This week we have a DIY robot cat, 6 DoF controllers from the Vive team, fascinating poll results around who a self-driving car should kill if facing that tough trolley dilemma, and plenty more!

A DIY robot cat, 6 DoF Vive controllers and a poll to answer that self-driving car ethical dilemma

A DIY robot cat, 6 DoF Vive controllers and a poll to answer that self-driving car ethical dilemma

Learn how to build a conversational voice assistant!

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! I’m turning it into an e-book — sign up, let me know what you think and you’ll get the e-book version as soon as it comes out!

Virtual Reality

Lenovo is now licensing Sony’s patents for its PlayStation VR copycat headset

Lenovo’s Mirage Solo has a similar crown design to it — so it appears Sony has gently encouraged a licencing deal via their legal team.

Vive Focus 6 DoF controllers dev-kit specifications: ultrasound-based tracking, 180° horizontal FoV

HTC has provided specs for their upcoming Vive Focus 6 DoF controllers that’ll potentially let you use both hands naturally in VR apps! SkarredGhost explains.

HTC Vive encourages devs to port to Vive Wave platform

The HTC Vive Wave platform is the one for mobile and standalone VR headsets — the push is hopefully a sign the Vive Focus might expand globally soon!

Developers look to make Helsinki the virtual capital of the world

This sounds pretty cool — Finland-based VR studio Zoan is co-ordinating the creation of a virtual recreation of Helsinki.

HTC Vive joins VirtualLink, a cable standard now backed by all major PC VR players

Microsoft, Oculus and others are now joined by HTC Vive in their quest for a USB-C cable standard that will make future VR gear easier to connect and swap.

Looking to deal with the fear of MRI scans, the NHS have turned to VR

Jackie Edwards discusses how King’s College Hospital created a VR experience to help with the ‎claustrophobic nature of an MRI scan.

‘Is Anna ok?’ explores the effects of brain trauma using VR

This VR experience from the BBC examines the personal repercussions of brain trauma from different perspectives.

The virtual reality dream is dying

While I disagree with the premise of this article, I’ll include it… VR, whether it is the “VR dream” or VR in general, isn’t dying. I want to reiterate as I wrote earlier this year — VR is not dead.

HTC launches flagship Vive store in China

“The Shenzhen location allows visitors the opportunity to experience VR and purchase the latest Vive products”.

Unreal Engine maker Epic Games lands $1.25 billion investment to drive future of gaming & AR

That’s a solid amount of cash right there.

No headset? A VR space like Star Trek’s “Holodeck” may soon become reality

Light Field Lab promises the next generation of AR/VR with their headgear-free holographic system. It sounds pretty neat!

​Charged up: why I’m fine with Facebook cancelling the Oculus Rift 2

Hugh Langley from Wareable gives his thoughts on the Rift 2 cancellation.

Oculus brings screen casting to Oculus Go

“Now available in beta through the Oculus mobile app, users of Oculus Go can stream a live view of VR experiences directly to your smartphone or tablet.”

Good news for immersive journalism: look at your audience

“A new study shows that in virtual reality news experiences, basic interactivity can increase buy-in without compromising faithful reporting”.

Studies show potential of virtual reality to reduce children’s anxiety, pain

“Innovative VR technologies hold promise in reducing children’s anxiety and pain before and after medical procedures and surgery, suggest two new studies”.

The best VR experiences from Raindance Film Festival 2018

Here are some of VRScout’s favorite VR experiences from the festival — I’m so glad there are so many filmmakers experimenting with the medium!

Pimax’s 8K consumer VR headset now available to pre-order

The Pimax 8K headset, Pimax 5K Plus and Pimax 5K business edition are available now for pre-order. VentureBeat say the specs are iffy.

‘Oculus Launch Pad’ is silently populating the VR content pool

“As a little-known initiative, Oculus is actively funneling in talent with the promise of training, tools and other resources that developers — new and old — can use to build projects for the Oculus platform as well as for the greater VR ecosystem”.

 

Augmented Reality

Snapchat AR lenses jump from mobile to desktop with Snap Camera app

Snap has introduced Snap Camera, an app for PC and Mac that gives users access to thousands of AR face effects through their webcam.

