Google is making chatbots with human level speech abilities.

Google is known to work on innovative, futuristic, technology. AI is on of them, though one of their AI projects is more chatty.

At a Singularity conference engineers from Google revealed that they have been working on chatbots. Ray Kurzweil, a computer scientist and futurist, and his team announced that these chatbots will be released later this year.

“That’s very relevant to what I’m doing at Google,” Kurzweil said in the interview. “My team, among other things, is working on chatbots. We expect to release some chatbots you can talk to later this year.”

These chatbots will be human like robots that can converse with you much like a human would. One of the chatbots named Danielle has its speech tailored after a books character. Kurzweil said people could make their own unique chatbot by feeding it samples of writing, this would allow bots to have different types of personalities.

He did go on to say that it would take some time for bots to have human level language abilities, so these bots might not work the way you would want them to, atleast for now. Kurzweil states we’ll have to wait till 2029 when AI will be able to pass the Turing test, which would make them indistinguishable from real people.

Raspberry Pi gets Android OS Support

Raspberry Pi has been one of the greatest inventions of our time for users who want to learn about computing, programming, coding, and just about everything else related to computers.

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny ARM computer that is mostly branded at those wishing to learn or have a multitude of DYI projects that are waiting to get started. It provides open source software, comes in a small size, and has ports and various boards.

The latest is the Raspberry Pi 3, which goes for $35. It comes with a 1.2GHz 64-bit Broadcam BCM2837 ARMv8 CPU, 1GB RAM, a VideoCore IV GPU, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1. It also allows users to add components via external devices, such as a MicroSD card.

Raspberry Pi have mostly have had Linux support and recently Windows 10 IoT core support though Google has officially given support for Android on the Raspberry Pi. The company recently registered the Raspberry Pi 3 as a new device tree in its Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository.

The support on Android will give access to Pi users to the million plus apps and who knows that support might mean access to DayDream, Googles newest VR developers platform in the near future.

Researchers are teaching robot to ‘feel’ and react to pain

Scientists from Leibniz University of Hannover, are programming a robot to feel pain and react to it.

Researchers are developing a robot nervous system that allows robots to understand pain and appropriately respond to it. The system would use a reflex controller to mimic reactions from pain.

The robot reacts to different types of pain from light and moderate to severe, even testing a cup of hot boiled water. Its being trained to react to pain and save themselves from danger. The project was displayed at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm, Sweden.

Though a very important thing to understand is that the ability to not feel pain allows robots to work in dangerous environments or perform tasks that are too risky for humans. It would also allow robots to assess, understand, and react to threats when near humans.

And while robots won’t essentially feel pain, this would be a direct first step in understanding how to emulate pain. So don’t worry robots aren’t becoming human, right now. As of yet the technology is still very primitive.

Uber is Testing a Self Driving Car in Pittsburgh

It’s no secret that Uber wants a fleet of self driving cars, especially after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick proposed to buy 500,000 driver-less cars from Tesla. Though that proposition never went through, Uber has turned to testing their own self driving cars.

“If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.” – Uber Newsroom.

Similar to Googles testing of their self driving cars, Uber will be self driving capabilities of the car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, and collecting mapping data, with a trained driver behind the wheel. The car will be equipped with high resolution cameras and multiple sensors such as radars and laser scanners, allowing it to drive autonomously with the ability to learn and adapt to different scenarios.

“Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission…” – Uber Newsroom.

The company is focusing on safety and the reliability of the technology and have gotten the approval of the city of Pittsburgh.

“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.” – William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh.

With so many companies such as Google, Tesla, Hyundai, Mercedes, and many others, it’s not surprising that another company jumps into testing. The difference with Uber is how it will shift the taxi industry even further. The company has already caused a change in taxi services but self driving taxi services will completely renovate the industry.

Interestingly Uber has placed an order of 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans, which are expected to be completed around 2020. The company has also announced a partnership with Toyota. So one way or another Uber is definitely pushing for an autonomous ride sharing service. Though we can sense a future where Uber will be buying autonomous cars from many companies to offer a variety of car options to choose from.

Lets not forget that Lyft and GM have partnered to do exactly this and its expected that first stage would be semi-autonomous cars in 2019.

