Welcome to Innovation Friday. Each week we surf the World Wide Web in search of what’s hot in the world of innovation and technology and share our finds here with you.
We can’t cover it all, so we invite you to share links to your favorite innovative finds in the comment section, and don’t forget to check out the previous edition of Innovation Friday.
Robotic voices on mobile devices often become default identities for people with speech disorders who rely on technology to communicate. Now some speech scientists are developing customized voices to reflect the broader diversity of the people who use them.
To do it, they are tapping into a vast network of volunteers who are donating their voices to share with people who cannot speak. VocaliD, the Massachusetts-based startup that launched the voice bank, designs personalized synthetic voices by recording the unique, if limited, sounds of the user, and then blending them with a larger sample — usually six to 10 hours of recordings — from a voice donor, matched by age, gender and region.
A smart contact lens fitted with an artificial iris could help people with eye injuries and congenital diseases see better. The lens, described this week at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco, uses concentric LCDs to mimic the expansion and contraction of the pupil that’s normally controlled by the iris (the colored part of the eye).
When the iris is absent or damaged and therefore can’t contract, being out in the sun or just under bright indoor light is painful. The usual solution is to wear dark sunglasses or a dark contact lens, but that can make it difficult to see in low light, and daylight may still be too bright.
The Belgian researchers who are engineering the artificial iris system are working on putting many electronic components into the smart lenses, including batteries, antennas, control electronics and chemical sensors.
Frying food may result in a tasty meal, but the odor of fried fat can stick around your clothes or hair for hours. Now researchers have developed a new type of filter — tested on the International Space Station — which they say eliminates these foul odors altogether.
Cooking foods in hot fat or oil releases molecules that are extremely hard to get rid of.
Normally, these smells are destroyed in bulky and expensive commercial cooker hoods. The new method uses filters containing cold plasma technology, which has proven to be an effective bactericidal agent and can also tackle fungi, viruses and spores.
As explained by Professor Gregor Morfill, CEO of Terraplasma, which developed the technology, “The new design works by using electrons within the plasma to neutralize odors. The thin plasma sheet breaks the offending molecules up into harmless components that do not smell and do not need to be extracted afterwards.”
Disclosure: Lexmark is not endorsing any products or features shared in this Innovation Friday blog post. It’s just stuff we think is really, really cool and innovative.