Abstract: The concept of a local audio environment is to have sound playback locally restricted such that, ideally, adjacent regions of an indoor or outdoor space could exhibit their own individual audio content without interfering with each other. This would enable people to listen to their content of choice without disturbing others next to them, yet, without any headphones to block conversation. In practice, perfect sound containment in free air cannot be attained, but a local audio environment can still be satisfactorily approximated using directional speakers. Directional speakers may be based on regular audible frequencies or they may employ modulated ultrasound. Planar, parabolic, and array form factors are commonly used. The directivity of a speaker improves as its surface area and sound frequency increases, making these the main design factors for directional audio systems. Even directional speakers radiate some sound outside the main beam, and sound can also reflect from objects. Therefore, directional speaker systems perform best when there is enough ambient noise to mask the leaking sound. Possible areas of application for local audio include information and advertisement audio feed in commercial facilities, guiding and narration in museums and exhibitions, office space personalization, control room messaging, rehabilitation environments, and entertainment audio systems.
Abstract: Bionics are a set of technology products that are constantly evolving. Bionics are proposed as body add-ons or replacement for many body parts (ears, eyes, knees, neural prostheses, joints, muscles, kidney, liver, cartilage lungs, discs, pancreas, dental pulp, skin, hippocampus, legs and hands), and functions such as speech. Two main applications of bionic products are discussed; one being for the restoration of body abilities to a species-typical norm and the other being the addition of abilities to the body that are not species-typical. Disabled people are one main group perceived to be in need of therapeutic interventions that use various bionic products. So far, therapeutic interventions are about restoration to the species-typical norm. However, therapeutic bionic products increasingly give the wearer beyond normal body abilities (therapeutic enhancements). Many so-called non-disabled people want the same enhanced body-abilities especially through non-invasive bionic products (e.g., non-invasive brain machine interfaces, exoskeletons). The media has the ability to shape public perceptions with numerous consequences. The purpose of this study was to provide quantitative and qualitative data on how bionic technologies and its users are portrayed in North American newspapers. Data was obtained from 1977 to 2013 from the Canadian Newsstand complete database which covers over 300 English language Canadian newspapers and two Canadian newspapers, one with national focus (The Globe and Mail)and one with local focus (Calgary Herald), and from 1980–2013 from one American newspaper with national reach (TheNew York Times). The study found (a) an almost always positive portrayal of bionics; (b) coverage of bionics mostly within a medical framework; (c) a predominantly stereotypical and negative portrayal of individuals with disabilities; and (d) a hierarchy of worthiness between different assistive devices such as a reporting bias favoring artificial legs over wheelchairs. At the same time the study did not find any engagement with social and ethical issues that are already raised about bionics in the literature, such as the increasing desire for enhancements, the use of bionics for non-therapeutic purposes and the issues socially disadvantaged people might face in the wake of bionic advancements. We posit that the newspapers generate a bionic discourse culture that is problematic for disabled people and other socially disadvantaged groups and that they do not prepare readers for the challenges that bionic advancements will pose for the general population in the future.
Abstract: MRI-guidance is increasingly used for minimally-invasive procedures, such as biopsy, and requires real-time active tracking of surgical instruments. Although optical and MR-based fiducial tracking devices have been used, these systems rely on complex contact with the operator or line-of-sight access for effective operation. A more straight-forward and clinically robust method is required to allow interactive real-time slice positioning of MR scan planes during interventional procedures. This study evaluated the use of a wristwatch-mounted, low cost wireless interface device for real-time MRI guidance. The device was designed to interact with software for planning rather than instrument guidance. The wireless device was integrated with two novel, open interventional magnet systems operating at 0.17T and 0.5T and utilized a novel customized graphic user interface (GUI) to assess interventional capability.
Abstract: A previous study conducted through a survey of academic libraries at 100 US universities with the highest total expenditures on academic libraries according to data presented by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The results pointed out an unexpectedly weak correlation among web variables, concluding that the complex online structure of US academic libraries was the main driver of this effect. The present study replicates this research applying the same web indicators but at the university level, to check whether the weak compactness among web indicators persists. Additionally, the percentage (in terms of web data) of academic libraries at universities is analyzed. Finally, the correlation among web and economic indicators (research expenditures, student population, and reputational rank position) for universities is calculated to check for a possible relationship. Results confirm a strong correlation among university web indicators. Otherwise, the strength of academic libraries at universities is moderate in terms of page count, but weak in terms of visits. Finally, the correlation among university web indicators and research expenditures depends on student population.
Abstract: Social robotics, brain machine interfaces and neuro and cognitive enhancement products are three emerging science and technology products with wide-reaching impact for disabled and non-disabled people. Acceptance of ideas and products depend on multiple parameters and many models have been developed to predict product acceptance. We investigated which frequently employed technology acceptance models (consumer theory, innovation diffusion model, theory of reasoned action, theory of planned behaviour, social cognitive theory, self-determination theory, technology of acceptance model, Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology UTAUT and UTAUT2) are employed in the social robotics, brain machine interfaces and neuro and cognitive enhancement product literature and which of the core measures used in the technology acceptance models are implicit or explicit engaged with in the literature.
Abstract: Technologies of one sort or another have been with us for millennia; our ancestors developed solutions to their everyday problems to improve their—and subsequently our—quality of life. Over the course of history technological development has gone through periods of both gradual evolution and culture changing paradigm shifts. These leaps of progress have enabled greater communication, better generation and distribution of food and through better transportation, greater mobility. It is human nature to endeavour to build on these technological advancements, seeking to ever improve quality of life whilst minimising environmental impact.