social media activities into one single online application. It made mainstream news last week, and has everyone on the Internet buzzing about the possibilities.

After all, who hasn't thought about how cool it would be to rely on only one online application for everything they need to do on the Internet?

We've all been there -- a few years ago, we all faced the problem of whether to sign up for Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Skype, or any other chat/voice client to keep in touch with friends, family, and co-workers. Most of us had to sign up for more than one application, which led to frustrating PC slowdowns, forgotten passwords, and basically a hairload of hassles.

Today, we face a similar predicament -- social media. With so many social media platforms out there -- Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, you name it -- we're constantly pressed to sign up for every single one of them.

Apparently, Google's playing Internet god again by changing the way we do things. Google Wave isn't by any means ready for testing, but from what we've heard so far, all the chat clients and all the web-based e-mail providers and all the social media platforms will be in a world of hurt if it ever takes off.

Yup, that includes Twitter -- Google is working on providing near-real-time results for searches made on Wave. As a collaborative platform, that's entirely possible.

There's only one question -- wouldn't Google be cannibalizing itself with Wave? The new application overlaps the functions of Gmail and Google Docs, after all. I suppose it remains to be seen.

For now, it's a cool idea, and I'm not really worried because, well, it's freaking Google. On the other hand, if it were Microsoft...

Muziic – 15 Year Old's Creation Might Anger YouTube

Chris Gomez - Engine Alpha - Photo of the developer of Muziic, David Nelson

Photo of David Nelson, developer of Muziic.
Image credit: Found on CNET Asia - Link -

It's surprising to know the highs and lows that kids these days reach, and today's article is about a particular high point – David Nelson, a 15 year-old software developer, managed to create Muziic, a music application that can turn YouTube into a veritable playlist factory. And yup, it's free.

Business Hitting Rock Bottom? Maybe You Should Go Topless

It might be surprising to hear any kind of business doing well these days, but apparently an entrepreneur in Vassalboro, Maine, found a way to open a coffee shop that's getting more and more popular by the day. Its specialties? Coffee and (partial...) nudity.

Surgeons Tweet Procedures From Operating Room

Image credit: Found on - Link -

In recent times, we've heard how doctors in remote areas of the world make successful surgeries and diagnoses with the help of the Internet, and we've also seen “hacks” of certain mobile phones to detect disease in blood samples. It looks like the medical world will continue going through some big changes down the line. Just last week, a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from a man's kidney was actually tweeted from the operating room into the Internet.

Fans Want The Joker Retired From Batman Franchise

Image credit: Released by Warner Bros

It looks like many of Heath Ledger's fans think that the heaps of awards and praise given for the late actor's performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” isn't enough. A few die-hard fans have started an online petition to actually retire the Joker character from any subsequent “Batman” films in history, as their own little “award” for Heath. What does the blogosphere say?