Amazon is Creating a Platform to Share Educational Materials

When you are a teacher, or anyone involved in training, you often spend more time creating resources and finding ways to reinforce a message rather than just hammering it home time and time again. In order to help with this Amazon are looking at creating a new site designed around being able to share educational materials around the world.

Amazon Education is still in its early stages but you can now sign up as part of their waitlist for the scheme here. The page states that the “future of education is open”, and with all signs pointing to the scheme working similar to Amazon’s retail site, users will be quickly and comfortably able to share resources around the world.

In recent years companies have made a big push on technologies and Amazon are one of the companies that have pushed the most in this regard. With the Kindle being accepted as a standard for eBooks, being able to share classroom text through kindle’s would save schools hundreds on replacing books and with systems like Whispersync already in place to share materials, Amazon seems keen on getting into the business of educational resource sharing.

Do you think that being able to download and access your textbooks, homework and research topics through a popular platform like Amazon would help schools or would it make them reliant on a technology they have no control over?

Would You Pay Extra to Screen Movies on Release Day?

It’s a Tuesday, it’s been a long day at work, but a movie you’ve been waiting for has just released and you can’t wait to see it. You only have two options, go see the film or wait till you’ve had a calmer day. Soon you could be getting a third option of being able to screen movies on their release day!

Screening room is a new service designed to give you just that option. On release day, you can view a film at home that has just released in the cinema. Basically, it will become your own private cinema, but this luxury comes at a hefty cost.

Setting you back $150 just for the secure set top box that plugs into your TV or projector, the next increase in price comes per screening, setting you back another $50 per film. If that didn’t seem like a lot then be aware it only lasts for 48 hours, two days later you need to buy the film all over again if you want to watch it.

While this may seem like a weird business model, even the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and J.J. Abrams all support the scheme and are shareholders in the new start-up project.

Would you pay extra to stream a movie at home? Do you feel like this would only help piracy or is the biggest hold back to modern films is the wait before they get into your home?

New York To Welcome World’s First Underground Park

Countries are defined by land, the same goes for cities and towns. So what do you do when you want to add a new park but are running out of space? James Ramsey and Dan Barasch has the answer, you make it the world’s first underground park.

The High Line is a 1.45 mile-long park, build atop some old railroad in Manhattan, but this won’t be the only park with the new “Lowline” project looking to transform an underground trolley terminal into the next park to grace New York.

After working on the project for five years, Ramsey and Barasch have now submitted their proposal to the city, eagerly awaiting their response. If accepted, it would be the world’s first underground park, something which the pair are well aware of. Ramsey stated, “nothing like this has really existed before, so we had to do a lot of work figuring out how to actually make this thing happen”.

The key problem is getting light into the underground park, something they hope to do by using naturally reflective surfaces. Once they managed to get light underground the duo hopes to be able to grow plants underground, a feat that would only increase the park’s natural appeal ten fold.

If it’s approved construction would begin in 2018, with the concept showing off some of the dreams that the project hopes to achieve. I’m already looking forward to the concept and seeing how others go about it, once the Lowline is built I have doubt that countries all over the world will look at doing just that.

Reflective Russian Satellite to be Brightest ‘Star’ in the Sky

When you look up at the night sky, the brightest thing you will see is likely to be the Moon. However, a team of Russian engineers want to ensure that the second brightest object isn’t just any other star billions of miles away, but a man-made object!

After reaching their fundraising goal, the team look to launch a satellite that will have no other purpose than to glow brightly. The object is no bigger than a bread bin, but once it is in orbit, it will open up into a pyramid shape of reflective surfaces. The object will stay in a sun-synchronous orbit of 370 miles above the Earth, ensuring it is always in the sunlight, giving it the ability to outshine any other star in the Sky. Unfortunately for the team, not everyone is happy about their project.

While they hope to inspire that anyone can achieve a goal of doing space-bound projects, by giving people something to wonder about when they look up at the sky as it floats around in space, many scientists are concerned that it will cause too much light pollution. While using telescopes and other technologies to view real stars and other space-bound objects, light pollution is a big problem and effectively turning on a big light up there could hinder some scientific efforts.

“We want to show that space exploration is something exciting and interesting, but most importantly that today it is accessible to everybody who is interested,” said project leader Alexander Shaenko to Sputnik News.

There’s not too much concern, though, as the $20,000 project is only said to last for a few weeks, although if their goal is a success, it could inspire others to do the same in the near future. Personally, I can’t wait to see it, it’s a cool idea and hopefully it will give off the right message and encourage people to look up and wonder about the universe, if only for a moment.

Windows Phone Won’t Be Getting Ported Android Apps

Microsoft is known for their software, with Windows 10 being offered as a free upgrade, with everyone from offices to the Pentagon. Windows 10 isn’t the only software Microsoft hopes people will pick up. Windows 10 mobile was destined to be great but recent sales and rumours could see the mobile phones ending. One of the issues for Windows 10 mobiles bad sales was the small number of apps you can find. Now it sounds like one of the last hopes for the mobile OS could also be gone.

