This week, we had a soft spider-like robot that might help with microsurgery, an amazing backpack with robotic arms and an AR-version of Snake from the Nokia brand. Oh, and a robot powered by popcorn. That too.

A soft spider robot, a backpack with robotic arms and an AR version of Snake

A soft spider robot, a backpack with robotic arms and an AR version of Snake in Facebook’s Camera app!

Learn how to build a conversational voice assistant!

It’s here! I’ve released early access to my course full of step-by-step articles to help you build a virtual assistant/chatbot no matter your skill level! A free update is slowly being added in — as Dialogflow already has evolved! Sign up and let me know what you think!

 

Virtual Reality

Research reflections: Facebook Reality Labs unveils new mirror reconstruction technology ahead of SIGGRAPH 2018

Facebook Reality Labs have put together a fully-automated pipeline to reconstruct mirrors and other reflective flat surfaces in 3D scenes — very handy for improving the realism in virtual worlds.

Japanese students develop VR recreation of Hiroshima atomic bombing

This VR recreation takes you to Hiroshima before, during and after the US dropped the atomic bomb on their city.

Free-roaming mech battling title looking for beta testers

MechZ from SiliconDroid is on the lookout for Beta testers for their online multiplayer — get in touch with them if you have an Oculus Go.

‘Electronauts’ is a surreal VR music production tool for any skill level

“Using an assortment of custom, interactive electronic instruments and controls, users are able to compose, remix, edit and perform a variety of tracks from big-name electronic artists”.

Hydrus VR camera brings immersive 8k video to the deep sea

We may get to see immersive 8K video from the deep sea thanks to a new ultra-low-light camera.

How VR archery game QuiVr sold 100,000 copies in early access

A nice behind the scenes look at how QuiVr came to be!

Google Glass was ahead of its time says the Venture Reality fund co-founder

The Venture Reality Fund’s Tipatat Chennavasin says VR is “only just getting started”.

We played Mario Kart VR and it was as awesome as that sounds

I’m so incredibly jealous.

OC5 behind the scenes

The Oculus Connect 5 logo was designed in VR, here’s a video of the process!

Youtube VR creator lab is coming to London

YouTube’s 3-month workshop is headed to Europe for the first time — worth looking into if you’re into VR and are nearby!

 

Augmented Reality

Barry Sandrew on bringing colour to classic films, 3D to new feature films and the potential of VR/AR

Barry Sandrew is a neuroscientist who invented a process for colorising B&W films and bringing 3D to 2D movies.

Apple invents an augmented reality windshield that will even support FaceTime calls between different vehicles

They’ve got a whole lot of patents around vehicles actually!

Mercedes-Benz shifts to HoloLens for employee training

They are using 100 HoloLens devices in their Global Training program where employees can examine 3D models of vehicles and view internal parts.

iPhone X can record & send video holograms via HoloBack app

“If you find yourself on the run from the Empire, you no longer need a droid to send a holographic distress message, you just need an iPhone X and the HoloBack app”. About time, right?

Lockheed Martin is manufacturing spacecrafts with the help of AR

Lockheed Martin is using AR to build NASA’s Orion spacecraft on their mission to Mars!

Google stays nimble with ARCore 1.4 update, bringing passthrough camera auto-focus & wider availability

Version 1.4 brings passthrough camera auto-focus support, faster plane detection and more image resolutions for computer vision to the platform.

App that puts SpaceX launches on your tabletop boosts augmented reality’s flight into the mainstream

USA Today had great news about how well its AR app went (pretty darn well!). Great news for AR.

Nokia’s snake game slithers into augmented reality via Facebook AR

You can now play Snake in AR on the Facebook Camera!

Magic Leap One field of view specs finally uncovered

It’ll have a horizontal FoV value of 40 degrees, vertical value of 30 degrees, and a diagonal value of 50 degrees, resulting in a 4:3 ratio.

Snapchat adds speech-activated lenses to its augmented reality capabilities

The first voice-activated examples include: saying “okay” to add corresponding stickers, saying “love” to activate a flourish of hearts, saying “wow” to prompt a camera zoom and more!

Microsoft update adds Miracast & more sharing functions to HoloLens

Miracast enables HoloLens users to mirror their view to a nearby Surface device or TVs and monitors equipped with a Microsoft display adapter.

