Virtual rocks: A new spin on virtual geology

Over the past decade, the number of virtual field trips created to simulate in-person field excursions has grown, but one aspect of physical fieldwork is not commonly replicated: Virtual explorers do not often return to their desks with collections of virtual rocks. Three-dimensional virtual samples can enhance just about any geoscience activity, from online college courses to remote research collaboration.

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Computer scientists find way to make all that glitters more realistic in computer graphics

Iron Man’s suit. Captain America’s shield. The Batmobile. These all could look a lot more realistic thanks to a new algorithm developed by a team of computer graphics experts. The researchers has created a method to improve how computer graphics software reproduces the way light interacts with extremely small details, called glints, on the surface of a wide range of materials.

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A chair for getting fit and trim

Getting fit and athletic — while sitting? Researchers are developing an active chair. At first glance, the chair looks just like another other reclining chair with a footrest you would find in a living room in front of the TV. But upon closer inspection, the chair is actually connected to a virtual avatar and has all manner of technical refinements.

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The birth of quantum holography: Making holograms of single light particles!

Until quite recently, creating a hologram of a single photon was believed to be impossible due to fundamental laws of physics. However, scientists have now successfully applied concepts of classical holography to the world of quantum phenomena. A new measurement technique has enabled them to register the first ever hologram of a single light particle, thereby shedding new light on the foundations of quantum mechanics.

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Better quality control with digital assistance systems

Errors can be spotted early and resources can be saved when many individuals share knowledge in a company. This is the case with a honing machine used to hone crankcases at VW’s engine plant in Salzgitter: a new digital assistance system will enable significantly more workers to ensure the quality of honing in the future than now.

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Vision through the clouds

Poor weather can often make the operation of rescue helicopters a highly risky business, and sometimes even impossible. A new helmet-mounted display may in the future be able to help pilots detect hazards at an early stage, even when their visibility is severely impaired: the information required to do this is created in an on-board computer and imported into digital eye glasses.

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Want to learn a new language? Get a partner and play this video game

Using a language-learning game called ‘Crystallize,’ created by computer science faculty and students, researchers found that when players are required to work together they learn more words — and enjoy the game more.

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Novel controller allows video gamer who lacks hands to compete with his feet

Engineering graduate students, one of whom lost his hands to meningitis, design and build a foot-activated video game controller.

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Smart light used by researchers to track human behavior

Using the power of the light around us, researchers have significantly improved their innovative light-sensing system that tracks a person’s behavior continuously and unobtrusively in real time.

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Fighting virtual reality sickness

Engineers have developed a way to combat virtual reality sickness that can be applied to consumer head-worn VR displays, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, and Google Cardboard. Their approach dynamically, yet subtly, changes the user’s field of view (FOV) in response to visually perceived motion, as the user virtually traverses an environment while remaining physically stationary, and significantly reduces VR sickness.

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Meta-lens works in the visible spectrum, sees smaller than a wavelength of light

Researchers have demonstrated the first planar lens that works with high efficiency within the visible spectrum of light — covering the whole range of colors from red to blue. The lens can resolve nanoscale features separated by distances smaller than the wavelength of light. It uses an ultra-thin array of tiny waveguides, known as a metasurface, which bends light as it passes through.

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Teenage brain on social media

Teenagers’ brains have been scanned while they used social media in a first-of-its-kind study. Among the new findings: The same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are activated when teenagers see large numbers of ‘Likes’ on their own photos, and teenagers are definitely influenced by their online ‘friends,’ even if they barely know them.

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