Robot Usher: a new breed of robot

Robots are becoming more and more of a viable option for many organizations. The latest variant of robot was introduced at the Sydney Opera House during its TEDx event.

The robot is 23 inches (58 centimeters) tall and works side by side with its human colleagues. The robot is made of Intel parts and as such the company working with the Opera House posted a video that showed the daily goings of the robot.

The robot is helpful and witty, as it attempts to find its role within the work environment. “My colleagues were very unsure about me at first, I think they thought I would take all of their jobs. Ha ha ha,” he said. “But they soon welcomed me in.”

Some things to expect at Apples WWDC Conference

Apples biggest conference, WWDC, or Worldwide Developers Conference, is almost here, just next month!

It’ll be the 27th WWDC, it starts on June 13th, very ominous, and ends on June 17th, and will be hosted in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. But what can we expect from Apples biggest conference? Lets take a look at all the rumors and predictions.

Apple Music

We can expect to see something for Apple Music, its music service that was launched in 2015. The service did not meet Apples expectations or ours. Apple reportedly has an estimated 13 million subscribers but even then the service can’t compete with Spotify, which has an estimated 30 million subscribers and recently modified its family plan to match Apples. And while the service did grow there were reports and complaints about its user interface and integration issues.

So we might see an upgrade to the service such as new artists, new functionality and features, better and improved user interface, better streaming, and an expansion in its radio service. If Apple wants to get into the top it’ll also have to make a better royalty fee policy. 

OS X

This year’s OS X will definitely be showcased at the conference, as Apple recently came out with beta updates for developers. The new beta of OS X El Capitan  includes an update for tvOS and iOS 9.3.3. We might also see an integration of Siri for Mac, much like Cortana on Windows 10. MaRumours recently reported on a possible  Mac dock icon and menu bar icon for Siri. If you want to jump into the beta you download it from the Apple Developer Center, but be careful it’ll be riddled with bugs so use a backup device just to be sure.

iOS 10

ioS 10 will most likely also make an appearance, it’s pretty much expected. We might see user interface changes, performance improvements, new features, and new apps in the App Store. We’ve seen new iOS released at past WWDC conferences so it might follow suit.

Macs!

WWDC is mostly oriented at software although we have seen hardware showcased at the conference. So don’t be surprised if you see a new Mac. There have been many rumors about the possibility of a new MacBook Pro this year.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch was released in April of 2015, so we demand to see another release. Well hopefully we’ll see something new. It has tough competition with the Samsung Gear S2, especially now that the company is in the works to introduce iPhone compatibility. There’s also the much coveted Sony Smartwatch 3, Asus ZenWatch 2, Moto 360 2, Huawei Watch, even Garmin and Pebble have smart watches. There are a lot of second generation and 3rd generation smart watches. If Apple wants to compete it’ll have to come out with a new watch that’ll outshine the rest.

WWDC will be a conference to see all kinds of new things from Apple. The conference will be held on June 13 – June 17 and you stream the event live on their WWDC App or at the website.

Futursitic Bus: Chinas Solution to its traffic nightmare

China has an estimated population of 1.3 billion so its no surprise that its car ownership in soaring at a fast rate. With more cars on the road traffic and pollution have become worse, in some cases nightmares. A response to this situation is the straddling bus.

Show cased at the 19th International High-Tech Expo in Beijing, the bus is unique due to its elevation and ability to allow cars to be able to drive right under it. The bus would span two traffic lanes and carry up to 1,400 passengers. It would travel up to 40 miles an hour above street level on a specialized track, allowing cars under 7 feet high to pass through below its belly. This would help relieve traffic congestion and replace public transportation modes.

The bus also runs on electricity and due to its high passenger limit would be able to replace approximately 40 buses. This cuts fuel consumption and more importantly cuts carbon emissions by 2,500 tons. Transit Explore Bus, a Beijing-based company,  is currently building a test model in Changzhou and with initial tests taking place sometime this summer.

The idea was inspired by architects in 1969, Craig Hodgetts and Lester Walker. It was made to travel between Boston and Washington D.C and therefore it was called the Bos-Wash Landliner, though the idea never hit solid ground, it has inspired a similar creation generations later. It could help China not only help with traffic problems but more importantly its pollution crises. The country has been seeking solutions to combat its high pollution levels.