Magic Leap’s ‘Blink’ demo shows how eye tracking & spatial audio make virtual content come alive

“In one animated image, a user conjures a cloud with a spawn gesture and, with a release gesture, causes the cloud to float upwards. In another animated image, with a blink of the eyes, the same cloud changes color.”

Magic Leap One’s battery life, memory specs revealed

“The storage capacity for the Magic Leap One will be 128GB, with approximately 95GB available to applications. In terms of memory, the device will offer 8GB on the system, with 4GB available to apps.” We also had the Magic Leap reservation page images hinting at an impending release but the “summer” they mention could be around late September.

 

Wearables

A Fitbit might be able to help find Mollie Tibbetts, a missing Iowa college student last seen on a jog

Mollie always wore her Fitbit, so investigators are hoping it’ll help them track her down.

Pentagon restricts use of location-logging fitness trackers

The Pentagon has realised that data from fitness trackers and location-based apps might give away where soldiers are and are trying to crack down on it.

Charged up: Fitbit’s comeback is actually happening

It turns out Fitbit is doing pretty well at the moment, after all that doom and gloom talk months ago from the media.

 

Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics

Venezuela says that assassination attempt against its president was carried out by drone

Seven National Guard soldiers were injured in an attempted assassination by drone. Just wow.

Prototype backpack features robotic limbs controlled remotely in VR

I want a backpack with robotic limbs!

Raspberry Pi now officially supports Google’s TensorFlow software

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to give it a go, now’s the time!

AI aims to save kids from shooters

Some are trying to use AI to automatically detect guns in schools, but it’s still difficult to judge the accuracy or integrity of their systems.

How 3 developers used Core ML to run AI models on an iPhone

iOS developers talk to VentureBeat about Apple’s Core ML platform and the improvements they’d like to see in future versions.

Soft multi-functional robots get really small … and spider-shaped

Scientists have created a very small and soft robotic spider for microsurgery and other procedures.

Mei uses AI to improve relationships by analyzing text messages

Mei, a messaging app for Android, leverages machine learning to analyze your chat partners’ personalities.

Vaping draws strong support — from bots: a team’s study of Twitter posts found both robots and real human underplay the health risks associated with e-cigarettes.

It turns out bots are being used heavily to influence public opinion — more than 70% of a random sample of tweets on e-cigarettes appeared to have been produced by bots.

Robots can already manipulate our emotions

After WALL-E, I think we already knew that but it is now scientifically confirmed.

Tesla says its new self-driving chip is finally baked

Tesla has developed its own self-driving computer chip.

Walmart is testing grocery delivery robots

I can see this growing as an option for deliveries (I hope it’s quieter than drones).

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a robot rolls into an Airbnb…

Airbnb has been used to find a range of environments for testing Carnegie Mellon University’s robots.

This robot plays the ukulele better than you do

This is definitely true for me at least.

A kernel of promise in popcorn-powered robots

This is truly the future. Researchers have discovered how to power simple robots with popcorn.

 

Internet of Things and Makers

Amazon Alexa will now let you know when it has learned answers to old questions

If you ask Alexa a question and it doesn’t have the info, “Answer Update” will let Alexa notify you when it learns the answer.

Arm announces Pelion IoT platform, combining Mbed device management with data management

Arm has announced a new ‘device-to-data’ IoT platform to “combine Mbed’s IoT device management with a new generation of Arm data management and connectivity tools.”

It’s surprisingly easy to install Raspberry Pi in a karaoke machine

I look forward to seeing how many people start bringing IoT fun into karaoke machines in the near future!

 

Events and Conference Discount Codes!

Magnify World Melbourne (24 Aug)

A two day event in Melbourne showcasing world-class VR/AR experiences. First day is a business summit covering industries like film and television, advertising and branding, gaming, technology, AI and investment. Second day is an expo that’s open to the public!

Unity Developers Workshop (24 Aug)

A 1 hour free Unity workshop is happening in Melbourne on Friday after Magnify World! Entry only after 4pm to 7pm. Sign up for free at the link above (just look for the free Unity workshop tickets!).

AI Expo North America (28-29 Nov)

3 co-located events. So much great stuff happening. Get ready for the AI Expo coming to North America in November! The discount code DEVDINER20 will get you 20% off!

 


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