Severe liver damage, and even failure, has been associated with the consumption of weight loss supplements, an herbal supplement and an energy drink, according to four separate case reports presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 78th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, CA. Use of herbal and dietary supplements is widespread for a variety of health problems. Because many patients do not disclose supplement use to their physicians, important drug side effects can be missed.
Having your dog or cat run away is pretty traumatic. And even if somebody finds your furry friend, they might not know where to find you. If your pet ends up in a shelter, chances are high that it will be euthanized, so Philip Rooyakkers, the CEO of PiP – The Pet Recognition Company, decided to see if he and his team could use facial recognition instead of tags to more easily report and find more lost pets.
PiP launched its Indiegogo campaign. The company is looking to raise $100,000 in the next month to raise the final funds necessary to bring the app to market.
I ran into Rooyakkers at the GROW conference in Vancouver last week, and he told me that the company’s technology, developed by the image-recognition expert Dr. Daesik Jang, is able to recognize 98 percent of dogs and cats. With the help of some extra metadata (breed, size, weight, gender, colors etc.), this means PiP can recognize virtually every lost pet.
Anybody can download the app to report found pets. Pet owners pay a subscription to PiP (the plan is to charge $1.49 per month, with 2 percent of all proceeds going to local pet rescue charities) and the moment their pet goes missing, PiP will alert local animal control and rescue agencies, veterinarians and social medial outlets.
This “Amber Alert” for missing pets is at the core of what the service does. It will also scan social media for postings about found pets. “We will not only broadcast across all social media that the pet is missing, but everyone with the app (in that locale) will get a pop-up Amber Alert. We will contact the owner directly to listen, provide PiP’s immediate response, and offer support,“ Rooyakkers said in a statement today.
Whenever a pet is found, PiP will use its facial recognition software to see if it can find a match in its system. To avoid false positives, Rooyakkers told me, somebody will always look at the metadata to ensure everything checks out.
Obviously, there are a few other ways to identify lost pets, including ID Tags and Microchip Implants. However, there are numerous standards for microchips, so not every shelter or clinic can scan every chip. Facial recognition would also allow anybody to scan dogs or cats right after finding them without the need for any special equipment, which should make reuniting them with their owners faster and easier.
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The ledge I’m standing on has a strange existential duality. In the physical realm, it’s a thin strip of red, millimeters above the floor of a pristine white booth in a basement in Shoreditch, London where the 3D tinkerers and technologists (of everything from 3D film to 3D printing) at Inition keep their toys. In the digital realm, which, thanks to the Oculus Rift wrapped around my head, my senses have decided is the more real, the ledge is the only thing between me and a 300-foot plunge.
The voice from the other realm telling me to reach forward with my arms belongs to Inition founder Andy Millns. He’s concerned I’m going to bang my head (or perhaps his Oculus Rift) against the booth wall. That’s easy for him to say. My arms are otherwise engaged in an inept flailing in a simultaneous attempt to not fall off (inside the game, a fail state) or over (inside the booth, an ultra-fail state).
This isn’t Gizmag’s first play with an Oculus Rift. Back in February, Jonathan looked at a pre-launch version. Today, two things are different. Firstly, Inition’s Rift is the finished article (the current developer model, at any rate), and secondly, much more significantly, Inition has wired its Rift up to a Kinect, via a computer running the company’s in-house VR vertigo simulator, that is. To get across that ledge I can’t just push up on a thumbstick, or a W key. I physically have to walk. Or jump, as a previous tester (or perhaps victim) apparently attempted, having abandoned reality outright.
This is proper virtual reality, in other words, albeit it a compact form. The demo begins in a room which, unlike the ledge, I am not free to navigate. I can turn my head, of course, to examine a virtual chandelier, or to look out of a virtual window. As I’d come to hope, latency was all but imperceptible. As I’m impelled across the room by an external force (i.e. someone at Inition operating a keyboard), I come to face a door. The room, it turns out, was at the top of a skyscraper, built very close to another skyscraper which is inevitably though somewhat inexplicably connected by said ledge.
Now I’m free to move, and though, deep down, I’m perfectly content to observe proceedings from the doorway, it seems rude not to try to cross. The Kinect, looking down at me from above, can see the bright red ledge and map my progress across it: Inition’s demo simultaneously Augmented and Virtual Reality. Somehow, I manage to get to the other side without falling, and ready myself for the return journey (all 5 feet of it). But by now the effort of not falling off or falling over is overwhelming, and with one self-righting misstep, I plunge from the ledge and come crashing down to Earth without a thump, there to admire the virtual grass.
