15.August 2018 NEW YORKNow68°F
AdminAugust 11, 2018
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2min35

Over time, the traffic situation in the city is becoming more and more frustrating as the population continues to explode. When it comes to driving in the city, being caught in traffic is really undesirable.

Traffic Light System

Luckily, some researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have come up with a solution. They have claimed that they have discovered a way to reduce a city driver’s travel time by up to 40%, as well as lower carbon emission, lessen congestion, and prevent accidents.

Virtual Traffic Lights and How it Works

Virtual Traffic Lights, which is an emerging vehicle-to-vehicle technology, is primarily designed for road efficiency. The concept behind it is to transfer the traffic control from fixed street signals to the cars themselves.

virtual traffic

“This technology basically buys you universal traffic control in each intersection,” Ozan Tonguz, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, explained. “The system makes traffic lights smart in the sense that it takes into consideration the number of vehicles that are present in each direction, and so it adjusts the cycle duration.”

In addition, Tonguz said that Virtual Traffic Light technology can be used as a standalone technology for traffic management. He even added, “The Virtual Traffic Light could also be used in combination with autonomous cars and congestion pricing, which is used by IBM and several other companies in different countries to mitigate congestion during rush hours.”

To explain how the technology actually works, Ozan Tonguz has provided a simple explanation: “When the driver is looking through the windshield, they’ll see that going straight is a green light, and turning right is a red light. It’s a seamless process as the driver doesn’t need to get involved in this decision-making process.”

After the driver has passed through the intersection, the virtual traffic light will automatically disappear.

Goals of Virtual Traffic Lights

The startup company truly has something going on with this technology, and they have a very venerable set of goals like aiming for a greener environment, for instance.

The most important goal of Virtual Traffic Lights is to give people their life back. Surely, most people believe that time is precious. Time lost cannot be taken back, after all. The average driver spends 15 hours each week just commuting. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to cut that time in half and give people more time to spend with their loved ones?

Traffic signs

Since less time is being spent on the road, we have more time to spend doing what we love to do; there is increased productivity not only in work but also in the personal lives of people. That is another goal of Virtual Traffic Lights.

Another goal is to improve general safety and reduce traffic fatalities. Because the technology can effectively function as a traffic system anywhere and because traffic lights at every intersection improve safety, there is a substantial increase in safety on highways and other road segments.

As mentioned earlier, having a greener environment is also a goal of Virtual Traffic Lights. Because drivers spend less time on the road, it leads to less pollution and reduction in carbon footprint of vehicles.

Lastly, Virtual Traffic Lights hope to improve the health and quality of life of people. It cannot be denied that traffic tends to induce stress, road rage, and pollution; all of which are bad for people’s health. And so if people spend less time getting stuck in traffic, their health and quality of life are considerably improved.

When it Will Be Available in the Market

Trafic It isn’t clear yet when the Virtual Traffic Lights will be sold in the market since it hasn’t been tested in a real-world setting. In fact, the biggest obstacle of Virtual Traffic Lights is to get the government to test the system in the real world.

When asked about it, Tonguz only said, “In my mind, the argument here is so compelling, the benefits so compelling; it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.”


AdminAugust 10, 2018
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2min68

X-ray vision is one of the world’s most popular superpowers. Young boys all over the world, at some point, even wished to have this superpower but could only resign to daydreaming about it.

X-ray vision

Presently, that is about to change because, for the past ten years, scientists from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT are doing their best to bring us closer to seeing through walls.

AI that Equates to Having a Superpower

The “RF-Pose”, which is the latest project of a team of scientists at MIT, uses artificial intelligence in order to instruct wireless devices to sense people’s poses and gestures, even when they are obstructed from view.

The team uses a neural network in order to analyze radio signals, which usually bounce off people’s bodies, and then generate a dynamic stick figure that walks, sits, and stands as the person performs those actions. Moreover, the system doesn’t even have to see to know how someone is walking, sitting, or standing.

In order to train the neural network, the MIT scientists collected samples of people walking using both wireless signal pings and cameras. Now, those camera footages were processed to create stick figures to substitute real people.

The scientists complemented that data with radio waves, and that combined data was used by researchers to teach the neural network. With a deep-seated connection between the stick figures and the RF data, stick figures are successfully created based on radio wave reflections.

RF data

Fascinatingly, the camera can’t actually see through the walls. So, it is clear that the system was never explicitly trained in recognizing people on the other side of an obstacle. The only reason that it works is that the radio waves bounce off a person on the other side of a wall, just like how they would do when they’re in the same room. Moreover, the system also works with many people crossing paths.