 

‘Pilot’ the Solution to Near Real Time Language Translation

Ever become frustrated when having to talk to someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you or even if they do they have a different dialect or way  of speaking. Language barriers can be a nightmare especially if your in a new country where you don’t speak their language. Though in the near future you might not have to worry anymore as a new earpiece technology called ‘Pilot’ can translate languages near real time.

Three ColorsThe earpiece consists of two small Bluetooth earbuds and a smartphone app, each speaker gets one earpiece and allows two people speaking in different languages to converse with each other. The app translates the language and sends it to the earpiece. The earpieces can also be used to listen to music, for those that want more functionality than just eliminating the bridge between languages.

The technology has been developed by Waverly Labs based in New York. The Pilot will support English, Hindi, French, and Italian, with more languages becoming available with newer versions.

There is no official launch date but there seems to be a target to ship the technology in spring of 2017. The company is launching a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo, which will allow pre-ordering and will come with the main translation unit, a second unit for music streaming, a portable battery charger, and an app that changes the languages the earpiece translates. The selling price is planned to be at $299.

The newest features in Android N

The beta for the latest version of Android has been released and here are some of the biggest changes.

Multitasking

MultiTasking

Androids lack of multitasking has been an annoyance considering other companies such as Apple have come out with the ability to multitask, but now with the Android N you finally get multitasking on phones. The split-screen feature works on phones and tablets by holding down the task-switching button. Not all apps are available for split-screen for example Instagram though other work just fine, you can use YouTube and hangouts with no problem.

You can also double tap the task-switching button to open up the most recently used app, Google calls it Quick Switch. You also get the Clear All button located at the top right, so you can close all your apps at once.

Notifications

Notifications

The notifications bar and shading have changed. Icons are much tighter, make better use of space, and offer more functionality such as being able to see more information or expand notifications.You can also control how you can receive alerts from apps in the future by long pressing on each notification. So users can block notifications that are constantly sent out to them. You can also customize the top 5 icons that are shown in the notification bar.

Settings

The settings menu has changed, the first thing you will notice is suggestions at the very top. Suggestions offers settings changes for things you might not have setup such as email linking or voice commands. Each option also gives you relevant information so you don’t need to open up the option, you can see number of apps installed, storage capacity, battery life, and more right from the main menu.

Keyboard Themes

With Android N you also get stock keyboard themes for Google keyboard. You can choose various colors, or add custom backgrounds from your images, and you can add or remove borders between keys. It might not seem like a big update but its pretty fun.

Performance

Android N is adopting a new graphics API called Vulkan, which is used in PC gaming. Vulkan helps deliver better visual performance so you’ll likely notice a change in graphics. Android N also has a new JIT compiler, which Google says will improve battery life. It will make apps 50 percent smaller and increase installation speed by 75 percent.

New Emojis!

EmojisGoogle is updating its set of emoji for Android N. They’ve also proposed including 13 new emoji to represent professional women in the Unicode Consortium.

Virtual Reality

Android N has been built to be completely compatible with Google’s new Android powered VR platform called Daydream. As of now there’s only speculations based off the design specs and information we received from the first day of Google I/O.

Easter Egg

Easter EggGoogle has always traditionally put an Easter egg in the latest releases of Android. These Easter eggs are hidden and can be accessed by tapping the version number of Android in system settings. Android M had a new M logo and a Flappy Bird style game where you try to save a green android from marshmallows and its now followed suit in Android N. Though this is just the beta and a name has not been picked for Android N, Google is looking at you for help in naming it. You can go here #NameAndroidN, and submit your own name, just make sure it starts with the letter N and its sweet and sugary.

Daydream: Google’s new VR headset

We’ve all heard of Google Cardboard, the cheap and affordable solution to virtual reality, though compared to the powerhouses such as Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, it really falls short. Though it looks like the rumors were true and Google finally announced their next, official, VR platform: Daydream.

While the company did not show off a physical headset, they showed sketches of a headset and controller for developers. The controller is very simple and comes in an ovular design with a few buttons, a clickable and touchable touchpad. As of now there’s not alot to go on though the company states that the latest version of Android: Android N, is made to work completely with Daydream. So we’ll be seeing a lot of new apps and integration with Googles VR platform. Currently the company is partnered with Hulu, HBO, IMAX, and Netflix, along with game studios Ubisoft and EA.