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TechCrunch

A new study by MIT researchers finds people are more likely to interact with a smart device if it demonstrates more humanlike attributes, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. The researchers found “users are more likely to engage with both the device — and each other — more when it exhibits some form of social cues,” writes Heater. “That can mean something as simple as the face/screen of the device rotating to meet the speaker’s gaze.”

National Geographic

National Geographic reporter Sadie Dingfelder writes that MIT scientists are using piezoelectric materials to develop a battery-free, underwater navigation system. “There are a lot of potential applications,” says Prof. Fadel Adib. “For instance, a scuba diver could use these sensors to figure out the exact place they took a particular picture.”

New York Times

An international team of scholars, including MIT researchers, has published a new study exploring the history and use of letterlocking, reports William J. Broad for The New York Times. The researchers note that they hope their work prompts “novel kinds of archival research, and allows even very well-known artefacts to be examined anew.”

Gramophone

Gramophone contributor Laurence Vittes spotlights Prof. Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers,” an opera about robots and humans that has recently been released as an “electrifying surround-sound thriller.” Vittes writes that “Machover’s arsenal of music stands triumphantly on its own, fusing and defusing technoflash from the composer’s MIT Media Lab with rich writing for Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra ensemble.”

Financial Times

In a letter to the Financial Times, graduate student Daniel Aronoff makes the case that the demise of local banks in the U.S. should be examined and regulatory changes should be made to enable them to operate more profitably. “A system that can make small loans to small entrepreneurs not only helps the borrowers, but also promotes a more efficient allocation of resources in the economy," Aronoff writes. 

Forbes

Forbes contributor Stephanie MacConnell spotlights the work of research affiliate Shriya Srinivasan PhD '20 in a roundup of women under the age of 30 who are transforming U.S. healthcare. Srinivasan is “working on technology that will enable patients to control and even ‘feel’ sensation through their prosthetic limb,” notes MacConnell.

Forbes

Wise Systems, an AI-based delivery management platform originating from MIT’s Media Lab, has applied machine learning to real-time data to better plan delivery routes and schedules for delivery drivers, reports Susan Galer for Forbes. “The system can more accurately predict service times, taking into account the time it takes to complete a stop, and factoring in the preferences of the retailer, hotel, medical institution, or other type of client,” says Allison Parker of Wise Systems.

NPR

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have successfully uncovered the letterlocking technique that Mary, Queen of Scots, used to seal her final letter, reports NPR’s Tien Le. The spiral lock requires more than 30 steps and involves cutting out a ‘lock,’ often resembling a dagger or sword, out of the blank margin of the letter,” writes Le. “The lock acts as a needle and is sewn through the letter after folding it.”

The Guardian

An international team of researchers has found that Mary, Queen of Scots, used a complicated paper-folding technique called letterlocking to conceal the contents of her final letter, reports Alison Flood for The Guardian. MIT Libraries Conservator Jana Dambrogio explains that working on Mary's last letter “and figuring out its unique spiral lock was thrilling as a researcher – and a real a-ha! moment in the study of letterlocking.”

CNN

As a research assistant at MIT, Ai Hasegawa designed a project meant to help same-sex couples have a baby that shares both parents’ DNA, writes Jacqui Palumbo for CNN. “With progressing stem cell research and technology – such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR – it is only a matter of time,” writes Palumbo.

Popular Science

Writing for Popular Science, Sarah Scoles spotlights DAILy (Developing AI Literacy) initiative, a project by MIT researchers and students aimed at teaching middle schoolers “the technical, creative, and ethical implications of AI, taking them from building PB&Js to totally redesigning YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.”

Mashable

MIT researchers have developed a new fiber, dubbed OmniFibers, that could potentially be used to help regulate breath, reports Ray White for Mashable. “When sewn into clothing, the fiber can sense how much it’s stretched. It then gives tactile feedback to the wearer via pressure, stretch or vibration.”

Wired

Prof. Danielle Wood and her team are developing new techniques to use satellite data to monitor and manage environmental problems in remote areas, including an invasive weed growing in parts of Africa, to help inform local decision making, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “Our goal is to make it an affordable and operationally feasible thing for them to have this ongoing view, with data from space, data from the air, and data from the water,” says Wood.

WCVB

WCVB-TV spotlights two MIT startups, True Moringa, a beauty and wellness company that uses the oil from Moringa trees grown in Ghana to directly benefit farmers in Ghana, and Sourcemap, which traces supply chains and provides transparency about where goods are stemming from. Says Kwami Williams ’12, co-founder and CEO, of his inspiration for True Moringa: “I started to ask myself, if aerospace engineers can help put a man on the Moon, then what can I do to help put more food on the table for families” in Ghana.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights RFusion, a fully-integrated robotic arm developed by MIT researchers that “uses an RF antenna and camera mounted to an arm to find lost objects.”