Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Colorful Language: The Results

It has been almost a year since we mentioned Eleanor Maclure's survey on Colorful Language. First of all, congratulations to Eleanor for a successful graduation! In fact, she has since completed the course and produced an illustrated report of the results of the survey.

The report is easier to look through on Eleanor's issuu profile, but she also has the PDF available to download from her blog. There are other parts to the project which are more visual explorations of color and language as well, she did a number different things for her MA because it is such a big area to study.


Monday, July 30, 2012

war of currents

Power distribution is a key technology for increasing the efficiency of work, thus increasing life quality and improving the human condition. Early factories had extensive belt systems to transmit the mechanical force of a water wheel to the workstations in a plant. In the industrial revolution the water wheel was replaced with the more predictable and powerful steam machine, but the inefficient and inconvenient mechanical distribution through belts remained.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Color naming models at CHI'12

At CHI'12, the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Jeffrey Heer and Maureen Stone presented a paper on color naming models for color selection, image editing and palette design. It has a good section of the statistical tools for cleaning up a large crowdsourced corpus like the XKCD color naming experiment.

Link: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2207676.2208547

Abstract: Our ability to reliably name colors provides a link between visual perception and symbolic cognition. In this paper, we investigate how a statistical model of color naming can enable user interfaces to meaningfully mimic this link and support novel interactions. We present a method for constructing a probabilistic model of color naming from a large, unconstrained set of human color name judgments. We describe how the model can be used to map between colors and names and define metrics for color saliency (how reliably a color is named) and color name distance (the similarity between colors based on naming patterns). We then present a series of applications that demonstrate how color naming models can enhance graphical interfaces: a color dictionary & thesaurus, name-based pixel selection methods for image editing, and evaluation aids for color palette design.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Ever Retinal Tissues From Stem Cells

A research team from the Riken Center for Developmental Biology and Sumitomo Chemical has produced stratified retinal tissues from human embryonic stem cells for the first time in history. The results have been published in the scientific journal Cell Stem. In 2011, the group had managed to form an optic cup from ES cells in mice. ES cells are capable of replicating into any type of cell. The method was applied in the latest research, in which about 9,000 human ES cells were cultured. An optic cup, an early stage of development of an eye, was created in about 25 days. In the 18th week, it had developed into a three-dimensional neural retina with photoreceptor and ganglion cells.

[Source: Felix Moesner, Science & Technology News from Japan, June 2012]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Switzerland Retains First-Place Position in Innovation Performance

Today, INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released the Global Innovation Index 2012 (GII): Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth. For the second year running, Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore lead in overall innovation.

"The GII is a timely reminder that policies to promote innovation are critical to the debate on spurring sustainable economic growth," WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said. "The downward pressure on investment in innovation exerted by the current crisis must be resisted. Otherwise we risk durable damage to countries' productive capacities. This is the time for forward-looking policies to lay the foundations for future prosperity."

The list of overall GII top 10 performers has changed little from last year. In parenthesis is the score (0–100)

  1. Switzerland [68.24]
  2. Sweden [64.77]
  3. Singapore [63.47]
  4. Finland [61.78]
  5. United Kingdom [61.25]
  6. Netherlands [60.55]
  7. Denmark [59.93]
  8. Hong Kong (China) [58.72]
  9. Ireland [58.68]
  10. United States of America [57.69]

Canada is the only country leaving the top 10 this year, mirroring weakening positions on all main GII innovation input and output pillars. The report shows that the U.S.A. continues to be an innovation leader but also cites relative shortfalls in areas such as education, human resources (tapping of global talent) and innovation (research, patenting, and scientific publications) outputs as causing a drop in its innovation ranking.

Complementing the overall GII ranking, the Global Innovation Efficiency Index shows which countries are best in transforming given innovation inputs into innovation outputs. Countries which are strong in producing innovation outputs despite a weaker innovation environment and innovation inputs are poised to rank high in this "efficiency" index. Here is the ranking:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Republic of Moldova
  4. Malta
  5. Switzerland
  6. Paraguay
  7. Serbia
  8. Estonia
  9. Netherlands
  10. Sri Lanka

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Patent Offices & Courts

Today the USPTO announced plans to open regional USPTO offices in or around Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Silicon Valley, California. These offices are in addition to the already-announced first USPTO satellite office to open on July 13 in Detroit, Michigan. The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities.

The offices announced today will help the USPTO attract talented IP experts throughout the country who will work closely with entrepreneurs to process patent applications, reduce the backlog of unexamined patents, and speed up the overall process, allowing businesses to move their innovation to market more quickly, and giving them more room to create new jobs.

"By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency's 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce," said David Kappos, Director of the USPTO. "These efforts, in conjunction with our ongoing implementation of the America Invents Act, are improving the effectiveness of our IP system, and breathing new life into the innovation ecosystem."

Silicon Valley provides the USPTO with a pacific time zone hub in the heart of California's most vibrant innovation center. Silicon Valley, and the areas that surround it, contain many of the USPTO's top filers as well as legions of start-up and small tech companies that depend on the USPTO. Further, Silicon Valley's great quality of life and abundant population of engineering talent will provide fertile recruiting grounds for the Agency. The USPTO recognizes the challenges of retention in a hyper-competitive market, and will work to construct a concept of operations for the three offices that recognizes such challenges.

Meanwhile, on 29 June the European Union has finally settled on the sites for its first pan-European Unified Patent Court. The Court's Central Division of the Court of First Instance will be in Paris. Munich will be dealing with patents related to mechanical engineering, while London will handle patents related to the pharmaceutical industry and life sciences. The deal clears one of the final political hurdles on the way to a one-stop shop for patents to be granted in a single place and be valid across 25 countries.

The long-awaited decision paves the way for establishing less expensive, simpler and more efficient patent protection for businesses, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, in the EU. Instead of applying for patent in 27 member states, businesses can now apply in one place.

The Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence in respect of actions relating to the validity or infringement of a European unitary patent. This will eliminate the risk of multiple patent lawsuits in different member states concerning the same patent, as well as the risk that court rulings on the same dispute might differ from one member state to another. In addition, the single system will bring down patent litigation costs for businesses significantly. The European Commission has calculated that, with the single court, litigation expenses companies can be reduced by approximately 289 million euro each year.

The Unified Patent Court is part of the future unitary patent system in the EU. The other two elements are: a regulation on the unitary patent itself and a regulation on translation arrangements for that patent. The member states and the European Parliament agreed on the two regulations in December 2011.