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

Study Finds That Virtual Nose May Reduce Simulator Sickness

One ongoing study is testing a potential solution for nausea-inducing VR content, and so far, a virtual reality nose has proven effective. Simulator sickness is believed to be caused by an asynchrony of the body’s movement and the visuals. Researchers suggest that a fixed visual reference, like a nose, can help reduce vertigo and nausea. The study participants who had a virtual nose didn’t even notice the added facial feature and could play more than a minute longer than the control group. Continue reading Study Finds That Virtual Nose May Reduce Simulator Sickness

3D Printing Method Could Make Production 100 Times Faster

Researchers at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University have developed a new, faster 3D printing technique — and now a California company is planning to use the technique to revolutionize production. The technique is called CLIP, or Continuous Liquid Interface Production. Unlike traditional 3D printers, which construct prototypes layer-by-layer, CLIP 3D printers build an object in its entirety out of liquid resin. The process is reportedly up to 100 times faster than other methods. Continue reading 3D Printing Method Could Make Production 100 Times Faster

New Image Recognition Technology Can See More Than Faces

Breakthroughs in image recognition technology may drastically improve image searches when machines can recognize people, objects, actions, and even the quality of photographs. Researchers at Google and Stanford University recently unveiled new software that can teach itself to identify the characters, actions, and settings of a scene in photos and videos. Photo sharing startup EyeEm has fine-tuned algorithms that rate photographs based on aesthetics. Continue reading New Image Recognition Technology Can See More Than Faces

Harvard University Researchers Create Biggest Kilobot Swarm

Harvard University researchers have programmed a robot swarm of more than 1,000 bots that can self-assemble into two-dimensional shapes. The “Kilobots” are roughly the size of a penny, and cost $14 in parts. It takes only a few minutes to put a Kilobot together. In order to program them at the same time, the roboticists use an infrared light from an overhead controller, which gives instructions. Infrared signals also help the robots communicate with each other to create formations. Continue reading Harvard University Researchers Create Biggest Kilobot Swarm

Transparency for the Web: XRay Tracks Use of Personal Data

In a step toward protecting the personal data of online users, researchers at Columbia University have created new software called XRay that can observe and predict how tech companies are using the personal data that they collect. The software is based on research related to Google’s Gmail ads, Amazon recommendations, and YouTube recommendations. XRay, which will help privacy-concerned watchdogs track how personal data is used, is still in development. Continue reading Transparency for the Web: XRay Tracks Use of Personal Data

Software Allows Photographers to Manipulate Objects in 3D

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new photo-editing tool that lets users turn and flip objects as if they were in 3D. Photo editors have only been able to manipulate objects in 2D by resizing them or changing their location within the photo. This new software uses a publicly available database of models to recreate objects, even the sides that were not captured by the camera. Researchers found that this software could be used for animations as well. Continue reading Software Allows Photographers to Manipulate Objects in 3D

Liquid Hard Drives Capable of Storing One Terabyte of Data

Researchers at the University of Michigan and New York University have been successful in storing data in a liquid containing suspended clusters of nanoparticles. These 12-particle clusters can reconfigure, similar to the way a Rubik’s Cube can, to represent up to eight million unique states. In a tablespoon of the nanoparticle clusters, the liquid can reportedly store up to one terabyte of data. Liquid hard drives could possibly be used in medicine, law enforcement and other fields. Continue reading Liquid Hard Drives Capable of Storing One Terabyte of Data

Nvidia Designs New Pixel-Dense LCD Panels for VR Headsets

Researchers at Nvidia have found a trick that solves the problem of users being able to see the pixels in their VR headsets. By using a “cascaded display” involving two LCD panels, the researchers found that they could quadruple the pixel density of the headset, making pixels invisible to the eye even at close range. The cascaded displays also have a faster frame rate, making images appear smoother, and a reduced brightness, which is not a concern for the displays in VR headsets. Continue reading Nvidia Designs New Pixel-Dense LCD Panels for VR Headsets

SIGGRAPH: Haptic Interfaces to Pull and Push Wearable Users

Two “force display” devices will make their debut at the SIGGRAPH technology conference in Vancouver next month. These devices, the Traxion and the Buru-Navi3, generate vibrations that offer wearers the illusion of being pulled or pushed in a specific direction. The Buru-Navi3 uses a 40 hertz electromagnetic actuator already found in smartphones. This technology could eventually be used in navigation applications in wearables so that the user will literally be pulled in the right direction. Continue reading SIGGRAPH: Haptic Interfaces to Pull and Push Wearable Users

Facebook Changes News Feed Results, Apologizes to Users

Earlier this week, Adam D. I. Kramer, the Facebook data scientist in charge of a study about the impact of news feed content, posted a public apology on his Facebook page for the anxiety caused by recent research. The study sparked a public outcry when users discovered that Facebook had manipulated the news feed results of over 500,000 randomly selected users. The company changed the number of positive and negative posts users saw to study how emotions are spread on social media. Continue reading Facebook Changes News Feed Results, Apologizes to Users

Microsoft Has Developed 3D Audio to Augment Virtual Reality

Video games are about to get very realistic, and it’s not just because of virtual reality headsets. Microsoft researchers have developed the technology to make sounds seem as if they are coming from a specific point in space. The 3D audio technology is made possible by the software that builds a 3D model of a player’s head and shoulders and calculates a personal filter to trick the player into perceiving sound as coming from a specific location. Continue reading Microsoft Has Developed 3D Audio to Augment Virtual Reality

DARPA Converts Army Surveillance Drones into Mobile Hotspots

DARPA’s Mobile Hotspots program is converting retired RQ-7 Army drones into wireless hotspots to provide Wi-Fi to soldiers in remote areas. The drones will be able to transfer data at one gigabyte per second — about the same connectivity of a 4G smartphone — to give troops the same communication capabilities, including access to tactical operation centers and mission data, that others in more central conflict zones have. DARPA is retrofitting the drones with small Wi-Fi antennas. Continue reading DARPA Converts Army Surveillance Drones into Mobile Hotspots

Fake Twitter Accounts Boost Individuals and Trending Topics

Twitter estimates the percentage of its accounts that are fake is less than 5 percent, but some independent researchers think that number is closer to 9 percent. Fake accounts are a big market for those looking to boost their popularity and influence on Twitter, despite efforts by the social networking site to weed out the imposters. One man who manages 10,000 robot accounts for roughly 50 clients offers a glimpse into the market. Continue reading Fake Twitter Accounts Boost Individuals and Trending Topics

Stanford Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes

A team of engineers at Stanford University has built the first functioning computer that uses carbon nanotubes rather than the standard silicon. The new material for building transistors could dramatically impact the way computers work in the future. While others have discussed the possibility of carbon nanotubes for years, Stanford’s team is the first to put them to practical use. The material could launch a new generation of devices that run faster and use less energy. Continue reading Stanford Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes

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