In hopes of boosting sales, Microsoft was working on a project to port android apps across to the windows mobile operating system. The hope was that any phone you can get on android could instantly be accessible, Project Astoria was there to help make the phones more appealing.

The project has now been terminated, with Microsoft Directory Kevin Gallo writing that they had received “a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary”. This doesn’t mean they’ve given up hope for mobile operating system, with plans to bring iOS based app to the app store and Android through their purchase of the company Xamarin. Xamarin is known for their ability to write software once and deploy to all major mobile operating systems, Windows phone included.

18L Project Nova Case Reintroduced as The Cerberus

We could post the news that the impressive Project Nova was nearing its end and turn into a full-fledged product a couple of days ago and now that time is upon us. Project Nova got its official name which is the Cerberus and the company behind is called Kimera Industries. We could also reveal that the case would make its appearance on a crowdfunding site before making it to the retail market and the campaign date for this has also been announced.

So let us dive right into it with the most important information: The fundraising campaign will be launched on March 1st via Indiegogo which is when we’ll find out about its pricing too.

The team behind the Cerberus mATX SFF enclosure made a few changes since the last test build, and these changes make the case even better in my opinion. The top handle has been removed and made an optional upgrade for those that would like that kind of feature and they also introduced a version capable of using AIO cooling solutions along with a full sized ATX power supply.

“After many design iterations, and following all of the enthusiast feedback we’ve received, we couldn’t be more excited to announce Cerberus — as well as the impending crowdfunding campaign we’ll be launching on March 1st, to support production” said Joshua Ramirez, cofounder and design lead of Kimera Industries. “With Cerberus, it’s possible to create almost any high-end system — from octa-core workstations, to dual-GPU powerhouses, to multi-radiator liquid-cooled rigs — in a desktop you’ll actually want to put on your desk.”

Another one of the new changes in design is the optional side panel with a plexiglass window at the bottom. This will allow you to show off your high-end graphics cards in this impressive little chassis. The entire Cerberus chassis started as a scratch-build project by modders so this was an update that was to be expected and it is great that it’s an optional upgrade. Not everyone wants to show what’s inside.

While SFX power supplies have come a long way, they’re still not close to the wattage that is possible with normal ATX sized PSUs. Although you can get SFX PSUs up to 600W these days, Kimera Industries also created a second version of the case that takes higher needs this into consideration. In the ATX-PSU version the power supply is mounted in the more default rear location which also frees up the front for the AIO cooling that doesn’t fit the mounting arm anymore.

Colour is another thing where the Cerberus comes in several options. It will be available in default Obsidian Black as well as Pearl White and Carmine Red versions to match the colour of your internal hardware. The red version will be a stretch goal for the fundraising campaign, but I have no doubt that the goal will be met quickly.

The Cerberus breaks with the norm in more places that we’ve already covered and the next is the way it’s put together. Most cases rely on screws or simple plastic clip-and-pin systems, but not so with this case. The Cerberus is built with industrial-grade clips and pins made entirely of steel and that allow the case to come with a convenient yet reliable mounting system.

Cerberus Features

  • Size: At just 18.2L, Cerberus is smaller than some of the most popular mITX cases on the market, from Fractal Design’s Node 304, or BitFenix’s Prodigy. When compared to most mATX cases, Cerberus typically bests the competition by 10L or more – a whopping 40%+ volume reduction.
  • Quality: Made entirely of powder coated steel, and assembled in the United States, Cerberus is built to last for the long haul, with thoughtful features such as user replaceable parts, durable metal hardware, and all-steel panel clips and pins.
  • Design: Cerberus embraces a minimalist, refined aesthetic, with a luxurious matte finish and industrial design that embraces clean edges and understated features over bright lights and garish plastic accents.
  • Customizability: With multiple colors on offer, additional colors available as stretch goals, and the option to add an optional metal handle and/or plexiglass window, Cerberus is engineered to be customized to enthusiasts’ exact preferences.
  • Flexibility: From SFX and ATX PSU support to the hinged side bracket, to the innovative Infinite Vent system, Cerberus retains some of the most diverse hardware support in the industry, and can comfortably contain systems as simple as HTPCs and as sophisticated as water-cooled, multi-GPU gaming powerhouses.
  • Craftsmanship: Through a unique partnership with Sliger Designs, every Cerberus is built by trained and talented engineers on Sliger’s production floor, located in Sparks, Nevada, USA. By manufacturing enclosures domestically, instead of through nondescript factories in China or Taiwan, Kimera Industries is able to maintain strict quality controls, communicate constantly with engineers on the floor, and greatly expedite production and shipment of units to backers – all while supporting local workers, businesses, and communities.

Check out the Amazing 17-Liter Project Nova Chassis

Some of the best ideas are born out of necessity because they are needed but don’t exist yet. The same goes for the 17-liter chassis currently known as Project NOVA. Aibohphobia wanted to add more RAM to his system built-in a Mini-ITX NCASE M1, but there wasn’t any room to add more. Disappointed with the available mATX cases, he set out to design his own and it looks amazing so far.

