SA invention soothes stuttering

first_imgThe credit card-sized VoiceAmp 601 Fluency EnhancerTamara O’ReillySouth African inventor Alan Falck has patented a remarkable new device that can help people overcome stuttering. The credit card-sized VoiceAmp 601 Fluency Enhancer uses the soothing effects of choral sounds to allow stutterers speak more fluently.A socially debilitating condition, stuttering occurs when the normal flow of speech is disrupted with pauses, frequent repetitions or a prolongation of the first syllable of words. Speaking before a group of people or talking on the telephone tends to make it more severe. More than 1% of the South African population are stutterers, while 5% stutter at some time and recover spontaneously during childhood.“It is not known what causes stuttering, but what we do know is that it is a complex interplay of a combination of factors like genetics, family dynamics and child development,” says Dina Lilian, speech therapist at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.There is no cure for stuttering. But for 70 years it has been known that situations where a phenomenon called choral accompaniment occurs – such as singing, reciting poetry or speaking alone – often improve fluency.Knowing that hearing one’s own voice can also cause a person to speak effortlessly, Falck, the managing director of VoiceAmp, invented the device in collaboration with research teams at the University of the Witwatersrand and other South African universities. It is now being successfully marketed across the world.Falck is no stranger to inventions; he has been known to be creative with his hands from the age of eight, when he started making solar panels. His interest in speech aids began when his grandfather lost his ability to speak clearly; Falck invented a device that amplified his grandfather’s vocal chords.How it worksThe VoiceAmp 601 is based on an electronic reproduction of choral accompaniment, where the device receives the user’s voice signal via a microphone. This signal is then processed by the device and altered to produce a choral voice. The choral voice is then played back to the user via an earpiece, which unlocks the stuttering effect and allows the user to speak with little or no interruption.Settings for three different background noise levels can be programmed to simulate noisy to quiet backgrounds at the flick of a switch.“This device helps mainly those with a severe stutter and is best used in conjunction with speech therapy,” says Lilian. “For those who have benefited it really does make a remarkable difference to their lives.”Useful linksVoiceAmpSpeakeasylast_img read more

Read More

PleaseRobMe and the Dangers of Location-Based Social Networks

first_imgGuide to Performing Bulk Email Verification PleaseRobMe doesn’t show anything new that a regular Twitter search for the 4sq.com domain wouldn’t uncover, but it’s the first time that a service has made this information so blatantly obvious. We don’t think that a lot of thieves are actually trolling the Internet for information when people leave their homes, though we have already seen some burglaries where status updates may have played a role.Besides robberies, there are also other reasons why you might want to keep your Foursquare profile private. Do you, after all, really want to tell your future employer that your spent all those weeknights at the local bar?Privacy Concerns: The Limiting Factor for Location-Based Networks? More importantly, though, this service highlights the privacy implications of regularly broadcasting your location. Some people are willing to take the risk and are perfectly fine with broadcasting their location and services like Foursquare reward these check-ins with virtual badges and real-world discounts for their most active users. For a lot of people, however, sharing location data takes online transparency one step too far. Ultimately, the success of location-based networks will be limited if they can’t find ways to make users feel safe when using these services.How to Stay Safe?If you really feel the need to share your location with the whole world, then you have to accept the risks. This isn’t just limited to location-aware applications, though. Posting Twitter updates from your vacation also make it pretty obvious that you are not at home.When it comes to location-aware services and geo-social networks, we prefer services that allow their users to send location updates privately to a select group of friends and trusted contacts. BrightKite – one of the older geo-social networks – for example, allows you to set very granular privacy controls on a per-post level. Of course, you could always resort to using a completely anonymous service like BlockChalk or a permission-based one-on-one service like EchoEcho, but with these, you can’t update your friends about what bar to meet them at either and the social aspects of these services are limited.It would also be nice if these services allowed users to select the level of granularity of their check-ins. While this won’t discourage burglars (and doesn’t work for FourSquare-like apps), being able to just point to “Houston, TX” as your location instead of the actual hotel your are staying in could alleviate the fears of a lot of users.The Dangers of Mixing the Virtual and the Real WorldPleaseRobMe points out the dangers of location-based social networks. Services like Foursquare, Brightkite and Google Buzz bridge the gap between the virtual world of social networks and the real world, which is something we are not accustomed, to. It’s easy to think that the information we share online doesn’t have any influence on the real world, but PleaseRobMe makes it pretty clear that there can be real-world consequences to sharing your location.What Do You Do?What is your policy for staying safe on location-aware social networks? Do you avoid them at all cost? Do you think that the positive aspects outweigh the potential risks? Do you use a pseudonym and a fake avatar? Let us know in the comments. Location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Google Buzz are currently among the fastest growing new mobile services. All of these apps have one thing in common: they encourage you to share your current location with the rest of the world. By doing this, though, you are also telling people where you are not: at home. A new site, PleaseRobMe, plays on this theme and displays real-time updates from Foursquare users who broadcast their check-ins on Twitter.According to the trio of developers behind the site (Barry Borsboom, Frank Groeneveld and Boy van Amstel), “the goal of this website is to raise some awareness of this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc.” There are also ads on the site, so the developers clearly also had something else in mind when they started this site. No matter the developers’ motivations, the visceral reaction to PleaseRobeMe on Twitter, shows that the developers have hit a nerve. Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… frederic lardinois Tags:#Features#Lifestreaming#mobile#news#NYT#social networks#web The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

Read More

Free Glitch Script for Adobe After Effects

first_imgCreate lo-fi style tech effects with this free After Effects glitch script from CreativeDojo.The glitch effect is a popular design style for text and title treatments in After Effects. We previously featured a paid glitch script, but now we’ll share one better – free. Premiumbeat blog friend VinhSon Nguyen from CreativeDojo has created a really handy script for giving text a glitched out look.In the video, you’ll see how the script makes it quite simple to apply glitch in your AE projects. VinhSon demonstrates an After Effects technique that uses the script to create a glitch transition.Visit CreativeDojo to download the script (it’ll cost you one like on Facebook or follow/tweet on Twitter).last_img

Read More