It’s great fun, and if I had difficulty, it may have been down to my unwillingness to let go of reality. As I lowered the Rift over my eyes, my brain clung on to the visual memory of the red ledge, conscious that even the minuscule difference in height could cause me to trip. I became convinced, rightly or wrongly, that where the Rift was telling me the ledge was didn’t match its actual location. Practice doubtless helps, but a safe playing environment will be essential for people to immerse themselves fully.
Coincidentally, that’s precisely the intention of Julian Williams, CEO of Wizdish. As part of Inition’s current AR vs VR event, part of the Digital Shoreditch festival, Williams is showing off his invention, which, accompanied by another Kinect sensor and Oculus Rift, lets people navigate a VR space by donning special shoes and sliding their feet over the slippery dish. Spotting an opportunity for more inept flailing, I gave it a whirl.
This time a Kinect was trained on my ankles. When detecting a walking motion (or something like it), the demo moved me forward in the direction I was looking. The VR itself was rudimentary, but the point here is that the Wizdish does a good job of allowing users to walk about in a virtual space without the worry of bumping into things. The combination of shoes and Wizdish does take some getting used to, but even the few minutes I spent skidding about the thing were sufficient to tell that using it would soon become second nature. The challenge future games makers face is to get the Kinect to determine which way the gamer is facing.
In one final effort to completely freak me out, Millns introduced me to Mark Lewis of Animazoo, makers of the IGS Glove. It’s an electronic glove which can track the motion of hands and fingers using inertial gyros without need of a camera (or Kinect sensor for that matter). Lewis invited me to place my hand on the “chopping block” in front of me. “You’re not afraid of electric shocks are you?” Millns quipped. He’s such a kidder. Still, I couldn’t help but think “oh dear” as I pulled another Rift over my eyes. At least this time I’d get to sit down.
“Nice statue,” I said, pointing vaguely ahead of me, forgetting that so far as Millns and Lewis were concerned, I was pointing at Julian Williams and his Wizdish at the other side of the room. It was then that I caught a glimpse of my hand, or its digital proxy. “You’ll notice a few fingers are already missing,” said Lewis. Thank you, yes, I had noticed that. What I was only just beginning to notice was the bloodied guillotine just above me.
It would be an exaggeration to say that my rational mind (what there is of it) had to overpower my instincts in order to place my hand under the guillotine, but this demo certainly has the power to disconcert. It’s not so much the drop of the blade as the anticipation of it, though Lewis gently touching my wrist to coincide with the incision of the blade was certainly effective. I had been expecting to lose another finger or two. Instead my whole hand had gone.
If the Oculus Rift demos by Inition and friends tell us anything, it’s that though the device may be well suited to standard video games, it has much greater potential for immersion when combined with a dedicated, safe environment (as with the vertigo demo) or when complemented by other technology like Kinect, the Wizdish and IGS Glove. If there were shortcomings in any of the demos, the limiting factor seemed to be the Kinect, not the Rift. And the Kinect, we’re told, has been greatly improved for Xbox One. Whether it will allow accurate tracking of body motion is perhaps doubtful, but it’s precisely this that the Rift is crying out for. Otherwise, barring a resolution bump or two, the Oculus Rift itself isn’t far away from perfection.
Clearly there is not much more to be assumed besides there is a major cover up in the Benghazi tragedy. Just look at the altered talking points in the PDF below, they clearly show such a starch contrast to the original assessment. Make sure to read the entire list through and see the changes that have been made, demand answers! Who changed these talking points? Who was behind this blatant misinformation that was given to the American people? Please take the time to look through these released talking point alterations and try convincing yourself this has nothing to do with the fact that this was during a vital election and this clearly rules out the Obama Administration’s claims about The terrorists that are supposedly on their heels running scared.
Game piracy isn’t just something that affects big studios, and it can have a huge impact on smaller teams; that’s why the coders behind Game Dev Tycoon decided to release their own cracked version, albeit with a moral lesson hardcoded for pirates. Fully expecting a cracked copy of the game to surface shortly after the $7.99 Game Dev Tycoon was released, Greenheart Games pipped the pirates to the post and added a torrent of their own. However, what downloaders didn’t realize was that the cracked version had a bug the authentic one didn’t: players would inevitably run into the effects of game theft.