Project NOVA is designed to be as small as possible and still have a maximum of flexibility and space for high-end hardware. This easily goes beyond what has been seen before, at least when we don’t count specialized systems with specially designed hardware components. The Project NOVA can do all this with default hardware.

The NOVA is only 300 mm high, 170 mm wide, and 333 mm deep. It is built from 20 gauge steel panels and frame while the handle on the top is machined aluminium. It is however currently unknown if the handle will make it to the final version. In my opinion, it isn’t needed and the case would look better without it. It could also save some costs.

Speaking of costs and the actual reason for this post, the case that started out as a project for a single system will turn into a commercial product. We don’t have the final details yet as they won’t be revealed until the 11th February, so in three days. We do however already know that it will be launched as a crowdfunding campaign which I have no doubt will be successful. It looks amazing while the design has been finalized and the prototype stands, so all that is missing to get it off the ground is some funding.

So, how much can you actually fit into this tiny chassis? The answer is a lot. It comes with 5 expansion slots and room for an mATX motherboard. There is clearance for 113mm CPU cooler height when we assume it will use a 25mm thick fan and side bracket left in. The side bracket can hold a 120mm or 140mm AIO cooler support while the PSU area supports both normal SFX and the longer SFX-L PSUs.

The above specifications allow for the basic hardware parts such as motherboards and graphics cards, but there also needs to be space for all our files. The NOVA has a dual 2.5-inch drive tray and you can also place a 3.5-inch sized drive instead of using the 5th expansion slot. That coupled with the available M.2 storage these days should be more than enough for most users.

As previously mentioned, the NOVA allows for AIO cooling solutions to be mounted on the side bracket, but the rest of the system also needs some cooling. For this, you can mount a 92mm fan at the rear and a 120mm fan at the front. The bottom allows for either two 120mm fans or a 92mm fan when a 3.5-inch drive is mounted there. Every little bit of space has been used and optimized for the best possible hardware support.

The top mounted slim fan seen in the image below has since been removed as testing showed little to no difference whether it was mounted or not.

The finished product as seen here is built with an i7 5930K, two GTX 980 in SLI, Gigabyte X99M Gaming 5 motherboard, 32GB Crucial 2400MHz DDR4 memory, a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD, an NZXT X41 CPU cooler, and the SilverStone SX600-G PSU.

A system that can kick some serious butt and when you take the size into consideration, it’s mind-blowing. Here’s a comparison that shows just how small it is.

I’ve attached a few more images below, but I can also highly recommend the official build log that takes you on a trip from the start of the project and into its final stage, that is if you got a couple hours spare as you’ll quickly loose yourself in it. There is a lot to view and read.

Microsoft Built a Datacenter at the Bottom of The Pacific Ocean

Building a datacenter can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but the latest project from Microsoft may have solved quite a few problems all at once. Typically it can take two years to build a datacenter on land, and even then you’ll find that they need to be built quite far from built-up residential areas and city centers, which then leads to increased latency for users. Then you’ve also got the issue of cooling the datacenter, as all that hardware generates a lot of heat and the cost of cooling it can quickly become a headache. Microsoft’s solution to all of this? Build the datacenter at the bottom of the ocean!

While it may seem like a wacky idea, it’s pretty clever. The ocean water is a very efficient way of cooling the datacenter and it’s passive too, so there are no ongoing running costs for the cooling as there would be in a building that used air conditioning systems. Microsoft said that during their testing, they observed no heading of the marine environment beyond a few inches of the device, so there should be no major impact from these units.

Microsoft’s Project ‘Leona Philpot’ was deployed about 1 kilometer off the pacific coast, where it stayed for 105 days and worked perfectly. Having it deployed in water like this means that it can be located close to populated areas, reducing latency and not taking up valuable land space around cities. What better, for Microsoft at least, is that these units can be deployed in just 90 days, much quicker than land-based datacenters. Microsoft’s researchers are already working on a follow-up to Leona Philpot, where they will deploy a unit three times the size and perform further tests. It will be interesting to see how well these datacenters perform and if they’ll become more popular than the current land based ones although we suspect that may not be for a long time.

Lead Behind Apple Car Leaves Company

Its been on the cards for a while that Apple has been looking at making a car. They’ve even gone so far as to invoke the wrath of Elon Musk by taking in staff straight from Tesla. The Apple Car project hasnot been shown off to the public yet, but it’s already caught people’s attention, it would seem to be in trouble though with the lead behind the project leaving the company.

Steve Zadesky, an employee with an impressive 16 years at Apple, is said to have been running the secret project behind the companies exploration into vehicles for two years; Zadesky is departing from the company for personal reasons.

Zadesky started for Apple in 1999 and has worked on their first iPod’s and iPhones, meaning he has been there to see some of their greatest moments. With a recent expansion for the electric car project, offering to triple their staff from 600 to almost two thousand, the projects green light for 2019 looks to be getting closer and closer.

This latest revelation could be yet another to a long line of knocks that the project has taken, with reports coming in that they have not only had trouble laying out goals for the project but that they have been given “ambitious deadlines” which the teams involved feel might not be attainable.

