New Self-Driving Car Mapping Unit Backed by Amazon and Microsoft

 

Amazon and Microsoft are two major companies that are yet to enter the arena of autonomous car development yet, but this could be set to change soon. Reuters have reported that according to sources, Here, a mapping company owned by a number of German automobile makers could soon be provided with cloud computing capabilities by the two IT giants. The companies that currently own Here, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler all have their own self-driving developments in the works.

Amazon are also reported to be interested in becoming a major shareholder in Here, which would position them to be the prime provider of cloud computing solutions to them. When you consider that Here collects a huge amount of data via sensors mounted atop thousands of self-driving cars belonging to the company’s owner firms, this would be a great boon for making the most of it.

Here was previously owned by Nokia, but was acquired by the German firms in December last year for €2.8 billion. Since this acquisition, Here have continued to state that “have stressed since the acquisition in early December that they are open to additional investors from all industries.” As a result, a number of companies aside from Amazon and Microsoft want to be involved with Here, including Renault and Continental, which both have a stake in the automotive industry. Continental in particular told the wire service that a decision as to whether they would purchase a stake in Here would come imminently.

With high-resolution mapping being so crucial to proper operation of autonomous vehicles, it is no wonder that so many companies are clamouring for a part in one so open to partnerships. As Amazon and Microsoft show, it’s not just those developing the cars that want to be a part of this sector either, with the IT and data requirements to run such cars meaning that even other service providers have a role to play in this developing technology.

Nintendo NX May Contain Kinect-Like Features

Rumours galore surround the Nintendo NX, the successor to the Wii U. Now it seems like another one has come forward thanks to a patent showing off what seems to be Kinect-like features.

Nintendo took the console market by storm when it released the Wii back in 2006. Featuring motion controllers through the Wii remotes, the console saw entire families playing bowling together in their sitting room and racing around tracks with Luigi and Mario against the grandparents. Since then several consoles have used similar methods to achieve motion capture gameplay, from the use of light orbs to accelerometers in controllers the consoles have experienced an influx of movement related gameplay features. The Kinect took it to a whole new level and it looks like a similar method could be used to take the NX that little bit further.

The Kinect used cameras to not only recognise who was playing the game but also their movement and distance (something that proved difficult for other consoles). The methods listed for the depth tracking software include everything from a distance measuring laser to using the thermal signature of a person to determine how close / far away from the camera they are.

Combined with the depth measuring technology there also appears to be gesture recognition, something which could see you swirling your arms around like Iron man as you power up and play your favourite games.

Are you excited for the NX? We are excited to see how it will turn out and what rumours are included in the latest console from Nintendo!

Volvo ROAR is an Automated Bin!

Volvo is known for their safe cars, my own family has the saying that Volvo’s are the people’s tanks. They are known for other things and soon they could be the ones responsible for your bins thanks to ROAR.

ROAR (RObot based Autonomous Refuse handling) is designed to help those who come pick up your bins every week. ROAR is a two-part system, with the first part being a drone. The drone creates a “target” for the robot, named ROARY, that enables it to locate and navigate towards the target bin, with it even picking up obstacles and moving around the threats.

ROAR is the brainchild of three universities undergraduates with both Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University and Penn State University to help create the project. The second part of the project is the automated emptying of bins. When you approach the back of a garbage truck it detects how far away a person is, when you are too close the process ends meaning it is safe and keeps curious passersby out of harms way from the large lifting and crushing mechanics.

You could soon see a single person traveling in the truck, with a small selection of drones and copters helping pick up your truck with minimal manpower and risk to both you and the neighbourhood. What do you think about the idea? Is the concept of automating everything going a little too far when it will even take out your rubbish?

Oral-B Genius: A Toothbrush With Apps

We love technology, sometimes a little too much. The internet of things exposes a whole new way to look at the world, with cameras being viewable from all over the world and “smart houses” causing major problems with each glitch. So what could become “smart” next? How about your toothbrush?

