How Virtual Reality Could Help Paraplegics Walk Again

Virtual reality is a major contender for the next big technology to hit the business industry, and it’s been able to accomplish what modern neuroscience could not. In the medical sector, virtual reality has been tested on paraplegic patients in attempts to help them walk again using brain-controlled robotic limbs. However, these innovations have yielded unexpected, astounding results.

The project, called the Walk Again Project, was first introduced in 2013. Scientists from all over the world have gathered to help paraplegics walk again through the power of technology. The study examined eight patients who had been diagnosed as being entirely paraplegic; as in, they can’t move or feel their legs at all. The project involved several simulations that featured the use of a haptic feedback device, which issued sensory feedback to the patient when their thoughts translated to movement.

The first experiment they performed consisted of using a brain-machine interface therapy combined with virtual reality. The patient wore a device that sent brain signals directly to an Oculus Rift (a commercial VR headset). On the device, the patient would see themselves walking. The other type of therapy used involved a robotic walker to assist with walking therapy. The patient was suspended over a treadmill while their legs were controlled by the robot. This activity was sent to a computer where the data could be analyzed.

The most interesting method of therapy involved the use of robotic legs to send brain signals directly back to the patient. The legs utilized electronic sensors that were placed at key locations along the leg. These sensors sent signals to the patient and offered stimulation to the user whenever their legs were supposed to be moving.

Thanks to the ongoing brain machine interface therapy, the patients found that they could sometimes feel--or even move--their paralyzed limbs. In particular, the treatment improved bladder and bowel function, which is a significant first step toward providing some semblance of autonomy back to those who suffer from paraplegia. The treatments were so successful that in many cases the doctors changed their diagnoses to only partial paralysis.

Though scientists still aren’t sure what has caused this development, it’s thought that it could be the first step toward discovering a way to completely restore mobility to those who suffer from paraplegia. Technology has given these victims a second chance, and it’s one that can (hopefully) improve their lives.

What do you think about this development? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.

Latest Windows 10 Update Has Kindle Users Feeling Blue… Screen of Death

Have you have recently plugged in your Kindle and received a blue screen of death? Many Kindle users have found that Windows 10’s anniversary update is creating an issue in the way that Kindle transfers books and charges via a USB connection. Some users are reporting that connecting a Kindle to a Windows 10 device will cause the device to lock up and display Windows’ infamous blue error screen before rebooting.

Users who have experienced this issue have taken to the Microsoft support forums hoping to find a way to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, what happens seems to vary by the user--some claim that the problem is rooted in the anniversary update, while others seem to think that it’s due to the pre-release software testing service Microsoft Insider.

The fallout of the issue also seems to vary. Some reports claim that the device can be restored to normal functionality after the reboot, but the problem comes up again with the next reboot. Some users have found that leaving their devices asleep as they plug in their Kindle can prevent the error from happening. Yet, even this doesn’t prevent the crashing, as many users report that the issue happens regardless of what they do.

All of these issues are in response to what users did to troubleshoot their own individual problems, yet nothing that they did could resolve them, despite elements like the USB cable being used as variables.

Worse yet, this isn’t the first problem that Microsoft has had to deal with since they released Windows 10’s anniversary update. While the update brought an enhanced usability and interesting new features, it also brought a bug that has led to some Windows 10 users being unable to use their webcams.

So far, neither of these issues have been resolved, though Microsoft claims that the webcam fixes will be available in September. In regards to the Kindle issue, there have been no hints as to how long these issues will persist. Kindle users may have to avoid causing the blue screen error in the first place, and tolerate the problems until the official fix is issued.

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MasterCard Wants Your Selfie, But it’s Not for What You Think it’s For

Payment via mobile devices is still a relatively new concept. With newer smartphones, it’s now easier than ever to pay your bills or send money on a whim. However, this also brings up an important topic; what’s the best way to handle mobile payments, and how can those who accept and process these payments ensure maximum security?

The answer might lie in two-factor authentication.

