Blazing Fast Internet

Researchers in North Carolina State University's Department of Computer Science said they developed a new data transfer protocol that blows away DSL connections.

It's called the Binary Increase Congestion Transmission Control Protocol (BIC-TCP), and it can achieve speeds roughly 6,000 times that of DSL and 150,000 times that of current dial-up modems, said Dr. Injong Rhee, associate professor of computer science.

BIC-TCP's speed comes from its use of a binary search approach -- a fairly common way to scour databases -- that rapidly detects maximum network capacities with minimal loss of information.

Rhee and North Carolina State colleagues presented a paper on their findings at Infocom 2004, the 23rd meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Society, in March. -- North Carolina State University

Mind Games

Researchers at MIT Media Lab Europe and University College Dublin introduced a video game that's controlled by players' brain waves.

In Mind Balance, players wear a brain cap that noninvasively measures signals from the back of the head to help a tightrope-walking monster, the Mawg, keep his balance.

The cap monitors electric signals from the surface of the scalp over the occipital lobes, just above the neck, which are the home of the brain's visual processing. If the Mawg slips to the right, players shift the creature's balance back to the left by staring at a flickering orb on the left side of the screen, and vice versa for slips to the left.

-- MIT Media Lab Europe

Voice Browser

Opera Software will include IBM's ViaVoice speech technology in the upcoming release of its multimodal desktop Web browser. Opera announced the move at AVIOS SpeechTEK 2004 in March.

IBM voice libraries built into the new Opera browser will let users navigate, request information and fill in Web forms using speech and mouse clicks in the same interaction with a Web page. The company said it plans to first launch an English version of the voice browser for computers running the Windows operating system. Versions for other systems, including handheld devices, will come later. -- Opera

Bye Bye Plastic

Tired of that unfeeling plastic mouse, keyboard or monitor?

A Swedish company, SWEDX, has marketed wooden computer peripherals since 1995. The company makes wooden mice and keyboards. And in 2000, SWEDX began offering ultrathin TFT-LCD 15-, 17- and 19-inch monitors that are embedded in natural solid wood.

The mice are available in optical USB and optical wireless models. SWEDX uses natural ash, beech and sapele woods for its products.

Speaking Without Talking

Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center say they can computerize a person's thoughts of talking by tapping into nerve signals the brain sends to various muscles used for speech.

In preliminary experiments, NASA scientists discovered that button-sized sensors stuck under the chin and on either side of the Adam's apple could gather nerve signals. The sensors send the signals to a processor and then to a computer program that translated them into words.

The first experiment consisted of training special software to recognize six words and 10 digits that the researchers repeated subvocally. Initial word recognition was an average of 92 percent accurate.

The first subvocal words the system learned were "stop," "go," "left," "right," "alpha" and "omega," and the digits "zero" through "nine." Silently speaking these words, scientists conducted simple searches on the Internet by using a number chart representing the alphabet to control a Web browser program. -- NASA Ames Research Center

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor