If Gloves Could Talk

Over 40 million people use sign language instead of speech due to hearing and speech impairments. Imagine if these people could communicate with non-signers using magic talking gloves…

Enable Talk is aiming to achieve just this. Sensor covered gloves send signals to a smart phone and hey presto, your hands are talking! The student project is still a work in progress for the Ukrainian team behind it, QuadSquad, who have tested various prototypes on sign language users in the Ukraine.

Enable Talk gloves translate sign language into speech using only a smart phone app.

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Personality Change in China’s Single Children

Evidence from a new study published in Science suggests that the One Child Policy in China is negatively affecting the personality of new generations. It claims that single children born under the policy are less trustworthy and trusting of others, more risk-aversive and pessimistic, less competitive and less conscientious.

The OCP (One Child Policy), introduced in 1979, is one of the stricter initiatives used to restrict population growth. Breaking of the law has even lead to sterilisation and forced abortion, but the policy has been praised by the Chinese government for bringing countless families out of poverty [2]. In countryside villages parents are not limited in the number of children they choose to have as the policy only affects China’s cities. Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which a city-living couple may have more than one child, such as in the case of a severely disabled first child or families of ethnic minorities.

Professors at Monash University, the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne aimed to look into the impact of the OCP on personal characteristics of the new Chinese generations, such as altruism, trust, trust-worthiness, risk attitudes and competitiveness. Prof. Lisa Cameron and colleagues compared the data of 421 participants from Beijing in two cohorts: one of individuals born in 1975 or 1978, just before the one child policy was introduced, and the other of individuals born in 1980 or 1983, just after the policy.  Continue reading

‘Alternative Reality’ Villages for Dementia Sufferers

Is it right to deceive people with dementia about their reality?

Weesp, Netherlands near Amsterdam is the location of the pioneering dementia village Hogewey, a new alternative to the standard nursing home. Established in 2009, 152 people with severe to extreme dementia are the inhabitants of the private village, which boasts a café, restaurant, theatre, mini-market and beauty salon. The 25 clubs allow residents to keep busy day-to-day, with activities such as painting, cycling, and baking as well more domestic tasks like gardening, shopping and laundry. Hogewey information officer, Isabel Van Zuthem points out that these small jobs are those that can make a person feel “they still have a life” [1].

There are no nurses in the village, so to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, specially trained health workers take the roles of neighbours, shop workers, assistants etc. Continue reading