Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

FLIR Systems and Seek Thermal, two manufacturers of thermal imaging equipment, are working overtime to meet demand for companies preparing to return to work. One essential criterion for reopening has emerged as the ability to detect body temperatures of workers, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Oregon-based FLIR’s shares rose about 16 percent after Reuters reported that Amazon plans to use thermal cameras at its warehouses and Whole Foods stores, although neither FLIR not Seek were listed as the supplier. Continue reading Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

In opposition to the Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai backed Ligado Networks’ plan to develop the L-band spectrum of airwaves for cellular service. In his draft order, Pai stipulated “certain conditions” that would protect against interference with Global Positioning System technology. Opponents say the company’s usage would interfere with military operations and weather forecasting bandwidth. Ligado, originally known as LightSquared, went bankrupt in 2012 when its business plans were rejected. Continue reading FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

Semiconductor Industry Is Questioning U.S. Export Controls

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is about to sign off on changes to export controls on the sale of some semiconductors and other high-tech gear to China. In response, nine industry groups — including the Semiconductor Industry Association, the National Foreign Trade Council, and SEMI — urged him to allow for public comment and stressed the role semiconductors play in “the functionality in advanced medical equipment used by health professionals to treat the public,” the latter a reference to COVID-19. Continue reading Semiconductor Industry Is Questioning U.S. Export Controls

CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

The ETC team found two interesting object detection startups at CES’s Eureka Park: Italian company ARIA Sensing, which claims to manufacture “the world’s smallest UWB [Ultra-Wideband] radar” for offering “unparalleled detection performances” — and French startup Ingenious Things, which is promoting what it describes as “the first IoT tracker for less than $1.” ARIA Sensing has developed a 13mm x 15mm postage stamp size chip that is able to detect small movements, gestures and even breathing at distances up to 10 meters. The $1 Stick Trackr by Ingenious Things is less than 5mm thick and can operate for up to three months before it needs a new battery. Continue reading CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence is increasingly embedded into devices and experiences, the problem of racial and gender bias has become apparent, in several embarrassing and disturbing incidents. The industry has paid attention to studying how bias is introduced — often via the underlying data — and how to fix it. Former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, now at MLC Strategies, led a discussion with Helloalice.com president Elizabeth Gore and Uber head of inclusive engagement Bernard Coleman on the topic. Continue reading CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Microsoft won a $10 billion, 10-year technology contract with the Department of Defense for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. Although Amazon was the front-runner, President Trump had upped his criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and stated he might intervene to prevent Bezos’ company from getting the JEDI contract. Google, IBM and Oracle also competed for the contract. A group of Microsoft employees has protested the company’s involvement in the military project. Continue reading Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

LG to Unveil the Market’s Lightest 17-Inch Laptop PC at CES

LG Electronics will introduce the world’s lightest 17-inch laptop during CES in January. The new LG gram 17 weighs a mere 1,340 grams (as compared to the 2,000+ grams of comparable laptops), while offering a 17-inch WQXGA 16:10 display featuring 2560 x 1600 resolution, making it ideal for streaming video, playing games and editing multiple documents simultaneously. The company will also unveil the 14-inch LG gram 2-in-1 convertible with digital pen support that features a 360-degree hinge, enabling it to function as a laptop or a tablet. Both devices have been named 2019 CES Innovation Award winners. Continue reading LG to Unveil the Market’s Lightest 17-Inch Laptop PC at CES

Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

The U.S. Army has awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft to supply augmented reality system prototypes that it can deploy for training and combat missions. If successful, the contract could lead to Microsoft providing 100,000 headsets, which the Army says will be intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” The U.S. Army and Israel Defense Forces have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens in training, but using it in live combat would be a new step. Continue reading Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

The U.S. government is reportedly pushing for foreign allies to stop using hardware from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. According to people familiar with the initiative, the government is aiming to convince wireless and Internet service providers to avoid telecom equipment that comes from Huawei in an effort to increase security. Washington officials are particularly concerned about countries that host military bases. The U.S. and Australia already have bans in place to curb the risk of cyberattacks. Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Continue reading Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Google launched a global competition, the AI Impact Challenge, to encourage the development of artificial intelligence for positive uses. Revealed at the company’s AI for Social Good event at its Sunnyvale offices, the competition aims to reach out to nonprofits, universities and other groups outside of corporate Silicon Valley, to help solve social issues. The initiative, overseen by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will award up to $25 million to numerous parties to “help transform the best ideas into action.” Continue reading Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Alphabet, dealing with pushback from regulators and struggles in its corporate culture, reported net profit that increased 37 percent to $9.19 billion in the quarter through September. Last year, during the same period, the company posted $6.7 billion. Although this growth exceeded analysts’ expectations, overall revenue is actually down, growing 21 percent to $33.74 billion versus last year’s 24 percent growth in the same period. Revenue from advertising, representing the majority of sales, grew 20 percent to $28.95 billion. Continue reading Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Scientists and Military Look for Key to Identifying Deepfakes

The term “deepfakes” describes the use of artificial intelligence and computer-generated tricks to make a person (usually a well-known celebrity or politician) appear to do or say “fake” things. For example, actor Alden Ehrenreich’s face was recently replaced by Harrison Ford’s face in footage from “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The technique could be meant simply for entertainment or for more sinister purposes. The more convincing deepfakes become, the more unease they create among AI scientists, and military and intelligence communities. As a result, new methods are being developed to help combat the technology. Continue reading Scientists and Military Look for Key to Identifying Deepfakes

Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

Kaaya Tech reached its $50,000 Kickstarter funding goal for the HoloSuit, a wearable haptic controller for virtual reality. The company will start shipping the suit, available in several versions, in November. The top-end version, HoloSuit Pro, offers 36 sensors, nine haptic feedback devices and six firing buttons, spread across two finger-tracking gloves, a pair of pants with feet extensions and a jacket with a head extension. The lower end model offers 26 sensors, and comes with a jacket or jersey with haptics and buttons. Continue reading Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Influenced by employee discontent, Google will not renew a contract with the Pentagon’s Project Maven when it expires next year. Google Cloud business head Diane Greene, who won the contract, was the one who announced the company’s decision in a weekly employee meeting. The Maven project uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and, among its potential uses, could be employed to improve drone attack targeting. Many Google AI researchers worried aloud that it was a step towards using AI for advanced weaponry. Continue reading Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Google and the Department of Defense are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage. The tech giant has been working with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, an initiative focused on big data and machine learning. According to sources, when the pilot project became an object of discussion at Google, some employees were angry that the company was working with the military on surveillance tech for drone operations. Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the tech community is concerned that the military-industrial complex will use Google’s research to kill innocent people. Continue reading Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

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