5 Intriguing Things: Friday, 1/24

A more local Internet, stroke recovery and the Kinect, goggles and empathy, naval bases under the seafloor, and the relief of an object that just does one thing. 

1. The people of Burlington, Vermont want to create a more 'local,' non-commercial Internet.

"Local, though, can be a funny concept when it comes to the Internet. The way routing works, an email sent on one side of a city might travel abroad before reaching its recipient across town, simply for efficiency’s sake. Civic Cloud can’t ensure that, say, a session of Lakecraft won’t bounce beyond Burlington. 'But with the network and the cloud being locally controlled,' Holt says, 'there are a lot more things in place to mitigate the possibility of that happening.'

The tendency of Internet traffic to travel far and wide is one reason the NSA has been so able to tap transmission. Holt appreciates the point, but says that simply using a service like, say, YouTube, involves its own kind of exposure. 'If you’re going to use a live streaming service,' he says, 'you’re likely going to have to give up some privacy so that they can target ads to you.' It is, he says, a question of the very nature of the modern Internet experience. 'We live in this world where the Internet is overly commercialized. Where are the non-commercial spaces?'

Burlington has something in its back pocket that other cities don’t: A ridiculously speedy network, one that’s probably about a hundred or so times faster than what you have at home. Big telecom providers have focused on serving up broadband to the country’s dense places, which doesn’t exactly include Vermont. So the city stepped in, opting for a gigabit-fast fiber-to-the-home network."

 

2. Stroke recovery .... with Microsoft Kinect.

"The prototype Stroke Recovery with Kinect system was built by using the Microsoft Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK). It uses the Kinect sensor’s three-dimensional camera to capture the movements of 48 skeletal points on the patient while he or she performs the therapy. Stroke Recovery with Kinect interprets the movement data, enabling the system to measure and evaluate the patient’s movements and assess their rehabilitation progress. The system uses the patient's scores from previous sessions to adjust the level of difficulty for subsequent therapy sessions. 

One of the three programs in the Stroke Recovery with Kinect system is the classic box-and-block test (BBT). This program application evaluates patients’ coordination, gross manual dexterity, and motor skills as they (virtually) attempt to pick up blocks one-by-one and put them into a box in a set amount of time. Similar to a computer game, Stroke Recovery with Kinect displays patients’ scores as soon as they finish a session, providing immediate reinforcement when scores improve from session to session."

 

3. "Out-of-Body Therapy" turned into an interactive goggles-and-video art project.

"THE MACHINE TO BE ANOTHER is an Open Source Art investigation on the relation of Identity and Empathy that has been developed on a basis of low budget experiments of Embodiment and Virtual Body Extension.

Designed as an interactive performance installation, the ‘Machine’ offers users the possibility of interacting with a piece of another person’s life story by seeing themselves in the body of this person and listening to his/her thoughts inside their mind."

 

4. The humble Cold War suggestion that the Navy build vast bases under the seafloor.

"The Navy’s efforts to recover a lost hydrogen bomb off the coast of Spain that year and the loss of the attack sub USS Thresher three years before had brought new funding and discipline to deep submergence systems. In such heady times, dreams of colonizing the continental shelf within a generation seemed like sober predictions.

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