August 5, 2014

Philips develops headset that reads thoughts

Filed under: IT by Orangemaster @ 10:54 am


Inspired by the wishes and needs of ALS patients who gradually lose motor functions including their ability to speak, “the Emotiv wireless EEG neuro headset uses sensors to tune into electrical signals produced by the brain to detect a user’s thoughts, feelings and expressions in real time.” The headset addresses two major issues of ALS sufferers, namely regaining the ability to communicate with the people around them (friends, family, loves ones) and regaining control over the things around them (TV, lights, Internet).

Patients’ thoughts are registered by the headset, which passes the commands on to specially developed software in an app or tablet. The information is then passed on to specific devices around the house, as shown in the video below. Dutch ALS patients and associations have responded positively to the headset so far, but there’s no ready-to-use version of it on the market yet.

The video is in English, with English subtitles.

(Link:, Photo:

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September 17, 2011

Judges not allowed to piece verdict together on the internet

Filed under: General,IT by Branko Collin @ 1:43 pm

The appeals court of Den Bosch got bitch slapped by the Dutch supreme court for inserting its own facts into a verdict without giving the parties involved a chance to respond.

A legal guardian had bought a license for Smart FMS, a sort of bookkeeping package, to take care of the accounts of his ward. It’s not clear to me who sued whom, but at some point the protagonists of this case found themselves in front of the appeals court of Den Bosch. And when the dust settled and the verdict came out, it turned out that the judge had been googling for extra information, and had concluded that

this software is first and foremost a system to aid the guardian’s administration, and it only helps clarify the payments of the clients as a side-effect. The clients furthermore have no say about the usage of this particular system, assuming they are even willing to bear the costs, and are capable of using it. […] Although the guardian did not provide [this court] with information about the software, the internet did.

The guardian was not pleased, as he had had no chance to defend himself against the court’s allegation. Last week the supreme court agreed with him. That the parties involved in legal proceedings have a right to be heard is a Dutch legal principle.

(Link: Iusmentis. Verdict in Dutch at

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December 25, 2010

Winter hunting ban; porn and clown voices; secretary most wanted job; and more

Filed under: Animals,Automobiles,General,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:20 pm

* Several provinces have instated hunting bans for a variety of animals because of the cold weather. Zeeland, Drenthe, Noord Holland and Limburg have ordered a general hunting ban, while others have limited their bans to a selection of animals. The Party for the Animals (PvdD) has called for a nationwide ban, Trouw reports.

* Car navigation software voiced by porn actress Kim Holland was the most popular of the stable in 2010, Blik op Persbericht reports. Her voice was also the most popular in 2009. The winner of 2008, Clown Bassie, came second this year. Unrelated: recently Holland’s demand that Internet provider Ziggo release the personal data of a customer suspected of infringing her copyrights was rejected on appeal.

* The most wanted job title on in 2010 was secretary, just like last year. Visitors searched 500,000 times for the title. Manager and controller were other popular job titles, Blik op Nieuws writes.

* Almost 1 billion worth of guilder coins and bills are still hiding underneath mattresses and in other places, Z24 reports. Half of that money is in coins, and can no longer be exchanged for euro. Paper money can be exchanged at the central bank (DNB) until 2031. The amount of unclaimed banknotes seems to be the same as last year’s.

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March 20, 2007

Computers learn to talk to each other

Filed under: IT by Branko Collin @ 8:25 am

When a PC talks to a printer, the PC has to know in advance how to address the printer and what the printer is saying.

On March 21, PhD student Jurriaan van Diggelen will defend a thesis that suggests a system where ‘agents’ (autonomous computer programs that act on behalf of a user) learn to communicate with other agents on their own. Such self-learning software could for instance be used to search the Internet for cheap holiday packages, collecting the necessary information from the servers of travel agents, airlines, hotels and so on, even though the program would initially not know how to talk to these servers.

The thesis is called Achieving Semantic Interoperability in Multi-Agent Systems (PDF). Via Web Wereld.

Van Diggelen tested his theories with a sophisticated RSS agregator. He identifies a translation problem: different systems know about the same concepts, but give them different names. The agent has to learn the names that apply to the same concept. A second problem is one of specialisation: “So you don’t know about ‘football’, but do you know about ‘sports’?”. The aggregator could reply “Yes,” and provide a more generic answer than it was looking for, but still one that could be presented to the user.

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