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Topher White: Repurposing Cellphones to Defend the Rain Forest

His networks of solar-powered phones can detect the sounds of illegal logging

6 min read
Topher White: Repurposing Cellphones to Defend the Rain Forest
Photo: Gabriela Hasbun

Topher White halted as he drew near the illegal logging camp. He could hear the chain saw rumbling just over the hill, and he suddenly realized how completely cut off this patch of Sumatra's rain forest really was. For the first time he wondered whether his plan to protect the world's forests using discarded cellphones was perhaps a little foolhardy.

White is not a violent person. Tall and fit, he is more comfortable channeling his restless energy into problems involving equations and code. And yet here he was, on a path he'd started down in 2011. Back then, White and his girlfriend (who's now his wife) were volunteering at an ape sanctuary in Indonesian Borneo, when they stumbled upon loggers illegally cutting a tree into two-by-fours. “We had been walking just 5 minutes from the rangers' station, and yet you couldn't hear the chain saw," White recalls.

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Deep Learning Gets a Boost From New Reconfigurable Processor

The ReAAP processor allows AI to be faster, more efficient

2 min read
different colored beams of light shooting up
iStock

This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

Deep learning is a critical computing approach that is pushing the boundaries of technology – crunching immense amounts of data and uncovering subtle patterns that humans could never discern on their own. But for optimal performance, deep learning algorithms need to be supported with the right software compiler and hardware combinations. In particular, reconfigurable processors, which allow for flexible use of hardware resources for computing as needed, are key.

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Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

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This Gift Will Help Your Aspiring Engineer Learn Technology

Know someone that is hard to shop for? We have the perfect gift for you.

4 min read