Microsoft displays newest devices to the Surface line

9.jpgMicrosoft introduced the Surface Studio, a touchscreen all-in-one desktop computer. Its 12.5mm thick, has a 18-inch PixelSense display, GeForce 980M, an Intel i7 processor, 2TB of storage, and up to 32GB of memory. It also has a “zero-gravity hinge” that allows the screen to be tilt at different angles, allowing for creative work. These tiny computers start at $2,999.

10.jpgThe Surface Dial is also a new device by Microsoft. The device provides haptic feedback and allows for twisting to select item from a menu screen. Along with the Surface Studio users can place the Dial directly onto the screen for contextual software control. The Surface Dial will be out in November at $99.99, but comes free with Surface Studio preorders,.

8Microsoft did not show off a new Surface Book, instead they upgraded its latest model to include an Intel i7 processor and a bigger battery, supposedly able to reach up to 16 hours of battery life. The Surface Book i7 will be available in November for $2,399.

Microsoft envisions everyone as being creative and this push into products that allow for creativity might just be the beginning. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came up on stage and said that he wants to empower everyone with a new creative platform using 3D content, AR, and the integration of Windows and gaming.

Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft held the Windows 10 event today and there were a few things that were unveiled in Microsofts approach to creativity and innovation using the latest technologies.

3Windows 10 is getting an update called the “Creators Update.” The update will introduce the addition of new 3D creation tools, live-streaming, and custom tournaments for the Xbox app. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and devices group said he wants windows 10 to have the effect of the Gutenberg press of the next wave of computing.

2.jpgMicrosoft has relaunched the Paint app with a push into 3D. The updated app allows users to turn photos into 3D “memories,” export three-dimensional creations from Minecraft, and turn mostly anything into an 3D object. The objects can also be used and viewed via the HoloLens. During the presentation there was an incredible amount of focus on VR and AR capabilities.

4.jpgMicrosoft is also venturing into VR in addition to its AR platform the HoloLens. The VR headsets will start selling at $299, though they will run on the same platform as the HoloLens. No date has been issued for the VR headsets release, although Microsoft has said that Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will be making headsets.

5The creators update will have big changes to the Xbox. The Xbox app will have live broadcasting built into with the update. Players will be able to stream as a part of Xbox Live allowing players to follow Xbox Live friends. Comments and suggestions from viewers is also going to be integrated directly in-game. There is also going to be an update to its Arena platform allowing for custom tournaments and challenges. The update will also include Dolby Atmos audio support for the Xbox.

6.jpgMicrosoft is also focusing heavily on socializing and communicating with friends and family. Communicating with friends and family can be done directly in the task bar, which allow users to drag and drop content. This update will also include “taps” that let users send stickers of 3D objects.


Musk details on ITS in Reddit AMA

Elon Musk held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/SpaceX two days ago, Musk noted it was meant to supplement his IAC talk, which had focused on the Interplanetary Transit System (ITS) or additionally known as the Heart of Gold and their goal of going to Mars.

Musk gave details about the ITS stating SpaceX must figure out how to seal the carbon tanks in the ITS booster against cryo propellant. “The oxygen tank also has an oxidation risk problem as it is pressurized with pure, hot oxygen. Will almost certainly need to apply an inert layer of some kind. Hopefully, something that can be sprayed. If need be, will use thin sheets of invar welded together on the inside.”

Musk noted that the ITS could handle peak loads of 10 to 15 g’s without breaking up. Musk also noted that “The flight tank will actually be slightly longer than the development tank shown, but the same diameter. That was built with latest and greatest carbon fiber prepreg. In theory, it should hold cryogenic propellant without leaking and without a sealing linker.”

Musk says live mock-ups of the interior of the ITS may be available in one to two years. The plan would be to fly the ITS to Mars, loaded with equipment to build a propellant plant, though SpaceX still has to figure out refueling. Currently the plan includes sending the Dragon on scouting missions, to figure out where to land and what the best way would be to get water for the CH4/O2 sabatier reaction.

The first crew mission would have equipment to build rudimentary bases and complete the propellant plant. Musk also said SpaceX would try to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months, until the city can grow by itself.

As for homes, Musk stated that “glass panes with carbon fiber frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids. With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”

Uber’s Otto self-driving truck made its first delivery

Uber and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV teamed up to deliver a shipment of beer using a self-driving truck, the first time a self-driving truck has made a commercial delivery.

The truck, an 18-wheeler, traveled more than 120 miles on its own, of course a truck driver was present to navigate the truck in the city but let go of the wheel during the highway route. A police cruiser also escorted the truck during the trip. The technology used was Uber’s Otto and is capable of level 4 autonomy. Uber acquired Otto last year but is running under Uber on a separate brand.

Otto’s autonomous technology can work with any truck with an automatic transmission. It uses LIDAR laser detection units, a radar that’s attached to the bumper, and a high precision camera that’s attached above the windshield.

Uber worked with Colorado regulators to obtain permission for the delivery and the arrangement for a police cruiser to follow the truck. The delivery was made from Fort Collins, CO to Colorado Springs.

Teslas Autopilot 2.0 now available on all Models

Tesla said last Wednesday that all of its vehicles that are being produced will be equipped with hardware needed for full self-driving capability and as stated by Tesla at a “safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”

Autopilot 2.0 is the second generation autonomous driving hardware that will offer full level 5 autonomy, according to CEO Elon Musk. It’s available in future Models S and X and every Model 3.