People leaving companies can come for various reasons, personal or professional, but the biggest threat is that leaders of projects and experts in their areas leave when the project is at its most vulnerable. If the information is correct we wish Zadesky the best in the future and look forward to seeing Apple’s progress with this project.

New Trailer for Doom’s Total Conversion Mod – Resident Evil Code Name Hunk

Modding is by far one of the coolest features of PC gaming, but every now and them, a modder or even a team of modders come along that go far beyond the basics of HD textures, new armour (or no armour, if you know what I mean) and weapon mods. Modder “DooMero” has been working hard on a total conversion mod for id Software’s classic FPS, DOOM.

Resident Evil Code Name Hunk takes one iconic series and forces it right into the Doom engine, with all the stunning 2D visuals that we came to know and love about Doom. Featuring a new level that was based around Resident Evil Survivor, a third person camera to suit the Resident Evil gameplay style and a whole host of action and cut-scenes to give everything some pace.

This original, albeit heavily inspired story takes place in the year 2002.

“Before the end of Umbrella, the alpha team of U.S.S. and commanded by Hunk need to collect all the samples created by dr. Young and ex-umbrella scientist responsible of the creation of the TNB virus, a T-veronica variation. The events occur in a complex facility located in Mero city.” said DooMero

It’s certainly an interesting project and if you’re unsure what to make of it, check out the newly released 35-minute long play through video below. Want to play it? Sit tight, as the total conversion mod will be released just next week!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OldcJsMYDs0

 

 

Teaser Released for Fan Made Halo PC Project

Hold onto your Spartan armour fellow PC gamers, because this is one incredible project that you’re not going to want to miss out on! Halo is a great game, I’m a huge fan of the series and have long followed it on various Xbox formats over the years. However, Halo has never been as good as it was when it was released on PC, even if number 2 did require you to install Vista *shudder*.

Now it looks like Halo is set to return to PC albeit in an unofficial capacity, not that I care, the new game looks freaking amazing! The project is called installation 01, and it has been under development for quite some time now, but their new gameplay teaser is enough to spark new excitement into the teams work.

What’s really exciting about this project is the team behind it are doing everything by the book, that means it’s not going to get pulled and trust me, if Microsoft were going to lawyer up, they’d have long since done so.

NOTE: Everything you see here is Work in Progress, anything is subject to change. This is the Pre-Alpha version of the game.

Q: What is this?

A: Installation 01 is a fan game created by Halo fans from all over the world. The aim of this project is to be both an artistic tribute to Halo and a fun way to experience Halo on PC, Mac and Linux free and legally. Our primary goal is to recreate the multiplayer experience of the Halo trilogy, bringing in features from all Halo games to make the ultimate multiplayer sandbox!

Q: When is this being released?

A: Short answer: 8-12 months, no promises.

Long answer: We’d like to include several well-made maps and a solid arsenal of weapons and gamemodes in our first open beta build. Depending on how many more artists and programmers join the team, we are looking at an 8-12 month wait until our first publicly available build. However, there will be more trailers and information released as we progress, and hopefully the teaser trailer we just released will serve as a shining beacon to talented folks in the fan community. The more the merrier, keep reading for information on how to help.

Q: Is this legal?

A: We are abiding by Microsoft’s Fair Use Policy and their Game Content Usage Rules. http://www.xbox.com/en-us/developers/…
Everything in the game is fan created and can be legally downloaded and distributed in accordance with the Game Content Usage Rules. We are not out to make any money, even to cover costs. The work is all a labor of love, our team gets nothing in return except the satisfaction of making the ultimate Halo tribute, and some portfolio building.

Q: How can I help?

A: We are in need of more team members. We are currently recruiting for these positions:
-3D artists
-2D artists
-Programmers
Our current team size is about 20 people giving their free time on-and-off depending on school and work schedules (about half of us are either computer science or art students, with hobbyists and professionals mixed in). We would like to expand, so please comment if you are interested in helping, we will get back to you ASAP!

Q: Where do I go to check for updates on the project?

Want to keep up to date with the project? Check out the official YouTube and Facebook pages.

Dad Constructs Enormous Death Star to Entertain His Children

Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres on December 14th in Los Angeles and predicted to smash box office records. As you might expect, science-fiction fans are anxiously waiting to see the next installment in the franchise. Additionally, the plot and character development has been kept relatively secret, which means the movie’s narrative is still a mystery. Nevertheless, to mark this momentous occasion, super-fan Colby Powell recently started a project to build a fully operational Death Star.

The final piece measures 23 feet in diameter and looks phenomenal. Even more unbelievable, 162 Geohubs, 18 cans of paint and 2,000 feet of 1/2 inch PVC was used to create this mammoth sculpture. The creator went to extreme lengths to finish the construction and even hired a large crane. When powered on, the Death Star glows in a menacing manner and monitors the universe for its next target. Either the universe, or a cluttered house in Lafayette (same thing right?).

Clearly, the Death Star is built just in time for the latest movie. Perhaps, there’s a TV inside to watch Star Wars while on the look out for Rebel traitors. In all seriousness, this is a wonderful project and it’s fantastic to see the final result.

Are you looking forward to the new Star Wars movie?