Overcoming the Challenges

One of the hurdles that the scientists had to overcome is that a majority of neural networks are trained using data labeled by hand; for instance, a neural network that is taught to recognize dogs needs people to look at a big dataset of images and label each one as either “dog” or “not dog”. Manually labeling radio signals, on the other hand, proves to be quite difficult.

Overcoming

So as to deal with this concern, the scientists gathered images of people doing activities like standing, walking, sitting, and opening doors. Afterward, they used these images to generate stick figures, which they presented to the neural network together with the matching radio signal. This enabled the system to learn the connection between the radio signal and the stick figures of the people in the scene.

Practical Uses of RF-Pose

According to the scientists, there are quite a few practical applications for RF-Pose; one of them is to monitor diseases, such as Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy, in order to provide a better understanding of the disease and will allow doctors to make modifications to the medications correspondingly.

RF-Pose

The scientists also said that RF-Pose could also help elderly people live more independently by offering an extra security of monitoring for falls, injuries, and changes in activity patterns.

At present, the team is working with doctors to discover future applications of RF-Pose in health care. Apart from health care, the scientists state that RF-Pose could possibly be used for new classes of video games and also in search-and-rescue missions that would need help in locating survivors. Now that’s what I would call a superhero power.


AdminJuly 30, 2018
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2min132

Ways of committing crimes have drastically evolved throughout the years; from cavemen using sticks and stones to modern men using devious tactics to steal, kill, and dupe other people. As the world continued to advance, people also found ingenious ways and developed sophisticated technology to help them protect their properties and well-being in general.

At present, you will see that most gadgets employ artificial intelligence software and various technologies, like biometrics, for instance. Some devices use fingerprint scanners; others scan your entire face; other devices just scan your iris.

Differentiate Dead Eyeballs

As people got smarter in setting up safeguards, most thieves adapted and learned how to circumvent these safety measures. Speaking about theories, it is believed that iris scanners can be duped by using an eyeball plucked from another person. For those of you who have read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, you will probably remember that the antimatter was stolen because the thief cuts out the physicist’s eyes and used it to fool the biometric scanners. That, indeed, is a pretty disturbing thought.

So, now, the most important question that should be asked is this: “Is there any way for iris scanners to confirm if a scanned eyeball belongs to a living person?” Recently, a group of researchers based in Poland have studied whether a machine learning system could tell between living eyeballs from dead ones.

What Exactly is Iris Recognition

To inform you a little about iris scanners, it uses iris recognition in its processes. Now, iris recognition is an automated process of biometric identification that utilizes mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of one or both of the irises; its complex patterns are distinctive and stable, and it can be seen from a distance.

Some people might confuse iris recognition with retinal scanning. In order to point out the difference between the two, retinal scanning is an ocular-based biometric technology that uses the distinct patterns on an individual’s retina blood vessels and is frequently confused with iris recognition. Iris recognition, on the other hand, uses video camera technology with subtle near-infrared illumination to obtain imagery of the intricate and detailed structures of the iris that are visible.

What Exactly is Iris Recognition

How Dead Eyeballs can be Distinguished from Living Ones

Thanks to Mateusz Trokielewicz at Warsaw University of Technology in Poland and a couple of his colleagues, we may have an answer to that glaring question. This group of researchers has created a database of irises that were scanned from both living people and dead bodies and then trained a machine-learning algorithm to recognize the difference.

Trokielewicz says that their algorithm can differentiate a living iris from a dead one with an accuracy of 99%. Even with this high accuracy percentage, is it still possible to beat the detection system?

Mateusz Trokielewicz at Warsaw University of Technology

Efforts in Fool-proofing the System

The system was made fail-safe by means of an unusual database: the Warsaw BioBase PostMortem Iris dataset that contains 574 near-infrared iris images that were gathered from 17 people at different times of death; the dates of the images range from five hours to 34 days after death.

The group of researchers also gathered 256 images of live irises. In order to avoid future technical hitches, they were cautious enough to use the same iris camera that was used on the cadavers. They also cropped the images so that only the iris is shown in order to further fool-proof their results.

Efforts in Fool-proofing the System

Even though Trokielewicz and his colleagues were able to yield very good results, there is still one drawback: the system’s accuracy does not apply to fresh irises. It can only produce a valid result to irises that have been dead for 16 hours or more.

Certainly, this will give thieves and criminals a window of opportunity to perform their wicked deeds, but it will also undeniably give people some comfort in knowing that plucked eyeballs will eventually lose their ability to dupe the system in just a few hours.


AdminJuly 21, 2018
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2min135

During the last few decades, technology has been continually evolving in a rapid fashion. It started with the rise of the Internet and smartphones. Aside from that, other smart gadgets and technologies began to circulate the market as well.

At present, breakthrough technology is dramatically changing how things work in various industries in countless and unexpected ways. For instance, modern technology makes it easier for people to make accommodation and travel arrangements, and so technological advancement has boosted tourism and travel.

