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Tuesday Watercooler


Tonight the Watercooler offers solidarity to Medea Benjamin and CODEPINK, who interrupted the Politico Playbook Luncheon to put Dick Cheney under arrest for war crimes. Politico, of course, neglected to challenge the Cheneys on anything substantial (thanks to FDL’s Dan Wright for the link) so it’s a good thing someone did.

A man with a quizzical expression pushes buttons on his Nintendo Power Glove

If this had existed in the 80s, the Power Glove would have actually made you better at Mario Bros.

And Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have developed wearable technology that teaches your hands motor skills even when you aren’t consciously paying attention. Psypost reports that after trying it out with piano melodies, the scientists have moved on to teaching Braille (thanks to Eric W. Dolan for this link):

Each study participant wore a pair of gloves with tiny vibrating motors stitched into the knuckles. The motors vibrated in a sequence that corresponded with the typing pattern of a pre-determined phrase in Braille. Audio cues let the users know the Braille letters produced by typing that sequence. Afterwards, everyone tried to type the phrase one time, without the cues or vibrations, on a keyboard.

The sequences were then repeated during a distraction task. Participants played a game for 30 minutes and were told to ignore the gloves. Half of the participants felt repeated vibrations and heard the cues; the others only heard the audio cues. When the game was over, participants tried to type the phrase without wearing the gloves.

‘Those in the control group did about the same on their second attempt (as they did in their pre-study baseline test),’ said [Georgia Tech professor Thad] Starner. ‘But participants who felt the vibrations during the game were a third more accurate. Some were even perfect.’

The researchers expected to see a wide disparity between the two groups based on their successful results while using the piano glove. But they were surprised the passive learners picked up an additional skill. ‘Remarkably, we found that people could transfer knowledge learned from typing Braille to reading Braille,’ said [Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Caitlyn] Seim. ‘After the typing test, passive learners were able to read and recognize more than 70 percent of the phrase’s letters.’ No one in the study had previously typed on a Braille keyboard or knew the language.

Another form of technology-enhanced learning — zapping your brain with electricity — is discussed in Radiolab’s “9-volt Nirvana” (which I mentioned last Cartoon Friday).

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Nintendo Power Glove Photo by Keegan Berry released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and