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News Clips - March 5, 2010

From February 26 to March 4, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 546 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Skinput turns any bodily surface into a touch interface
Popular Science | March 3
The future of touchscreen interfaces is: you? A project between a Carnegie Mellon researcher and a couple of creative thinkers over at Microsoft Research have created Skinput, a Bluetooth-enabled device that allows you to use your own skin as a peripheral input device for devices like cell phones, MP3 players or gaming consoles.


Redrawing the route to online privacy
The New York Times | February 27
At Carnegie Mellon University, a group is working on what it calls “privacy nudges.” This approach taps computer science techniques like machine learning, natural language processing and text analysis, as well as disciplines like behavioral economics. The goal is to design software that essentially sits over your shoulder and provides real-time reminders — short on-screen messages — that the information you’re about to send has privacy implications. “It learns, helps you and occasionally prompts you,” said Lorrie Faith Cranor, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon. “When we go online, there are a lot of ways we can inadvertently give up our privacy."


Did computers cause Toyota crisis?
Associated Press/Herald Net | February 26
You’re looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “Those are very hard to reproduce. The problem happens and you go back and check and it’s not there. The normal tendency is to blame it on the driver and go on.” And that’s what Toyota did initially.

Education for Leadership

Carnegie Mellon's Smart.Mirrors is your own personal shopper
Pop City | March 3
Imagine a world where computers help people to dress stylishly. That's the idea behind Smart.Mirrors, an invention that brings a high tech personal shopper into the fitting room with you. Started by a group of Carnegie Mellon Heinz College grad students, the concept provides shoppers with a virtual catalogue of wardrobe options while serving as a sales tool for retailers.

Arts and Humanities

Reading remediation seems to rewire the brain
BusinessWeek/HealthDay | February 26
"This is the first evidence for an increase in white matter in response to a remedial behavioral intervention," said lead author Marcel Just, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and director of its Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging. "It provides evidence that repeated cognitive exercises can alter the cortical connectivity of the human brain."


Charities don't expect deluge of aid in wake of Chile quake
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 1
Robert Strauss, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, said donors might not have as much to give this time around. "There's only a finite amount of money to do anything of a charitable nature," he said. "The outpouring here was related to a number of adoptions that were in process, and I don't know that Pittsburghers will feel that same link to Chile."

Information Technology

Web scams up; ID thefts in W.Pa. below average
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 26
Every time the computer industry or Web surfers grow wise to an online threat or scam, the criminals devise another one. "It's kind of an arms race," said Lorrie Cranor, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who studies cyber crimes. The Internet put much of the world at people's fingertips, and some of those fingers are reaching for your wallets. About 48 percent of fraud cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year started with e-mails, and 12 percent started with a Web site or other online communication, the agency said this week.


CMU researchers gauge water use in supply chain, push conservation
WaterWorld | February 26
It takes 200 gallons of water to make $1 worth of dog or cat food, according to a study published this week by a team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers. "We want to get people thinking about how better to manage water resources over the long term," said Chris T. Hendrickson, CMU's Duquesne Light Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the study's lead author. Hendrickson and two doctoral students developed a way to track water use through the supply chain in certain industries, said Hendrickson, co-director of Carnegie Mellon's Green Design Institute.

Regional Impact

Opinion: Let the games begin in snowy city
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 28
The moment would have made Milton Bradley proud. The game board pioneer undoubtedly would have applauded Carnegie Mellon University professor economics and public policy professor Robert Strauss' methods Thursday in dealing with Pittsburgh City Council. Strauss didn't use confusing tables of numbers attempting to convince council members that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's plan to lease city parking garages to a private company makes no long-term financial sense.


CMU Quality of Life project to monitor seniors at home
Pittsburgh Business Times | March 3
A research team at Carnegie Mellon University is one of five groups nationwide selected for funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the daily lives of certain people and how those observations can be used in clinical care. The research is through the Quality of Life Technology Center, a joint program of CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, and will look at the daily activities of older adults that are at risk of dementia or other physical infirmities.


CMU-Q computer course for high school students
The Peninsula | March 3
In line with the university’s mission of introducing the youth in Qatar to the opportunities in the field of computer science, Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar (CMU-Q) offered its CS4Qatar programme to high school students from 28 schools around the country. “Our idea is to help spread technological awareness and knowledge among the younger generations. We do so by reaching out to the students and exposing them to technological and computer science basics”, said Khaled Harras, computer science professor at CMU-Q.


IEEE names 28-year-old woman its new 'Face of Engineering'
The Register | March 2
Global engineering association the IEEE has chosen a woman described by her supervisors as "the 'Energizer Bunny'" as its designated "New Face of Engineering" for 2010. Sanna Gaspard is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon in the States, and was picked as the new face of electronic and electrical engineering for developing technology which will improve the health of newborn babies. "I was extremely excited about this accolade. I hope this award will encourage young engineers to explore the wealth of career options that exist for engineers.


Sticky Toyotas safer than walking
The Age | February 26
A US university study has revealed there's more risk of being killed while walking than driving a Toyota with a sticky accelerator pedal. Carnegie Melon University risk expert Professor Paul Fischbeck has calculated that the odds of being killed in a runaway Toyota is about one in 500,000, while walking down the street is 19 times, or 1,900 per cent more dangerous, than driving the same distance in a Toyota.