UpFront

Shape-Changing Smartphone Morphs When Called

Researchers at Queen’s University in Canada developed the MorePhone smartphone that can morph its shape to give users a silent yet visual cue of an incoming phone call, text message, or email. With MorePhone, users can leave their smartphone on the table and observe visual shape changes when someone is trying to contact them.

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Seeing the Human Pulse

Researchers at MIT have developed an algorithm that can accurately measure the heart rates of people depicted in ordinary digital video by analyzing imperceptibly small head movements that accompany the rush of blood caused by the heart’s contractions. The algorithm provides estimates of the time intervals between beats, a measurement that can be used to identify patients at risk for cardiac events.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity finished investigations in an area smaller than a football field where it has been working for six months, and was shifted to a distance-driving mode, headed for the base of Mount Sharp. Watch Tech Briefs TV for the latest videos of the mission at www.techbriefs.com/tv/mars. Keep up with Curiosity at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

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App of the Month: Space Weather Media Viewer

This app features near-real-time imagery from various NASA missions, interviews with prominent scientists about the causes of space phenomena, and NASA-created visualizations. For iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Download it for free from the iTunes Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-space-weather-mediaviewer/id398687618?mt=8

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NASA Completes Successful PhoneSat Mission

Three PhoneSats were delivered to Earth orbit on the maiden flight of the Antares launch vehicle on April 21, 2013. The PhoneSats are 10-centimeter cubes with a mass of about 1 kilogram. They employ an off-the-shelf commercial smartphone as the control system for the satellite, and use a UHF radio beacon to transmit data and images to the ground. The objective was to demonstrate the application of consumer electronics as the basis of an extremely low-cost satellite bus. The PhoneSat project is a technology demonstration mission developed at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a powdered sample from the interior of a rock called “Cumberland.” The rock lies about nine feet west of the rock where Curiosity’s drill first touched Martian stone in February — the rock called John Klein. Watch Tech Briefs TV for the latest videos of the mission at www.techbriefs.com/tv/mars. Keep up with Curiosity at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

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App of the Month: Five "best in class"

The five “best in class” solutions were chosen as winners of the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge, in which participants developed software, hardware, data visualization, and mobile or Web applications that contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

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