Specifically, MasterCard wants to introduce biometric-based two-factor authentication to its system, starting with the UK this summer. The technology discussed is a “selfie” based system that allows users to take a picture through an application, which is then compared to an image stored. The idea is that selfie-authentication, and other methods of biometric technology like fingerprint scanning, can help to prevent credit card fraud.

More than anything else, MasterCard is attempting to limit how many legitimate transactions are being declined while users are traveling abroad. Apparently, this is a bigger problem than actual credit card fraud. As reported by The Financial Times, there’s roughly $118 billion worth of false declines every year, which is considerably more money lost than is the case with credit card fraud--13 times more, to be specific. By using biometrics technology, MasterCard is looking to handle both the fraud and false decline problems.

Of course, the question that needs to be asked is whether or not these technologies are secure for users. Phones, tablets, and other mobile devices can be hacked just as easily as any desktop infrastructure. ITProPortal offers some insight into what will be necessary for mobile payment systems to take off:

“User devices are notoriously prone to penetration by cyber criminals – whether that’s as a result of users adapting their devices or overriding device security parameters, or using unsecured public WiFi when transacting online. Which means biometric data will need to be encrypted to ensure it cannot be stolen – otherwise we open a whole new vector for identity theft. What’s more, rigorous PCI standards already exist to protect users and merchants, especially where liability is concerned should things go wrong. What’s not clear in this scenario is whether liability will shift – and to whom. Quite simply, we’re in new territory here.”

What’s most interesting here is the liability aspect; if a user isn’t securing the mobile device used for payment, can they be considered at fault for the theft of their data? If so, it completely changes the way that financial institutions and payment compliance works. Also, what happens if biometrics are hacked? You can’t exactly issue a new face or a fingerprint with a new credit card number. These are critical possibilities that need to be addressed before biometric two-factor authentication for mobile payment systems can be implemented.

What are your thoughts on mobile payment authentication using a selfie-based system? Let us know in the comments.

New High Score for Microsoft: More Than 44% of All PC Gamers Use Windows 10

While we tend to focus on the latest technology solutions in the workplace, sometimes it helps to view them from a different perspective, like recreation. Specifically, Windows 10 has become a popular operating system amongst PC gamers, and has reached nearly half of the considerable total user base of the cloud-based gaming platform, Steam.

For the month of June, use of Windows 10 (both 32 and 64-bit versions) with Steam reached an all-time high of 44.6 percent; an increase of 3.41 percent from the previous month, and a 1.54 percent increase from the month before that. It’s safe to say that the free upgrade played a major role in this increase in use, but now that it’s no longer offered for free, is Windows 10 still worth the investment? We would argue yes, as do the gamers. After all, they want to take advantage of the latest Windows OS, and so should you.

Not all Steam users use Windows 10, though. Here are some statistics from the latest Steam OS check:

  • Windows 7: 36.97 percent, down 2 percent from last month
  • Windows 8.x: 12 percent
  • All Windows OS: 95.5 percent
  • Mac OS X: 3.6 percent
  • Linux: 0.8 percent

Regardless of whether or not you enjoy games, there’s a lesson that can be learned from these statistics, and it’s that the latest operating system can offer a significant improvement to your user experience. For gamers, their hobbies are a way of life, and they take it very seriously. They’re often known for their meticulous attention to PC performance and specifications, so it’s no surprise that they would be willing to adopt the latest Microsoft operating system.

If anything, these statistics are a strong endorsement of Windows 10, and warrant, at least, a consideration of an upgrade. If you’re unsure of how an upgrade can help your business or user experience, Amaxx can help. We’ll work with your business to ensure that legacy applications and software solutions aren’t negatively affected by an upgrade. In situations like this, it’s always best to have professionals on hand to guarantee that you experience minimal downtime.

To get started with Windows 10, give us a call at 614-923-6700.

Verizon acquires Yahoo for $4.83 Billion

The end of one of the Internet's first giants

Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to buy Yahoo! Inc.’s web assets for $4.83 billion, ending the company’s two-decade run as an independent business that took it from Stanford University startup at the dawn of the internet age to also-ran behind nimbler online rivals such as Google and Facebook Inc.

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