What happens when a tech artist and her gene-scientist husband try to wow the crowd at a "Nerd Nite" event in Kendall Square? They pitch an idea for an app to help fight disease by crowd-sourcing millions of 3-D digital maps of human faces. Facetopo was the brainchild of Boston documentarian and artist Alberta Chu and her husband Murray Robinson, whose brother was diagnosed with a rare disease that, like Down's syndrome, can be detected in the face. In a Q&A with Patch, Chu says some day participants could "maybe trade pictures, or eventually, find a twin." "Every user who wants to participate creates a private account and is able to download the app on either IOS or Android where we provide instructions so that you can create a 3-D face map.
During a non-stop, two-hour keynote address at its annual I/O developers conference, Google unveiled a barrage of new products and updates. Here's a rundown of the most important things discussed: Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the keynote by unveiling a new computer-vision system coming soon to Google Assistant. Apparently, as Pichai explained, you'll be able to point your phone's camera at something, and the phone will understand what it's seeing. Pichai gave examples of the system recognizing a flower, a series of restaurants on a street in New York (and automatically pulling in their ratings and information from Google), and the network name and password for a wifi router from the back of the router itself--the phone then automatically connecting to the network. Theoretically, in the future, you'll be searching the world not through text or your voice, but by pointing your camera at things.
A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Amazon acquired another startup this week, the maker of the beloved tech product Eero, a mesh router that improves dead Wi-Fi spots in the home. To that, you might have said, OK, so? But, more importantly, it's an indication of how Amazon wants to go further than just making our homes "smart." It wants to turn our dwellings into the "Amazon Home."
Desktop digital picture frames have largely faded away, a side effect of the ubiquity of smartphones. Now the next thing to go digital is the artwork on your wall, such as the latest connected-art canvas from New York City-based Meural. The 27-inch, 1920x1080 display is large enough to be a focal point on your wall or fireplace mantle, and it taps into a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of art via an 802.11n Access to the collection is included in the 495 price of the frame (a "Lightbox" model sells for 595). The frame has 8GB of built-in memory, so you can store a number of works at once.
The water sector has collected reams of data for decades, but it's only within the last few years that utilities, agencies, consultants and vendors have begun to use that data to improve everything from managing maintenance to predicting water flow to digitally mimicking an entire watershed. The move to leverage digital information in the sector over the last two to three years is "drastic," says Luis Casado, senior vice president of water for Gannett Fleming and one of several people who spoke passionately about the possibilities of water data at Water Environment Federation's annual WEFTEC conference Oct. 1-3 in New Orleans. Firms like Gannett Fleming, Arcadis, Brown and Caldwell, and Jacobs are taking previously underutilized information from supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems, and pairing it with historic datasets and additional sensor data to create customized digital dashboards and applications for water agencies and related entities. "It's not a single piece of software, it's an approach of how you look at data and how you merge that information and use it effectively in day-to-day operation," said Kevin Stively, smart utility leader for Brown and Caldwell, in a presentation at the event. He said historical information can be layered on real-time information to help a younger workforce make the operational decisions that older workers relied on their "gut" to make.