Smart Parking

How great is it when a parking space opens up at the exact moment you arrive?

Most call it luck. But soon that lucky break could become a regular occurrence.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are developing “smart parking” technology. Sensors will be used to detect whether a space is occupied or open and then relay that information to circling drivers hunting for a spot.

This technology will be tested this in San Francisco, starting with about 6,000 metered parking spaces in March. The research team already has the website and iPhone application finished, so drivers will be able to use these tools to find out where parking spaces are available.

Other cities are also expressing interest in “smart parking” technology. Port Authority of Allegheny County already has partnered with Carnegie Mellon and is hoping to launch a similar project in Pittsburgh soon.

Read more in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Brain Change

Carnegie Mellon researchers Timothy Keller and Marcel Just have uncovered the first evidence that the brain can rewire itself.

The researchers witnessed that through intensive instruction to improve reading skills in young children, the brain can physically rewire itself, creating new white matter that improves communication within the brain.

Translation: Reading instruction for children can actually trigger brain development that bumps poor readers up to good reader status.

Keller and Just used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) – a new brain imaging technique – to scan the brain of 72 children, ages 8-10, before and after a six-month remedial reading instruction program.

Previous DTI studies revealed compromised white matter in the brains of both children and adults who have difficulty with reading. But Keller and Just’s recent research found that 100 hours of intensive reading training increased the quality of the compromised white matter to normal levels, which directly correlated with improved reading skills.

The researchers also monitored a control group to prove the changes in white matter could not be attributed to naturally occurring maturation, as the brain development was only evident in the children who received the reading instruction.

For more, watch a video, check out an article about it in the Los Angeles Times, or visit Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging online.


Meeting of the Minds

Don’t miss “Meeting of the Minds: Rebuilding America” on CNBC tonight at 8 p.m. EST. The hour-long special, hosted by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, was taped on campus, giving Carnegie Mellon students the opportunity to intern for the show.

So what does a CNBC intern get to do?

Student interns assisted in the control room, escorted VIPs and ushered audience members, many of whom were Pittsburgh manufacturing and business leaders, as well as Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff. The experience provided students with a better understanding of the media – especially how the broadcasting industry works.

Photo: President Jared L. Cohon and Maria Bartiromo