Entire Skyrim Map Recreated in Unreal Engine 4

Modding a game is one thing, it can be a demanding hobby that requires quite a lot of knowledge of a game’s engine and the ability to modify its assets, but porting an entire games world from one engine to another, that’s completely bonkers. However, that’s exactly what Polycount member DRIVEJUNKY95 has done and the end result is very impressive.

While many of you may not see this as impressive, it really is and it’s quite a complex and demanding job for one person to have undertaken. The motivation for it is unclear, but it does open up a lot of possibilities for the modding community. With so many games working with Unreal Engine, it’s going to be easy to use this map for other purposes; Unreal Tournament Skyrim map anyone?

“Focusing on the lighting at the moment but will do texture work along the way. I dove into the post processing settings and discovered stuff like LUT and the different DOF types which I tried tonight.” said DRIVEJUNKY95

The entire map is in place, but there’s still some work to be done to make it truly special. The creator is now working on bringing in improved textures and lighting to give it a big of a next-gen boost and I really can’t wait to see the results.

9/11 Oculus Rift Game ‘8:46’ is Horrifying and Distasteful

September 11th, 2001 is a date in history which will always be remembered as the moment when global terrorism came to the doorsteps of ordinary US citizens. The morally repugnant attack shocked the world and demonstrated how unsafe modern society can be. Whatever you’re political affiliation or beliefs about American foreign policy, you cannot forget the innocent people who died on that fateful day. As a student of history, it’s important to look at atrocities and not shy away from the events of the past. This is so we can educate others to avoid future mistakes.

However, this has to be conducted in a respectful manner which puts academic interests first. Unbelievably, a game has been created for virtual reality devices entitled 8:46 which puts you in the footsteps of someone trapped in one of the Twin Towers. According to the project’s creative director, the game is designed:

 “As a tribute to the victims of our generation-shaping experience.”

Realistically, 8:46 won’t be a commercial endeavor so the developer isn’t making any money from 9/11. Although, this doesn’t sit right with me as you hear the screams ringing throughout the buildings. Currently, you can download the game for free but it requires a VR device such as the DK2.

Krafft was interviewed by Tech Insider and said:

“In the team, we are all in our twenties,”

“And 9/11, on a global scale, changed as much our social interactions as our geopolitical context.”

“We worked with a lot of references, from an interview with a survivor to plans of the floors or journalistic works … to be precise about the events and the human dynamics in the towers,” 

Clearly, this is a controversial release and one which divided opinion among some people. In my view, it is quite disrespectful to those who died in 9/11 and almost trivializes what transpired. Although, other opinions are just as valid, and it could be argued that the game finds a way to discuss 9/11 among modern audiences. Whatever the case, it’s certainly an eye-opening project.

Are you offended by this game or do you think it’s an interesting historical tool? To reiterate, we welcome a lively discussion but please refrain from political arguments as this is a technology site first and foremost.

Unofficial Zelda Maker is Available on PC

Mario Maker on the Wii U has been described as “Nintendo’s Minecraft” and allows players to let their creativity flourish. The game features a number of advanced tools and user-creations are bound to test your reaction times. Unfortunately, as a Wii U exclusive, the PC will never be able to experience the joy in Mario Maker. However, an independent developer has created a fan-project for PC based around the Zelda universe. Here’s what the project entails:

“Zelda Maker (Temp) is a non-official project started by myself, which will allow players to create and share Legend of Zelda worlds of their own. Nintendo might cease and desist a project like this, so in time, when I’ve got the ability to change the sprites, I will do so, and I will also add things that Zelda games don’t have to make it a somewhat unique experience. Regardless, I won’t be acting like this isn’t going to be a Zelda (Maker?) clone, through and through. I’d just like to add some things that I think official Zelda games could use. This is a very early build of the game, and it does not represent what the final game will look like.”

As an unofficial creation, it’s likely Nintendo will demand its removal given their less-than-stellar track record. Although, the pixel art, and gameplay looks absolutely stunning! I wish Nintendo would support projects like this from fans who invest so much time and skill in honoring memories from their childhood.

Despite being in such an early stage of development, The Legend of Zelda Maker has loads of potential and I could easily spend hours creating dungeons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1OlEyY6e-A

You can download the Alpha release here, but I would be fairly quick as Nintendo lawyers will no doubt shut down the official links quite quickly.

Apple Car Has New Staff – Straight From Tesla

Apple made a splash earlier in the year when it announced its interest in making a car, with an initial report showing that we could have an Apple car as soon as 2019 and more recently discussing the possibility of Apple and BMW working together on the next big Apple product. Now while this seems good news to a lot of people, there will always be some people who have a good laugh at this news and it would seem that the CEO of Tesla, one of the world’s largest and possibly famous electric car companies, Elon Musk is less optimistic about Apples chance in the car market.

During an interview with a German newspaper Handelsblatt, Elon Musk responded not just to the news about Apple’s car but was asked about their latest product, the Apple Watch. When asked if he had an ever taken a look at the Apple Watch, Musk replied with, “No, seriously: It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches”. As if that wasn’t enough, when asked about the Apple car Musk commented on how eager Apple were to hire employees and engineers, even taking those that had been fired from Tesla for not pulling their weight.
In the interview Musk stated, “They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the Tesla graveyard. If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work for Apple”.