If you look at the manufacturing industry, technology has also played a key part in assisting production with the help of the computational power and data availability that it provides. Technology has also helped other industries such as farming, healthcare, automotive, music, and transportation.

In short, technology has been an indispensable factor in changing various industries and helping them to thrive and survive in better ways than they did before.

Below you will read about some of the hand-picked breakthrough technologies that are included in this year’s MIT Technology Review.

MIT Technology Review

3-D Metal Printing

3-D printing began as far back as 1981, but it was mostly used by hobbyist and also for designing purposes. Currently, however, 3D printing has been viewed as a sensible approach in manufacturing metal parts. 3-D printers can easily make metal objects quickly and, most importantly, in a cheaper way.

Looking at it as a whole, this technology is capable of making large and complex-looking metal objects and parts that are on demand. It could, in turn, potentially transform manufacturing as we know it and open up new doors of possibilities and opportunities.

The current key players of 3-D metal printing are Mark forged, Desktop Metal, and GE.

3-D Metal Printing

Artificial Embryos

This technological breakthrough has given a completely different meaning to how life can be created. Experts working at the University of Cambridge have cultivated real-looking mouse embryos just by using stem cells. No egg or sperm was required; just stem cells that were harvested from another embryo.

This breakthrough of artificial embryos will certainly open up new doors for us to better understand how life develops. However, it also poses various concerns such as ethical and, surprisingly, even philosophical problems.

The current key players of artificial embryos are the University of Cambridge, University of Michigan, and Rockefeller University.

Artificial Embryos

Cloud-based AI Services

Artificial Intelligence has always been making huge splashes in various industries; however, it is dominated by only a select few. Now, by making it a cloud-based service, AI can easily be available to many others and offer the economy a significant boost.

The current key players of Cloud-based AI services are Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. Together they are working to increase people’s access to machine learning and artificial intelligence and make it relatively affordable and easy to use.

Cloud-based AI Services

Babel Fish Earbuds

Ever since time immemorial, language has always been one of the greatest barriers to communication and it still is. With the help of near-real-time translation, people can have their conversation in different languages and in near real-time, which is not just effective but also efficient.

It has been reported that the earbuds are still in their early stages, but it cannot be denied that the underlying technology in this is truly promising.

Babel Fish Earbuds

These are truly exciting times as technology advances with blinding speed.  It is just as hard to imagine what the next 20 years will bring just as it is was hard for us to imagine what today would be like 20 years ago.  What is truly extraordinary about breakthroughs today is that they are spreading out into different industries rapidly, and are no longer mostly just limited to just a few industries, like the way they were 20 years ago.


AdminJuly 19, 2018
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2min149

Who hasn’t experienced losing their earphones? We either lose them or they occasionally fall out. Plus, they don’t really look all that great and don’t really match well with most outfits.

One Kickstarter project seeks to solve that problem with the Swings Bluetooth Earrings. These are really lovely earrings, which anyone could wear to match their outfits, and they also double as earphones.

Swings Bluetooth Earrings

Swings Bluetooth Earrings and its Concept

The company behind the Swings Bluetooth Earrings is called Scandi Electronics. They designed the earrings to double as earphones; you only need to swing the drop earrings around in order to use it as earphones.

Once the earbud is in your ear, it automatically starts playing your songs. It even has a noise-canceling capability and has a five-hour battery life. On top of that, you will never have to worry that they will fall out. Not only does the piercing make it easy to wear Swings Bluetooth Earrings, but they also provide some stability when they are in use.

Conversely, Swings doesn’t only function as an accessory and earphone. The earrings are also equipped with microphones and AI support for Siri, Alexa, and Google.

The concept of the Swings Bluetooth Earrings is quite simple; that is, to create something gorgeous but also practical. That might sound easy, but it’s really not. In fact, there are only a small number of wearable techs that actually look as eye-catching as jewelry.

Swings Bluetooth Earrings and earbuds in ears noise cancelling capability

Designs of Swings Bluetooth Bluetooth Earrings

Swings Bluetooth Earrings come in two different models: the basic earrings (Swings) and the athletic version (Swings Sport).

The original Swings have a classic design and will most likely become a go-to accessory since they look great and can match with nearly any outfit; however, they don’t only look great, they are also supposed to be quite comfortable to wear. The earrings are lightweight and have silicone comfort-cap backs that let you use them even while sleeping.

With regard to the color scheme, you can select from three color versions available: Silver/White, Gold/White, and Rose Gold/White.

For sporty ladies, there is also a pair that is specially designed for their active lifestyle. These earrings are called the Swings Sport. Instead of the metal detail, Swings Sport features lightweight silicone bands that make them shock-proof as well as sweat-resistant. Its sleek all-black design will definitely look great with any gym clothes.

