Battery Free Video Camera

A self-powered video camera system is under development at Columbia University. Columbia University computer science professor, Shree Nayar, fashioned the self-powered camera with his colleague, research engineer Daniel Sims, plus Mikhail Fridberg, who founded ADSP Consulting in Sharon, Mass. The revolutionary research project is funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and could eventually result in battery-free cameras that never have to shut down. Continue reading Battery Free Video Camera

Robotic Insect Jumps on Water

A team of engineers from Harvard University and Seoul National University (SNU) has worked out how to build robotic insects that can jump on water. Many small creatures leverage water’s surface tension to move themselves around. One of the most complex ways of doing this is jumping on water, which is achieved by water striders that both skim over the water’s surface and generate enough upward thrust with their legs to launch themselves off the water. Continue reading Robotic Insect Jumps on Water

Panocam’s Latest VR Camera

Panocam has recently released its second version of a virtual reality (VR) camera, intended for professional video production. Panocam has dubbed it the HMC 3D 360 (HMC = head-mounted camera). Unlike commercial models, the HMC 3D 360 exploits the most up-to-date technology without budget restraints. On its website, Panocam boasts that they “have pushed the boundaries of immersive 3D 360 videos” with the latest camera. Continue reading Panocam’s Latest VR Camera

Major Security Flaw on Android Phones

95% of Android phones, including Google’s own line, are subject to a major security flaw. The flaw is a result of six critical vulnerabilities in the Android operating system. By simply sending a text message, a hacker can take control of any Android phone (version 2.2 and higher). The flaw directly affects the part of the Android operating system called Stagefright, which allows phones and tablets to display media content. Continue reading Major Security Flaw on Android Phones

AI & Robotics Researchers Against Autonomous Warfare

Over 1,000 prominent artificial intelligence specialists (including engineers, computer scientists, futurists and academics) have signed an open letter calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control”, warning of the dangers of weapons that can “select and engage targets without human intervention”. The letter states that the deployment of such systems is theoretically within reach within years rather than decades, as previously supposed. Continue reading AI & Robotics Researchers Against Autonomous Warfare

Amazon Outlines Drones Plan

At a conference hosted this week by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Amazon outlined a plan for slicing U.S. airspace into segments for different groups of unmanned aircraft like the delivery drones the company is currently developing. Amazon’s top drone executive detailed its proposal for a “high-speed transit zone” from 200 to 400 feet above the ground exclusively for advanced unmanned aircraft that have five key capabilities, Continue reading Amazon Outlines Drones Plan

Amazon’s Revolutionary ‘Echo’

Amazon released a new gadget recently, a WiFi speaker called the Echo. The Echo is a small cylindrical speaker, which employs up-to-date speech recognition systems to allow users to simply request a song from the speaker as if they were talking to a human DJ. The Echo costs $180 and connects users to the Internet, letting the user control the speaker with his or her voice alone. Continue reading Amazon’s Revolutionary ‘Echo’

Deep Learning and the “Canadian Mafia”

Deep Learning is a new area of Machine Learning research that aims to move Machine Learning closer to one of its original goals: Artificial Intelligence (AI). It allows computational models that are made up of numerous processing layers to learn representations of data with numerous levels of abstraction. The field has helped radically improve developments in visual object recognition, speech recognition, object detection and various other areas, including genomics and drug discovery. Continue reading Deep Learning and the “Canadian Mafia”

Twitter Acquires Machine Learning Company Whetlab

Twitter recently tweeted about its acquisition of machine learning startup Whetlab. No immediate details were released about the motivation behind the move. Last year, Twitter acquired its first machine learning company, Madbits, specialists in visual intelligence technology. In foraying further into AI, Twitter is joining the ranks of Google and Facebook who are also increasingly using machine learning and AI in their work. Continue reading Twitter Acquires Machine Learning Company Whetlab

Google Announces Open-Source Platform Eddystone: Rival to IBeacon

Google is entering the beacon business with the announcement of Eddystone, its new open-source platform for Bluetooth LE devices that puts it directly in competition with Apple’s iBeacon, which was launched in 2013. Beacon technology allows low-power Bluetooth devices to communicate with smart devices.

Continue reading Google Announces Open-Source Platform Eddystone: Rival to IBeacon

AT&T’s Virtual Reality Video: It Can Wait


AT&T is adding a new weapon to its five-year-old campaign, ‘It Can Wait’, designed to get motorists to realize the potential deadly consequences of distracted driving. The wireless carrier has created a simulation that allows people to take the virtual wheel of a car and simulate what can happen the moment a driver takes their attention away from the road to respond to a cell phone or text.

