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+ - Samsung's ARTIK Arduino Compatible From Small To Powerful ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Samsung has woken up to the Internet of Things (IoT) and decided to provide the foundation that it needs. Three new devices — ARTIK 1, 5 and 10 — span the range from tiny wearable to eight core ARM and all Arduino Certified.
The ARTIK 1 is tiny measuring just 12x12mm and is capable of running on a battery for weeks. It has a dual core processor, 1MB of RAM and 4MB Flash. It communicates with the outside world using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and it has a 9-axis motion sensor.
The ARTIK 5 is about twice the size of the ARTIK 1, but still small at 29x25mm. It has an ARM A7 dual core, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of Flash. This means it can run Yocto Linux. It has WiFi as well as BLE, Bluetooth and ZigBee — which more or less covers everything. It is also large enough to have two 30-pin connectors which provide 47 GPIO and more.
The ARTIK 10 is 29x39mm, making it big compared to the ARTIK 1, but you could still lose it in your pocket. It has an Octa Core ARM running at 1.3GHz. It comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB of Flash and runs Yocto Linux. It also has WiFi/BT/BLE and ZigBee. It has the same video codecs as the ARTIK 5, but with its increased processing power it can work at 1080p at 120fps. Its I/O is also bigger with 51 GPIO and 6 ADCs.
All three devices have hardware security built in, camera support, and they can be programmed in C/C++/Java or Groovy. You can use the standard Arduino IDE or the Samsung SDK.
There is clearly a lot we don't know as yet, but the ARTIK range look like an interesting addition to the Arduino world.
What's in it for Samsung? Well, of course, it wants to be the one to provide you the cloud support that everyone seems to assume is going to be bigger than the IoT itself.

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+ - Microsoft's AI Insults People By Telling Them How Old They Are->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: A Microsoft Research project that lets users upload photos and estimates their age and gender has attracted more attention than expected — not all of it complimentary.
The How-Old.net site demonstrates of some of the capabilities of the Face API included in Microsoft's Project Oxford that was announced at Build.
It may have been expected to be a source of amusement but instead it backfired when people started to upload their own photos and discovered just how wrong its estimates could be. It demonstrates not only that machine learning has a long way to go before it's good at estimating age, but also that machine learning may not be the most politically correct way to go about answering the question "How Old Do I look". It might be better to employ and algorithm that built in all the rules of how to make a polite answer to that request — such as always knock a decade off the age of anyone over 28.
Perhaps this particular neural network needs to learn some social skills before pronouncing how old people look.
However it is capable of telling some truths — a photo of Barak Obama in 2005 gives an estimated age of 46, close to his real age of 44, but just 9 years later in 2014 the age guessing robot places him at 65. It seems that Mr President aged 20 years in less than 10 years of office.
Any one want to be President?

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+ - Reboot Your Dreamliner Every 248 Days To Avoid Integer Overflow ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: You may be used to rebooting a server every so often to ensure that it doesn't crash because of some resource problem, but what about a modern jet airliner like the Boeing 787?
A recent directive (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/05/01/2015-10066/airworthiness-directives-the-boeing-company-airplanes) from the US Federal Aviation Administration reminds us that software in planes is about as trustworth as on the desktop.
To quote:
"This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs (Generator Control Units) that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane."
A simple guess suggests the the problem is a signed 32-bit overflow as 2^31 is the number of seconds in 248 days multiplied by 100, i.e. a 32 bit signed counter in hundredths of of a second.
Until there is a patch for the problem all Dreamliners have to be rebooted before the 248 day period is up. Apparently if the worse does happen and the GCUs overflow and switch off the power then the plane should have enough backup power from a lithium-ion battery for about 6 seconds while a ram air turbine deploys for emergency power generation. So, with luck, this isn't a bug that could cause planes to fall out of the sky.
It is estimated that the Airbus A380, comparable in complexity to the Dreamliner, has more than 100 million lines of code.

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+ - Seeing Buildings Shake With Software ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: In 2012 a team from MIT CSAIL discovered that you could get motion magnification by applying filtering algorithms to the color changes of individual pixels. The method didn't track movement directly, but instead used the color changes that result from the movement.
Now another MIT team has attempted to put the technique to use in monitoring structures — to directly see the vibrations in buildings, bridges and other constructions. Currently such monitoring involves instrumenting the building with accelerometers. This is expensive and doesn't generally give a complete "picture" of what is happening to the building. It would be much simpler to point a video camera at the building and use motion magnification software to really see the vibrations and this is exactly what the team are trying out. Yes you can see the building move — in real time — and it seems to be a good match to what traditional monitoring methods say is happening.
The next stage is to use the method to monitor MIT's Green Building, the Zakim Bridge and the John Hancock Tower in Boston. I wonder if they will put up a monitor to allow people in the buildings, or passing over the bridge, to see just how much they move! It could be an unnerving experience.