After a period of play – particularly if the pirate gamer is doing well, their in-game studio creating highly-rated titles – a message from one of the virtual dev team pops up warning them that piracy has become a problem:
“Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt”
After that point, it’s pretty much game-over for the player’s studio, with their bank account shrinking and bankruptcy the only result. Unsurprisingly, the clueless pirates weren’t too keen on a game that seemingly had no outcome but failure, missing the irony of their own behaviors in the process.
“Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me! I had like 5m and then people suddenly started pirating everything I made, even if I got really good ratings (that I usually get). Not fair” Anonymous complaint
After a single day out in the wild, over 90-percent of those playing Game Dev Tycoon were using the cracked version, Greenheart Games discovered, thanks to some phone-home anonymous usage code built into both versions. Unfortunately, attempts to actually encourage those who might be tempted to pirate the game to instead pay for a legitimate copy have floundered, the developers say.
Whereas Greenheart Games says it will still continue with non-DRM on its titles, that isn’t the approach some teams have decided to take. Notably, Microsoft is believed to be adding a mandatory internet connection requirement to its next-gen “Xbox 720” which would require titles be installed to the console’s hard-drive, and then connect to a server to be validated before play can take place.
Greenheart’s site is currently up and down, probably due to interest in this little life-lesson, but you can find the Google cache here.
Source: Slash Gear
As the death toll from China’s bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years.
“This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health, security and the environment told a news conference in Beijing Wednesday.
“We think this virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than H5N1,” he added, referring to the bird flu outbreak between 2004 and 2007 that claimed 332 lives.
“This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far.”
As investigations continue into the possible sources of infection, Fukuda warned that authorities were still struggling to understand the virus. The WHO said China must brace for continued infections.
“I want to give you a caveat, or give you a little bit of context. We really are at the beginning of our understanding of this virus,” Fukuda said. “(The situation remains) complex, difficult and it is evolving.”
So far there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, the authorities say.
“We do want to note, however, that if limited person-to-person transmission is demonstrated in the future, this really will not be surprising,” Fukuda warned, adding that it was critical to remain vigilant, monitoring the virus’s spread and mutation.
“We are not sure that the clusters were caused by common exposure to a source of the virus or were due to limited person-to-person transmission,” he said. “Moreover we have not seen sustained person-to-person transmission.”
While some elements of the outbreak have baffled investigators — specifically why the virus tends to target an elderly demographic and the fact that it is asymptomatic or mild in some cases and lethal in others — authorities have claimed some significant victories in the fight against a pandemic.
Anne Kelso, the director of a WHO-collaborating research center, said researchers had seen a “dramatic slowdown” in human cases in Shanghai after the city’s live poultry market was shut on April 6. Describing the finding as “very encouraging,” she said evidence suggests the closure of live poultry markets is an effective way to stop the spread of the virus.
The joint inspection team from China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission and the World Health Organization also found that, so far, no migratory birds have tested positive for the virus, taking another worrying route of transmission out of the equation.
It said the H7N9 virus is only being found in chickens, ducks and pigeons at live poultry markets.
WHO officials said there are already efforts underway in other countries to develop a vaccine after Chinese officials admitted international help would be needed with this.
Meanwhile, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in its daily update on H7N9 cases that a total of 108 H7N9 cases have been reported in China, including 22 deaths. Most cases have been confined to Shanghai and neighboring provinces in eastern China.
Photo via Rivalhost.com
The average bandwidth seen in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has recently increased by a factor of seven, jumping from 6 Gbps to 48 Gbps. Furthermore, 10% of DDoS attacks now exceed 60 Gbps.
Those findings come from a new report released Wednesday by DDoS mitigation service provider Prolexic Technologies, which saw across-the-board increases in DDoS attack metrics involving the company’s customers.
“Average packet-per-second rate and average bit rate spiked in the first quarter and both are growing at a fast clip,”
said Prolexic president Stuart Scholly in a statement.
“When you have average — not peak — rates in excess of 45 Gbps and 30 million packets per second, even the largest enterprises, carriers and, quite frankly, most mitigation providers, are going to face significant challenges.”
In the first three months of 2013, 77% of DDoS attacks targeted bandwidth capacity and routing infrastructure, while 23% were application-level attacking that didn’t overwhelm targeted networks through packet quantity, but rather by disrupting critical applications or processes running on a server.