Continue reading AT&T’s Virtual Reality Video: It Can Wait

Facebook’s Oculus Acquires Gesture-Control Firm Pebbles


Facebook’s Oculus announced this week that it was acquiring Israeli gesture-control firm Pebbles Ltd. Facebook bought Oculus, the maker of virtual-reality headsets, last year in order to expand its operations in virtual reality. Facebook paid $2 billion to acquire Oculus. Oculus has not said how much Pebbles is costing them, but it has been estimated to be around $60 million.


Continue reading Facebook’s Oculus Acquires Gesture-Control Firm Pebbles

Seemingly Outrageous Predictions from Futurist Ray Kurzweil

Futurist Ray Kurzweil (labelled “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Times) has been making some pretty spectacular predictions for the future recently, including the idea that in 15 years’ time, one year per year will be added to life expectancy rates. Continue reading Seemingly Outrageous Predictions from Futurist Ray Kurzweil

Is Washington Ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is re-imagining our daily worlds. Americans are increasingly using the IoT, filling homes and businesses with networked tech – smart watches sending health data over WiFi, self-driving cars, drones tracking wildfires.

The list ever expands. The IoT technologies won’t simply automate daily activities, Continue reading Is Washington Ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)

Google’s AI Conversationalist

Google published a research paper in late June that detailed one of its most recent sallies into artificial intelligence (AI). A “chatbot” has been programmed by researchers at the company to respond to conversations based on a set of examples from a training exercise.

The bot doesn’t just reply with canned answers when it hears a particular word, rather it can create new answers from new questions.

Continue reading Google’s AI Conversationalist

Google’s Project Tango Ushers in New Possibilities in 3D Mapping

Johnny Chung Lee, Project Lead at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. ATAP has been working with a combination of global partners – universities, industrial partners and research labs to harvest the last ten years of research into robotics, computer vision and area learning. Continue reading Google’s Project Tango Ushers in New Possibilities in 3D Mapping

Facebook’s Future in AI

In Facebook’s most recent online townhall, Mark Zuckerberg discussed his company’s research in Artificial Intelligence (AI), stating that most of it is “focused on understanding the meaning of what people share”, by using people’s photos and posts to connect them to other like-minded Facebook users. Zuckerberg described his wish Continue reading Facebook’s Future in AI

Developments in the Field of Virtual Telepathy

Is virtual telepathy even possible or desirable? New developments are continually being made around the world in the sphere of virtual telepathy. Neuroscientists have made progress in deciphering images from patterns of brain activity and various groups are working on decoding inner speech. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) use brain activity to control man-made devices, such as computer cursors, virtual drones and artificial limbs. Continue reading Developments in the Field of Virtual Telepathy

Reddit CEO Turmoil

CEO Ellen Pao has left Reddit, the online social media community where users vote on content to decide how visible it is. Some describe the hugely popular site as ‘the gateway to the internet’. Pao was interim CEO at Reddit since last November after Yishan Wong stepped down, stepping up from her previous role in business development and strategic partnerships. Steve Huffman, original CEO and co-founder, is now taking over the site immediately.

Continue reading Reddit CEO Turmoil

Google’s Foray into Virtual Reality via Cardboard

Google Cardboard was developed in the company’s infamous 20% time by a small group of engineers. No one expected Cardboard to introduce Virtual Reality (VR) to the public so quickly; but the app that powers Google Cardboard on Android has now had more than one million downloads. Users can wander across Google Earth, take a virtual tour of their favorite museum and experience immersive VR movies and photos using only the simple Cardboard headset and their smart phone. Continue reading Google’s Foray into Virtual Reality via Cardboard

Chinese AI Takes a Big Step Forward in Verbal Intelligence

For the first time in the history of AI, a computer has beaten a human in the verbal intelligence section of an IQ test. Researchers at Microsoft Research in Beijing developed the new AI program to focus on the test’s verbal section. This is an exciting new development because traditionally computers have struggled to understand the ways in which a word can have multiple meanings and exist in complicated relationships to other words. Verbal questions normally test someone’s understanding of words with questions about multiple meanings, synonyms, antonyms and analogies. Continue reading Chinese AI Takes a Big Step Forward in Verbal Intelligence

The Minds Behind Google DeepMind: The Three Founders

DeepMind was the brainchild of former child prodigy Demis Hassabis who met computer programmer Shane Legg at UCL’s Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. The two brought entrepreneur Mustafa Suleyman on board and the three men co-founded the company in 2011. The three have an interesting, unusual range of backgrounds, which perhaps contributes to the bold ambition and unique nature of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) company, headquartered in London and since 2014, owned by Google. Continue reading The Minds Behind Google DeepMind: The Three Founders