CARNEGIE MELLON’S SMART HEADLIGHTS SPARE THE EYES OF ONCOMING DRIVERS
Programmable Lights Prevent Glare, Improve Vision in Snow and Rain
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton September 9th 2014 National Science Foundation Source Carnegie Mellon University
PITTSBURGH—A smart headlight developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute enables drivers to take full advantage of their high beams without fear of blinding oncoming drivers or suffering from the glare that can occur when driving in snow or rain at night.
The programmable headlight senses and tracks virtually any number of oncoming drivers, blacking out only the small parts of the headlight beam that would otherwise shine into their eyes. During snow or rain showers, the headlight improves driver vision by tracking individual flakes and drops in the immediate vicinity of the car and blocking the narrow slivers of headlight beam that would otherwise illuminate the precipitation and reflect back into the driver’s eyes.
The programmable headlight senses and tracks virtually any number of oncoming drivers, blacking out only the small parts of the headlight beam that would otherwise shine into their eyes.
“Even after 130 years of headlight development, more than half of vehicle crashes and deaths occur at night, despite the fact there is much less traffic then,” said Srinivasa Narasimhan, associate professor of robotics.
“With our programmable system, however, we can actually make headlights that are even brighter than today’s without causing distractions for other drivers on the road.”
Robert Tamburo, the project’s lead engineer, will present findings from tests of the system in the lab and on the streets of Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 at the European Conference on Computer Vision in Zurich, Switzerland. More information, including a video, is available on the project website.
The system devised by Narasimhan, Tamburo and the rest of the research team uses a DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector instead of a standard headlight or cluster of LEDs. This enables the researchers to divide the light into a million tiny beams, each of which can be independently controlled by an onboard computer.
The research team assembled their experimental system from off-the-shelf parts and mounted the system atop the hood of a pickup truck, serving as the equivalent of a third headlight during street tests.
A camera senses oncoming cars, falling precipitation and other objects of interest, such as road signs. The one million light beams can then be adjusted accordingly, some dimmed to spare the eyes of oncoming drivers, while others might be brightened to highlight street signs or the traffic lane. The changes in overall illumination are minor, however, and generally not noticeable by the driver.
System latency — the time between detection by the camera and a corresponding adjustment in the illumination — is between 1 and 2.5 milliseconds, Tamburo said. This near-instantaneous reaction means that in most cases the system does not have to employ sophisticated algorithms to predict where an oncoming driver or a flake of snow will be by the time the headlight system responds.
“Our system can keep high beams from blinding oncoming drivers when operating at normal highway speeds,” Narasimhan said. Rain and snow present a more difficult problem, he noted; the system reduces glare at low speeds, but becomes less effective as speed increases.
In addition to preventing glare, the projector can be used to highlight the traffic lane — a helpful driving aid when roads have unmarked lanes or edges, or when snow obscures lane markings. When tied to a navigation system, the programmable headlights also can project arrows or other directional signals to visually guide drivers.
“We can do all this and more with the same headlight,” Narasimhan said. That is in contrast to new headlight systems that some automakers are installing. These include multi-LED systems that reduce glare to oncoming drivers by darkening some LEDs as well as swiveling headlights that help drivers see down curved roads.
“Most of these are one-off systems, however, with different headlights required for different specialized tasks,” he added.
The research team assembled their experimental system from off-the-shelf parts and mounted the system atop the hood of a pickup truck, serving as the equivalent of a third headlight during street tests. The team plans to install a smaller version next year in the headlight slot of a truck.
Though currently larger than standard headlights, Narasimhan said the smart headlights could be accommodated by trucks and buses, whose headlights are especially prone to causing glare because they are positioned high off the ground. Eventually, miniaturization should make the smart headlights compatible with smaller vehicles.
The research team includes Takeo Kanade, professor of computer science and robotics; Anthony Rowe, assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE); Abhishek Chugh, a master’s degree student in computer science; Subhagato Dutta and Vinay Palakkode, both master’s degree students in ECE; and Eriko Nurvitadhi and Mei Chen of Intel Research.
The research was supported by Ford Motor Co., the Intel Science and Technology Center for Embedded Computing, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. It is part of the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation Center, a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center at Carnegie Mellon.
The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked School of Computer Science, which is celebrating its 25th year. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.
BURNOUT CAUSED BY MORE THAN JUST JOB STRESS
New research from Concordia and the University of Montreal confirms home life affects workplace mental health
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 16-Sep-2014
Source Universite de Montreal Citations Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Newswise — Impossible deadlines, demanding bosses, abusive colleagues, unpaid overtime: all factors that can lead to a burnout. But when it comes to mental health in the workplace, the influence of home life must also be considered to get the full picture.