The report also found that between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, the total number of attacks increased marginally — by only 2% — while attack duration increased by 7%, from 32.2 hours to 34.5 hours. But the greatest number of DDoS attacks continue to be launched from China, although the volume of such attacks has recently declined. While 55% of all attacks came from China at the end of last year, by March 2013 that had dropped to 41%, followed by the United States (22%), Germany (11%), Iran (6%) and India (5%).
The source of attacks doesn’t mean that a country’s government or even criminal gangs are directly responsible for launching DDoS campaigns. For example, the Operation Ababil bank disruption campaign being run by al-Qassam Cyber Fighters relies in part on hacking into vulnerable WordPress servers and installing such DDoS toolkits as “itsoknoproblembro” – aka Brobot Attackers then use command-and-control servers to issue attack instructions to the toolkits, thus transforming legitimate websites into DDoS launch platforms.
Given that situation, it’s no surprise that China, the United States and Germany — which all sport a relatively large Internet infrastructure — are also tops for DDoS attack origin. But Prolexic’s report said it’s odd that Iran, which has a very small Internet architecture by comparison, should be the source of so many attacks.
“This is very interesting because Iran enforces strict browsing policies similar to Cuba and North Korea,”
according to Prolexic’s report.
As DDoS attack sizes increase, so do fears of an Armaggdon scenario, in which the attack not only disrupts a targeted site, but every site or service provider in between. According to Prolexic’s report, the largest single attack it’s mitigated to date occurred in March, when an “enterprise customer” was hit with an attack that peaked at 130 Gbps. While that wasn’t equal to the 300 Gbps attack experienced by Spamhaus, it still represents well more than most businesses can handle, unless they work with their service provider or third parties to build a better DDoS mitigation defense.
On that front, some businesses tap dedicated DDoS mitigation services from the likes of Arbor Networks, CloudFlare, Prolexic and Verisign.
“There are a number of DDoS mitigation technologies out there, and we see organizations that are deploying the technologies in their own infrastructure and in their own environments,”
as well as working with service providers, said Chris Novak, managing principal of the RISK Team at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, speaking recently by phone.
“Like so many things in the security space, the layered approach is the most effective for most organizations,”
Source: Information Week
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new class of tiny, injectable LEDs is illuminating the deep mysteries of the brain.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis developed ultrathin, flexible optoelectronic devices – including LEDs the size of individual neurons – that are lighting the way for neuroscientists in the field of optogenetics and beyond.
Led by John A. Rogers, the Swanlund professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I., and Michael R. Bruchas, a professor of anesthesiology at Washington University, the researchers will publish their work in the April 12 issue of the journal Science.
“These materials and device structures open up new ways to integrate semiconductor components directly into the brain,”
said Rogers, who directs the Frederick Seitz Research Laboratory at the U. of I.
“More generally, the ideas establish a paradigm for delivering sophisticated forms of electronics into the body: ultra-miniaturized devices that are injected into and provide direct interaction with the depths of the tissue.”
The researchers demonstrated the first application of their devices in optogenetics, a new area of neuroscience that uses light to stimulate targeted neural pathways in the brain. The procedure involves genetically programming specific neurons to respond to light. Optogenetics allows researchers to study precise brain functions in isolation in ways that are impossible with electrical stimulation, which affects neurons throughout a broad area, or with drugs, which saturate the whole brain.
Optogenetics experiments with mice illustrate the ability to train complex behaviors without physical reward, and to alleviate certain anxiety responses. Yet fundamental insights into the structure and function of the brain that emerge from such studies could have implications for treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety and other neurological disorders.
While a number of important neural pathways now can be studied by optogenetics, researchers continue to struggle with the engineering challenge of delivering light to precise regions deep within the brain. The most widely used methods tether the animals to lasers with fiber-optic cables embedded in the skull and brain – an invasive procedure that also limits movements, affects natural behaviors and prevents study of social interactions.
The newly developed technologies bypass these limitations with specially designed powerful LEDs – among the world’s smallest, with sizes comparable to single cells – that are injected into the brain to provide direct illumination and precise control. The devices are printed onto the tip end of a thin, flexible plastic ribbon – thinner than a human hair and narrower than the eye of a needle – that can insert deep into the brain with very little stress to tissue.
“One of the big issues with implanting something into the brain is the potential damage it can cause,”
“These devices are specifically designed to minimize those problems, and they are much more effective than traditional approaches.”
