25 leading-edge IT research projects

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"At the end of the day, the average person's commute is longer because of that person who is on the cell phone right in front of them," said University of Utah psychology Professor Dave Strayer, leader of the research team, in a statement. "That SOB on the cell phone is slowing you down and making you late."

The research is based on a PatrolSim driving simulator.

Meanwhile, don't feel so smug about how safety conscious you are by using a hands-free cell phone in the car: Carnegie Mellon University researchers say you're still likely to be distracted.

The researchers used brain imaging to show that even just listening to a cell phone while driving cuts by more than a third your attention to driving. Subjects inside an MRI brain scanner were tested on a driving simulator and were found to weave, similar to if they were under the influence of alcohol. The study (featuring cool colorful brain images) showed lessened activity in the brain's parietal lobe, which is called upon for spatial sense and navigation, and occipital lobe, which handles visual information.

24. Open source on bug patrol

An open source tool is being readied for release this year that its creators say could dramatically speed software development and improve software quality.

Computer scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Texas at Arlington credit the use of "combinatorial testing" for their breakthrough.

The trick is being able to quickly test interactions of up to six variables. The work stemmed from research into what really causes bugs in software. The researchers found that it is more often caused by problematic interactions between a few variables rather than a bunch even if a program, such as an e-commerce application, features hundreds of variables.

Findings of this latest software debugging research are described in several presentations, one by NIST researchers and another by University of Texas researchers

Developers interested in getting your hands on code should contact NIST's Raghu Kacker.

25. Geeks and glasses

Who knew? People who wear glasses are not stereotypical geeks or nerds. At least according to a study released by Australian vision researchers.

The scientists claim this is the first time a study looked into personality and nearsightedness or myopia. Participants were analyzed using a state-of-the-art measure of the five major personality factors (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism), administered by psychologists from the University of Melbourne.

Researchers concluded: "The long-held view that myopic persons are introverted and conscientious may reflect intelligence-related stereotypes rather than real correlations. Furthermore, the predictive characteristic of intellect, subsumed in openness, appeared to be representative of a previously reported link between IQ and myopia rather than personality and myopia."

"We have literally busted the myth that people who wear glasses are introverted or have particular personality characteristics. They are more likely to be agreeable and open, rather than closed and introverted," said Paul Baird of the University of Melbourne's Centre for Eye Research Australia in a release.

For past network research roundups, see:

15 bleeding-edge network research projects you should know about

10 cutting-edge network research projects you should know about

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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