Monday, March 10, 2014

World's first 3D fingerprint developed by Indian-American scientist

A team of Michigan State University computer scientists led by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alum Anil Jain have built the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint.

What Jain, a University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering, and his team did was develop a method that takes a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and maps it to a 3-D finger surface.

The 3-D finger surface, complete with all the ridges and valleys that make up the human fingerprint, is made using a 3-D printer. It creates what Jain's team called a fingerprint "phantom."

"In health care, a 3-D heart or kidney can be created," Jain said. "Because the dimensions are known, they can be put into a scanner and the imaging system can be calibrated."

While the 3-D model doesn't yet have the exact texture or feel of a real finger, it could advance fingerprint sensing and matching technology.

"Tools like this would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock," Jain said.

Members of Jain's team include Sunpreet Arora, a computer science doctoral student, Kai Cao, a research associate in computer science and engineering and research collaborator Nick Paulter at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Jain, who has a B.Tech degree from IIT Kanpur and MS and PhD degrees from Ohio State University, has six US patents on fingerprint matching and has written a number of books on biometrics and fingerprint/facial recognition.

Additionally, Jain has also received a number of prestigious awards for contributions to pattern recognition and biometrics.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Usain Bolt would be able to fly – if we could get him to Saturn!

Physics students have concocted a bizarre theoretical experiment involving one of Saturn's moons, a wingsuit and the world's fastest man – Usain Bolt.

The University of Leicester undergraduates have calculated that record-breaking Bolt could fly like a bird if it was possible to transport him more than one billion kilometres to Titan and strap him into a skydiving wingsuit.

It shows that the Jamaican sprinter would be one of a handful of humans fast enough to reach the speed needed for take off on the low-gravity moon.

Flapping his arms like a giant bird, the wingsuit would allow Bolt to generate enough lift to carry him into the sky and soar majestically through the air.

The surreal theory has been postulated before, but the Leicester students are the first to apply the science.

The work is part of their final year paper for the Journal of Physics Special Topics – a peer-reviewed student journal run by the university's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Student Hannah Lerman, 21, said: "I had seen a lot of claims online that humans would be able to fly on Titan, but no one had given the physics behind it.

"I thought it would be interesting to try it with a wingsuit – something that you actually use on Earth.

"It is a really exciting idea that someone such as Usain Bolt could actually fly unaided. It would give a whole new dimension to travelling. I am really interested in the journal side of science, and it was fascinating to see how that was run as part of this module."

Titan is Saturn's largest moon and has a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere with a surface pressure almost 50 per cent stronger than Earth's.

As a result, it has long been predicted that humans would be able to lift off into the moon's atmosphere if they were wearing wing-type devices on their arms.

But now, the students have shown that it would even be possible with a regular wingsuit used by skydivers here on Earth – provided you could get a fast enough run- up.

To calculate the speed needed, the group factored in:

The density of air on the surface of Titan.

The acceleration due to gravity.

An average wingsuit wing area (about 1.4 metres squared).

The ratio of the streamline path of the air above the aerofoil to that below the aerofoil.

They found that, for a normal-sized wingsuit, a run-up speed of 11 metres a second would be required.

That would be no problem for Bolt, who has gone faster than 12 metres a second.

Course tutor Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer in the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "The aim is for the students to learn about peer review and scientific publishing.

"They are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics and find ways to apply basic physics to the weird, the wonderful and the everyday."


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fix for Nexus 5 battery drain due to camera bug coming soon, says Google

Google has acknowledged the battery drain issue in the Nexus 5 (our review) and is about to release a fix for it soon. The company claims the drain is due to high CPU usage of the ‘mm-qcamera-daemon’ process, which allows other apps to access the camera of the phone.

Once started, the process remains in the background, even if the app has been closed, thus consuming more power than it would otherwise. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code discussion is buzzing with complaints about the issue. “Issue 60058: mm-qcamera-daemon cpu usage” has quite a lot of posts from developers and users who have faced the battery drain and there are quite a few solutions too, though we cannot vouch for how well they will work on all devices.

Explaining the issue, AOSP member Eino-Ville Talvala said, “We believe we have fixes for the current high CPU reports on N5 (Nexus 5) due to mm-qcamera-daemon, and they will be included in the next maintenance update.”

While there’s no estimate for when the fix will arrive, Talvala said that until it arrives “rebooting the phone is the only way to stop the high CPU usage/lack of camera function once it starts.” He also touched upon the latest update for the Skype app, which seems to have exacerbated the issue. While Talvala says that Skype itself has no bug, the app seems to “access the camera regularly from its background service in some way that triggers this bug”

“Other camera-using applications may trigger this bug as well, but that’s been relatively rare. Most applications also do not access the camera when not in the foreground, so they will only trigger issues when actively used,” he added.

Some users were complaining of this issue even when using other phones that have Qualcomm processors. For this Talvala said, “Instances of high CPU use of mm-qcamera-daemon on other devices besides the N5 (Nexus 5) need to be reported to their manufacturers. While those devices also use a Qualcomm chip for their camera processing (and thus have a mm-qcamera-daemon process), each has differences in their software and issues with them do not necessarily mean the N5 has the same problem, and vice versa.”

Hopefully, all manufacturers will take note of Google’s word and roll out a fix for the issue as soon as it’s added by Google.


Friday, March 7, 2014

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