Autopilot 2.0 will equip the vehicles with 360 camera coverage up to 250 meters range for level 5 autonomy. It will have 8 cameras, 3 front facing, 12 ultrasonic sensors, a forward facing radar, and 40x more powerful on-board computers, using the Nvidia GPU Titan supercomputer.

Musk noted that at first the new hardware will not offer Autopilot 1.0 capabilities, though it will after a few software improvements over the coming months. By early next year, it should outperform Autopilot 1.0. Level 3 autonomy will be coming in a few months while levels 4 and ultimately level 5 will be coming in 2018.

Autopilot 2.0 will come at a price much like the Autopilot which costs $3,000, Tesla Vision will of course be more expensive at around $8,000. Some new capabilities that will come with are automatic emergency breaking, collision warning, lane holding, and active cruise control, and all of these will be enabled using the over-the-air updates.

Computer Scientists create AI to Predict Outcome of Human Rights Cases

A team of American and British computer scientists have created an AI that is capable of predicting the outcome of human rights trials. The AI analyzed data using almost 600 cases from the European Court of Human Rights and was able to predict the courts judgment with a whopping 79% accuracy.

A study published in the journal PeerJ Computer Science, the AI analyzed 584 cases on prohibition on torture and degrading treatment, the right to a fair trial, and the right to respect for private and family life. The AI Analyzed case descriptions, legal arguments, case history, and related legislation. It then looks for patterns in the data that led to certain judgement such as severity of crimes.

“Results indicate that the ‘facts’ section of a case best predicts the actual court’s decision, which is more consistent with legal realists’ insights about judicial decision-making. We also observe that the topical content of a case is an important indicator whether there is a violation of a given Article of the Convention or not,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes. It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights,” researcher Nikolaos Aletras, UCL, said a statement. “It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Team of researchers create a digital character using Joey Tribbiani from Friends

A team of researchers at the university of Leeds have done the unthinkable, they have created a chat bot or digital character of Joey Tribbiani from Friends.

The team, James Charles, Derek Magee, and Dave Hogg from Leeds University computer science department in the UK, is building a series of algorithms that are able to understand and track individual body language, facial expressions, voice, and characteristics. A machine learning tool is used to understand how the character forms sentences by reading the show’s script as shown by Prosthetic Knowledge.

While the chat bot is not highly advanced, with some major differences that set it apart from the actual character, this has lead to an interesting concept for future chat bots and AI. Advancement in this technology could lead to chat bots and AIs that have similar, almost identical, characteristics and voices of people, whether fictional or real.

In a paper published by the team, they have said that “We plan to improve the rendering of the avatar and extend our model to include interaction with real people and also between avatars.”

Nissan develops self driving chair

Nissan is taking automation to a different level, instead of self driving cars they have developed self driving chairs. Nissan unveiled their automated chair, the ProPilot Chair, named after its autonomous driving technology.

ProPilot uses the same technology that is in the Nissan Serena minivan, a semi autonomous vehicle that maintains a safe distance between cars and helps keep the vehicle in the middle of a lane. Nissan visions upgraded the technology by the 2020s to be able to drive in crowded city centers.

The chairs come equipped with sensors that allow each chair to detect and follow in line to the front. Empty chairs automatically move themselves to the back of the line. Other applications would be conference room chairs that move to allow seating and tucking in under the table once unused.

Nissan will begin testing the chairs in Japan 2017. These chairs will be installed in select restaurants.

AI Traffic Lights to manage traffic in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is testing AI traffic lights to reduce traffic, made by Surtrac. The smart traffic management system gave amazing results.

The team started implementing the AI traffic control system at 9 intersections in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood in 2012. It later began to expand citywide and now spans 50 intersections.

The system reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling time by over 40 percent. The researchers estimate that the system cuts emissions by 21 percent. Stephen Smith, Carnegie Mellon University professor of robotics and founder of startup Surtrac, stated at the White House Frontiers Conference that Traffic congestion costs the U.S. economy $121 billion a year, mostly due to lost productivity, and produces about 25 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.

Conventional traffic lights have programmed timing, which are not updated regularly. Surtrac developed smart artificial intelligence traffic signals that adapt to the change in traffic conditions. The system relies coordinating traffic lights. Radar sensors and cameras are attached to each light detect the flow of traffic. AI algorithms then take the data and build a timing plan that according to Smith “that moves all the vehicles it knows about through the intersection in the most efficient way possible.” Smith says each signal makes its own timing decision and is not centralized.

The next step is to have the system talk to cars. The team has installed short ranged radios at 24 intersections and in the future could let drivers know of traffic conditions ahead of them or know which lights are about to change.

NBA announces VR streaming one live game a week

The NBA announced that starting next week they will be streaming one game per week in VR. NextVR will host the stream, the VR app lets you stream live sports on the Samsung and Oculus Gear VR platforms.

The VR stream will be made available as part of the NBA League Pass, a subscription based streaming platform for every NBA game. The subscription costs $199.99 a year, but offers all games to stream over the season.

The first game in VR will be between the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs on October 27th. This stream is going to be available for free as a preview for anyone that has a Gear VR.

The NBA had experimented with streaming a game in VR, though it was just one 360 degree camera, but it was not as popular. This time it will be fully made with dedicated announcers, multiple camera angles, and even showing exclusive 360 degree content to VR viewers.