Saturday, July 11, 2015

Amazon's Fling is its version of AirPlay and Google Cast


If you've been hoping for an AirPlay or Cast-like tool to beam content to your Amazon streaming gadgets, you'll soon be in luck. The company revealed its Fling feature this week, a tool that will allow developers to include a way to control media from a mobile device on your Fire TV. Right now, the software will let you send video, audio and still images from an Android or iOS device to the set-top box (or dongle, we'd surmise) for viewing. Devs can also employ "two-way communication" between the Fire TV and a phone or tablet to "engaging second screen experiences."

The company released an SDK so eager app makers can get started, and Karaoke Party and Rivet Radio are among the first selections to employ the tech. Rather than building the tool into it's OS like Apple and Google, Amazon is allowing app developers to add in Fling as they wish. Amazon's mobile devices run a version Google's operating system after all, and some folks who own its streaming gear probably also own an iOS or Android device. That being said, it'll be interesting to see if the likes of Netflix, Hulu and others will decide to opt in.

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Source: Amazon


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Framing Pictures With Fingers Would Be the Best Google Glass 2.0 Feature


The first Google Glass might’ve died an ignominious death, but don’t give up on face computers just yet. Google will most likely launch some kind of updated Glass in the future, and when it does, features like framing up pictures with your fingers could make it a whole lot better than version 1.0.



Google's DeepStereo makes Street View 'tourism' more realistic


Who here uses Street View to do some virtual traveling? It's not a shabby option if you want to look at places you might never visit within your lifetime, but Google thinks there's still a better way to simulate real-world tours. A team of the company's researchers has developed a technique that uses Google's experimental machine vision algorithm called DeepStereo to transform Street View panoramas into seamless virtual tours. See, Street View photos don't usually capture every detail of a location -- there are always a few frames missing in order to construct convincing digital reproductions of places like museums and houses. DeepStereo can synthesize those missing frames based on the ones that go before and after them, giving Google the ability to create realistic virtual tours.

In order to "train" DeepStero, the team had to feed the algorithm with images captured out of a moving vehicle; after that, it was able to start recreating images. It's still not perfect at this point -- some objects like trees or grass are hard to synthesize and details vanish from the recreated frame if the machine lacks pertinent details. In addition, it takes as long as 12 minutes on a powerful workstation to build a single synthetic frame. DeepStereo's obviously still a young technology, but the team believes it could be used not just to create virtual tours, but to generate environments for movies and virtual reality content in the future.

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Via: MIT Technology Review

Source: Google


Monday, June 29, 2015

A Chinese artificial intelligence program just beat humans in an IQ test



Science just took us a small step closer to HAL 9000.

A new artificial intelligence (AI) program designed by Chinese researchers has beat humans on a verbal IQ test.

Scoring well on the verbal section of the intelligence test has traditionally been a tall order for computers, since words have multiple meanings and complex relationships to one another.

But in a new study, the program did better than its human counterparts who took the test.

The findings suggest machines could be one small step closer to approaching the level of human intelligence, the researchers wrote in the study, which was posted earlier this month on the online database arXiv, but has not yet been published in a scientific journal.

IQ isn't the end-all, be-all measure of intelligence

Don't get too excited just yet: IQ isn't the end-all, be-all measure of intelligence, human or otherwise.

For one thing, the test only measures one kind of intelligence (typically, critics point out, at the expense of others, such as creativity or emotional intelligence. Plus, because some test questions can be hacked using some basic tricks, some AI researchers argue that IQ isn't the best way to measure machine intelligence.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests, an idea first proposed by German psychologist William Stern in the early 1900s, usually consist of a standard set of questions designed to measure human intelligence in logic, math and verbal comprehension. The verbal questions usually test a person's understanding of words with multiple meanings, synonyms and antonyms, and analogies (for example, a question might ask fo! r the multiple choice answer that best matches the analogy "sedative : drowness.")

Only a handful of computer programs for solving IQ tests exist, which could make this new achievement a pretty big deal.

Bin Gao, a computer scientist at Microsoft Research in Beijing, and his colleagues developed the new AI program specifically to tackle the test's verbal questions.

First, they wrote a program to figure out which type of question was being asked. Next, they found a new way to represent the different meanings of words and how the words were related.

They used an approach known as deep learning, which involves building up more and more abstract representations of concepts from raw data. (For example, Google uses deep learning in its search and translation features.) The researchers used this method to learn the different representations of words, a technique known as word embedding.

Finally, the researchers developed a way to solve the test problems.

The researchers gave a set of IQ test questions to their computer program and to a group of 200 people with different levels of education, recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform.

Still, the results are striking

The AI's results were striking. Although it scored better than the average person in the study, it didn't fare so well against some participants, such as people 30 and over and people with a master's or doctorate degree.

Other scientists not involved in the study praised the findings, but cautioned that they were just baby steps for now.

Robert Sloan, a computer scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the Chinese AI's performance was a small step forward, but noted that these kinds of multiple choice questions are just one type of IQ test, and may not be comparable to the kinds of open-ended reasoning tests administered to students by trained psycholo! gists.

Within AI, "the places where so far we’ve seen very little progress have to do with open dialogue and social understanding," Sloan told Business Insider. For example, if you ask a child what to do if they see an adult lying in the street, you expect them to call for help. "Right now, theres no way you could write a computer program to do that," he said.

In 2013, Sloan and his colleagues developed an AI that scored the same on an IQ test as a human four-year-old, but the program's performance was extremely varied. If a child varied that much, people would think something was wrong with it, Sloan said at the time.

Hannaneh Hajishirzi, an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle who designs computer programs that can solve math word problems, also found the results interesting. The Chinese researchers "got interesting results in terms of comparison with humans on this test of verbal questions," she said, adding that "we're still far away from making a system that can reason like humans."

So maybe AI isn't about to take over the world, as Stephen Hawking and others might have us believe. But at the very least, we'll end up with computers that are really good at making analogies.

UP NEXT: The CEO of IBM just made a bold prediction about the future of artificial intelligence

SEE ALSO: Here's when artificial intelligence could go from helpful to scary

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Stretchy conductive ink puts computing power on your clothes


Conductive ink examples

Those dreams of having computers in your clothing might be more realistic than you think. Japanese researchers have developed a printable conductive ink that maintains a circuit even when you stretch fabric to three times its usual length -- you could have athletic gear with hidden activity trackers, sensors and other computing devices. The key is a careful mix of fluorine, an organic solvent and silver flakes which, when combined, keeps transmitting electricity even under heavy abuse.

The current prototype for the ink, a wristband that tracks muscle movement, is pretty crude. You'd need much smaller circuitry before your apparel replaces your step counter or smartwatch. However, it only takes one step to print the ink. As such, it'd be relatively easy to produce on the large scales you need for shirts and wristbands. Smart fitness clothing already exists, but this invention would make it both more commercially viable and a heck of a lot more comfortable.

[Image credit: Takao Someya/University of Tokyo]

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Via: EurekAlert, Nikkei Technology

Source: Nature