That is about to change thanks to new research from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, which proves that having an understanding partner is just as important as having a supportive boss.
The study, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, surveys 1,954 employees from 63 different organizations and shows that a multitude of issues contribute to mental health problems in the workforce.
The research team polled participants to measure factors like parental status, household income, social network, gender, age, physical health and levels of self-esteem. They studied these elements alongside stressors typically seen in the workplace, such as emotional exhaustion, poor use of skills, high psychological demands, job insecurity and lack of authority.
Turns out mental health in the workplace doesn’t exist in a vacuum: it’s deeply affected by the rest of a person’s day-to-day life. And vice versa.
The study shows that fewer mental health problems are experienced by those living with a partner, in households with young children, higher household incomes, less work-family conflicts, and greater access to the support of a social network outside the workplace.
Of course, factors within the workplace are still important. Fewer mental health problems were reported when employees are supported at work, when expectations of job recognition are met, and when people feel secure in their jobs. A higher level of skill use is also associated with lower levels of depression, pointing to the importance of designing tasks that motivate and challenge workers.
“This is a call to action,” says senior author Steve Harvey, professor of management and dean of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.
“Researchers need to expand their perspective, so that they get a full picture of the complexity of factors that determine individuals’ mental health.”
For lead author Alain Marchand, professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Industrial Relations, it is all about adopting a holistic view.
“To maintain a truly healthy workforce, we need to look outside the office or home in simple terms to combat mental health issues in the workplace.”
MOST CONSUMERS DON’T KNOW THEIR DAILY CALORIE ‘BUDGET’
Awareness of 2,000-calorie context could encourage healthier food choices
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 9-Sep-2014
Source Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Citations Health Promotion Practice
Newswise — Many people are unaware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mandated nutrition labels are based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, but a simple weekly text message reminder can greatly improve that awareness, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
While not an outright recommendation, the 2,000-calorie benchmark is what the FDA considers a reasonable daily calorie intake for many adults. More importantly, nutrition labels on food products sold in the U.S. are based on it. The key to translating nutrition labels and using them to make healthy food choices, researchers say, may be an understanding of this basic fact.
The study, published online in Health Promotion Practice, surveyed 246 participants dining in the Johns Hopkins Hospital cafeteria to assess their initial knowledge of the 2,000-calorie value. The cafeteria included calorie labels for food choices but no information on the daily context. Participants were then randomly assigned to receive either a weekly text message reminder, a weekly email reminder, or no weekly reminder about the 2,000-calorie value. Participants received the reminder messages each Monday for four weeks; after the four weeks, their knowledge of the 2,000-calorie value was assessed with a follow-up survey.
Prior to receiving the weekly reminders, 58 percent of participants could not correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value, even those with college or graduate degrees. After the study period, those receiving the weekly text messages were twice as likely to correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value as compared to those who received no weekly reminder.
“While daily energy needs vary, the 2,000-calorie value provides a general frame of reference that can make menu and product nutrition labels more meaningful,” says study leader Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“When people know their calorie ‘budget’ for the day, they have context for making healthier meal and snack choices.”
The FDA has proposed new menu-labeling regulations, which will soon require chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets to list calories on menus, menu boards, and drive-through displays. Cheskin says that those calorie counts are not helpful tools for making good food choices if people do not understand roughly how many calories they should consume each day.
“Given the low level of calorie literacy, simply posting calorie counts on menu boards is not sufficient,” Cheskin says.
The weekly text and email reminders were based on The Monday Campaigns’ model for health communications, which leverages the idea that Monday provides a weekly opportunity to start fresh and commit to new healthy habits, such as exercise regimens, healthy eating plans or smoking cessation. The Monday Campaigns is a nonprofit organization that started in 2003 with research support from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“There are many simple ways to convey calorie information to consumers, including point of sale communication, text messages, emails and even smart phone apps,” Cheskin notes.
“Ideally, these could work together, with calories posted on menus, restaurant signage and food labels along with personal reminders delivered through the latest technology. Our data indicate that weekly text messages are one element in this mix that can be effective.”
“Consumer Understanding of Calorie Labeling: A Healthy Monday E-Mail and Text Message Intervention” was written by Michelle L. Abel, MSPH; Katherine Lee, MA; Ralph Loglisci, BS; Allison Righter, MSPH; Thomas J. Hipper, MSPH, MA; and Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD.
This research was supported by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and The Monday Campaigns.