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+ - Intel Showcases RealSense 3D Camera Applications And Technologies In New York->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid writes: Intel gathered a number of its OEM and software partners together in New York City recently to showcase the latest innovations that the company's RealSense 3D camera technology can enable. From new interactive gaming experiences to video collaboration, 3D mapping and gesture controls, Intel's front-facing RealSense technology holds promise that could someday reinvent how we interact with PCs. The F200 RealSense camera module itself integrates a depth sensor and a full color 1080p HD camera together with standard technologies like dual array mics, but with an SDK, on-board processing engine and 3rd party software that can allow the camera module to sense numerous environmental variables, much more like a human does. In the demos that were shown, RealSense was used to create an accurate 3D map of a face, in a matter of seconds, track gestures and respond to voice commands, allow touch-free interaction in a game, and remove backgrounds from a video feed in real-time, for more efficient video conferencing and collaboration.
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+ - Intent To Deprecate HTTP -> 2

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: A suggestion on the Mozilla Dev forum aims to deprecate HTTP in favour of HTTPS. Has it really come to this? Browser devs dictating the protocols we use? Of course, it is all in the name of freedom.
The basic idea is that HTTPS is more secure — it stops government agencies spying on what we do and it stops man-in-the-middle attacks. Hence there is a growing belief that all web traffic should be encrypted and hence the move to deprecate HTTP and phase out browser support for it.
The problem is that to use HTTPS you need to buy a certificate and this isn't cheap. The solution is to make use of a self-signed certificate which provides encryption but not authentication. At the moment this isn't an easy option, but initiatives like the EFF's Let's Encrypt promises a service that will provide free certificates with some automatic domain validation and a database of certificates. This is makes using "lightly validated" certificates a possibility, but at the moment browsers tend to put up warning messages when you encounter a website that has a self-signed certificate. This makes an HTTPS site using a self-signed certificate look more risky than an HTTP site that has no encryption at all!
This is a very complicated situation. It is clear that there are situations were HTTPS is essential and there are many situations were it is largely irrelevant and actually harmful.
Which to us is not a decision that should be left to browser developers.

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+ - Intel Boss Controls Robot Spider Army ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: At the recent Intel Developer Forum, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took to the stage to demo its latest system-on-a-chip controlling an army of spiderbots.
OK it wasn't an army it was just four but in principle it could have been.
The Curie, announced back in January, might be Intel's best chance of getting more than a foothold in the IoT market. It is tiny button-like device that has a complete Intel Quark SoC and some sensors built in — 384K of Flash and 80K of SRAM to run the open source RTOS operating system. What is remarkable is that it also crams in Bluetooth LE, DSP hub and 6-axis accelerometer and gyro.
A small wristband containing a Curie monitored Krzanich's arm position and gestures and connected via Bluetooth to four spiderbots. You need to see the video to appreciate how spooky this is.
What is it with Intel and spiders? To show off its Edison processor Intel helped create a spider dress that reacted to protect the wearer's personal space if someone came to close, see Spider Dress Defends Your Space.
Now it has a bunch of spiders under the CEO's personal command. Perhaps this is how they plan to finish off ARM and any other competitors. Be afraid, be very afraid....

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+ - Festo's Robot Ants And Butterflies ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects.
BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers.

The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fibre rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes.
Both devices push the boundaries of miniature robotics and they just look so good...

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+ - Magic Leap's New Game Changer? ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Magic Leap is a secretive company promising to deliver Virtual Reality that will change everything. It was going to show off a first-person real world shoot-em up at TED, but suddenly pulled out. Why is unclear, but the company seems to be happy to show the video it would have used in the TED talk.If you take a look.
OK, you have probably seen it all before and yes this could, and probably is, a mock-up rather than the real thing — but it doesn't matter you want to play it. If you look at its publicity material what you see are lots of things that are typical of VR, but none of the viewers are wearing any sort of VR headset. This is the "magic" part of the leap. The best guess is that the Digital Lightfield that they claim to have invented is most probably a fibre optic device that projects light straight into the retina so that it merges with the light from the real scene. So you might have to wear a device but it will be small and it should produce a natural VR effect.

