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'Untrained Eyes' explores how computers perceive you

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If you search for "man" on Google, most of the image results you'll get are of white males looking confidently at the camera. "Woman," meanwhile, brings up pictures of women that appear to have been taken from a male gaze -- and yes, you guessed it, they're also predominately white. That lack of inclusion in machine learning is what "Untrained Eyes," an interactive art installation, aims to shed light on. The project, created by conceptual artist Glenn Kaino and actor/activist Jesse Williams, comes in the form of a sculpture that uses five mirrors and a Kinect to get its point across. Stand in front of it, wave and, within seconds, you'll be presented with an image that will "match" your appearance.


The UK Autumn Budget gets tough on tech companies and tax

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During yesterday's Autumn statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined positive measures to push the adoption of autonomous and electric cars, develop new 5G networks, treble the number of computer science teachers and further research into AI and robotics. But tucked away in the 88-page document were small changes that show the UK government plans to get a lot tougher on technology companies that aren't willing to give back as much as they should. The most important notice came during Hammond's budget speech. As he pledged £400 million for a UK-wide EV charging network and a £100 million subsidy for electric car buyers, the finance minister also outlined steps to claw back money from tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple, which use legal loopholes to avoid paying tax in the UK. "Multinational digital businesses pay billions of pounds in royalties to jurisdictions where they are not taxed – and some of these royalties relate to UK sales," said Hammond in his speech.


The Morning After: Thursday, November 23rd 2017

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To go along with the Thanksgiving feast, we have the FCC's plan to kill net neutrality. It's not much of a treat but should provide some reading material if you have the day off. Otherwise, we have an alert about Intel CPUs, and a peek at Apple's work on self-driving cars. Speak up before the commission votes December 14th.FCC releases the final draft of its proposal to kill net neutrality The FCC has released the final draft of its proposal to rollback 2015 net neutrality protections. If enacted, the order would reclassify broadband internet service as an information service and Title II regulations would no longer apply.


Walmart is testing a self-driving, floor-scrubbing robot

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Walmart has been testing autonomous floor-cleaning robots in five of its stores, LinkedIn reports. The floor scrubber, developed by Brain Corp., is equipped with cameras, sensors and LiDAR to help it maneuver down aisles and around obstacles. And it can largely navigate itself after first being driven by a person in order to learn its path. Phil Duffy, VP of innovation and marketing for Brain Corp., told Fox Business that the company's technology is in approximately 50 malls and retailers nationwide. "We are also in airports, educational campuses, corporate campuses and industrial sites.


Samsung plans new research center to keep pace in the AI wars

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Samsung, jumping on a trend adopted by pretty much every tech outfit, is creating its own consumer-focused artificial intelligence research center. In a fairly vague statement released today, the company announced its plans to more thoroughly pursue AI endeavors with a dedicated project within its mobile and consumer electronics businesses, although it didn't say where the center will be located. Earlier this year the company made its AI intentions known when it opened a lab in Canada focusing on self-driving cars and image recognition. However, this latest announcement comes buried in a wider statement revealing minor changes to the role of Samsung's chief strategy officer Young Sohn, which has been expanded to explore new business opportunities -- a move designed to "quickly respond to market changes", according to the company. Samsung has a habit of getting ahead of itself, announcing its ambitions before it's close to creating a tangible output (see its ambiguous plans for a folding smartphone and Bixby's roll-out fiasco) so what will come of the company's AI research plans remains to be seen -- at least it's finally establishing itself in the AI club other tech players joined long ago.


UPS is trialling electric bike trailers in London

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In a bid to lower emissions in the capital and reduce the footprint of its vehicles on the road, global delivery firm UPS has begun trialling a new electric-powered bike trailer on the streets of London. The concept, built as part of the Low Impact City Logistics project, attaches to the back of a pedal cycle and utilises a "net-neutral" technology. This then allows couriers to transport up to 200 kilograms without requiring any additional effort on their part. The project was formalised following a pitch process back in 2016. Innovate UK, the quango behind numerous self-driving car projects across Britain, stumped up £10 million for a new collaborative research and development project and five organizations answered the call.


Apple research gives a peek at its self-driving car plans

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Apply, which has been famously tight-lipped on its self-driving vehicle research, has posted what looks like its first public research on the subject, notes Reuters. The paper is listed on the public site Arxiv, often used by researchers to get preliminary feedback before publishing in a final form. The report describes a new way to use LiDAR called VoxelNet. That would make it easier for autonomous cars to not just spot the location of objects, but determine critical information like whether they're pedestrians or cyclists. While the scientific part of the paper is interesting, the most surprising part about it is that it exists at all.


Google voice recognition could transcribe doctor visits

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Doctors work long hours, and a disturbingly large part of that is documenting patient visits -- one study indicates that they spend 6 hours of an 11-hour day making sure their records are up to snuff. But how do you streamline that work without hiring an army of note takers? Google Brain and Stanford think voice recognition is the answer. They recently partnered on a study that used automatic speech recognition (similar to what you'd find in Google Assistant or Google Translate) to transcribe both doctors and patients during a session. The approach can not only distinguish the voices in the room, but also the subjects.


Uber is working on tools to fight motion sickness in self-driving cars

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Motion sickness is a real problem in self-driving cars. As you're not in control of where the car is going, you might feel queasy when the vehicle moves in ways you weren't anticipating. Uber clearly needs to minimize that urge to hurl if it's going to create an autonomous fleet -- and accordingly, it's exploring technology that could make you feel at ease. It's applying for a patent on a raft of technologies that would counter motion sickness by stimulating your senses as the car moves, distracting your brain. Light bars and screens could signal the car's intentions, giving your mind a chance to prepare for that upcoming turn.


Apple's HomePod has been in and out of development since 2012

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Have you wondered why it took Apple 3 years to come up with an answer to the Amazon Echo in the form of the HomePod? Apparently, it's because it wasn't really meant as an answer to the Echo. Bloomberg sources claim that work on the HomePod started in 2012 as a side project (common at Apple), and it was reportedly cancelled and resurrected "several times" as the company tried to figure out how a connected speaker would work in its lineup. It reportedly went through multiple dramatic redesigns, including a 3-foot-tall design chock-full of speakers. The company did study the Echo closely when it showed up in 2014, but dismissed its lackluster audio quality and set to working on something that sounded better.