Oblong’s point and click glove palms $8.8 million

image Oblong industries, a Los Angeles based company has raised $8.8 million in funding  from the Foundry group (picked up from regulatory filings).The company has interesting “gesture recognition” technology developed by founder and Chief Scientist John Underkoffler at MIT. John is a scientific and technical advisor to the movie industry (he has consulted for movies such as the Minority Report and The Hulk) and has designed human-machine feedback loop devices.

The latest gizmo is a glove that is more logical to use than a computer mouse, which is expected to become the first commercial gesture recognition device.

According to a patent filed in August 2006 by inventors, John Underkoffler and Kevin Parent (#20060187196):

image The system provides a gestural interface to various visually presented elements, presented on a display screen or screens. A gestural vocabulary includes `instantaneous` commands, in which forming one or both hands into the appropriate `pose` results in an immediate, one-time action; and `spatial` commands, in which the operator either refers directly to elements on the screen by way of literal `pointing` gestures or performs navigational maneuvers by way of relative or “offset” gestures. The system contemplates the ability to identify the users hands in the form of a glove or gloves with certain indicia provided thereon, or any suitable means for providing recognizable indicia on a user’s hands or body parts. A system of cameras can detect the position, orientation, and movement of the user’s hands and translate that information into executable commands.

In short, by using a special glove, a user’s gestures, such as pointing, can be translated into commands using cameras that pick up the position and orientation of the hands.

Finally, a true point and click device!

 

Technorati Tags: gesture recognition, John Underkoffler, oblong industries


Three cool things you can do with your DNA

Now that the holidays are upon us, what do you get for the person who has everything?

Well, you give them the gift of what they love the most - themselves!

image The field of “personal genetics” is seeing a gigantic explosion. For a price, you can find out who your ancestors were and what genetic afflictions you might have a predisposition for. And if that does not ring in the holiday cheer, you can (for a small amount of money) pass on your legacy by saving your genetic material for future generations!

Genetic archiving: DNA Direct $175

You can send out a simple cheek swab along with a small payment of $175 to DNA direct, a Genetic archiving company, which will conveniently “shrink wrap” your DNA is a synthetic medium and send it back to you “in lab-quality tubes and UV-resistant packaging for safe, stable storage”. And why would you want to do anything as creepy as storing your DNA?
According to DNA Direct:

There are a number of reasons people from all walks of life are choosing to store their DNA. Storing DNA is a good way to prepare for the future when genetic testing becomes more affordable, new genes are discovered, and genetic technologies continue to advance and bring new medical insight.

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Stored DNA can be used to:
* Understand your family’s medical history
* Understand your inherited physical characteristics
* Understand your family tree

and, of course, spend some money and support the economy!

Genetic blueprint: 23andme $1000

If ever there was a company that had success coded into its genetics, it is the hot startup 23andme. Co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google’s founder Sergey Brin, and armed with a $3.9 million cash infusion from Google, the company is bringing Genetic blueprinting within the reach of the average Joe.

If you have ever lain awake wondering if you are going to inherit your Mom’s arthritis or your Dad’s heart problems, you might find it easier to get up and write a check for $1000 and send it off to 23andme along with your DNA, to find out all about your genetic future.

Disease risk: Navigenics $2500

This Silicon Valley company has racked up an impressive $25 million investment into its personal genomics service that is expected to scan your DNA and compare them to reference DNA, and correlate the genetic profile to the risk for specific diseases.

The test is not currently available to the public, but is expected to be released in 2008.

Technorati Tags: personal genetics, genetics, genome, dna direct, 23andme, navigenics



Language translators - not for tattoos

image Language Weaver, a southern California company, has developed an automated machine translation system in 7 languages. Instead of using the one to one rule based mapping that is common of traditional text translators, the Language Weaver system uses a statistical approach to provide a more true to life, contextual translation.

The automated machine translator is an enterprise solution. The product is clearly well timed with the growing interest in communicating with other countries in both the business and political play fields. The translation algorithms were developed as part of a DARPA funded project at the University of Southern California.

The Language Weaver statistical machine translator can be “trained” to optimize its performance in specific business or political contexts.

Is there any situation when one would not want to use a machine translator? The company gets inquiries from tatoo artists who want to translate English words into other languages and scripts. Not a good idea to use an automated system like Language Weaver for this purpose - the company warns on their blog. They recommend relying on a native speaker of the language for an accurate translation.

image David Beckham would have done well to heed that advice! A proud tattoo sprawled across his left forearm declares his never dying love for Victoria. Except the tattoo is in Hindi and “Victoria” is misspelled!

Language Weaver has received series A and B rounds of funding from the Tech Coast Angles, Sulphur Creek Ventures, Palisades Ventures, Athenaeum Fund and from In-Q-Tel, which is fund that supports the CIA’s technology needs.

Technorati Tags: language weaver, automatic machine translation, translators, tech coast angels, in-q-tel, Sulphur Creek Ventures, Palisades Ventures, Athenaeum Fund


Web 2.0 Companies Throw Contests for the Holidays

Christmas is finally rolling around, and we’ve noticed Web 2.0 companies are getting in on the holiday spirit. Remember though folks, even though America is the land of opportunity, in good American fashion you gotta work for it. Here are three contests you can enter to take a shot at having a little extra under the tree this year. After reading these, you won’t find it strange if a guy who looks like a reject from the Blue Man Group comes up to you in the mall and asks you to take his picture. If you’ve heard of any other holiday giveaways or contests being put on by companies in the Web 2.0 sphere, leave them in the comments!

Logo

What you can win:
$50 Amazon gift cards (yes, plural)
What you gotta do: Upload some good docs.
Web 2.0 Company:
docstoc
Contest description (from company):
We want you to upload your professional documents and share them with the world. So, we’re giving away $50 holiday gift certificates to Amazon.com until December 23rd. The contest starts Wednesday, December 5th, 2007, and goes through Sunday December 23rd. Winners will be notified daily by email and announced each week on the Docstoc Blog. Winning users and documents will also be featured on docstoc.
Where to enter:
Click here.


Gizmodo-1

What you can win:
A Playstation 3
What you gotta do:
Paint yourself blue(!)
Web 2.0 Company: Gizmodo
Contest description (from company):
This is going to be a photo contest, so here’s what you do. First step: paint yourself blue. Second step: go to a public place and take a picture of yourself. Points will be awarded both for being more blue and being more embarrassing in public than other contestants. The more blue/embarrassing you are, the more likely you are to win. It’s up to you to decide how blue and how embarrassing you want to be. Dressing up like a Smurf may or may not get you more points (it probably will).
Where to enter:
Click here.

Logo-1

What you can win:
Cash/trip to Google’s Mountain View HQ
What you gotta do:
Create kick ass open source code*
Web 2.0 Company: Google
Contest description (from company):
Google is holding a contest for pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school students) with the aim of encouraging young people to participate in open source. We will work with ten open source organizations for this pilot effort, each of whom will provide a list of tasks to be completed by student contestants. Tasks can be anything a project needs help with, from bug fixes to writing documentation to user experience research.
Where to enter: Click here.

* Oh, and be in high school.



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