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+ - GCHQ Builds A Raspberry Pi Super Computer Cluster ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA, has created a 66 Raspberry Pi cluster called the Bramble for "educational" purposes. What educational purposes isn't exactly clear but you do associate super computers with spooks and spies. It seems that there was an internal competition to invent something and three, unnamed, GCHQ technologists decided that other Pi clusters were too ad-hoc. They set themselves the target of creating a cluster that could be reproduced as a standard architecture to create a commodity cluster.
The basic unit of the cluster is a set of eight networked Pis, called an "OctaPi" — one thing you have to admit is that the Raspberry Pi name lends itself to silly variations. Each OctaPi can be used standalone or hooked up to make a bigger cluster. In the case of the Bramble a total of eight OctaPis makes the cluster 64 processors strong. In addition there are two head control nodes, which couple the cluster to the outside world. Each head node has one Pi, a wired and WiFi connection, realtime clock, a touch screen and a camera.
This is where the story becomes really interesting. Rather than just adopt a standard cluster application like Hadoop, OctaPi's creators decided to develop their own. After three iterations, the software to manage the cluster is now based on Node.js, Bootstrap and Angular.
So what is it all for?
The press release says that:
"The initial aim for the cluster was as a teaching tool for GCHQ’s software engineering community."
and then goes on to say:
"The ultimate aim is to use the OctaPi concept in schools to help teach efficient and effective programming. Watch this space for more details!"
The second point seems a bit unlikely.
Is it going to be open source?
Given that this is a GCHQ creation it seems unlikely, but we can hope.

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+ - Classic Mac Icons Archive Bought By MOMA ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Susan Kare is the artist responsible for many of the classic Mac icons that are universally recognized. Now her impact as a pioneering and influential computer iconographer has been recognized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
She designed all of her early icons on graph paper, with one square representing each pixel. Now this archive of sketches has been acquired by MoMA, jointly with San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and has gone on show as part of a new exhibition, This is for Everyone: Design Experiments For The Common Good.
So now you can think of the smiling mac, the pointing finger and scissors as high art.

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+ - Nao's Creator Quits Aldebaran As Pepper Goes On Sale ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Bruno Maisonnier, founder of Aldebaran, the French company that brought us the friendly humanoid robot Nao, is standing down as its CEO. This coincides with the availability, in Japan, of company's latest creation Pepper which has quickly established itself in a hospitality role. At Bruno Maisonnier's request SoftBank,which already owned a majority share, will purchase all his shares in the company he founded in 2005. Pepper was created for SoftBank a Japanese phone company and now basically it is on sale for an upfront fee of $1,600 followed by a subscription of $206 per month for 3 years for access to Softbank’s cloud-based artificial intelligence software.
However its main purpose seems to be in the role of a greetings robot at the door to the store, a role that even Nao seems to be getting involved in. It is arguable that a "greetings" robot is really only something that could be a success in countries that have the same cultural background as Japan. Try to imagine the customer reaction to being formally greeted by a Pepper-like robot in a US phone store — the novelty would wear off very quickly.
This probably isn't the future Maisonnier had in mind for his creations.

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+ - Replacing the Turing Test -> 1

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: A plan is afoot to replace the Turing test as a measure of a computer's ability to think. The idea is for an annual or bi-annual Turing Championship consisting of three to five different challenging tasks.
A recent workshop at the 2015 AAAI Conference of Artificial Intelligence was chaired by Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at New York University. His opinion is that the Turing Test had reached its expiry date and has become
"an exercise in deception and evasion.”
Marcus points out:
the real value of the Turing Test comes from the sense of competition it sparks amongst programmers and engineers
which has motivated the new initiative for a multi-task competition.
The one of the tasks is based on Winograd Schemas. This requires participants to grasp the meaning of sentences that are easy for humans to understand through their knowledge of the world. One simple example is:
The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big. What was too big?
Another suggestion is for the program to answer questions about a TV program:
No existing program—not Watson, not Goostman, not Siri—can currently come close to doing what any bright, real teenager can do: watch an episode of “The Simpsons,” and tell us when to laugh.
Another is called the "ikea" challenge and asks for robots to co-operate with humans to build flatpack furniture. This involves interpreting written instructions, choosing the right piece, and holding it in just the right position for a human teammate.. This at least is a useful skill that might encourage us to welcome machines into our homes.

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+ - Twitter Can Identify Heart Disease ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk writes: Researchers have shown that Twitter can serve as a dashboard indicator of a community’s psychological well-being and can predict rates of heart disease. Many factors contribute to the risk of heart disease, not just traditional ones, like low income or smoking but also psychological ones, like stress. The team found that negative emotional language and topics, such as words like “hate” or expletives, remained strongly correlated with heart disease mortality, even after variables like income and education were taken into account. Positive emotional language showed the opposite correlation, suggesting that optimism and positive experiences, words like “wonderful” or “friends,” may be protective against heart disease.
The maps produced showing heart disease rates according to Twitter show a remarkable match to maps of actual death due to heart disease.
As one team member commented:
“The relationship between language and mortality is particularly surprising since the people tweeting angry words and topics are in general not the ones dying of heart disease. But that means if many of your neighbors are angry, you are more likely to die of heart disease.”

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