A Mirror That Could Trick Customers Into Buying Clothes
A built-in webcam captures the person's face, then tweaks the expression using software. Tests showed that subjects were more likely to "like" a garment when they saw themselves smiling in the mirror.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
University of Tokyo researchers took a typical mirror and changed it so that it presented the viewer with a webcam image of their face. They then used software to gently tweak the image so that the face appears to smile or frown. Unsuspecting testers who sat in front of the mirror while performing a task reported later that they felt happier when the image was smiling, and less happy when it wasn't. The researchers then asked other testers to try on a scarf while looking in the mirror. Those who saw themselves "smiling" were more likely to say they liked the scarf.
What's the Big Idea?
Not surprisingly, installing this technology in clothing store fitting rooms could improve sales, particularly if the image changes are so slight -- "turning the corners of the mouth up or down and changing the area around the eyes" -- that the customer doesn't notice them. However, Chris Creed of the University of Birmingham says that the transition from lab to shop would be much more difficult because of the variety of people and expressions. Then there's that whole ethics thing: "You could argue that if it makes people happy what harm is it doing? On the other hand, I can imagine that many people may feel manipulated, uncomfortable and cheated if they found out."
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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