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Sunday, April 13, 2008

eyePhone - Tourist information wherever you are


11 April 2008
Would you like instant access to information on the buildings and scenery you see on your travels? A novel mobile phone programme, able to provide information on what you see when you see it, was a regional winner in the European Satellite Navigation Competition, sponsored by ESA's Technology Transfer Programme.

This novel use of satellite technology, created by Ernst Pechtl and Hans Geiger, combines three of today's modern technologies: satellite navigation localisation services, advanced object recognition and relevant internet retrieved information.

Ernst Pechtl, and Hans Geiger are co-owners of the company SuperWise Technologies AG, which has developed the Apollo image-recognition system that lies behind the eye-Phone.

eyePhone, regional winner in European sat-nav competition

Pechtl presents eyePhone at the European Satellite Navigation Competition 2007 press conference
How does it work? If you see something interesting while out walking for instance, you take a photograph with your mobile phone, select the item of interest with the cursor and in real time preprocessed information on the object selected is sent to your mobile phone.

"It could be a building, a mountain, a tree, plant or a special event such as a local festival,” explain Pechtl. “The amount of information you receive depends on you, if you want to know more you just click the 'more button' and you trigger a more detailed search responding to your profile of interest. Applications include tourism, education, remote healthcare, security, science, etc."

Regional winner in European Satellite Navigation Competition

The eye-Phone won the regional prize for Bavaria, Germany in the 2007 European Satellite Navigation Competition. This competition, also known as the Galileo Masters, is sponsored by ESA Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) to encourage the innovative use of satellite navigation systems to develop new products and services.

eyePhone, regional winner in European sat-nav competition
eye-Phone on cellular phone

"The eye-Phone is a good illustration of the potential of satellite navigation systems when their positioning information is combined with other communication and information technology. With the improved accuracy of the European Galileo system in comparison to existing systems, the prospects will be amazing," says Frank M. Salzgeber, head of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office. "Galileo can create new businesses in Europe and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness in space spin-offs."

The system has been developed using Apollo technology, an innovative artificial intelligence system. "It's a unique piece of software that can carry out object recognition within images, a very tricky task. It is self-learning and after a short and very simple training session it can identify any object in the world," says Pechtl.

Apollo technology can identify objects in a digital image regardless of the angle from which it is taken, the lighting conditions or quality of the image. To support object recognition, it uses navigation positioning information.

It uses also an ‘angle-sensor’, a new function now being introduced in digital cameras that identifies the angle from which an image is taken and the direction in which the camera is pointing. Once the object in the picture is recognised the system can then interface to any database on the internet to select user-specific information on the object selected.

"The key to the eye-Phone system is the object recognition done by the Apollo software. Nothing in the world is able to do what our software does," says Pechtl.

eyePhone, regional winner in European sat-nav competition

Ernst Pechtl and Hans Geiger
Concept proved – prototype on the way

SuperWise Technologies plans to team up with mobile phone operators who would provide the eye-Phone functionality as an additional function for subscription. It will be partly located on the phone and partly in a central processing system of a cooperating image archives.

“The Apollo software is basically ready, and there is already one camera available with what we need: GPS, angle-sensor and on-board processing power. All we have to do is to integrate our system with the camera, i.e. load our software on the camera chip, to have a prototype ready and working."

A prototype should be ready during the mid of 2008, then Pechtl expects that it will take another 12 to 18 months to work out deals with mobile phone operators, find partners and negotiate agreements with database information providers, before the eye-Phone functionality can be offered to mobile phone users.

If all goes according to plan, mobile phones could soon provide a mobile tourist guide.

European Satellite Navigation Competition, the Galileo Masters

The European Satellite Navigation Competition was initiated in 2004 with the aim to encourage small enterprises in participating European regions to come up with new ideas for satellite navigation applications.

Supported by ESA through its Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) it is run by Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, together with the Munich International Trade Fair SYSTEMS under the patronage of the Bavarian Ministry for Economics, Transport, and Technology.

ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)

The main mission of the ESA TTPO is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to further demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens. The TTPO is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies including the incubation of start-up companies. For more information, please contact:

Technology Transfer Programme
European Space Agency - ESTEC
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. BOX 299, 2200 AG, Noordwijk
The Netherlands
Office: +31 (0) 71 565 3910
Fax: +31 (0) 71 565 6635
Email: ttp @
Web site:

UI Scientists Seek Marijuana Smokers For Study

I mean seriously......seeks for this is going to be tough

MSN Tracking Image


April 12, 2008--A group of University of Iowa scientists is looking for marijuana smokers to help gain insight into the drug's effects. And they plan to pay subjects as much as 600 dollars to smoke their pot.

