There have been a number of significant changes at Wolfram|Alpha recently with some of the biggest developments aimed at mobile applications of their “knowledge engine” platform. A new mobile site has been established to increase accessibility by a wider user group, and the price of the Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App has been drastically reduced. Additionally, a version specific to the iPad has also been released.
As we approach the anniversary of the launch of Wolfram|Alpha, we’ll be moving into Wolfram|Alpha’s next phase, centered on growth—increasing the exposure and use of Wolfram|Alpha both by individuals seeking knowledge and by developers building computational knowledge into their applications in interesting ways. We want Wolfram|Alpha to become ubiquitous.
The first step in this process is to improve Wolfram|Alpha’s accessibility on smartphones and other mobile devices that are increasingly an integral part of one’s online experience. Today we’re launching the mobile Wolfram|Alpha website, http://m.wolframalpha.com. The new mobile website is a big step forward from the landing page it replaces, having been engineered from the ground up for the new generation of touch-screen smartphones while enabling access to Wolfram|Alpha from earlier handheld devices that have difficulty with the main website.
In addition to the mobile website, we’ve changed the price of the Wolfram|Alpha App for the iPhone and iPod touch to $1.99, down from $49.99.
Wolfram|Alpha can be a bit challenging to fully comprehend and determine an appropriate use for. However, as an educational application it provides functionality that is unmatched by really anything else in existence. Exploration and discovery are certainly encouraged. This handy “One-page summary” provides some useful tips on the tools available. Additionally, there are numerous examples posted on the site to help visualize potential applications.
Give it a try.
Meanwhile, congratulations to the team at Wolfram|Alpha on their SXSW2010 Web Interactive Awards this year. They received two awards: one for Technical Achievement and another for Best in Show.
The latest version of Miro has recently been released. Miro is an open-source, non-profit video player and podcast client available for Mac, Windows and Linux (including an Ubuntu distribution). Miro plays local media, streaming media, and also functions as a capable and nearly transparent torrent client for downloading programming material from peer-to-peer networks. Miro is a product of the Participatory Culture Foundation.
“Through software and advocacy, Participatory Culture Foundation works to build a fairer, more open, and more democratic media space…PCF is a founder of the Open Video Alliance, a coalition of organizations, companies, and individuals that are working to create open tools, workflows, licensing systems for online video.”
This is a significant update that offers a wide range of new features as well as improvements to existing ones. A number of new features in Miro 3 include:
Subtitles – If subtitles are embedded or in the same folder as the current video, they will be available automatically in a new drop-down menu. Additionally any subtitle file can be selected automatically.
Faster Performance – Miro is faster and snappier in all sorts of ways from downloading torrents to deleting lots of files. For example, launching Miro is over 150% faster! Downloading torrents is faster!
Louder – The maximum volume for videos is now at least twice as high.
Edit file info – Easily change the title, description, and category of a file.
Miro has a simple clean interface designed for fullscreen HD video. Though not a truly “lean back” interface of other media center applications such as Boxee, Miro does work well connected to a big screen or projector. Also, since Miro downloads much of its video content via podcast or torrent technology, it provides high quality playback without the limitations of streaming bandwidth connectivity. Many popular streaming services, such as YouTube and Hulu are built in as well.
ASU Polytechnic engineering professor Tom Sugar and his students have been working with the Military Amputee Research Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to develop a below the knee prosthetic device based on Spring Ankle with Regenerative Kinetics (aka “SPARKy”) technology since 2007.
Fellow ASU professor, George Wolf who lost part of his left leg in a hang-gliding accident two years ago, volunteered to participate as an early volunteer in the research and testing of the new device. SPARKy is one of a kind because it uses lightweight energy-storing springs to provide a flex that traditional devices just can’t give, and after years or refinement and development Sugar says they are close to perfecting it.
“Arizona State University researchers have developed a prosthetic device that literally puts the spring back into an amputee’s step. They have developed and refined SPARKy (for spring ankle with regenerative kinetics) into a smart, active and energy-storing below-the-knee (transbitial) prosthesis. SPARKy is the first prosthetic device to apply regenerative kinetics to its design, which resulted in a lightweight (4-pound) device that allows the wearer to walk on grass, cement and rocks, as well as ascend and descend stairs and inclines.”
We worked with Skip Derra from ASU Public Affairs to produce this short video about the SPARKy research and development success.