The active devices include not only LEDs but also various sensors and electrodes that are delivered into the brain with a thin, releasable micro-injection needle. The ribbon connects the devices to a wireless antenna and a rectifier circuit that harvests radio frequency energy to power the devices. This module mounts on top of the head and can be unplugged from the ribbon when not in use.
“Study of complex behaviors, social interactions and natural responses demands technologies that impose minimal constraints,”
“The systems we have developed allow the animals to move freely and to interact with one another in a natural way, but at the same time provide full, precise control over the delivery of light into the depth of the brain.”
The complete device platform includes LEDs, temperature and light sensors, microscale heaters and electrodes that can both stimulate and record electrical activity. These components enable many other important functions – for example, researchers can measure the electrical activity that results from light stimulation, giving additional insight into complex neural circuits and interactions within the brain.
The breadth of device options suggests that this wireless, injectable platform could be used for other types of neuroscience studies – or even applied to other organs. For example, Rogers’ team has developed related devices for stimulating peripheral nerves in the leg as a potential route to pain management. They also have built devices with LEDs of multiple colors, so that several neural circuits can be studied with a single injected system.
“These cellular-scale, injectable devices represent frontier technologies with potentially broad implications,”
Rogers said. His group is known for its success in the development of soft sheets of sophisticated electronics that wrap the brain or the heart or that adhere directly to the skin.
“But none of those devices penetrates into the depth of tissue,”
“That’s the challenge that we’re trying to address with this new approach. Many cases, ranging from fundamental studies to clinical interventions, demand access directly into the depth. This is just the first of many examples of injectable semiconductor microdevices that will follow.”
The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy supported this work. Rogers is also affiliated with the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory; the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology; and the departments of bioengineering, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois.
Source: University of Illinois
Being able to diagnose people with Alzheimer’s disease years before debilitating symptoms appear is now a step closer to reality. Researchers behind Neurotrack, the technology startup that took the first health prize at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) startup accelerator in Austin, says their new technology can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease up to six years before symptoms appear with 100 percent accuracy.
“It’s a computer-based visual cognitive test that is able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease six years before symptoms appear,” Elli Kaplan, chief executive officer of the Richmond, Virginia-based startup, told AFP.
Around 5.4 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. However, Kaplan said, today most Alzheimer’s patients are diagnosed at late stage, which leaves them with limited treatment options.
“It’s the same thing as what happened with breast cancer before they had the mammogram,” Kaplan said, according to gigaom.com. “They’re diagnosing at the equivalent of stage 4, when there’s already irreparable damage.”
Kaplan, who graduated from Harvard Business School and is a mother-of-two who lost two grandparents to Alzheimer’s disease, said Neurotrack was developed in collaboration with neuroscientists now at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
The computer-based program comes in two versions: one using an infrared camera and the other using a simple computer mouse. The program is connected to an eye-tracking device that monitors patients’ eye movements as they compare new and old images that appear briefly on a screen.
The program analyzes patients’ eye movements and time spent looking at familiar and new images and then generates a score. Kaplan said 100 percent of subjects who scored below 50 percent on the test have gone to receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis within six years, while none of those who scored above 67 have developed Alzheimer’s.
“By monitoring the way a person moves their eyes, and watching how they view novel images versus familiar images, we’re able to detect perturbations that exist on the hippocampus,” Kaplan said, referring to the brain region responsible for memory. Past research has shown that the hippocampus is also the first part of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s “Every human being has an instinctive preference for novelty and that’s one of the things that we are testing,” she said, according to AFP.
Kaplan said that the initial users of Neurotrack will be pharmaceutical companies to help them develop new drugs to prevent, or at least slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease. She added that down the line, Neurotrack would then be rolled out to doctor’s offices and research hospitals. She added that the technology could also be developed into a smartphone and tablet app that consumers can use at home.
“We’re actually working on this,” Kaplan explained to AFP. “We are not very far away from a technology that will work on your (mobile) phone or on your tablet.”
“In 10 years, our hope is that there will be a pill that you can take (to combat Alzheimer’s). You’d simply go in for an annual screening test-and if you get the news that you are on a trajectory for Alzheimer’s, you’d be able to do something about it,” she added.
Other health startups that competed at the SXSW accelerator include Docphin, a web-based platform for healthcare professionals to access and share medical research and Careport Health, which helps hospitals find appropriate after-care treatment for their patients.
Source: Counsel & Heal