Japanese scientists create holograms you can reach out and touch

It’s like something out of science fiction, perhaps a scene from a Star Wars or Harry Potter movie or an old Jules Verne novel.
The idea is to create holograms that are safe to touch.
A team of Japanese scientists say they’ve done just that: created three-dimensional virtual objects that can be safely handled.
To do so, they’ve used laser speeds that defy imagination: one millionth of one billionth of a second.
It’s called “femtosecond laser technology” or more popularly, “Fairy Lights,” and it’s the product of research at the Utsunomiya University Center for Optical Research and Education.
At the centre of it is Dr. Yoichi Ochiai of Tsukuba University, a media artist who once fronted a one-man band consisting of himself, his electric guitar and his computer, and who used Microsoft’s 3D Moviemaker a lot as a kid.
Homemade smartphone hologram as demonstrated by YouTube user Mrwhosetheboss. Now Japanese scientists have created a 3D hologram.
Homemade smartphone hologram as demonstrated by YouTube user Mrwhosetheboss. Now Japanese scientists have created a 3D hologram.

Ochiai, who has been dubbed a “Digital-age Alchemist,” said in his paper that this technology could be used for purposes including entertainment, medicine and architecture.
“People’s daily lives would change if we use a bigger laser in a bigger space where people can interact with it, and to see how it can be used in situations where three-dimensional communication is necessary such as a construction site or in the medical field,” Ochiai said in an interview with Ignition.
He presented a paper called “Fairy Lights in Femtoseconds: Aerial and Volumetric Graphics Rendered by Focused Femtosecond Laser Combined with Computational Holographic Fields” to the Siggraph 2015 conference in Los Angeles in August with his team of Kota Kumagai, Satoshi Hasegawa, and Yoshio Hayasaki from Utsunomiya University, Takayuki Hoshi from the Nagoya Institute of Technology, and Jun Rekimoto from The University of Tokyo.
They used a complex system of rapid-speed, high-intensity lasers, cameras and mirrors to direct tiny points of light called voxels to create images with resolutions of up to 200,000 dots per second.
Slower lasers would burn human skin, but the faster bursts of light didn’t burn leather in experiments, the researchers reported.
Ochiai said that it felt like sandpaper to the touch.
The possibilities are dazzling.
“It is possible to make anything float, as long as the object is no more than 8-mm wide,” Ochiai told Ignition. “You can control it from about one metre away.”
Already, there’s talk of widespread applications beyond entertainment, medicine and architecture; the possibility of being able to transport items through the air with holograms has already raised the possibility of mixing food in midair, for example, or moving objects about a warehouse without touching them.


Data breach at toymaker VTech could affect 5 million customers

Children’s technology maker VTech says the personal information of about five million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers.

The Hong Kong-based company disclosed the breach of a customer database late last week, but didn’t say how many people could be affected until Monday.

The affected database includes the names, birthdates and genders of child users.

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It also includes adult user information including names, email addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses and download histories.

The database doesn’t contain any credit card numbers.

The company says it’s contacted all of the affected users by email and has temporarily suspended some of its websites as a precaution.

It has set up a number of email inquiry accounts for customers. Canadian customers can send questions to: toys@vtechcanada.com.

Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at Sophos Canada in Vancouver, says VTech customers should not be completely reassured simply because no credit card numbers were exposed.

“Having enough information about someone to make you credible … means that you may then be tricked into handing over a lot more information,” he told CBC News. “So it’s not so much about all the things that were specifically stolen but more [about] arming criminals with information about your identity that makes you likely to be victimized even more.”

VTech makes a variety of popular tech-related toys including tablets and smartwatches.


Full device encryption prevents new Nexus phones from properly working with the Samsung Gear S2

Those looking to purchase a Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch to pair with one of Google’s new Marshmallow smartphones, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, may want hold off for the time being.

According to Android Authority‘s Matthew Benson, who owns both a Nexus 6P and Gear S2, the latter is unable to update its software when paired with the former.

The cause of the problem appears to be the interaction between the Gear S2’s accompanying Samsung Gear app, which enables the user to manage (and update) the device, and Android Marshmallow. The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system requires a smartphone ship with full device encryption, while the Samsung Gear app requires a device be temporarily decrypted to allow updates to be installed. Unfortunately, although the app provides a link to the settings menu where encryption can be disabled, it’s currently not possible to toggle this option off on a Nexus device. This leads to a situation where it’s impossible to update the Gear S2 on a Nexus phone.

Benson also noted an issue with notifications not being properly pushed to the 6P.

Unless Samsung has yet to reveal a plan to move its smartphones to Tizen, the Linux-based operating system that runs on all of its smartwatches and two of its phones, it’s likely the South Korean company will need to address this issue when it eventually moves its recently released smartphones to Android Marshmallow.

Previously, Samsung’s smartwatches were only compatible with Samsung’s own smartphones. With the Gear S2, however, the company opened up the platform to any Android handset running 4.4 and above, though with devices like the Moto X Play, the user needs to sideload the Samsung Gear app and accompanying plugins.


