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Culture

Phone-brella frees up your hands for texting in the rain (Tomorrow Daily 245)

Ashley explains how the Phone-brella allows for hands-free rain cover, why flying robots might be handy for making bridges and a study that features participants giving themselves advice in virtual reality.

We've all been there: You're walking down the street while it rains, enjoying a delicious coffee, and you get a text message that needs a response. So you smash your face against your umbrella, and awkwardly tap out a response while hoping you don't spill your drink or drop your phone. The Phone-brella is designed with a counterweight in the c-shaped handle, so you can slide it over your wrist and enjoy the use of both hands while walking through a light shower or two.

Flying robots have a bit of trouble building structures when it comes to rigid designs. Not only does the work need to be perfectly executed, there are weight and size limits on what the bots can carry into the sky. Fortunately, an enterprising team of researchers decided to look toward another way to build, and came up with a way to have quadrotors weave a rope bridge across a 7.4-meter gap. It's expensive to do, but it's a step towards autonomous aerial robots having the ability to create structures on the fly (pun intended).

A recent study combined cognitive therapy and VR in an interesting way. The University of Barcelona chose 22 participants to use VR to help solve a problem they had. In one scenario, they explained the problem to a life-size, virtual recreation of themselves; in another, they explained the problem to (and provided a solution as) a life-size virtual Dr. Sigmund Freud. In the end, the participants reported being more satisfied with the advice coming from the VR Dr. Freud, giving researchers more insight into how we might be able to harness virtual reality to help people who might not have access to (or be ashamed of visiting) therapists.

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245: Phone-brella frees up your hands for texting in the rain

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