Sunday, August 31, 2008

Virtual Mirror Makes Trying on Clothes a Snap

Imagine trying on the latest fashions without having to undo a single button. That's the idea behind the virtual mirror developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications and on display at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

The set up consists of a flat panel display with touch screen, a camera mounted above it and lighting to evenly illuminate users. They stand in front of the display wearing a green T-shirt, the camera captures their image and then a software algorithm replaces the green with whatever style the users choose. That includes different colos, logos and textures.

The Fraunhofer Institute first used this technology in 2007 when they developed a different type of virtual mirror for the Adidas flagship store in Paris. Customers there designed their own shoes, stepped in front of the mirror and saw them superimposed on their feet. "We thought about doing it for clothes too, but of course tracking clothes and tracking garments is much more difficult than tracking rigid shoes," said Anna Hilsman, one of the researchers who developed the virtual mirror.

Unlike shoes, textiles have elastic qualities and their structures aren't always uniform, so that creates a challenge for the virutal mirror. The software algorithm creates a two-dimension model of the image that is used to predict any changes. The system also knows the directions in which the fabric is capable of streching or flowing.

While the technology has been used with T-shirts and shoes, its not limited to just that. "We thought about doing it with glasses because usually when you buy glasses you usually have to take off your own and then you can't see yourself in the mirror," said Hilsman.

Woman has 200 orgasms a day

PRETTY Sarah Carmen is a 200-a-day orgasm girl who gets good, good, GOOD vibrations from almost anything.

The rumble of a train on the tracks, the purr of a hairdryer, the rhythmic drone of a photo-copier are all enough to make her go oh oh oh, ahhhhh.

She had FIVE orgasms during our 40-minute interview. But I can't take the credit—it was just talking about her sex life that set her off.

Sarah, 24, suffers from Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS), which increases blood flow to the sex organs.

She said: "Sometimes I have so much sex to try to calm myself down I get bored of it. And men I sleep with don't seem to make as much effort because I climax so easily."

As she chatted, Sarah became increasingly flustered.

"Sorry, you'll have to excuse me for a minute. I'll be with you in a sec," she mumbled before letting out a long sigh.

Sarah, from London, developed PSAS after being prescribed anti-depressants at 19.


She believes her condition was brought on by the pills.

She said: "Within a few weeks I just began to get more and more aroused more and more of the time and I just kept having endless orgasms.

"It started off in bed where sex sessions would last for hours and my boyfriend would be stunned at how many times I would orgasm.

"Then it would happen after sex. I'd be thinking about what we'd done in bed and I'd start feeling a bit flushed, then I'd become aroused and climax.

"In six months I was having 150 orgasms a day—and it has been as many as 200."

She and her boyfriend split— and new partners struggle to keep up with her sex demands. "Often, I'll want to wear myself out by having as many orgasms as I can so they stop and I can get some peace," she said.

Sarah is a beautician and working in salons filled with whirring hairdryers and skincare gadgets can cause problems.

"If I start coughing and run to the loo, the girls know to fetch the client a magazine or a cup of tea," she said, adding, "Sometimes I'd like to just have a normal life."

Sarah says the Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome that she suffers from can cause her to have orgasm at any time of day.

She explained: "Anything can set me off. Even the hairdryers cause funny pulsations through my body.

"As a skin care specialist I have to use tools which vibrate a lot of the time for micro-dermabrasion and they sometimes set me off.

"I find if I'm nervous I'm less likely to get over-excited. So sometimes I try to psyche myself up and worry to control my orgasms.

"Some of my regular customers know my problem. But with new clients it's hard to explain.

"I have been in the middle of a treatment and it's happened and I've had to carry on.

"I was doing a bikini wax and you have to really concentrate and keep your hands very still, and mine go a bit wobbly when I orgasm.

"I had to pretend I had cramp in my foot and just stood there wriggling around on the spot and stifling my moans until it was over."

Sarah's friends think she is the luckiest girl ever, although her family think her behaviour is sometimes slightly odd.

She said: "The best way to describe how I am when I am with my family and I have one of my 'moments' is that I behave like Sheila from Shameless.

"I just get a bid giddy and yelp out and try to control myself. I've never sat down and explained it to my mum and dad.

"They just think I get a bit hyperactive round them.

"My friends think it's great. I have more orgasms in one day than most of them will probably have in a year.

"They say to me that they feel lucky if their boyfriend makes them have one orgasm-some days I have one every ten minutes."

It has proved to be a problem for Sarah in some relationships.

She said: "I dated one guy who was very selfish and he was that way in the bedroom too. He'd just lie back and expect me to please him.

"He just figured that because I could climax without him even having to touch me, he didn't need to do anything to please me.

"I just thought that was rude and inconsiderate. It didn't last very long with him."


She has also had embarrassing moments in public. Going to noisy bars and clubs is out of the question as the vibrations send her wild.

"We have to find nice quiet bars," she explained. "I have more orgasms if I have a drink as it relaxes me so I tend to drink very little now.

