Nissan to rollout autonomous driving system ProPILOT in Japan next month

Nissan has built an autonomous driving system called ProPILOT, which is a self-driving featured designed to be used in a single-lane highway system and will be used on Japanese roads in August of this year.

ProPILOT will be integrated with the Nissan Serena first in August. In a press release, Nissan stated that ProPILOT controls steering, acceleration, and braking, and is designed to be used in heavy traffic and slow speeds, and long commutes, its also only for use in single-lanes.

ProPILOT can automatically manage the distance between cars, travel between speeds from 18 mph to 60 mph, and using a monocular 360-degree camera system, made by Mobileye, the car can watch for lane markers, other vehicles, and keep itself within a lane.

ProPILOT can also stop the car if any vehicles in front stop. Nissan states that the brakes remain engaged even if the driver doesn’t have their foot on the brake pedal. The driver then must accelerate the car themselves or turn on self-driving to being moving. The feature can also detect if the drivers hands are not on the steering wheel and can send warnings.

Nissan is working on more functionality for ProPILOT. The company has plans to release lane switching in 2018 and city driving in 2020.

Nissan is taken a careful approach to self-driving. There are many scenarios that are not accounted for when trying to make a vehicle completely autonomous, such as with the Tesla Autopilot incidents. It appears that Nissan wants to tap into an early market and gradually increase functionality.

Nissan says it has tested ProPILOT in Japan and in the U.S. and the is aiming for a European debut in 2017 as well as in the U.S and China, though there are no definitive timelines for the U.S and China releases.

Pokemon Go: a big win for players and Nintedo

Nintendo has taken the world for the past few weeks with Pokemon Go. Go, the latest in the Pokemon series, is a new, innovative, way to playing Pokemon, and not for the lazy.

Pokemon has widely been one of the most successful series though mostly playable on a GameBoy, Pokemon Go takes a different approach. Go is available as an app for smartphones. You can get the game from the app store, install, sign up or use your Google Account, and start playing, and best of all its free!

This is where the game differs, from the rest. Using GPS to track players, you, the player, can only find and catch Pokemon by moving around in the real world. The game syncs with what looks like maps and creates a Pokemon world around you. As you move, walk, not drive, around you run into Pokemon that you can catch. Though finding Pokemon may be difficult for some, there are enough to go around. Once you’ve reached level 5 you can battle a gym. Yes, there are battles, with pretty cool animations.

The game has been one of the most talked about things for awhile now and rightfully so. Its a new take at gaming using the physical world around you and perfectly pairs with Pokemon. Players get a fresh new way to play and enjoy the Pokemon world. According to Reuters, the game has been installed on over 5% of active Android devices in the U.S. Its more popular than Tinder and has a larger daily active user population than Twitter.

Nintendo also gets to enjoy the results of Pokemon Go, the company’s stock price rose bringing its total market cap to $28 billion. The game has added $9B to Nintendo’s value and its still too early to see the entire value of the game.

Pokemon Go was developed by Niantic Labs in collaboration with The Pokemon Company, which Nintendo owns 32% of, according to WSJ. 

The game has only been available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, until today. The game will also be available in Japan, Europe, UK, and a few other Asian countries, according to The Wall Street Journal

While the game may be free there are micro-transactions, which nowadays is a common trend in free and non free games, though personally I haven’t had the need to purchase anything as of yet.

The game has been a huge success, though it might not stay that way. With the need to be on the go to play that alone might turn off some players or it could start a whole new way to playing games. Though Niantic Labs has plans for new features such as a trading system and AR. Games are already being built for virtual reality and I can foresee Pokemon on VR, though this particular kind of game play and interaction with the real world may flow over to different games, so be ready to see all kinds of games with a similar game play style.

IntelligentX brews beers using AI

Love AI and beer? IntelligentX Brewing Company does. The brewery has taken to using an AI to perfect its recipes.

IntelligentX Brewing Company is a partnership between Intelligent Layer, a machine learning company, and creative agency 10X. The two companies have created algorithms to process customer feedback in an effort to improve their beers.

