In response to the coronavirus health crisis, USC researchers have made a hard pivot, adapting labs and lessons learned from treating other diseases to help check the virus and save lives. At their disposal are numerous technologies that give a human advantage, despite the fast-break spread of COVID-19 once it exited central China and spread across the globe. The disease has afflicted thousands of Californians and poses a serious risk to public health and the world economy. Tools such as supercomputers, software apps, virtual reality, big data and algorithms are now in play. They are using the tools to find ways to search and destroy coronavirus DNA, turn smartphones into personal protection devices and use people-friendly simulators to help cope with the crush of medical cases.
In comics, television and film, there is almost no hiding from Superman because of his powerful X-ray vision. The famous exception is his inability to see through lead. Nearly 82 years since this superhero first appeared in Action Comics #1 on April 1938, the line between science fiction and reality is blurring fast in China, as more advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology are being used to help stop the coronavirus from spreading. Roving security staff at Hongyuan Park, part of the Xixi Wetland preserve in Hangzhou in eastern China, now have the power to quickly detect the body temperature of all park visitors from a distance of up to 1 meter, thanks to "non-contact thermal augmented reality" smart glasses supplied by AI start-up Rokid Corp. The company said on Thursday that each smart glass user will be capable of checking the temperature of several hundred people within two minutes – a vast coverage and speed that would make even Superman proud – to eliminate queues at the park entrance.
Couch potatoes trying to get in shape could one day be helped along their fitness journey by an ankle exoskeleton that makes it easier and less tiring to run. The robotic device attaches to the ankle of joggers and was found in lab tests to slash energy expenditure by 14 per cent when compared to standard running shoes. It was created by robotics experts at Stanford University and funded in part by sporting behemoth Nike. The engineers behind the project say the equipment currently only works on a treadmill and when the device is hooked up to a machine via cables. However, they are working to make the exoskeleton portable and lightweight and easy to integrate into future running equipment.
While exploring a worn-down warehouse, I look through a window and see a room full of zombies. Headcrabs -- disgusting parasites that turn their hosts into monsters -- twitch atop the heads of three former humans. I'll just open the door, toss in a grenade, and mop up any survivors. I remove the pin and grab the handle. The door is locked, leaving me with a live grenade and nowhere to toss it.
Cattle farmers have been incorporating new technologies into their management of cows for years now, using everything from facial recognition to milking robots. But the internet went wild in late November when a story about Russian farmers using virtual reality goggles on cows went viral. While that story was treated with a fair amount of skepticism from farmers and experts, it did bring a spotlight to the many ways cattle farmers are using technology to reduce the carbon footprint of cows and make farm management more sustainable. "Cows are one of the most important areas that we need to improve tech applications to, principally because on a global agricultural systems basis, cows are our single best source of recycling waste nutrients," said David Hunt, co-founder of Cainthus, an agritech company, based in Dublin, California and Ottawa, focusing on digitizing agricultural practices with computer vision and AI. "The criticism of cows that is valid is the methane emissions that go with cows and one of the most important areas in agricultural tech is reducing those methane emissions."
Jacquard started out as a sensor on a denim jacket, where specially woven textile on the sleeve let the wearer control actions on their phone by touching the fabric. Swipe a palm up the sleeve to change music tracks, swipe down to call an Uber. A double-tap during a bike ride would send an ETA to a pair of headphones. But Google's wearable sensor technology is evolving beyond just taps and swipes. The Jacquard sensor, called the Tag, can now be installed into the insole of a shoe, where it can automatically identify a series of physical motions.
I am observing what may be the future of work in a San Francisco skyscraper, watching as a transparent, legless man in a T-shirt hovers above a leather couch. The man is Jacob Loewenstein, the head of business at Spatial, a software company that enables meetings via holograms, which are 3-dimensional images. Though he is in New York, a hologram of him appears a few feet in front of me in San Francisco, his face and slightly tousled hair a 3D likeness of the photo I later look up on LinkedIn, his blue t-shirt a sign that he is as casually dressed as any tech worker. As I turn my head, which is decked in a clunky augmented reality headset, I see a tablet that Loewenstein is holding, which he hands to me. When I try to grab it, though, I end up drawing pink lines through the air instead--I've accidentally enabled a drawing tool in the app instead of the tool that should allow my pinched fingers to grasp an object.
A Dutch startup has teamed up with Google Glass to create a set of AI-powered spectacles that help blind and visually-impaired people to see. The glasses extract visual information from images of people, belongings, and public transport, and then speaks about them out loud. It can read text from books, name friends by analyzing their faces, and describe surroundings such as train signs and street hazards. The wearer could use the glasses to read a recipe from a cookery book, get to the grocery store, find ingredients on the shelves, and then return home to prepare the dish. Check out how it works in the video below.
DARQ stands for Distributed ledger technology (DLT), Artificial intelligence (AI), extended Reality and Quantum computing. Though some of these technologies are on the horizon, some are already impacting industry. "DARQ is a set of emerging, and highly disruptive, technologies that will be a driver of competitive advantage and key differentiator in a world where digital is everywhere," said Ari Bernstein, R&D principal at Accenture Labs, said these technologies will be an important catalyst for change. Blockchain, on the cutting edge of credentialing, will soon be a boon to recruitment, said Alex Kaplan, IBM's global leader for blockchain and AI for industry credentials. The "next step in democratizing education," the technology will allow hiring professionals a one-stop-shop to verify academic credentials and more.
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