Backtalk 03/18/2010

March 16, 2010
Visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver were able to control the lighting at major landmarks in Ontario — just by thinking about it
InteraXon Inc., www.interaxon.ca

Thought-controlled lighting
Visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver were able to control the lighting at major landmarks in Ontario — just by thinking about it. Toronto-based InteraXon’s Bright Ideas spans more than 3,000 km across Canada, making it the largest thought-controlled computing installation. People’s thoughts will completely control light displays on Toronto’s CN Tower, Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings, and Niagara Falls.

The unique attraction features headsets that measure the brain’s electrical output and reacts to alpha waves, associated with relaxation, and beta waves, associated with concentration. As users relax or focus their thoughts, the headset’s computer sends a message over the Internet to the site they are viewing. Custom software connects users thoughts to the lighting controls, which change the landmark site’s display. The thought-generated light show can be seen by local residents in Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls, and it was projected on massive screens in Ontario House during the Olympics.

“We’re working to bring thought-controlled computing out of research labs and into the mainstream,” explains Trevor Coleman, COO. “InteraXon helps companies looking to engage in the exploding thought-controlled computing market develop their own brainwave-controlled products and services.” As brainwave technology progresses, the implications for use by the disabled are immense. Thought-controlled wheelchairs and prosthetics are already a reality.

A spring in your step
Shoe manufacturers are putting a spring back in your step by cushioning the soles of both athletic and casual shoes. Designers are incorporating wave springs in place of conventional coil springs because of their lightweight design and space-saving abilities. The wave springs, from Smalley Steel Ring Co., Lake Zurich, Ill., are half the height of coil springs and provide an accurate repeatable load in both the heel and ball of shoes. One Crest-to-Crest wave spring in the heel and two parallel wave springs in the ball of the shoe absorb the impact associated with athletic activities, reducing stress on joints. The spring’s thicker wire and radial wall let it compress within itself with only a minimal pilot shaft to hold the springs in place. Designed using 17-7 stainless steel, the springs are designed to outlast the life of the shoe.

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