The AI is hidden behind a Facebook Messenger bot that asks a series of questions about beer. Questions can be giving ratings between 1 to 10, yes or no, and multiple choice responses. The responses are then taken and used to enhance taste and preference of beers over time. Codes are printed on to the bottles, which direct drinkers to the bot. The AI uses reinforcement learning to enhance the way it asks questions and to get better answers in the future for more insight. This also allows consumers to in a way step into the kitchen and work with the chef to enhance the product, or in this case the beers.

 IntelligentX says its beers Golden, Amber, Pale and Black have changed about 11 times during a 12 month trial period.

This system can also be used to identify trends in beer and when to offer the best beer, since trends can change erratically this is an ingenious way to track them.


iOS 10 public beta just went live!

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 10. You don’t have to be a developer to download the beta, its for anyone who wants to risk installing and taking a look at some of the new features and functionalities that iOS 10 will have to offer.

Apple is also keen to see how well iOS 10 will perform, the company can begin to fix issues that occur before releasing the final product. So don’t be shy, if your interested install the beta version of iOS 10, just make sure you’re backed up just in case. Enroll your iOS device, install a configuration profile, and update iOS, then later in September your device should update to the final version of iOS 10.

Some features your can expect are updates to third party integration with Siri. Users also get a newly redesigned lock screen that can display notifications and widgets. The Photos app gets an update with facial recognition, deep learning integration for categorization, and intelligent photo albums. A new Messages app with various new features will be available. Apple Maps, Apple Music, HomeKit, and more services are also getting updates.

Battling Alzheimer’s disease early on

A new genetic test may be able to identify people who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 35 years old.

Most drugs are made to slow down symptoms from disease, it’s much more difficult to spot diseases early on. Scientists in the US are developing methods to catch the disease before symptoms surface. A study was published in the journal Neurology.

“Dementia is caused by a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle and environment so this risk score, which exclusively looks at genetics, can only give us part of the picture,” Said Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society.

The testing, developed by Massachusetts General hospital, combines gene variants that are known to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. With their genetic testing, people who scored higher for cognitive impairment were more likely to fully develop dementia and were more likely to have a smaller hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and spatial awareness. Scientists studied the genes of 166 people with dementia and 1,026 without using MRI images and polygenic testing to create scoring for the test. The average age was 75. Scientists then calculated the same risk score and hippocampal volume in 1,322 people between the ages of 18 and 35.

Dr Brown said: “This study provides evidence that creating a ‘risk score’ based on a combination of several different genes could possibly be used to predict whether someone has a higher chance of developing memory problems.”

Scientists discovered that people aged 35 and younger who scored on the higher end for the test had a small hippocampus and were likely to develop the disease later in life. Younger adults with various genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s have a smaller hippocampal volume, said Elizabeth Mormino, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study.

“The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take regular exercise, avoid smoking and eat a healthy, balanced diet,” said Dr Brown.

This type of early detection methods could help lower the effects from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s not curable as of now, methods can be taken to reduce risk and protects ones self.

Google to buy Moodstocks, a company that can make your smartphone see

Google announced a deal to buy a French startup called Moodstocks, which creates technology that can allow smartphones to recognize what they are looking at.

Moodstocks has been working on this technology to allow smartphones to be more versatile when taking images of objects or people and having the ability to recognize various objects, essentially as if giving smartphones eyes. The company also works with machine learning, which Google has heavily integrated with its services.

“There’s a lot more to be done to improve machine vision,” Google France tech site lead Vincent Simonet said in a blog post.

Google hopes to integrate Moodstocks technology into its AI development. The company’s research and development center in Paris will work with a team from Moodstocks.

Its interesting to see how far this technology will take Googles services and products. Google announced at their annual developers conference in May, a virtual home assistant called Google Home, a competitor of Amazon Echo. With Google Home being thought of as a next gen assistant, this kind of technology may help devices differentiate between objects and even learn and grow to offer more accommodated services.

We’ll also undoubtedly see this technology in smartphones in the near future. This may be included in the next Android OS and give smartphones more functionality and features, and make them smarter. The bigger question is will this technology be included in the self driving cars Google is developing? Image recognition could do wonders for self driving cars. Instead of just sensors, cars will be able to themselves differentiate between different objects such as stop signs, people, animals, cars, bicycles, and various others.