All posts by Jeremy Eades

I'm an English teacher in Japan. I have an interest in the brain and language acquisition, not to mention writing and the pipedream that I'll become the next Asimov. Or something like that. Nice to meet you!

Virtual reality and PTSD

virtual reality tape One of the little-recognized horrors from the Vietnam War was the amount of soldiers coming back from duty, only to be unable to reintegrate properly back into society, often leading to drug use and homelessness (at least, this is the stereotype I’ve grown up with – it may or may not be true).  As a child, there were always rumors of someone-or-other’s father or uncle or who was a vet and would jump at loud noises and always checked their surroundings for ambushes.  Of course, we also believed that the woods nearby was a secret testing ground for mutant animals, but hey – we were kids.

Now, in a bid to prevent this from happening to returning Iraq veterans, the US Department of Defense is attempting to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with virtual reality as one of the main components.  The treatment is called “prolonged-exposure therapy,” meant to help people deal with traumatic memories by exposing soldiers to an environment similar to what they experienced in Iraq, but without people actually trying to kill them.  The details in the article explain it better than I can.  It’s not the first time this has been tried, but computing power is better now, and results seem promising. 

(photo via entro_py)

E-paper prototypes show up in force

color epaper, bendy as well In what must be the most exciting conference ever (just ahead of Dewey Decimal 2008), a little feature known as epaper showed up at Display 2008 in Tokyo.  It seems several companies, including Bridgestone with a full-size broadsheet e-newspaper(what do tires have to do with epaper?) and a collaboration between  Seiko, E Ink and Epson (which also wins for strangest interactive website) to make epaper watches, showed off their wares at the Japanese trade show.  Other offerings included epaper that can be written on with a stylus(video at the link).

Along with the obvious books and notepads we’re all thinking of, other attendants were thinking of myriad other places epaper could be useful.  Those range from IC or RFID cards with PIN displays for added security, pill bottles, grocery price tags (come to think of it, I’ve seen something awfully like it in the supermarkets here), flash drives and headphones.  Interestingly enough, there’s a story about a Fujitsu ebook that’s in color as well, although price seems to be a factor in why it’s not out yet.  According to the guys at DWT, August is when many of these products will be available to vendors, so start looking for epaper everythings to start popping up soon after.  I know I can’t wait.

Bonus display blogging:  3D displays without the paper glasses.

(via DigitalWorldTokyo, a site I apparently need to visit more often) (image also via DigitalWorldTokyo)

Wind power balloons upward

magenn wind generator Well, not figuratively, anyway.  Everyone knows* that wind is stronger the higher up you go, so why not get higher to make use of those high speeds?  Well, constructing a 600-ft. base isn’t all that easy to do for one.  Enter the Magenn Air Rotos System (MARS), a giant sausage-shaped balloon fitted with rotors to generate power.  It sounds like a wild idea, but other companies are developing similar technology as well.

A small test version is currently underway, with hopes to build small-scale models for industrial use first, then building up to megawatt generators.

(via greentechmedia) (image from Magenn website)

Eye implants in human trials

Researchers have gone from a 4×4 grid (16 ‘pixels’) in 2004 up to a 60-electrode version that was implanted in two men recently.  While not quite in Geordi Laforge territory, it’s a big step up from complete blindness.  After enough practice, the earlier patients were able to distinguish between eating implements at a dinner table, so it’ll be interesting to see what these guys can do.  The 3rd generation will be designed with about 600 electrodes, and they’re hoping that patients will be able to read.

A camera built into a pair of glasses connects to a processing pack that is carried or clipped onto the belt.  This then beams the image into the retina, turning on electrodes and stimulating the eye.  So far, this will only work for people who have lost vision, not for people who were born blind.

(via DailyTech)

The future of English

cat price Ooh, this combines two of my favorite things:  languages and the future.  John Scalzi’s grammar bitch of the day (granted, that day was a while ago) touches on one of those small spelling differences, specifically ‘alright’ vs ‘all right’.  While I disagree with Mr. Scalzi on this point (‘alright’ is  usable as that Lichtenstein art he has up, though I’d ask somebody “Are you all right?”), it’s something to think about when discussing the differences between English spellings.  I’ve spent all day today trying to explain to Japanese eight-year-olds why I say “zee” and my co-worker says “zed.”

Garance wonders if the proliferation of an unedited Internet might not bring about a return to the writings of previous centuries, when men wore hose and words were spelled phonetically:

As blogs move us into a less heavily copy-edited world, I sometimes wonder if we’re moving back into a more 16th and 17th century form of writing, where the idea of correct spelling was less important than the communication of meaning — which, in reality, can be accomplished just as well with incorrectly spelled words and homonyms as with a more perfect language. And also: as we move ever deeper into this new world of speech-like writing, will the perfect, formal language of the page one day seem as antique and elaborate as Victorian silverware?

What say you all?  I’m a stickler for spelling and grammar (though I muck it up a fair bit), but I can definitely see a return to a more homonymic age. (funny, lowercase ‘internet’ doesn’t pass my spellchecker, but ‘homonymic’ does just fine)

(image from lolcats, of course)