"It can be a bit embarrassing if I'm tipsy and guys who don't know me talk to me, because I find it harder to hide.

"The most embarrassing thing that has happened was when I answered a market research questionnaire and had an orgasm in front of the researcher.

"She knew what was happening and looked at me like I was a weirdo. I tried to explain that I couldn't help it, but I was blushing so much I had to walk away."

Sarah has even been to a Sex Addicts' Anonymous meeting in despair over her sex drive.

She said: "At first when the problem started I just wanted to have sex all the time, I thought I was a sex addict.

"But when I looked around the room and heard the stories other people told, about how desperate they were for sex, I realised I wasn't like them.


"With me, it was a means of releasing my orgasm, but now I know I don't have to have sex to do that."

Sarah has looked into the condition and believes it may have been triggered by her taking anti-depressants.

She said: "I've found studies that say that taking anti-depressants and then stopping has an effect on the sexual organs. That is the only thing that explains what happens to me.

"But I've heard of other girls who have the same problem and it just appears out of the blue. I've spoken to my doctor about it but she wasn't a great deal of help but that's mainly because there's very little known about it and no one yet knows how to cure it."

Thanks to her understanding friends and colleagues, Sarah feels like she can now live with PSAS.

She said: "I'm lucky because people around me are very kind and appreciate that sometimes this is a problem for me and it can be embarrassing.

"I need to concentrate on something sad or worrying when I talk to people and I don't want to get carried away."

During our 40-minute interview, Sarah told us she had five orgasms.

Years of dealing with the problem means that sometimes she can hide it quite well.

Her voice goes high pitched and she will lose her train of thought and have to stop talking completely for a few seconds. She says disguises this by coughing when she is in awkward situations.

"But it's also nice to have so much excitement every day! It's strange because it came from nowhere and I guess it could go away just as quickly, so I'm making the most of it while it lasts!"

Mum on the run: Pregnant teen flees to Ireland to escape social workers she fears will take her baby

A mother-to-be has fled to Ireland because she fears social services are planning to seize her newborn child and have it adopted.

Sam Thomas, 19, left Britain alone, despite being heavily pregnant.

She discovered that her social worker had told the local hospital not to let her leave the maternity ward with her child - a girl - without social services being involved.

The county council has not obtained a court order giving it authority to keep Miss Thomas in the hospital, and she has no history of being a danger to children - yet social workers appear convinced she is unfit to care for her baby.

Last night an MP who is campaigning against local authorities' power to remove children from their parents and have them adopted said he was aware of the case.

Liberal Democrat John Hemming claimed that the local authority had been heavy-handed.

In some cases, he said, fearful parents feel they have no option other than to flee to Ireland or Sweden, where it is difficult for councils to take children away from them.

'Miss Thomas is right to worry that if the new baby is taken into care after birth she might end up getting adopted,' he said.

Miss Thomas, staying in bed and breakfast accommodation in Ireland, said: 'All I want is the opportunity to prove I can be a fit mother - but I feel like I'm on the run.

'It's the only way to make sure I can have my baby girl and be with her in peace.'

She had been living in Yeovil, Somerset, with her mother Carol Hughes and looking forward to the birth of her first child.

She became concerned, however, at Somerset County Council's growing interest in the birth, due in early October - and says it soon became clear that there was a risk she would not be able to keep her child.

Miss Thomas accepts that she has harmed herself and taken an overdose in the past, but insists she has not been troubled by problems related to depression for two years.

Yet council documents show her past difficulties are still considered serious.

There is a further issue surrounding claims that she has failed to take medication for a health condition related to blood-clotting.

She feared a child protection conference arranged for today would result in her child being taken from her.

A letter sent by Somerset County Council social worker Carly Barrett to Yeovil District Hospital earlier this month instructed that after the birth 'under no circumstances must Miss Thomas be discharged without Children's Social Care involvement'.

Miss Thomas fled to Wexford last week, where she is signed up with a GP and is in contact with Irish social services. She plans to name her daughter Ellie-Jay.

She said: 'I don't want to be here - but I feel I have no choice.

'Social services have made me out to be an unfit mother but everything in their reports is either wrong, or out of context. They're not listening to anything I've got to say.'

Miss Thomas's mother Carol is supporting her emotionally and financially from back home in Yeovil.

Somerset County Council said it could not discuss individual cases.

She became concerned, however, at Somerset County Council's growing interest in the birth, due in early.

Author risks fury of millions of women with a claim that THEY are to blame when husbands stray

It is a philosophy sure to enrage every cheated wife.

A counsellor turned author claims that women are to blame for their husbands' indiscretions.

Psychotherapist Gary Neuman has written a guide to changes that women should make in order to stop their partners from straying.

It is the second book in a week that recommends women take a subservient role in marriage.

Mr Neuman's advice includes always forgiving him, providing sex on demand and taking an interest in his hobbies.

In his book, Advice in The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It, he says a woman should praise her man for providing for the family, even if she earns more than him.