The study examines how marijuana affects brain function and cognition, with particular attention to the duration of use and the age of first use. The measure is brain imaging studies and achievement tests, such as for math and verbal skills.

Robert Block is an associate professor in the school's Department of Anesthesia and the lead investigator on the project. He says the group is looking for pot users and control subjects who consume alcohol and tobacco -- but not marijuana -- to participate in the study.

Subjects receive 20 dollars for an initial screening session. Those that participate fully pocket 600 dollars.

Block said that, depending on the results, the study might ultimately be used to support political positions on marijuana. Those could include whether there should be harsher criminal penalties, whether it should be decriminalized, or whether it should be allowed for medicinal purposes.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


© 2008

Tree man 'who grew roots' hopes to marry after 4lb of warts removed

By Adam Lusher, Marianne Kearney and Aji Ramyakim

Last Updated: 10:15am BST 13/04/2008

The 'The Tree Man of Java’ is hoping to get married after doctors performed four major operations to hack away the bark-like tissue sprouting from his hands and feet.

  • Tree man 'who grew roots' may be cured
  • Watch: US dermatology expert treats tree man
  • For 20 years Dede Koswara lived covered in warts with huge tree-like growths encasing his limbs.

    Today Dede, whose plight was highlighted on the Telegraph website, can once more use his hands and walk without pain.

    He can see the outline of his toes for the first time in over a decade after medics cut more than 4lbs of warty horns from his legs and feet.

    He has also become a sudoko addict now medics have cut growths from his hands allowing him to hold a pen.

    Dede, 37, now hopes that he will resume a normal life after two more operations to graft undamaged skin onto his hands, feet and face.

    Speaking from an Indonesian hospital, he said: "What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married."

    Dede’s ordeal began when he was 15 and cut his knee in an accident. A small wart developed on his lower leg and spread uncontrollably.

    Eventually he had to give up work as a builder and fisherman, and scratch a living in a traveling freak show. His wife of ten years left him as it became impossible for him to support her and their two children.

    Late last year, however, Dede’s plight was highlighted on and in a Discovery Channel documentary.

    The documentary team took American dermatology expert Dr Anthony Gaspari to Indonesia to see if he could find a cure.

    Dr Gaspari, of the University of Maryland, concluded Dede’s affliction was caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection usually causing only small warts.

    Dede’s problem was that he has an extremely rare immune system deficiency, leaving his body unable to contain the warts. The virus was therefore able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells", ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance causing tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns".

    Indonesian health officials have suggested that the mysterious immune problem may occur in as few as 200 people worldwide.

    Dede's counts of a key type of white blood cell were so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus.

    Immediately after the documentary was aired, a row seemed to be brewing over Dede’s treatment. The Indonesian government was worried that Dr Gaspari had taken blood and tissue samples abroad without official authorisation.

    This was resolved, and Dr Gaspari has revisited Indonesia to meet the health minister Dr Siti Fadilah Supari. He is now liaising with the doctors caring for Dede at the Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung, West Java.

    Dr Lily Sulityowati, from the Indonesian Health Department, said: "Once Dr Gaspari met with the minister and explained all, we were happy to work with him."

    Dede went under the knife for his first operation in January. In the most recent operation, in March, doctors removed growths on his feet. The medics are now trying to ensure that the warts don’t grow back.

    Dede is taking vitamin A tablets to boost his immune system, and Dr Gaspari is hoping to get expensive anti-viral medicine available only in the US.

    Dr Rachmat Dinata, the skin specialist leading the Indonesian doctors, said the final phase of operations should be completed in around three months. They will take skin from Dede’s back and thigh and graft it onto damaged areas.

    Dr Dinata said: "There is still a high risk that there will be a recurrent growth of warts. So far, though, there has been some thickening of the skin, but no recurrent warts. Dede is very happy. Hopefully he will be able to socialise and work again."

    For now, Dede is passing the time in hospital doing sudoko puzzles. Skin grafts on his hands will allow him better movement in his fingers, but he can already punch numbers into a telephone and talk to friends.

    His father Ateng, 72, said: "You can see the form of his 10 toes now. He can wear flip flops. He loves doing sudokos. He is in good condition."

    Ateng added: "The first priority is to get cured and get a job, but as a father, of course I want my son to remarry. He is a normal guy and he is still a young man."

    Half Man, Half Tree is also being shown as part of Channel Five’s Extraordinary People series on Monday April 14 at 9pm.