According to the International Business Times, Apple has filed a patent that uses the vibration motor inside an iPhone to shift the device’s weight when falling – saving it from serious damage.
“A patent awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office this week, describes a “protective mechanism for an electronic device” and calls on the iPhone’s processing power to recognise a fall, calculate the potential impact, and work at lightening speed to come up with a plan to save the fragile glass screen.”
The patent says that the iPhone could rapidly activate the vibration motor to ensure the device always lands on its back. The IBT report says that this would only require a simple spinning motor alongside the standard gyroscope and accelerometer to work.
This seems like quite a realistic proposition – let’s hope we see it in future iPhones.
Gaming is a hobby and like most other hobbies, you can choose your own level of participation; do you just want to casually play games from time to time with a regular controller, or do you want to invest time and money in creating a really cool and more involving setup? Of course this can be an endless obsession; new computers, screens, seats, peripherals and more and while I’d love to go into creating a full setup, today I’ll be taking a look at the new Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel, which promises a minimal fuss solution to improving the racing/driving sim aspects of your gaming setup.
There are lots of great racing wheels on the market and it can be hard to define which one would be best suited to your needs and budget. The new model I have here today isn’t cheap at £169.99, but it’s still actually rather affordable for a premium wheel; I think it’s safe to say that this is a mid-budget product. At this level of investment, you’re going to be expecting something of quality, and the first part of that comes from the official Ferrari licence that Thrustmaster currently hold. The 458 Italia Edition steering wheel is modelled on, you guessed it, the real Ferrari 458 Italia steering wheel.
The wheel is very well equipped and features all of the basics you need to get you started for use on both PC and Xbox 360. One of the more unique and interesting aspects of this wheel is that it features an adjustable steering column which is fixed to the pedals, making this a one-piece unit with a heavy-duty carry handle; it can even be folded flat and stored out of the way, such as under a bed or in a cupboard.
Metal structure is fully adjustable in length and height, to adapt to all gamers (adults/children) and any type of seating (sofa/chair/armchair)
Foldable with carrying handle for quick and easy storage
Wide, weighted base (total weight of more than 10 kg) for optimal stability
Streamlined “Musetto” body in the style of the Ferrari 458 Scuderia Black
WHEEL: 7/10 exact replica of the wheel on the Ferrari F458
Ultra-precise wheel, featuring 16-bit precision (more than 65,000 values on the wheel’s steering)
Sequential Up & Down paddle shifters crafted of metal, for Ferrari GT-style driving
Manettino® dial: lets you change settings directly while driving in the game
XXL realistic wheel: 28 cm in diameter!
Grips with rubber texture for optimal comfort
Headset connector lets you chat online (headset not included)
2 metal pedals built directly into the cockpit, for total stability
Metal pedals with long range of travel, inspired by the shape of the pedals on the Ferrari car
Brake pedal with progressive resistance
G.V.S. technology– High-precision
Exclusive “G.V.S. (Global Vibration System)” technology: allows for vibrations in games to be felt throughout the entire cockpit – including the wheel, steering column and pedal set
The packaging is huge, but this is a pretty big unit overall so that was to be expected. The carry handle hangs through the side of the box, allowing you to move it around a little easier; although it’s still not easy to carry around due to its overall weight.
Everything is nicely packaged in the interior, with protective foam, boxes and plastic around the important components to help keep them safe and scratch free during transit.
In the box you’ll find a couple of setup guides and a small collection of high quality screws and an Allen Key; these are needed to attach the wheel to the steering column.
Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analysing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.
In other experiments, they extracted useful audio signals from videos of aluminium foil, the surface of a glass of water, and even the leaves of a potted plant. The researchers will present their findings in a paper at this year’s Siggraph, the premier computer graphics conference.
“When sound hits an object, it causes the object to vibrate,” says Abe Davis, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and first author on the new paper. “The motion of this vibration creates a very subtle visual signal that’s usually invisible to the naked eye. People didn’t realize that this information was there.”
Joining Davis on the Siggraph paper are Frédo Durand and Bill Freeman, both MIT professors of computer science and engineering; Neal Wadhwa, a graduate student in Freeman’s group; Michael Rubinstein of Microsoft Research, who did his PhD with Freeman; and Gautham Mysore of Adobe Research.
Reconstructing audio from video requires that the frequency of the video samples, the number of frames of video captured per second, be higher than the frequency of the audio signal. In some of their experiments, the researchers used a high-speed camera that captured 2,000 to 6,000 frames per second. That’s much faster than the 60 frames per second possible with some smartphones, but well below the frame rates of the best commercial high-speed cameras, which can top 100,000 frames per second.
In other experiments, however, they used an ordinary digital camera. Because of a quirk in the design of most cameras’ sensors, the researchers were able to infer information about high-frequency vibrations even from video recorded at a standard 60 frames per second. While this audio reconstruction wasn’t as faithful as that with the high-speed camera, it may still be good enough to identify the gender of a speaker in a room; the number of speakers; and even, given accurate enough information about the acoustic properties of speakers’ voices, their identities.
The researchers’ technique has obvious applications in law enforcement and forensics, but Davis is more enthusiastic about the possibility of what he describes as a “new kind of imaging.”
“We’re recovering sounds from objects,” he says. “That gives us a lot of information about the sound that’s going on around the object, but it also gives us a lot of information about the object itself, because different objects are going to respond to sound in different ways.”
In ongoing work, the researchers have begun trying to determine material and structural properties of objects from their visible response to short bursts of sound. In the experiments reported in the Siggraph paper, the researchers also measured the mechanical properties of the objects they were filming and determined that the motions they were measuring were about a tenth of micrometer. That corresponds to five thousandths of a pixel in a close-up image, but from the change of a single pixel’s colour value over time, it’s possible to infer motions smaller than a pixel.
“This is new and refreshing. It’s the kind of stuff that no other group would do right now,” says Alexei Efros, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley. “We’re scientists, and sometimes we watch these movies, like James Bond, and we think, ‘This is Hollywood theatrics. It’s not possible to do that. This is ridiculous.’ And suddenly, there you have it. This is totally out of some Hollywood thriller. You know that the killer has admitted his guilt because there’s surveillance footage of his potato chip bag vibrating.”
The results are certainly impressive and a little scary. In one example shown in a compilation video, a bag of chips is filmed from 15 feet away, through sound-proof glass. The reconstructed audio of someone reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in the same room as the chips isn’t crystal clear. But the words being said are possible to decipher.