It’s not uncommon for companies to have friction when working on similar products, but they tend to have a way of coming back to bite you in the future.

Thank you Handelsblatt for the information via The Verge.

Image courtesy of Tech News Today.

IBM Wants To Teach Robots Some Social Skills

The exploration and development of Artificial intelligence is a boundary which is consistently being pushed, the scientific and academic communities are furthering their studies into robotic interactions in many different directions. One such path is focusing on IBM and their efforts to incorporate “machine learning to teach robots social skills like gestures, eye movements, and voice intonations” through the Watson Project.

During a keynote speech at a conference held in San Jose, California, this week, Robert High, chief technology officer of Watson at IBM, conveyed techniques his team are working on using a small humanoid robot. During demonstrations the machine, a Nao model from the company Aldebaran, appeared to successfully speak with realistic intonation. According to Oxford dictionaries, “Intonation” is defined as “The rise and fall of the voice when speaking” The robot also achieved appropriate hand gestures, a little impatience and sarcasm which included looking at its watch, for example, when asking High to hurry up with his talk.

Unfortunately, these interactions were pre recorded and not conveyed live on stage, this was down to the system’s failings in successfully working in noisy environments. The team behind the R&D have implemented machine-learning algorithms which learn from video footage with the aim to associate appropriate gestures and intonations with different phrases.

Artificial Intelligence is viewed as a soulless entity which is mechanical, it cannot be related to in any way, we humans on the other hand use subtle cues when we communicate with each other, our voices change pitch and our hands reinforce our points of view, muscles in our faces react to a conversation or a feeling of emotion. If you could download social skills into a robot, you would have a more believable form which tricks our brains into identifying a believable norm. This research is still in its early stages; one has to wonder where robots will be in 10, 20, 50 years time?. Will there become a situation in my life time whereby a debate would centre on a legal definition of an acceptance of a robot being classified as he/she.

It makes you contemplate the lengths to which AI development can reach and the implications on us.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of aldebaran

Wandering Around a Rendered USS Enterprise In Unreal Engine 4

Technology has provided a platform for many fan made creations which have risen to prominence over the years, from intricately detailed worlds in Minecraft to imaginative landscapes which have garnered a huge following. Star Trek is one such Sci Fi phenomenon which has certainly given rise to its fair share of individually constructed projects, well, a talented individual has taken his obsession for the famous Enterprise to a whole new creative level.

The project in question is by the name of “The Enterprise Construction Project” and is the brain child of an extremely creative 3D artist by the name of “Jason”. His target goal is to construct all 42 decks of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D in the Unreal Game Engine 4”  Below is the video which, as you can see is both lovingly and exquisitely rendered, so much so that the artist states the following,

Creating all of them will be a daunting task. I have compiled a large archive of reference from production drawings, set blueprints, official blueprints, and of course meticulous screen captures of the HD Blu-ray versions of the episodes.”

It’s astonishing to imagine the lengths which have been planned to obtain such an extensive reference list of materials with the aim of replicating the finer details.

https://youtu.be/uK9ijZeHWjI

Below is two screenshots of the level of detail which have been conveyed within this model, the luminosity of the planet/star and the fluid movement of the Asteroids capture the imagination of the viewer.

It is certainly impressive considering one person has achieved this level of detail, the textures and visual representations are immersive and according to the website, Jason’s main objective is to ” create the entirety of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D in the Unreal Game Engine. The Enterprise would serve first and foremost as a virtual museum. Every deck and room can be explored” Other potential phases include a “populated ship containing Federation citizens and Starfleet” and also “Different Planetary Systems.”

It’s a fascinating and fabulous project which has the potential for wider exposure within many outlets while keeping fans entertained.

Thank you roadtovr and enterprise3dproject for providing us with this information.

Kickstarter Launched to “Help” People With Phone Addiction

The NoPhone Zero is definitely one of the most bizarre Kickstarter campaigns I’ve ever seen which replaces your smartphone with a piece of plastic. This invention, and I use the term loosely, is designed to enrich your life and stop people from obsessively checking their smartphone on a regular basis. Supposedly, the plastic block provides a soothing and cathartic experience. According to the creator:

“The NoPhone Zero is less than a phone. It’s a plastic rectangle. It does nothing. Since it does nothing, you can hold it and spend time with other human beings. Life is better when you spend time with other human beings. Because human beings are more interesting than smart rectangle devices.”

It’s relatively easy to see the device’s appeal with glowing testimonies such as:

“It feels like a smartphone in my pocket, but it’s just a plastic rectangle.”

“I can now eat food without taking photos of it. Thanks, NoPhone!”

Admirably, the page directly addresses the question on everyone’s lips and claims this crowdfunding venture is a deadly serious operation. Honestly, I’m speechless and cannot fathom where this idea came from. Remarkably, there has already been 23 backers with 28 days to go. The funding target is $500 and $222 has been pledged. I’m still not convinced the product has mass market appeal and if the creator is simply trying to mock the Kickstarter process.

