I enjoy experimenting with audio especially if the sounds I am tinkering with lend themselves to relaxation. Being able to construct a soundscape that evokes multiple moods is a pleasure that could, if I had the time, provide me enormous delight for all of my days. That’s why I was so pleased to come across a website maintained by a genial signal processing engineer, Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon. Although Dr. Pigeon’s alluring auditory work, myNoise.net, is designed primarily for sound therapists and hearing professionals, exploring the noises portion of the site is an exhilarating experience. Imagine expertly-crafted sounds wafting into your welcoming ears, systematically exciting your neurons, and refreshing your mind and you have a pretty good idea of how wonderful Dr. Pigeon’s site is. Find a sound set, put some headphones on, close your ideas and drift away into a soothing sonic universe. I like highly recommend Wind Noise.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Why should you care? Stop and think about the following information: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even more alarming is that this represents a 78% increase in rates of ASD since the CDC conducted its first report on the disorder in 2007. If communication is the essence of being human, we have a responsibility to help those who struggle with ASD.
- difficulties in social interaction
- verbal and nonverbal communication and
- repetitive behaviors.
In addition, autism is much more complex than most people realize. As Dr. Nancy J. Minshew of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research (CeFAR) at the University of Pittsburgh points out, what we think of as autism actually encompasses a number of intricate disorders of brain development. Even more challenging is the need to understand what, at the genetic level, contributes to ASD. Doing so requires an enormous amount of first-hand information from those who struggle with ASD. Fortunately, the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) and other participating organizations (such as NIMH, NICHD, NINDS, NIEHS, and CIT/NIH ) are safely collecting and sharing information to better understand what causes and how to treat ASD.
- Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center is an interactive, highly visible and central point of quality resources and information for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.
- Apps for Autism (originally broadcast in October 2011 on CBS’s 60 Minutes) explored how tablet computers and special applications allow those challenged by ASD to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
- Picture AAC app (from Hearty SPIN) is an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app that helps nonverbal individuals with autism and other special needs to communicate effectively using pictures.
I’ve just finished reading Alex Goldmark‘s uplifting article for GOOD, The Next Time You Cut Your Finger, Save a Life. Go read Alex’s work! What makes this story so compelling is how wonderfully simple and powerful an idea be. You’ll also get to know Graham Douglas. Graham has a brother who, despite daunting odds, was fortunate to find a donor match for bone marrow. The treatment helped Graham’s brother survive leukemia. The experience inspired Graham. He focused on how to find even more potential donors. His approach was both unorthodox and brilliant.
Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is developing a number of impressive virtual reality environments. From the looks of the lab’s work, some pretty realistic experiences are being created. I wish this kind of technology could be used to develop immersive learning experiences for students outside of the university setting. Imagine elementary, middle, and high school age learners experiencing a virtual visit to ancient Çatalhöyük, Egypt, Greece, and Rome or making a microscopic journey through the circulatory system.
A side note: As host Sumi Das toured the lab in the SmartPlanet video shown below, I noticed that an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor was part of the equipment that Prof. Bailenson and his crew are using. This makes wonder of if, after a number of iterations, this kind of technology can be made more accessible to others by way of off-the-shelf components.
- As mentioned in the Smart Planet video above, the University of Washington Seattle and U.W. Harborview Burn Center is doing some encouraging work with virtual reality pain reduction.
- The KeckCAVES at UC Davis is working on software designed to interact with three-dimensional data in real-time.
- The Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder (VREP) is an educational initiative and partnership between government, education, and industry that is committed to bringing a new kind of learning and teaching to schools across the country.
Symcat is not a doctor. It is, however, quite an impressive “disease calculator” that uses information from patient records to estimate what might be afflicting you. Now, if Symcat’s makers can just give their creation a holographic interface like Star Trek Voyager‘s photonic physician, The Doctor…
- The Rural Assistance Center (RAC), a rural health and human services information portal was created in 2002. RAC helps rural communities access the full range of available programs, funding, and research that can enable them to provide quality health and human services to rural residents. RAC is especially interested in helping rural communities form Health information technology (HIT) systems. One way RAC is working to develop HITs is through augmenting rural access to high speed internet. Given that Sen. Chip Rogers and others want to prevent local and municipal governments in Georgia from supplying internet connectivity to their communities, maybe RAC can provide a cure for short-sighted legislation.
- The Health IT Buzz Blog is a service of the HHS’s very own Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). It answers questions about the nation’s transition to electronic health records.
- Interested in how health care specialists might better use health information technology to make diagnoses? The American Medical Association has a series of tutorials that explain how physicians might integrate HIT in their workflow so as to transform care delivery.
- The UK’s Open Clinical site has an informative introduction to Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.
- Memory Alpha, the collaborative project and wonderful reference for everything related to Star Trek has an entertaining collection of all of variations on the “I’m a doctor, not a…” theme.