Microsoft Joins Internet-of-Things Open Source Consortium

Microsoft will be working with a consortium that is developing an open source code framework for device-to-device communications integral to the Internet of Things. Known as The AllSeen Alliance, the Linux Foundation-led group consists of several large vendors that support AllJoyn, open source code for the Internet of Things that Qualcomm originally developed. AllJoyn would provide a universal software framework and a set of core services that would enable interoperability among connected products and software applications across manufacturers. Other AllSeen Alliance members include Cisco Systems, D-Link, LG Electronics, Panasonic, and Sharp. Observers speculate Microsoft is joining to further its home-automation technologies and expand the Xbox game system’s capabilities. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(PC World)(AllSeen Alliance)

Researchers: Computer-Based Deep Learning Is Essential for Physics Exploration

Deep learning can improve physicists’ ability to explore and discover subatomic particles, according to a new paper by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), scientists. They say computer-driven deep learning can help solve fundamental physics questions. Finding elusive particles such as the Higgs boson requires sifting through massive datasets from particle accelerators and other sources. Machine learning techniques—in which systems learn from information they process, rather than just follow explicitly programmed instructions—can keep scientists from having to write large amounts of code to analyze their data. The UCI researchers built a machine-learning system that increased particle detection by 8 percent over previous approaches. They published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. (EurekAlert)(University of California - Irvine)(Nature Communications)

Bostonians Getting a Charge out of Park Benches

The humble park bench in the city of Boston is getting a makeover. The city is working with the MIT Media Lab spinoff company Changing Environments to turn the seats into solar-powered charging stations known as Soofas. The benches—which will appear in Titus Sparrow Park, the Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway—will also collect data on, for example, ambient air quality and noise levels. Ongoing testing is scheduled to occur on the Babson College and at MIT campuses. (Daily Tech)(The City of Boston)

New Metamaterial Nanostructure Shows Promise in Optical Processing

US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers are working with a nanostructure able to let light travel in one direction but not in another. Their one-way metamaterial could be used in optical information processing, in photonic chips as well as in biosensing applications. Until now, there was no way to make structures small enough to enable the one-way transmission of visible light. The NIST researchers used computer simulation to develop a multilayered block of alternating thin silver and silicon-dioxide glass sheets and metal grates with extremely narrow spacing, designed to block light traveling in one direction. The researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications. (EurekAlert)(National Institute of Standards and Technology)(Nature Communications)

Russian Parliament Passes Domestic Data-Storage Bill

All Russian residents’ personal data must now be stored inside Russia under legislation that the Russian State Duma recently passed. This means any social network or service that Russians use must reside on physical servers inside the Russian Federation. And companies cannot send residents’ personal data outside the country without meeting Russian guidelines. Organizations failing to meet the terms of the new law—which takes effect in September 2016—will have their access to the country restricted by the state telecommunications agency, Roskomnadzor. (Tech Crunch)(Lenta)

Google Decision to “Forget” BBC Article Draws Fire

Google is processing requests to comply with the European Commission’s (EC’s) “right to be forgotten” ruling, but its decision to remove a BBC blog post from search results is causing officials and journalists to question the company’s judgment. The ruling says that search-engine operators must remove outdated and irrelevant results that appear in EC member nations about people if they request such action, unless it is not in the public interest. To comply, Google removed a link to an October 2007 piece by BBC economics editor Robert Peston about CEO Stan O’Neal’s departure from financial-management firm Merrill Lynch. However, O’Neal reportedly did not request its removal, which was done in connection with a reader comment about the article. Peston has said he will appeal the removal. EC spokesperson Ryan Heath said there was no “reasonable public interest” for the removal. At least two senior EC officials have said the removal misinterprets the ruling, which isn’t supposed to apply to news articles. Google has had 250,000 requests to remove links under the law. “It may be that [Google] decided that it’s simply cheaper to just say yes to all of these requests,” Heath said. “That's going to spark its own debate and rightly so." (BBC)(CNN)(The Telegraph)

Robot Muscles Propel Automatons

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed small robots with biomimetic muscular engines that enable the machines to move across a surface or through a liquid. Biomimetics is the study and imitation of the biological substances and mechanisms for the purpose of solving complex problems. The University of Illinois scientists are designing their system for use as sensors able to operate autonomously and, in some cases, respond to problems. The tiny muscular robot—which is made of soft hydrogels—could, for example, detect a target toxic chemical in water, move to the substance, and release material to neutralize it. (Tech Crunch)(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Silly App Attracts Attention Based on Cable Show Popularity

A Carnegie Mellon University computer science student has created an application with a singular purpose: letting users “Hodor” their friends. Hodor, a well-known character on the HBO cable series Game of Thrones is capable of saying only his name. Tyler Hedrick a software engineer at the Medium social-networking site, created the Yo, Hodor app for iOS devices. The app lets users send an audio message of Hodor saying his name to recipients who have also signed up as participants. It is similar to, but not based on, Yo, a novelty app that texts the word “Yo” and that has attracted $1.5 million in investment. (PC Mag)(Gizmodo)(Tech Crunch)(iTunes Store)

EU Slashes Mobile Roaming Fees in Half

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, has set new roaming fees just in time for the peak summer travel season. Charges for accessing the Internet via mobile devices while traveling across the 28-nation EU bloc will be capped, cutting fees by at least half, depending on how much data is accessed. For example, the price for a megabyte of data was lowered from 45 to 20 euro cents. The EC lowered the price of both phone calls and text messages by roughly 25 percent. EU officials want to completely eliminate roaming fees by 2016. Because of high roaming charges, the EC found in a study earlier this year, Europeans curtail their Web use while traveling on vacation. EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said, “Consumers are fed up with being ripped off.” (Associated Press)(BBC)

Technology Transfer Offers Universities Benefits beyond just Money

The practice of academic technology transfer, in which researchers at universities commercialized their work, gives universities benefits well beyond license and royalty revenues, according to a new study by members of the Association of University Technology Managers. The study examined the evolution of technology transfer as well as its benefits. The researchers found that the practice creates “a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship that promotes recruitment and retention of faculty, increased student success through participation in real-world research, public benefits from applied research that seeks to address global challenges, economic development, increased opportunities for funding through interinstitutional and interdisciplinary grants, new … international research relationships, and increased prestige and fundraising from a stronger university brand.” The participating scientists are affiliated with the University of South Florida, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Boston University, Emory University, Princeton University, and the National Academy of Inventors. The researchers published their work—“More than Money: The Exponential Impact of Academic Technology Transfer”—in the journal Technology and Innovation. (EurekAlert)(University of South Florida)(Association of University Technology Managers)(Technology and Innovation)

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