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PlayStation Employee Designs Custom Controller For Gamer With Cerebral Palsy

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 19:01
An anonymous reader writes: A Sony employee created a custom PlayStation controller for a 21-year-old gamer with cerebral palsy. "I honestly got choked up reading the letter..." gamer Peter Byrne told 9News. "Mr Nawabi really cared about my situation and did this on his own time to make my experience better." On his old PlayStation 4 controller, Byrne kept inadvertently pausing the game whenever his left hand hit the touchpad. "It killed me to hear how something you used to enjoy thoroughly was being ruined because of our new controller design," Sony's Alex Nawabi wrote back in a letter, including a new controller with the original touchpad re-rerouted to the back. Nawabi spent 10 hours assembling parts from three different controllers, adding "Since I've torn the controller apart to modify it, the warranty is no longer valid... I'm not sure how long this will last." But Nawabi promised that he's already planning to also build one more replacement controller.

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New Bipedal Robot Demoed by Google X Company

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 18:01
SCHAFT, one of eight robotic companies in the Alphabet/Google X research facility, has unveiled a new armless bipedal robot which can climb stairs and carry up to 132 pounds, reports i-programmer.info. The one-meter tall robot "is essentially a pair of almost entirely straight legs which pivot from the top," and the robot can walk on snow or uneven surfaces, even staying upright while researchers tried to trip it. The as-yet-unnamed robot was introduced during a keynote address at the New Economic Summit in Tokyo given by Android Inc. co-founder Andy Rubin (who left Google 18 months ago). A SCHAFT spokesperson later added that the presentation wasn't a product announcement. "The team was simply delighted to have a chance to show their latest progress."

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VR Tested by NFL To Confront Sexism and Racism

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 17:01
More than $8 billion a year is spent on diversity training which a Harvard professor believes is largely ineffective. So later this year the NFL will also try using new VR scenarios from Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. "We want to be known as the best place to work," says NFL vice president Troy Vincent," while Dropbox's head of diversity says she's also had conversations about eliminating bias in job interviews by conducting "blind" interviews using avatars. The Stanford lab's scenarios place users in unsettling situations -- for example, angry harassment by white avatars while the user's avatar is black. "I'm not saying, 'Put on a VR goggle and you've solved racism'," says the Stanford lab's director. "But I'm optimistic it can help."

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Website Attempts To Generate Every Possible Patentable Invention

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 16:06
An anonymous reader writes: All Prior Art is a project attempting to algorithmically create and publicly publish all possible new prior art, thereby making the published concepts not patent-able. The concept is to democratize ideas and to preempt patent trolls. The work is released on-line and in files of 10,000 ideas under a creative commons license. The system works by pulling text from the entire database of US issued and published (un-approved) patents and creating prior art from the patent language. While most inventions generated will be nonsensical, the cost to computationally create and publish millions of ideas is nearly zero -- which allows for a higher probability of possible valid prior art.

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NASA's Kepler Enters Emergency Mode 75 Million Miles From Earth

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 15:00
Loren Grush, writing for The Verge: NASA engineers have declared a mission emergency for the agency's planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler, which has somehow switched into emergency mode. Now that a mission emergency has been declared, the Kepler team has priority access to NASA's deep space telecommunications system in order to try to get the spacecraft back to normal operations. Emergency mode is the lowest operational mode the spacecraft has. It also requires a lot more fuel than usual, which is why the Kepler mission team is working hard to get the spacecraft back to normal. But communication with Kepler isn't easy. The spacecraft is estimated to be 75 million miles away from Earth right now, according to NASA, so any communications signal traveling at the speed of light will take up to 13 minutes to travel to and from the spacecraft. Kepler has detected nearly 5,000 exoplanets over the years -- of which 1,000 have been confirmed.

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Free Lightsaber Event Now Battling Lucasfilm's Lawyers

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 13:21
For eight years the arts collective Newmindspace had been staging free lightsaber battles, and in December they set a world record with 9,951 "combatants" simultaneously participating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. But then in January they received a letter from the copyright attorneys for the Star Wars franchise. "We immediately stopped using the words 'lightsaber,' 'Jedi,' 'Sith' and 'The Force,' " the group's co-founder told the technology blog of the San Jose Mercury News, saying they've still been "aggressively pursued" for the last three months. '''In March we received further communication stating 'The Light Battle Tour' and 'light sword' were still too close to their trademarks, and we moved to settle the dispute to avoid legal action." Their new solution involves referring to the weapons as "catblades", and they've re-branded their upcoming series of events (which begins on April 30 in San Jose) as the "Cats in Space Tour".

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Jet Pack Company Executive Crashes During A Test Flight

Slashdot - Sun, 04/10/2016 - 09:41
The Vice President of Jet Pack International was hospitalized Friday after crashing during a test flight in Denver, according to the Associated Press. Though he's successfully flown the company's hydrogen peroxide-fueled jet pack more than 400 times, Friday the vice president experienced "control issues" while hovering 20 feet over the "Go Fast" energy drink company while testing some adjustments, and ultimately crashed in a nearby industrial park. He fell on his head, and he wasn't wearing a helmet, but after receiving 27 stitches, he was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon. The company's jet pack normally has a range of about one-quarter of a mile (and reaches heights of 100 feet) with a flying time of 32 seconds, the Associated Press reports, adding that "The FAA is investigating the crash."

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