Welcome the Oral-B Genius, a new toothbrush that not only helps you clean your teeth but also points out all those bad habits you might have when it comes to brushing your teeth. The recommendation is that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes a day, at least twice. Some people aren’t as patient as that and either rushes through it or miss out on the morning or evening brush every couple of days. The SmartSeries by Oral-B looks to help people increase their brush time by making it an experience they want to do, letting you see the news or your daily calendar on your phone while you brush.

Not only does the toothbrush connect to your phone to give you all the news and weather but the inbuilt pressure senses give you a warning when you push that little bit too hard on your teeth. The latest model, the Genius, contains all this and more. The added feature is the use of the “Position Detection Technology” that lets the app know where in your mouth you are brushing, telling you where you are overfocusing and where in your mouth you need to spend more time.

If this wasn’t enough for you the phone has to calculate your teeth’s position. The solution they found was to use the smartphone’s camera to identify your face and then calculate your teeth based on the image and your brushing data.

Didn’t feel bad about occasionally skipping brushing your teeth? I wonder how long it is before the app’s updated with a guilt feature, anything that reminds us just how bad we are for not caring enough about our teeth.

Mod Support and Mapping Coming to COD Black Ops III PC

The Call of Duty franchise gained notoriety for its incredibly popular multiplayer modes which feature fluid and accessible gunplay. Since the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, PC gamers have experienced a number of poor ports due to a low FOV, and hazy graphics. However, it seems Treyarch are trying to instill confidence in this years installment and will implement modding and mapping in 2016. The official statement reads:

“Over the years, the Call of Duty® community has proven itself to be among the most passionate in the world – and we count ourselves fortunate to make games for you.

We’ve been listening to one of your top requests and are excited to announce that modding and mapping are coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 PC!

We’ve still got a lot of work left to do, but here’s our current plan:

  • You will be able to create Maps & Game Modes and more!
  • We will include Unranked Dedicated Server Files with the tools so you can run servers with modded content anywhere you choose.
  • We will provide an Unranked Server Browser so you can easily find and join servers with modded content.
  • Closed Alpha target date:  March 2016

Please remember that this is software development, so things don’t always work out exactly as planned.  Sometimes features slip or drop off altogether, sometimes they get replaced with other, more awesome features as we hit into limitations of our original plans.

There is much more news to come including updates on Open Beta timing.  In order to keep you informed, we’ll periodically publish developer blog posts to share our progress with our fans. Stay tuned to the Treyarch blog for more information.

And yes, this is for real.

Sincerely,

Cesar Stastny

Director of Development”

This is a rather surprising announcement and I’m pleased to see the Call of Duty franchise support modding. Traditionally, this hasn’t been the case as Activision focused on locking the core experience. This was probably done to make each sequel appear more enticing. While I’m not an avid multiplayer gamer, the concept of modding and user-created maps, should add a great deal of replay value.

Disney Is Devising a 3D Augmented Reality Colouring Book

I don’t know, children today in developed countries have it all in terms of tech, where tablet computers and Smartphone’s are the norm and internet access is available 24/7 to assist with homework, yep, let’s assume it’s for school work and not for social networks. Now, Disney has incorporated augmented reality into a colouring book which allows your child the ability to colour in a character from an art book in 3D.

Below is a video which shows the concept, as you can see, it utilizes an augmented reality app that Disney have developed with the aim of tracking and capturing real-time images from a mobile device camera. It then maps them onto any 3D deformable surface. The end result is a moving 3D character which can be coloured in within real-time.

The app is still very much at the development stage, but it certainly shows the possibilities which could exist within toys of the future.  Below is a screenshot to convey the idea, the user views the 3D character via a phone or tablet camera while using the app, they can then colour in the figure within the 2D colouring book which is then translated onto the character.

This concept is certainly fantastic and shows what could be achieved if you transfer this principle onto a more advanced model. Imagine if this technique was perfected and allowed you to colour in a Star Wars vehicle before it flew around the room or a historical building or landmark.  It will be a while yet before it hits the shops, but when it does, expect children to clamber for it.