Sonavation Announces Their Next Technology Breakthrough: SonicTouch(TM) Ultrasound Biometric Authentication Solution

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL–(Marketwired – Nov 30, 2015) – Sonavation, the pioneer in ultrasound biometric technology and the first to develop and successfully bond an ultrasound biometric sensor to device protective glass, today announces another major industry innovation — SonicTouch™. SonicTouch is the most advanced authentication solution for digital and device security. It is a FIDO-ready ultrasound biometric authenticator system-in-package module that is uniquely designed to deliver the next generation of identity security and ease of integration into mobile and IoT devices. Sonavation is currently finalizing design-in specifications and launch schedules with three global tier one mobile device manufacturers.

By 2020, biometric technology is expected to secure $5.6T in mobile payment transactions and it is estimated that there will be more than 25B internet connected devices. Consumers and companies demand the highest level of assurance in protecting their identity, personal data and digital transactions. SonicTouch was engineered for an unrivaled experience that empowers trust and delivers peace of mind with one touch.

With its Match-In-Sensor architecturally flexible design, SonicTouch is a dramatic advancement in trustworthy authentication. Incorporating the Sonavation 3D ultrasound sensor, SonicTouch is the industry’s first full-stack solution with the highest level end-to-end encryption architecture that provides a fully encapsulated locked-down module. Combined with upgradable anti-spoofing and Level 3+ matching systems, secure transaction platforms can be deployed by mobile and IoT device manufacturers, mobile network operators and application developers.

With SonicTouch, a user’s singularly unique acoustic fingerprint signature is captured, encrypted and never leaves the device. SonicTouch demonstrates the highest accuracy extract and match and allows authentication despite moisture, dirt or lotion that might be present on a user’s finger. Because device protective glass integrity is of utmost importance, SonicTouch was purposefully designed to eliminate the need to etch out or cut into the protective display glass, thus keeping the full strength of the glass intact. For device manufacturers, this is a critical element to reducing device costs while providing a positive end-user experience.

Karl Weintz, Sonavation chief executive officer, said: “The digital and connected world is at our doorstep and is already beginning to touch every aspect of life. This makes biometric security a critical component and evolving authority that demands our attention. The ultra-thin SonicTouch is the comprehensive advancement that will enable the most secure authentication solution for manufacturers. Those looking to deliver secure solutions with a protected touch sensor or touch-under-cover sensor can now guarantee biometrics are easily integrated and convenient to provide a great user experience with cutting-edge authentication options.”

Dr. Rainer Schmitt, Sonavation chief technology officer and distinguished innovative leader in ultrasound technologies, added: “The high frequency ultrasound technology deployed in SonicTouch provides high resolution imaging utilizing acoustic impediography. The difference of acoustic properties in the fingerprint structure of ridges and valleys is at least two orders of magnitude higher than those of optical and capacitive fingerprint imaging methods. This makes acoustic impediography simple and robust, while providing the means for through glass fingerprinting.”

By empowering OEMs with this easily deployable technology, Sonavation aims to broaden the proliferation of biometric technology, ultimately increasing the security on mobile and IoT devices.

About Sonavation
The Sonavation product line is designed to provide secure authentication and protection for digital and physical environments for consumers and businesses. Solutions include both embedded and stand-alone device offerings designed to protect access to online systems including: e-Commerce, financial services, health data and other sensitive applications.

Sonavation designs and manufactures the industry’s leading biometric fingerprint sensors, utilizing ultrasound. Its 3D surface scan and sub-surface technology is protected by 42 awarded patents and an additional 47 patents filed, making it the world’s smallest low-power ultrasound sensor. Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Sonavation is committed to “Empowering Trust, Delivering Peace of Mind.” For more information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or visit us at http://www.sonavation.com.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2759351#ixzz3t0bUHkI4

Apple Music makes the jump

Starting on December 15th, Apple Music users will be able to stream on-demand and radio music to Sonos’s wide range of connected home speakers, one of the most-requested features from both companies in recent months.

Available to all Apple Music users — even those who are currently using the service though its free three month trial — the functionality will launch as a public beta over iOS and Android, though users will initially need an iOS device to sign on.

The accompanying Sonos app will be required to queue up songs. With the exception of the social network-like Connect feature, all of Apple Music’s marquee features, including the “For You” curated playlists and Beats 1 radio station, will be available at launch.

This marks the first time Apple has partnered with a third-party hardware manufacturing to enable deep integration with Apple Music. Sonos recently launched its expensive though excellent Play:5 speaker, as well as Trueplay equalization functionality.


The blind woman who switched personalities and could suddenly see

By Sarah Kaplan
It had been more than a decade since “B.T.” had last seen anything.

After she suffered a traumatic accident as a young woman, doctors diagnosed her with cortical blindness, caused by damage to the visual processing centres in her brain. So she got a Seeing Eye dog to guide her and grew accustomed to the darkness.

Besides, B.T. had other health problems to cope with — namely, more than 10 wildly different personalities that competed for control of her body.

It was while seeking treatment for her dissociative identity disorder that the ability to see suddenly returned. Not to B.T., a 37-year-old German woman. But to a teenage boy she sometimes became.

