IDIAPs Mike Flynn: A dummy contributes to more productivity in the Smart Meeting Room.
Good managers tend to make for better meetings, but can technology also make a difference in having higher quality meetings? Swiss scientists at IDIAP (Institut Dalle Molle D'intelligence Artificielle Perceptive), a non-profit research institute located in Martigny, Switzerland, seem to think so. To investigate their theory, the scientists are employing several key technologies—including artificial neural networks, speech and audio processing, computer vision, and biometrics—to study what actually happens at meetings, and then they hope to make them more productive. "We can capture everything that goes on at a meeting, and then analyze things like whether or not the information exchange was useful, who dominated the discussion, whether or not the participants were engaged, and so on," says Mike Flynn, a senior development engineer at the institute. Gathering this sort of information may sound like a no-brainer, but in fact the IDIAP Smart Meeting Room that researchers have constructed on-site features an enormous amount of multichannel, audio-visual technology to collect and process the data. The list of information technology devices includes video cameras, wireless microphones, microphone arrays, synchronizers, recording software, digitizers, computers, even a "binaural mannequin"—essentially a dummy with protruding ears that contain audio receivers. Researchers hope that the kind of analysis they perform on meeting content will be useful for updating non-attendees, evaluating the performance of team leaders, and helping teach people how to be more productive participants in meetings. The information they discover could also prove invaluable for formal meetings like design reviews, when it can be critical to document the proceedings. Flynn says that IDIAP engineers have tried out the technology at their own meetings and made at least one discovery that should surprise no one: "We learned that things don't always go the way they're planned," says Flynn. For a look at a Smart Meeting Room analysis of some sample IDIAP meetings, go to http://mmm.idiap.ch.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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