Google Maps is getting an "Immersive View" that will offer users digitally rendered looks at major US cityscapes, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai told the audience at Google's I/O 2022 keynote on Wednesday. The new feature uses computer vision and AI to blend Maps' existing Street View function with aerial photography to create high-resolution models of the various buildings and urban features of a given location. "With our new immersive view, you'll be able to experience what a neighborhood, landmark, restaurant or popular venue is like -- and even feel like you're right there before you ever set foot inside," wrote Miriam Daniel, VP of Google Maps, in a blog post. What's more, Maps' other tools and features can be applied to the view as well, enabling users to see what the area looks like at different times of the day and varying weather conditions. Immersive View will first be available for Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo later this year, with more cities to follow.
Marcelo Rinesi remembers what it was like to watch Jurassic Park for the first time in a theater. The dinosaurs looked so convincing that they felt like the real thing, a special effects breakthrough that permanently shifted people's perception of what's possible. After two weeks of testing DALL-E 2, the CTO of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies thinks AI might be on the verge of its own Jurassic Park moment. Last month, OpenAI introduced the second generation version of DALL-E, an AI model trained on 650 million images and text captions. It can take in text and spit out images, whether that's a "Dystopian Great Wave off Kanagawa as Godzilla eating Tokyo" or "Teddy bears working on new AI research on the moon in the 1980s."
Gaming company Square Enix will reduce its developer presence in the West with the sale of the studios behind franchises Tomb Raider, Deux Ex and Thief to Sweden's Embracer Group for $300 million. The latest in a series of deals in the video games industry, the sale announced on Monday includes studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix Montreal, affects 1,100 employees and is expected to close in the July-September quarter. Square Enix, whose major franchises include Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, said the proceeds will be used to invest in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud. The Tokyo-based company last year said it was reviewing its portfolio to adapt to industry trends such as the focus on the "metaverse," or the idea consumers will spend more time in virtual worlds. Embracer, which has a reputation for acquisitions and a war chest of 10 billion Swedish krona ($1.02 billion), said the deal will give it a pipeline of more than 230 games including 30 big-budget AAA titles.
The Japanese gaming company behind Final Fantasy is selling off three studios, including the rights to hit franchises including Tomb Raider, in a $300m (£240m) deal. Tokyo-based Square Enix has sold US-headquartered Crystal Dynamics and Canada-based Eidos Montreal and Square Enix Montreal to the Nasdaq-listed Swedish gaming group Embracer. The deal includes the intellectual property (IP) rights to games such as Tomb Raider, which has sold more than 88m units, Deus Ex, Thief and Legacy of Kain. It also includes 50 back catalogue games and will add 1,100 staff to Embracer, taking its global headcount to more than 14,000. "We are thrilled to welcome these studios into the Embracer family," said Lars Wingefors, co-founder and group chief executive at Embracer.
Gaming company Square Enix will reduce its developer presence in the West with the sale of the studios behind franchises "Tomb Raider," "Deux Ex" and "Thief" to Sweden's Embracer Group for $300 million. The latest in a series of deals in the video games industry, the sale announced on Monday includes studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix Montreal, affects 1,100 employees and is expected to close in the July-September quarter. Square Enix, whose major franchises include "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest," said the proceeds will be used to invest in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud. The Tokyo-based company last year said it was reviewing its portfolio to adapt to industry trends such as the focus on the "metaverse," or the idea consumers will spend more time in virtual worlds. Embracer, which has a reputation for acquisitions and a war chest of 10 billion Swedish krona ($1.02 billion), said the deal will give it a pipeline of more than 230 games including 30 big-budget AAA titles.
SoftBank Group Corp. is lining up startup investments in Japan, aggressively pursuing entrepreneurs in its home market for the first time since its Vision Fund's launch. The Japanese startup scene is going through a revival, helped by an influx of young talent from private equity funds and consulting firms, said Kentaro Matsui, a managing partner at the Vision Fund who overseas Japan investments. Combined with a shift in strategy to invest smaller sums than its previous threshold of $100 million (¥12.8 billion), this has meant more opportunities for the world's largest tech fund to invest at home, he said. Japan's weight in SoftBank's overall portfolio will "definitely" increase, Matsui said in an interview in Tokyo. "The caliber of people in the companies we are investing in is clearly different" compared with 2018 or 2019, he said.
Despite the official policy of pacifism, which outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes, Japan is now looking to acquire attack drones for its arsenal. This comes amid Tokyo's increasing concerns over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its territorial disputes with Moscow over the Kuril Islands. Japanese defense officials are considering buying drones as they believe these rudimentary weapons are not only impactful but also "cost-effective and easy to deploy," reported South China Morning Post. "There is no doubt that reconnaissance and attack functionality using a multitude of low-cost'swarm drones' would be militarily advantageous," Yoshihide Yoshida, chief of staff of the Ground Self-Defence Forces, was quoted by the news outlet. Japan had already taken the first step in this regard when it began using U.S.-built drones to identify and track ships across the Pacific last year.
Robots in Japan are found on factory floors carrying out simple tasks or delivering food to restaurant patrons but researchers have now unveiled a robot capable of executing the delicate task of peeling a banana without squashing the fruit inside. While the dual-armed machine is only successful 57% of the time, banana peeling points to a future where machines undertake more subtle operations than moving metal parts or delivering coffee. Video from researchers at the University of Tokyo showed the robot pick up and peel a banana with both hands in about three minutes. Researchers Heecheol Kim, Yoshiyuki Ohmura and Yasuo Kuniyoshi trained the robot using a "deep imitation learning" process where they demonstrated the banana-peeling action hundreds of times to produce sufficient data for the robot to learn the actions and replicate it. In this case, the banana reached its success rate after more than 13 hours of training.
Over the last five years, researchers at the Information Somatics Lab in Tokyo have made significant process testing and developing Dr. Octopus-like robot arms. The goal is to find effective ways to redesign the human body, focusing specifically on augmenting and multiplying our upper limb capabilities. Their work has come a long way over the years, from feet-controlled robot arms to appendages controlled movements in the shoulders.
TOKYO -- Zipline, an American company that specializes in using autonomously flying drones to deliver medical supplies, has taken off in Japan. Other parts of Japan may follow, including urban areas, although the biggest needs tend to be in isolated rural areas. Zipline, founded six years ago, already is in service in the U.S., where it has partnered with Walmart Inc. to deliver other products at the retail chain as well as drugs. It is also delivering medical goods in Ghana and Rwanda. Its takeoff in Japan is in partnership with Toyota Tsusho, a group company of Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. "You can totally transform the way that you react to pandemics, treat patients and do things like home health care delivery," Zipline Chief Executive Keller Rinaudo told The Associated Press.