With therapy, over the course of months, all but two of B.T.’s identities regained their sight. And as B.T. oscillated between identities, her vision flicked on and off like a light switch in her mind. The world would appear, then go dark.

Writing in PsyCh Journal, B.T.’s doctors say that her blindness wasn’t caused by brain damage, her original diagnosis. It was instead something more akin to a brain directive, a psychological problem rather than a physiological one.

B.T.’s strange case reveals much about the mind’s extraordinary power — how it can control what we see and who we are.

To understand what happened with B.T. (who is identified only by her initials in the journal article), her doctors, German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel, went back to her initial diagnosis of cortical blindness.

Her health records from the time show that she was subjected to a series of vision tests — involving lasers, special glasses, lights shined across a room — all of which demonstrated her apparent blindness. Since there was no damage to her eyes themselves, it was assumed that B.T.’s vision problems must have come from brain damage caused by her accident (the report does not say what exactly happened in the accident).

Waldvogel had no reason to doubt that diagnosis when B.T. was referred to him 13 years later for treatment of dissociative identity disorder, once called multiple personality disorder. B.T. exhibited more than 10 personalities, varying in age, gender, habits and temperament. They even spoke different languages: some communicated only in English, others only in German, some in both. (B.T. had spent time in an English-speaking country as a child but lived in Germany.)

Then, four years into psychotherapy, something strange happened: just after ending a therapy session, while in one of her adolescent male states, B.T. saw a word on the cover of a magazine. It was the first word she had read visually in 17 years.

At first, B.T.’s renewed sight was restricted to recognizing whole words in that one identity. If asked, she couldn’t even see the individual letters that made up the words, just the words themselves. But it gradually expanded, first to higher-order visual processes (like reading), then to lower-level ones (like recognizing patterns) until most of her personalities were able to see most of the time. When B.T. alternated between sighted and sightless personalities, her vision switched as well.

That’s when Waldvogel began doubting the cause of B.T.’s vision loss. It’s unlikely that a brain injury of the kind that can cause cortical blindness would heal instantaneously after such a long time. And even if it did, that didn’t explain why B.T.’s vision continued to switch on and off. Clearly something else was going on.

One explanation, that B.T. was “malingering,” or lying about her disability, was disproved by an EEG test. When B.T. was in her two blind states, her brain showed none of the electrical responses to visual stimuli that sighted people would display — even though B.T.’s eyes were open and she was looking right at them.

Instead, Waldvogel and Strasburger believe that B.T.’s blindness is psychogenic (psychologically caused, rather than physical). Something happened — perhaps related to her accident — that caused her body to react by cutting out her ability to see. Even now, two of her identities retain that coping mechanism.

“These presumably serve as a possibility for retreat,” Strasburger told the neuroscience site Brain Decoder. “In situations that are particularly emotionally intense, the patient occasionally feels the wish to become blind, and thus not ‘need to see.'”

It’s not actually all that uncommon for people’s brains to stop them from seeing, even when their eyes work fine, the researchers say. When your two eyes see slightly different images — when squinting, for example — the brain will cut out one image to keep you from being confused by the contradiction. Your brain also intervenes in visual processing when you focus on particular objects in your field of vision.

Responsibility for the information “gatekeeping” that kept B.T. from seeing everything she looked at may lie with the lateral geniculate nucleus, a sort of neural relay centre that sends visual information down synaptic pathways into the brain’s information processors.

Perhaps more interesting than what it says about sight, though, is what B.T.’s story tells us about dissociative identity disorder (DID), the condition apparently at the root of her vision loss.

Though DID has been listed in psychiatry’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, since 1994 (and was recognized as “multiple personality disorder” for a decade and a half before that), there is still a large amount of skepticism about the diagnosis among experts and patients alike.

For years before it became a psychiatric diagnosis, DID was known along with a host of other psychiatric conditions as “hysteria,” a term that gives you a sense of how it and its sufferers were viewed.

Modern critics of the diagnosis point out the absence of consensus on diagnostic criteria and treatment, and blame sensational stories of DID patients like the 1976 TV movie Sybil for creating an “epidemic” of MPD diagnoses. The 1990s saw a spate of lawsuits from patients subjected to dubious treatments for multiple personality disorders they said they didn’t have, and many began to believe that DID was not so much treated by psychiatrists but induced by them through the power of suggestion.

At the very least, it’s thought that DID may only be a product of fragmentation at high levels of thinking — a breakdown in a brain dealing with complex emotions.

But Strasburger and Waldvogel say their finding is evidence that DID can unfold at a very basic, biological level. After all, it was not just high-level cognitive functions, such as reading, that were affected by B.T.’s condition; even basic things such as depth perception were difficult for her. And B.T.’s doctors could see all of that playing out in her brain right in front of them on the EEG.

The case study shows that DID “is a legitimate psycho-physiologically based syndrome of psychological distress,” Dr. Richard P. Kluft, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Temple University School of Medicine, who was not associated with the study, told Brain Decoder.

The condition is not just a product of culture and psychiatrists’ suggestions, he said; as in B.T.’s case, it “represents the mind’s attempt to compartmentalize its pain.”

The Washington Post