A fantastic concept for tech lovers, and imagine working for a company called “Disney Research” certainly eye-catching on a CV.

Thank you disneyresearch for providing us with this information.

Uber Accquires Bing Mapping Assets and 100 Engineers from Microsoft

Car-hailing firm Uber is making big strides into the mapping market, acquiring mapping data as well as about 100 image-collection engineers from Microsoft. Uber has been looking to making their mobile app better, mainly in the area of better maps to bring drivers and riders together. While companies transferring data and technology isn’t something new, the movement of about 100 engineers is rare.

With such a large movement of engineers, it looks like Uber actually may have acquired a Bing mapping division or some part of it at least. What is most surprising though isn’t that Uber wanted the data and engineers, but that Microsoft was willing to part with them. Microsoft has spent a lot of money trying to build up their Bing search and mapping platforms and divesting itself of this many experienced engineers is not a sign of confidence.

both Uber and Microsoft are facing tough times ahead of them. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke about making tough choices in the near future and getting out of fringe markets not core to the business. Uber is also facing push back to its business model, mainly from taxi organizations and just had two senior officers arrested in France. It will be interesting to see both firms move on from this technology and personnel transfer.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

London Eye and Big Ben Become Animated in Apple Maps Update

A few curious users of Apple’s Maps application on iOS and the Mac, have noticed that the London Eye and Big Ben have suddenly become animated. Yes, when users look at the two popular attractions in the 3D ‘Flyover’ view, the London Eye rotates and Big Ben displays the correct time.

The new feature is expected to roll out to more cities in “the coming weeks”.

Source: The Daily Mail Via: MacRumors

First Accurate Model of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ Mapped by Drone

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil is one of the most famous in the world. Since 1931, the statue has stood tall over the Rio de Janeiro skyline, becoming one of the most recognisable landmarks ever. However, while many statues have many accurate replicas and models of themselves, no-one has never been able to sufficiently analyse Christ the Redeemer to make such a model. Its precarious position on top of Corcovado Mountain has made it very difficult to get up close and personal with it.

But now, thanks to drones, we do have the first model. Across 19 10-minute flights, drones made by Canadian company Aeryon accurately mapped every inch of the famous statue. 2,090 individual images were stitched together producing a wireframe mesh of 2.5 million triangles.

The video below shows you the process leading to the finished product. It’s an incredible feat made possible only by drones.

Source: The Verge

Google Maps is 10 Years Old

Google Maps has just become 10 years old. It’s hard to believe that it’s as old as that, but it’s also hard to imagine a world without it 10 years ago.The quintessential mapping web app was initially developed by a team of 50 people, but it took many years and many more people to bring it to where it is today.

Google Maps originally started out as a downloadable app created by Danish brothers Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen at Where 2 Technologies – a company which attracted the interest and was subsquently acquired by Google. That app was a very basic application, but it laid the foundations for what was to become one of Google’s most iconic services.

So it was, that on February 8th 2005, Google made an announcement on the Google Blog about their latest project and that a beta version was to open to the public. That was just the beginning and since then, after many additions, including hybrid maps, Street View, transit information, turn-by-turn directions and more, Google Maps has become the way most of us find our way around the planet.

Happy Birthday Google Maps.

Source: The Guardian

Omote Demo Their Real-Time Face Tracking & Projection Technology

You may have seen some of the impressive light shows that can be created by using projection mapping on buildings. The surface is scanned and then software is used to create cool deformation and lighting effects that look like they’re changing the geometry of the building. The effect is profound for and spectators, but what if you were to use the same technique on a human face?

The tracking is managed by using tracking dots on the users face, this allows the projector to adjust for any movements in the subject, as well as allowing for on-the-fly adjustments to any animation patterns that are being projected on to the face. The effect is pretty surreal and while it may not serve much of a practical use, but it’s certainly cool to watch.

[vimeo width=”800″ height=”450″]http://vimeo.com/103425574[/vimeo]

Thank you Nobumichiasai for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Nobumichiasai.