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Spectrum: Monkey See, Monkey Do

Plus, CAPTCHA Gets Gamified.

by / October 10, 2014
Readers who enjoy Marsel van Oosten’s photo can vote for it in the 2014 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition. Marsel van Oosten

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Award-winning nature photographer Marsel van Oosten ventures to the hot springs in Jigokudani, Japan, every winter to capture images of wildlife, including cranes, swans, eagles and snow monkeys. Over the years, the once relatively unknown location grew in popularity, now bustling with visitors and photographers. As one tourist brought her iPhone ever closer to her subject, a macaque monkey snatched it from her and made a getaway to the middle of the hot spring.    

Van Oosten’s picture of the event was nominated for the People’s Choice Award in the U.K. Natural History Museum’s 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.   
Source: photo by Marsel van Oosten

Finding a Smartphone in a Haystack

Avalanche and earthquake victims could have a new lifeline in the form of a planelike drone developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Even if the phone’s owner can’t make a call, the drone detects the phone’s Wi-Fi signal, triangulating its location within 30 feet. The drone could give people trapped under rubble new hope, as it can pick up weaker signals too, helping direct rescue personnel’s search efforts. Source: Gigaom

CAPTCHA Gets Gamified

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are threatening to make the text CAPTCHA code obsolete. Developed to differentiate human users from computers, CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, requires users to reproduce letters and numbers that appear in distorted form. The method, however, is vulnerable to a relay attack in which people are paid to enter the codes.

Dynamic cognitive game (DCG) CAPTCHAs ask users to interact with images, and the technology shows promise in warding off relay attacks as well as machine-based hacking attempts. DCGs ask users to grab a particular image, like a boat, and drag and drop it into a nearby dock. Research on the gamelike challenges is supported in part by Comcast and a National Science Foundation grant.
Source: Science Daily

Sleep in Peace

Restful sleep often eludes caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, like 15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka’s aunt, who could rarely log much rest while caring for her ailing father at night. Kenneth fashioned a thin pressure sensor that adheres to a foot, sock or shoe and connects via Bluetooth to the smartphone app he designed. His aunt gets an audible alert when his grandfather gets out of bed, keeping her from having to get up every 30 minutes to make sure he is safe. Fueled in part by a $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award, plans are to conduct larger tests at residential care homes and then bring the device to the mass market. Source: Co.EXIST


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Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.

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