The author, who has been featured on Oprah Winfrey's TV show and in Time magazine, claims his book is 'dedicated to helping wives'.

But not all women appreciated the recommendations.

'This is an appalling book,' said Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist and author. 'It's more like dog-training than being in an honest, successful, adult relationship.'

Dorothy Ramsay, chairman of the Association for Family Therapy, questioned whether the book was written as a joke. She said: 'It depends whether you see marriage as so worthwhile that it's worth sacrificing one human being to sustain it.'

Mr Neuman said he was just trying to give women some useful advice.

He questioned 25,500 faithful and unfaithful men and found almost 90 per cent linked cheating to some 'significant dissatisfaction' in their marriage.

He added: 'Men will eventually find their way into the arms of another if they are not getting enough sex at home.'

The Re-education Of The Female, which tells women to follow their man's orders if they want to keep him, has been a recent success in the U.S.

It says that women should wear sexy clothes while doing the cooking and cleaning.

And despite first-time author Dante Moore's chauvinist opinions, copies have been flying off the shelves in America.

One piece of advice reads: 'Here's a little secret, ladies. Men never really ask for anything. They command. And believe me, what you won't do, ten broads around the corner will.'

When a rape case should not go to court, by Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren was engulfed in controversy over the prosecution of date-rapists last night.

In an interview, the actress said women who are raped after willingly going to bed with a man cannot expect their attackers to be charged.

The 63-year-old, who won an Oscar last year for playing the Queen, said date-rape was a 'tricky area' and something men and women had to work out between themselves.

She said she was herself date-raped twice when she was young but did not report the attacks because 'you couldn't do that in those days'.

Her comments brought an angry reaction from Solicitor General Vera Baird, who said it was a 'dangerous' thing to say at a time when rape victims were being encouraged to come forward.

Dame Helen's comments came in an interview with GQ magazine, in which she also admitted she used to 'love' cocaine.

She said that if a woman voluntarily ended up in a man's bedroom, took her clothes off and engaged in sexual activity, she still had the right to say 'no' at the last second.

If the man ignored her, Dame Helen said, that was rape. But she continued: 'I don't
think she can have that man into court under those circumstances. I guess it is one of the many subtle parts of the men-women relationship that has to be negotiated and worked out between them.'

Mrs Baird, who has long fought for the rights of rape victims, said: 'It is a pity, because she is a much-admired person.

'We want women to report rape with the confidence that - albeit slowly - conviction rates are getting better. It really is a shame to cast doubt at the edges of what she thinks might not be rape.'

Dame Helen said young women now were better at standing up for themselves.

'Times have changed,' she said. 'I hate young girls going around beating each other up, but I love the fierceness of young girls nowadays, and the way they just say, '**** off', because I wish I'd been taught to say '**** off' when I was younger. I wish I'd had those words in my arsenal of self-defence.

'Instead, I was polite and didn't have the courage to say that to men who wouldn't accept "no" for an answer. I was very innocent when I went to college in London. I went to a convent school and had never spent a night away from home or gone to parties or any of that.

'I found guys were horrible, mean, rude, insulting, and so without feeling. I was looking for love and for someone who just liked me and I just met all these creeps.'

She recalled: 'I was [date-raped], yes. A couple of times. Not with excessive violence, but rather being locked in a room and made to have sex against my will. It's such a tricky area, isn't it? Especially if there is no violence. I mean, look at Mike Tyson [the boxer jailed for raping beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room]. I don't think he was a rapist.'

Dame Helen revealed that she took cocaine until the early 1980s, when she would have been in her late 30s.

She claimed that she only gave up the drug after the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie was caught, and found to be making money from the Class A drug.

Asked whether she had ever taken any illegal substances she said: 'A bit of dope when I was younger.'

She added: 'A bit of cocaine. I loved coke. I never did a lot, just a little bit at parties.

'But what ended it for me was when they caught Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, in the early Eighties.

'He was hiding in South America and living off the proceeds of being a cocaine baron.

'And I read that in the paper, and all the cards fell into place and I saw how my little sniff of cocaine at a party had an absolute direct route to this f******* horrible man in South America.

'And from that day I never touched cocaine again. Until that moment I had never grasped the full horrifying structure of what brings coke to our parties in Britain.

Barbie was the head of the Gestapo in Lyon during WWII when he personally tortured prisoners and was said to be responsible for the deaths of at least 4,000 people.

In 1987, at the age of 73, he was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity after he was found guilty of 341 separate charges.

In one incident 44 children were rounded up from a farmhouse east of Lyon and sent to their deaths on Barbie's command.

Dame Helen added: 'Not every drug has that structure, of course. Marijuana grown in the back garden is not the same, obviously.

'I hated it (marijuana). Dope always made me feel miserable and paranoid and unhappy. And I woke up one day and thought, no more of that, thank you.'

The actress, who said she shoplifted food when she was younger, has previously admitted once trying the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

The star found the experience - during a stroll in the countryside with a group of bohemian friends while in her 20s - so horrifying she vowed never to touch the drug again.

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