80% of india's frogs face extinction

Nearly 80% of the frogs in the country are on the verge of extinction and some of the species have already vanished due to their shrinking habitat caused by human incursions, says amphibian scientist Dr SD Biju. He added that the shrinking rate of frogs worldwide is 74%, but in India it is more than 80.

Amphibian frogs are one of the most endangered; common species like the fungoid frog (Rana Malabarica) are rarely seen in some of its best habitats in the country. The Indian Purple Frog, an endangered species found in the Western Ghats, is also facing extinction.

"Amphibians are an important part of our ecosystem. They are environmental indicators because of their sensitivity towards small changes in the environment. They help us to predict the quality of our water systems and the surrounding environment," Dr Biju said, adding that they consume millions of pests thus helping farmers. Amphibians are also an important link in the food chain and are known as the conveyor belt of the ecosystem.

"Every year the country faces thousands of mosquito bite-related deaths. Many are talking about introducing fish that eat mosquito larva but we conveniently forget about the best pest killer, frogs," he said.

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3D-printed robotic arm translates speech into sign language

A user-friendly and low-cost humanoid robot that translates speech into sign language, Aslan was designed "to reduce the communication barrier between the hearing and the deaf community".

Designed by three engineering students at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, the robotic arm with articulated fingers is controlled by dedicated software. When the user types text into the software, the hand translates the text into sign language.

Since the parts are all 3D-printed, Aslan can be manufactured and assembled in over 140 countries that have access to the technology. "The use of 3D-printing technology makes it possible to cut production costs, as well as carry out modifications or repairs when necessary," say the students.

The team is not aiming to automate the profession of sign language interpretation, but to offer an accessible solution in cases where no translator is available.

The team is now working on creating a second robotic arm to work with the first, an expressive face to help convey meaning, and are exploring the possibilities of connecting a webcam so users can teach the Asian new signs.

Picture Credit : Google

Smiles can both induce and reduce stress

A study by the University of Wisconsin Madison (USA), shows that smiles meant to convey dominance are associated with "a spike in stress hormones" in their targets. Smiles intended as a reward, to reinforce behaviour, appear to physically buffer recipients against stress.

Researchers established three major types of smiles- the first meant to convey status, the second to show affiliation (communicate a bond and show you're not a threat), and the third- reward (a beaming, toothy smile you would give someone to let them know they are making you happy).

For the study, the team stressed out male college students by giving them a series of imprompt speaking assignments judged by a fellow student.  The speakers heart rates and levels of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) were measured. If they received dominance smiles, which they would interpret as negative and critical, they felt more stress, and their cortisol went up and stayed up longer after their speech. If they received reward smiles, they reacted to that as approval, and it kept them from feeling as much stress and producing as much cortisol.

"Subtle differences in the way you make facial expressions while someone is talking to you can fundamentally change their experience, their body, and the way they feel you are evaluating them," said researchers.

Picture Credit : Google

What is Enlight Photofox app?

Want your photos to look stunning in your social media feed? Enlight Photofox handles everything from quick tweaks to creating a double-exposure masterpiece. Make a photo look like a watercolour, oil painting, street art or sketch. Its Photo Mixer lets you add layers, superimpose images, create photo montages and seamlessly merge photos with various blending modes. Its Heal tool allows for removal of defects while its crop options allow for straightening crooked photos. Turn your photos into black and white using darkroom techniques or reproduce the style of classic cameras and vintage film. Free for iOS.

Photofox includes sophisticated painterly and collage capabilities designed to transform your images into works of art. Technically, Photofox is an update of the original Enlight app, but it looks and feels more like a related standalone app targeting a pro level audience. It’s similar to its predecessor and is available alongside it on the App Store

Photofox is primarily a photo editing tool, but it kicks the software’s capabilities up a notch, emphasizing creative compositing with a new focus on layering, blending images, and special effects.

Unlike the original app, Photofox works with raw files and allows multiple layers instead of just two. An interface overhaul keeps the app fairly simple, but using Photofox to its best advantage requires a more imaginative vision of composited images coupled with a sleight of hand. The less-cramped iPad version is slightly easier to use, because in addition to the extra screen space, you can use the app in landscape mode, while Photofox’s iPhone app only operates in portrait orientation.

Credit : Macworld 

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What is Dots & Co game?

Dots & Co is the third game from the maker of the addictive Two Dots and Dots. The game play is simple connect dots of the same colour to make them disappear. Each level has an objective to be accomplished in limited moves. New to Dots & Co are companions who provide valuable power-ups that help you reach your goals. One of the least stressful puzzle games out there, Dots & Co has colourful graphics and a cool soundtrack. Free for iOS and Android.

The most noticeable change is the new "companions" that help you in each level. Fortunately, these helpers are very subtle. You'll see them at the top of your screen as you play through a level -- a big penguin or eskimo smiling down on you as you play through the level. Throughout the playing field are companion dots; clearing those helps fill up an energy bar at the top of the screen. When it's full, your companion drops a special move in the screen to help you progress.

Probably the other biggest change is to the game's economy. Instead of starting with five lives that slowly regenerate after you've lost them, you use "energy" to start a level. Your meter goes to 15, and each level drops your level three points. Finishing a level regenerates energy -- but you'll only get all three energy points back if you "ace" the level and get three stars. So even if you keep successfully finishing levels, you'll run out of energy unless you consistently get three stars, something that could be tough as the difficulty ramps up.

Crucially, Dots & Co. retails the excellent, unique atmosphere and mood of the previous game. It's one of the least stressful puzzle games out there, with gorgeous graphics and an extremely chill soundtrack. It looks unique and feels like it's been put together with more care and love than just about any other mobile game out there.

Credit :  Engadget 

Picture Credit : Google