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  1. Paralyzed Patients to Use Pupil Responses to Communicate

    Also, locked-in syndrome is a thing because apparently my nightmares are coming to life.

    Locked-In Syndrome is a condition where patients retain cognitive function, but are completely unable to move, speak, or communicate. It's a pretty scary situation, but researchers are developing a way for locked-in patients to communicate using the pupils of their eyes.

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  2. Texting and Driving’s the New Drinking and Driving, at Least Among Teens

    At this point, it really shouldn't take another study to show us that texting and driving is not safe. But another study showing that is exactly what we have this week, with a paper published today in the journal Pediatrics showing that texting and driving is now responsible for more car accidents -- and more fatalities -- among teen drivers than drunk driving. 

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  3. Psychic Cells? Researchers Baffled By Cells That Communicate Despite Physical Separation

    Cells are amazingly complex little machines, but there are some things that even they aren't too good at -- like communicating over long distances. Generally, cells can only talk to their close neighbors through touch or send messages to the body at large by sending out chemical flares or distress signals. But researchers in California have identified a new way that cells seem to be able to communicate, and it appears this method can ignore physical barriers that would usually prevent communication, though researchers still aren't sure exactly how the mechanism works.

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  4. Study: Ravens Might Communicate Using Gestures

    Ravens have proven to be some of the most surprising species of birds, having demonstrated the ability to use tools and even solve complex puzzles. Now, new research from Simone Pika and Thomas Bugnyar suggests that these clever birds might use gestures in order to communicate with each other.

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  5. Study: Parrot Parents Name Their Babies

    Parrots, with their amazing abilities to mimic speech and talk to humans in addition to each other, are by far impressive communicators. But research shows that parrot conversations are even more complex. Each parrot has its own signature call that others use to address it, which is the parrot equivalent of having a name. But where do these "names" come from? New research has shown that just like with human babies, parrot parents name their offspring, even before the babies can communicate themselves. The research, led by Karl Berg of Cornell University, used video cameras to record the communication process of green-rumped parrots (Forpus passerinus) in Venezuela. The wild parrot study showed that even before chicks begin to chirp back at their parents, adults give them a signature sound by which they are addressed. The babies will take this sound and in some cases tweak it before using it throughout their life.

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  6. Eavesdropping Rodents Listen To Each Other

    Fear is a universal language. At least it is for chipmunks and woodchucks. The two animals are completely different rodent species, and while they do not communicate directly with each other, new research has shown that chipmunks and woodchucks will respond to each others' fear or alarm calls.

    This kind of mutual understanding across species is a surprise for researchers because both species are known to be quite solitary. Within their own species the animals do not even live in family groups, so for lone animals to respond to the calls of another species is of interest. Published in the Journal of Mammology, the research explains that while individuals responding to the alarm calls of their own species is a well-documented phenomenon, interspecies understanding is not seen as often.

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  7. Hacked Kinect Understands Sign Language

    French researchers have done what many thought impossible: created a truly useful hack for the Kinect. Using the body tracking capabilities of the Kinect, coupled with some clever coding, they have developed software to interpret sign language. Interestingly, this fulfills the original patent claim of the Kinect, and promises made at its introduction by Microsoft. Key to the team's work was using the Fast Artificial Neural Network, or FANN, to allow the computer to understand users' signs. From the  YouTube comments made by the team:
    For simples moves , like a punch or a kick, it easy to recognize : high vélocity of the hand or the foot. But for more complex moves (like the ones in this video), the problem is mathematicaly harder... Neural network is a way to bypass the problem[.] It builds a mathematical model of the moves using move samples.
    The system can only recognize two words at the moment -- "hello" and "sorry" -- but the team says that with all the software in place adding more words is a relatively easy task. While the XBox has supported text-based inputs for some time, sign language recognition could provide a fast and natural way for signers to communicate. It could also be used as a valuable teaching tool for those unfamiliar with the language. Read on after the break to get a look at the Kinect hack in action.

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  8. Could OpenMesh Prevent Government-Imposed Internet Blackouts?

    In the past two months, the world has on multiple occasions seen governments preventing their populaces from accessing the Internet during times of existential political crisis. It's not hard to characterize the Egyptian and Libyan use of an Internet blackout as a direct attack against the groups that sought and still to topple their political leaders, as the protestors in those countries relied on web-based platforms to organize their protests and inform the world of their plight. But Shervin Pishevar hopes to end any further restriction of Internet traffic with his OpenMesh project. On its website, OpenMesh says that the will "find the best of breed Open Source Technologies and to build partnerships with existing technologies that would allow us to create a private citizen owned communications infrastructure." In short, OpenMesh aims to give individuals the tools to remain connected with each other and the world at large without relying on the existing communications infrastructure, that, as demonstrated in the recent unrest in the middle-east, are quite vulnerable. OpenMesh would create an independent, ad-hoc, user-based network that would be far more robust and out of the hands of anyone -- government or otherwise -- that would seek to restrict communications.

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