Campus News in Brief

EnergyPod Installed in Hunt Library

This summer, an EnergyPod was installed in Hunt Library across from the Maggie Murph café. The pod, created by MetroNaps, allows for undisturbed napping.

The pod’s basic design is spherical on the outside, but contains a lounging chair with ample space for leg resting inside. The design allows for a darkened environment for the sleeper. The pod also contains speakers, but the music played is not heard by passersby, and the design effectively silences outside noise so the sleeper can have a peaceful rest.

MetroNaps was co-founded by a Carnegie Mellon alumnus, Arshad Chowdhury. His goal was to make it easier for workers to take naps during the workday. Naps are an effective method of boosting morale and creativity, and they help to promote memory retention.

EnergyPod design from MetroNaps is currently in use by students, workers, and doctors worldwide.

Von Ahn named one of world’s top innovators under 35

Assistant computer science professor Luis von Ahn was recently named one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review magazine.

Von Ahn was selected from a pool of over 300 nominees to receive the honor. He was chosen for his contributions to the field of human computation.

A pioneer of CAPTCHA technology, von Ahn has taken new strides with the technology. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites during registration to ensure that humans, not computers, are attempting to register. Yahoo!, for example, uses CAPTCHAs to prevent spammers from using automated programs to obtain users’ e-mail addresses.

CAPTCHAs show distorted words in a picture, and users must correctly decipher the word in order to complete registrations and gain access to websites.

Von Ahn’s new project, called reCAPTCHAs, is attempting to use CAPTCHAs to help in the process of digitizing books. Lines of text from old books unable to be properly deciphered by optical character recognition programs are scanned, distorted, and used as CAPTCHAs.

The reCAPTCHA program pairs an unknown scanned word with a known word. Users must enter both of the words correctly in order to access the site.

Thousands of websites have already begun to use this system, and millions of previously undecipherable words in books have been identified.

Von Ahn is also the inventor of the ESP game, a multiplayer game used to help properly tag Google photos.