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Kinect boosts car safety

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Using a Kinect motion sensor originally developed for the Xbox 360, Chevrolet is now able to create virtual child seats. This allows them to design their cars to suit practically any seat available.

With appropriate child safety seats and safety belts now legally required in South Africa, flexibility, adjustability and compatibility will become an increasingly important factor in the car buying decision.

Chevrolet is making huge strides in this department, with vehicles such as the Traverse mid-sized SUV offering parents flexibility when it comes to fitting child safety seats. But how do GM engineers determine what seats fit and where, especially with hundreds of models on the market?

A Kinect motion sensor, originally developed for the Xbox 360, is helping to solve that challenge.

“There are over 250 different makes and models of child safety seats on the market, and new or revised models are introduced every year,” said Julie Kleinert, GM’s Global Child Safety Technical Lead. “The lack of an industry standard for the size and shape of child seats makes it quite challenging for vehicle engineers.”

Through the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS), a National Science Foundation-funded industry/university research cooperative with partner research sites at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and The Ohio State University, Kleinert and engineers from other vehicle and child seat manufacturers are working to develop new tools to help manufacturers evaluate child seat compatibility.

The Kinect for Windows sensor was first launched for the Xbox gaming console before being made available to Windows devices. The same technology created to capture player movements and enable voice control of video games doubles as a powerful scanning tool in the automotive industry.

The project, led by CHOP’s Dr. Aditya Belwadi, developed a methodology to use the  Kinect controller to digitise the shape of a child seat in minutes and at a fraction of the cost of an industrial scanner.

CHOP researchers created “surrogate” child seat shapes by overlaying the individual child seat scans produced by the Kinect on top of one another. This surrogate represents the maximum amount of space needed for a particular category of child seat. Virtual evaluations of the surrogate may prove to be a simple way for vehicle manufacturers to assess a large range of child seats with a single tool.

“This new tool will be a great help to us in evaluating child restraint compatibility early in our vehicle design process,” said Kleinert.

The team hopes this approach, which was presented as a technical paper at the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit in April, may influence other vehicle and child seat manufacturers to adopt a common standard for the size and geometry of different categories of child seats.

“We haven’t reached that point yet,” said Kleinert, “but we believe this project is an important step in that direction. This project is just one example of how vehicle manufacturers, child seat manufacturers and university researchers are working together through CChIPS on research to improve the safety of children in vehicles.”

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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