Do you think this is a phony?

The Event Horizon Telescope Will Use Helium Filled HGST Drives

We, as the human race, have accomplished quite a few impressive scientific things so far. We have been to the moon, we have vehicles driving around mars, and a probe that has left the solar system. We shouldn’t forget about the large hadron collider either, which discovered, or rather confirmed, the Higgs boson particle.

Another impressive project is the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a project with the goal to create the first image of a black hole boundary, also known as the event horizon, and it is the point at which the force of gravity is so great that even light cannot escape.

The Event Horizon Telescope isn’t one large one placed at a strategic location, or in space like Hubble, but rather a collaboration between 34 observatories and universities around the world. By using telescopes in 10 geographic locations around the world that record data at a rate of 64 Gbps. The petabytes of data will then be processed at a central location that effectively creates the largest radio dish possible from the Earth’s surface and it can resolve objects 2000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope.

As mentioned, such a project will create enormous amounts of data and that data has to be stored somehow. We are talking about petabytes of data here and that requires a special kind of storage. HGST announced that they will be responsible for that part, as the EHT project will be using their Helium filled HGST Ultrastar HelioSeal hard disk drives.

The hermetically sealed Ultrastar HDDs bring higher storage capacity along with lower power consumptions, which is a win-win in this situation. The helium-filled drives also work at a much higher altitude where normal air-filled drives would fail.

By bringing black holes into focus, the EHT will enable astronomers to study space-time in the most extreme environment in the universe.

Apple Watch Hack Allows You to Run Custom Watch Face

I know Apple is strict with its programming and customization, but the company did state it will allow developers to make a few tweaks here and there to the visuals of the watch face in watchOS 2. However, if you choose to push even beyond that, you could end up tweaking even more. A developer by the name of Hamza Sood went and did just that, having created a fully-fledged custom watch face.

The developer published his work in a tweet, along with steps on how to make your own custom watch face. I don’t really know why Apple won’t make at least some guidelines for developers to follow in creating Watch customizations because, to be fair, giving your own personal touch to an accessory is something people are looking forward to. Even so, if they give the thumbs up, more projects such as this one would crop up immediately.

You can also find Sood’s project over on GitHub, should you wish to try it out, but you must be aware that the tweak might void the Watch’s warranty, so do it at your own risk! Until we see more of these projects coming out, you can at least see how it looks like in the video below.

Thank you 9to5Mac for providing us with this information

See How This Robot Is Able to Improve Its ‘Mini-Robots’ with Each Generation

Researchers at the University of Cambridge seem to be studying how evolution took place and are apparently using a ‘mother’ robot for that. The robotic arm in question is able to build miniaturized robots from a selection of blocks equipped with small motors, check their progress on the table and make the necessary adjustments to improve and fix what went wrong in earlier generations.

This might sound quite scary, but it really is mind-blowing. The robotic arm is able to watch the progress of the robots while they move on the table with the help of a mounted web camera, while observing their speed and ‘imperfections’. Lead researcher, Dr. Fumiya Iida, explains that this might seem as a heartless evolutionary process, but don’t forget, this is done without the use of DNA. I mean, when you look at how evolution took place on Earth over millions of years, you kind of see a glimpse of it in the video below.

While we learn things in a similar way, evolution on a larger scale has different ways of ’embedding’ information into their ‘next generation’. Iida hopes that this experiment may shed some light on some unanswered questions about evolution, but in the meantime, he even has real-world applications for the project. Think about quality control and how these machines can spot imperfections or broken products on down the line. It is a start, but for those of you who are thinking about a Terminator scenario, we are still far away from something like that. At least with this particular project.

Thank you IFLScience for providing us with this information

Japanese Company Wants to Build a Stunning 3D Holographic Display

We’ve been talking about holograms like something out of sci-fi movies, but with today’s technology, it really is possible to make a holographic display. We’ve previously seen this as a DIY project, where a guy showed you how to build your own pyramid-shaped display and use it with your smarphone. Now a Japanese company named ‘SSS’ seems to take it even further and started a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo for a 3D holographic display, dubbed ‘Holo case’.

As with the DYI project, the display is shaped as a pyramid for a full 360 degree holographic effect. The company already has a lot of useful real-world applications for it, from meeting your favourite characters in the ‘real-world’, to displaying expensive jewelery and minimize the risk of it being stolen from the showcase.

“Our mission is realize that thinking about how to interact with the characters. VR is the way we go through the world of character. However, there isn’t the only one answer for it. One of these is studying how to ” invite character into this world ” and we’ve realized it.”

“Here’s the example of exhibiting “authentic” ring in “Holo case”. Although the ring itself is just $10, you can display it just like expensive one by giving effect to the ring. Here’s the mini figure set in Holo case. We can display snowing scene.”

The company says that making an app for the Holo case is easy too. It just takes some animations to display on all sides of the pyramid, and you’re all set! They even say that using a game engine such as Unity3D or Unreal Engine 4 will make life even easier for you. You can find more information about the project over on Indiegogo.