Designs of Swings Bluetooth Bluetooth Earrings

The Technology of Swings Bluetooth Earrings

The Swings Bluetooth Earrings feature quite a number of technologies that make it not only gorgeous but also practical. The most important of which is the Bluetooth 5.0 and Precision drivers for truly amazing sound quality, which also pairs well with iPhone, Mac, iPad, and Android among others.

The earrings also feature dual microphones, with each earpiece having its own microphone. There’s also the Noise Cancellation Technology for superior call quality, the battery life of five hours when fully charged, the 24-hour battery life case, the silicone comfort-cap back, and the stability-providing, hypoallergenic, nickel-free stainless steel posts.

Furthermore, the Swings Bluetooth Earrings also feature Touch Sensors/Motion Accelerometers, which controls audio and enables the earphone to start playing as soon as it is placed in the ear. Not to mention that it is extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear.

Personally, I think that this earring-earphone concept will be a hit. I think that this is a start to solving small and silly problems for women and that it proves that gadgets aren’t just devices, that they can also be used to make a statement and show a person’s style.


AdminJuly 18, 2018
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2min105

HoloLens, which is Microsoft’s expensive face computer, was initially made for mixing digital images with the real world. Then later, a group of researchers at the California Institute of Technology found out that this piece of technology can surprisingly be really good at a completely unanticipated application, which is to help blind people find their way through buildings and offer them a better sense of where things are located around them.

HoloLens, a Wayfinding Device for Blind People

The HoloLens is a head-mounted display unit that is connected to an adjustable, cushioned inner headband, which can tilt the HoloLens up and down, as well as forward and backward.

The front part of the unit is composed mostly of sensors and related hardware, which includes the cameras and processors. The visor is tinted, and enclosed in it is a pair of transparent combiner lenses where the projected images are displayed. The HoloLens must be calibrated to the interpupillary distance (IPD), which is the accustomed vision of the user.

In order to wear the unit, you must fit the HoloLens on your head and use an adjustment wheel at the back of the headband to secure it around the crown, while also supporting and distributing the weight of the unit equally for comfort, before tilting the visor towards the front of the eyes.

HoloLens, through the application of the HPU, uses sensual and natural interface commands gaze, gesture, and voice (which are sometimes referred to as “GGV” inputs).

Gaze commands, such as head-tracking, allow you to bring application focus to whatever you perceive. “Elements”, or any virtual application or button, are selected using an air tap method, which is similar to clicking an imaginary computer mouse. The air tap can be held for a drag simulation to move an element, as well as voice commands for certain commands and actions.

HoloLens can run virtually all Universal Windows Platform applications, and these applications appear as 2D projections. Not all Windows 10 APIs are currently supported by HoloLens, but in most cases, the same app is able to run across all Windows 10 devices, which includes HoloLens.

HoloLens, a Wayfinding Device for Blind People

Design Principle of HoloLens

According to the researchers at the California Institute of Technology, HoloLens’s design principle was to give sounds to all relevant objects in the environment. To put it simply, each object in the user’s surroundings can “talk” to the user with a voice that comes from the object’s location. When the user gets closer to the object, the pitch of the voice increases. The user has several modes of control to select which objects will speak: Scan, Spotlight, and Target.

In Scan mode, the objects call out their names in succession from left to right to give a quick summary of the surrounding environment. In Spotlight mode, the object that is directly in front of the user speaks, which allows the user to explore the surroundings by moving their head. In Target mode, the user picks one object that calls frequently at the press of a clicker. Obstacles and walls emit a hissing sound as the user gets too close.

Using HoloLens’s synchronized mapping capacity; the unit’s headset can create a complex interior map of a campus building. The headset’s speaker has a surround sound quality, which acts as a dynamic audio guide that navigates the person through the building by instructing them when to walk upstairs and turn left or right, or if there are available guide rails to grip.

Design Principle of HoloLens

Testing the HoloLens

To test the effectiveness of the HoloLens, the researchers recruited seven blind people to test it out. Each one of them was given a brief presentation but no training and then asked to complete a selection of tasks.

Based on the results of the experiment, the participants were able to reliably find and point to objects from audio cues, and they were able to locate a chair in a room in a fraction of the time that they normally would, as well as being able to avoid obstacles easily.

The researchers say that neither training nor modification of the physical environment is required to use any of HoloLens’s modes, and blind subjects will be able to navigate an unfamiliar multi-story building on their first attempt.

Testing the HoloLens

HoloLens does seem to be a promising technology, not only for the blind but also for people with sight, and I do hope that this will encourage developments to improve awareness of using augmented auditory reality to convey the things we cannot see.



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