Friday, February 13, 2015

Watch This Man Scale a Rock Wall With DARPA's Bionic Arm

The DARPA-funded DEKA Arm System is an amazingly life-like prosthetic arm controlled directly by electric signals from the muscles. It's the first such prosthetic available to the general public. And it can help you climb a rock wall like a badass. 
By plugging into the body's electric signals, the DEKA arm allows for close to natural movement. That can mean delicate maneuvers like picking up eggs. It can also mean, as illustrated in this new DARPA video, feats of strength like this Army volunteer amputee scaling a rock wall. Watch out, non-cyborgs. [DARPA]

Monday, February 9, 2015

Access QuickType suggestions in OS X Yosemite

KeyboardIconXIf you have used Apple’s iOS 8 and have enjoyed the new QuickType keyboard that is included with it, then you might be happy to know a similar service that is available in OS X has gained this function in OS X Yosemite.
QuickType is a word suggestion feature that allows you to quickly complete sentences by tapping on one of three suggested words. The suggestions that QuickType offers are contextually based, and therefore will change depending not only on the starting letters you have entered, but also on the context of the sentence you have already typed.
This service has its uses, and if you have become accustomed to it then you might find comfort in knowing the service has made its way into OS X Yosemite.
For a while, OS X has contained a word-completion feature, where by typing a few letters of a word and pressing the escape key you will get a list of possible word completions to use; however, so far this list has been a dumb alphabetical list, which has limited its uses. In Yosemite, this structure has been changed to essentially be the same as the QuickType suggestions, so now when you open this list you get a series of smart suggestions to use.
As with the QuickType keyboard, the suggestions allow you to throw together some ridiculous and funny phrases, but more importantly allow you to better use the suggested word list.
While enhanced, accessing the word suggestions in OS X is still the same: Simply press the escape key whenever you want a suggestion for a word, or for completing a partially-typed word, and a menu will pop up at your cursor with all of the options that OS X thinks are relevant. With the menu open, you can use the arrow keys to highlight a desired word, followed by pressing the space bar, tab key, or enter key to place it in your text.
Word suggestions in OS X Yosemite
The word suggestion list now offers more relevant words based on the context of what you have already typed in your sentence.
Even though its main use might seem to be for suggestions while typing, another approach to using word suggestions is for reviewing text, where if you find a word in a phrase and want to use an alternative, you can highlight it and press Escape, to get a list of relevant alternatives that could work.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New live music and events platform caters to people with disabilities

About 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability. That means more than one billion people have limited access to appropriate health care and other services, and up to 190 million adults have significant difficulties functioning.
But there's another issue not often talked about: people with disabilities want to have fun, just like everybody else. Unfortunately, the average venue or event doesn't cater to their needs.
Enter Why Not People, a new UK-based members club and online platform for people living with disabilities. The company creates and hosts events such as live music gigs with top talent, built specifically for people with physical, sensory and learning impairments.
In order to become a member, people with disabilities need to provide some basic medical information in an application. But, in an effort to promote inclusion, members can purchase up to three additional tickets for friends and family.
"I have spent the last few years DJing around the UK and globally, and when I look out at the audience, there is not one person in a wheelchair," Jameela Jamil, founder of Why Not People, tells Mashable in an email. " 

What I see is not representative of society. It's embarrassing that we live in a world where that is still the case. And that is what drives Why Not People — to change that, impact people's lives and ultimately break down barriers in the community."

Jamil, perhaps best known as a presenter on BBC Radio 1, had her own experience with disability: In a childhood car accident, she broke several bones, damaged her spine and was confined to a bed for two years. Doctors warned her that she might never walk again, but she eventually recovered through physiotherapy.
Why Not People is her way of ensuring that people with disabilities aren't left out or separated at live events — instead of being cornered off, they'll be in the middle of the action. 
Through an Indiegogo campaign, Why Not People is hoping to raise £40,000 (approximately $60,000) to launch its members' portal, process applications, secure and prepare a venue for the first event, and more. Artists currently on board include Ed Sheeran, James Blake, Tinie Tempah and Coldplay.
In the UK specifically, more than 11 million people reported living with a long-term health problem or disability in a 2011 census. In a Muscular Dystrophy Trailblazers survey, 1 in 2 young people with disabilities said physical access was the primary obstacle preventing them from attending live music events.
Jamil thinks it's high time for change.
"It's unbelievable that a company like this even needs to exist in this day and age," she says in the video above. "But if it has to start with us, so be it."