Google Glass Might Face Heavy Competition in the Enterprise Market

We haven’t heard much about Google’s Glass Project in a while, but not because it is dying, but more that it is now focusing on the enterprise side of things. Everyone went nuts when Google cancelled the Explorer program earlier this year, thinking that it was the end of Google Glass as well. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but we mere ‘mortals’ won’t be seeing it on the market anytime soon.

Re/Code got word that Google the second edition of Google Glass has been distributed to the Glass at Work enterprise partners. The team is now thinking about how to further improve the wearable and get it at a reasonable price on the market. Rumours are that the next edition of Glass will be well below $1.500, which is not surprising.

Since Google Glass first debuted, the wearable market has been constantly filling with a lot of competition. Google’s main competitors on the market now are ODG, Epson and Vuzix. Even so, Google Glass is still far from perfect. I mean you have Microsoft’s HoloLens for example, which not only displays everything you want right in front of you, but also lets you interact with augmented reality in unimaginable ways.

Looking at the Glass, it has a lot to catch up on. However, this is why Google chose to stick with the enterprise market and is constantly improving it for enterprise AR applications. Google stated that it is “going to take time to get it right”, but will they be able to pull it off in the end? What do you think?

Thank you Re/Code for providing us with this information

Free Wi-Fi Hits the Streets of New York… In Bins?

A lot of companies were looking into providing free Wi-Fi, a project that seems to have been of big interest as of late. However, nobody would have predicted where free Wi-Fi would come from
on the streets of New York. Would you have thought that your regular street bin would also be an access point in the near future? I thought so.

Bigbelly is a company based in Massachusetts who deals with waste management. Their first project was to put in place ‘smart’ bins that would signal when they are full or become smelly, so the latter would have more priority and be taken care of swiftly and efficiently. However, the company seems to have an even bigger project up their sleeve.

The company apparently teamed up with Downtown Alliance to place Wi-Fi hotspots inside the bins. This means that New York residents will have free Wi-Fi on the streets, thanks to their bins! Tests were performed daily and the results came as a big success. They say that the hotspots are able to hold a lot of simultaneous connections, the size of a small business, with speeds of 50 to 75 Mbps. Another amazing thing about the free Wi-Fi providing smart bins is that they do not get interference from radio towers or other wireless access points, since they are placed at ground level.

The project may give free Wi-Fi to citizens, but it may help do even more. It is said that the smart bins would help the government collect data about waste management or display public service announcements and alerts. Tests will still be performed throughout the year to make sure that nothing major crops up, but the project does seem a great success and the company is now looking to expand the project even further, provided that sponsors are found and willing to help the project financially. So what is your take on this? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you The Huffington Post for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of UC Santa Barbara Department of Geography

We Could Be Teaching Computers How and What to Learn in the Near Future

We’ve seen a lot of projects and methods involving machine learning up until now, but the truth is that no matter how efficient and quick a computer is, the software will always be its limit. However, Microsoft plans to change that and is working on a new tool that would allow you to teach computers new things.

There is a lot of information about the project and tool on Microsoft’s website, but let’s get straight to what the Microsoft Research team wants to do. Take a jigsaw puzzle for example, where every piece of it fits somewhere and contributes to the big picture once complete. This seems to be the approach Microsoft hopes people will take, where each jigsaw puzzle piece is created by someone knowledgeable in his or her field. This means that a doctor can teach a computer how to search for specific patient details in a database, while a chef can teach it how to make the best dish according to a recipe.

However, to get a lot of people from different fields together in this project, Microsoft also needs to build the tool as simple and understandable as possible. This means that Microsoft is looking for a way to make the tool more autonomous and offer a simple and understandable user interface. I mean developers know how to use such tools, but they can’t expect a doctor to know how to use a complex development tool.

The tool, named Language Understanding Intelligent Service or LUIS for short, is part of the Oxford Project. Though it still is in its early stages, it may prove to be a strong and useful tool for complex AI development. You can view more details about the project over at Microsoft’s Blog. The tool can also be found over at its website here, but you will need to get an invitation first to try it out.

Image courtesy of Radio1.be

CleanSpace One to Use Pac-Man Approach for Cleaning the Atmosphere of Debris

CleanSpace One, the project involved in finding a solution for cleaning up our atmosphere, was tasked to find the most efficient way of getting rid of the old SwissCube satellite. Together with students from the University of Applied Science in Geneva, they came up with a radical idea to do just that.

Before finding a suitable approach, a lot of solutions span from articulated arms with claws to tentacles. However, it is hard to find a solution to get the cleanup satellite to actually see the debris. There are a lot of things to take into account when searching for debris in space, such as the angle of illumination of the Sun, physical data from the satellite, relative speed at which it is moving, etc.

Given the above, the scientists are still testing the visual algorithm to perfect it. In the meantime, the students came up with the most radical idea for the satellite’s design, which is supposed to be similar to how Pac-Man interacts in the game. This means that the system will be made out of a cone-shaped net, which opens and closes once the debris are in the cage.

The CleanSpace One project plans to launch the cleanup satellite in early 2018 and things already look promising. The development and capture system are said to have passed the prototype test, having the project move to the first engineering model tests.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information