Levi’s now selling exclusive Disney denim through shoppable AR lens on Snapchat

It “places a virtual rendering of a Mickey Mouse denim cap, with a smile from the user triggering a background and foreground effects within the frame”.

Onedome raises $3.3 million for AR experience “The Unreal Garden”

Onedome has raised $3.3 million in a round of funding for its augmented reality experience, The Unreal Garden — it’s also only a few blocks away from my hotel in SF, so I’m gonna check it out later!

Pokemon Go meets Catholicism in this bizarre AR mobile game

“Commissioned directly by the Vatican with blessings from the Supreme Pontiff himself, Pope Francis, players will embark on a journey to collect every holy figure in hopes of eventually discovering the games most elusive catch, Jesus Christ himself.”

How a chance encounter with Magic Leap made me an AR believer

Chris Merriman from The Inquirer is keen on AR after Magic Leap converted him!

North’s Focals laser beam scanning AR glasses – “color Intel vaunt”

Karl Guttag has a deep dive into the tech behind the super exciting North Focals AR glasses.

Pokémon Go’s new ability to track steps in background is first step forward for Niantic’s AR cloud platform

They’ll track your steps using either just your phone, or via Apple’s iOS HealthKit or Google Fit, and offer weekly milestones based on that activity.

Facebook confirms that it’s building augmented reality glasses

“Yeah! Well of course we’re working on it” is the confirmation Facebook’s head of AR gave to TechCrunch.

Spatial’s collaborative AR platform turns any room into a 3d workspace

“The drag-and-drop functionality of Spatial’s collaborative platform, not to mention its cross-headset compatibility, could finally make remote AR work conferences a realistic option for businesses with satellite locations.”

 

Wearables

Honor teases its next smartwatch, and it looks exactly like the Huawei Watch GT

It will also likely run the same Lite OS as the Huawei Watch GT.

 

Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics

An AI-generated artwork just sold for $432,500 at Christie’s

That AI-generated artwork has sold for a solid chunk of money, Motherboard clarified some common misconceptions around it while reporting on the story.

Migrate to Dialogflow API V2

Dialogflow has deprecated API V1 and will be shutting it down in one year — Oct 23rd 2019. The main thing I haven’t spotted a replacement for is their JavaScript API. Also, a big change in V2 is the need to use OAuth rather than API keys.

Google launches AdaNet for combining algorithms with AutoML

“AdaNet provides a general framework for not only learning a neural network architecture, but also for learning to ensemble to obtain even better models”.

MIT poll reveals who we want driverless cars to kill

MIT had (and is still running) a poll to see what people would choose in the “trolley problem”. So far, it turns out to be not ideal for animals and the elderly.

Police are using artificial intelligence to spot written lies

A tool that identifies false robbery reports is being rolled out across Spain.

This tiny drone uses friction to pull more than its own weight

Wired shows the physics of how these small drones cheat friction with their “tiny claws and gecko-like grippers”.

Google AI listens to 15 years of sea-bottom recordings for hidden whale songs

“Google and a group of game cetologists have undertaken an AI-based investigation of years of undersea recordings, hoping to create a machine learning model that can spot humpback whale calls”.

Mapping Australian AI startups

Data61 and the Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur have been scouting for AI startups across Australia – here’s what they’ve come up with so far.

Privacy group calls on US government to adopt universal AI guidelines to protect safety, security and civil liberties

A set of 12 universal guidelines designed to protect humanity from a range of threats posed by AI were proposed last week and one privacy group is pushing for the US government to adopt them.

The robot revolution is coming, and dang is it cute

Need a cute robot fix? Here’s one for you!

Petoi Nybble

This laser-cut robot kitten that runs and learns from you is also both pretty cute and really impressive!

Humans help robots learn tasks

“The RoboTurk framework allows people to direct the robot arms in real time with a smartphone and a browser by showing the robot how to carry out tasks like picking up objects”.

Google Lens comes to Google Images for searching – and shopping – inside photos

“The idea, explains the company, is to allow web searchers to learn more about what’s in a photo – including, in particular, items they may want to shop for and buy”.

Move over, Chanel No. 5: AI is creating perfumes now

“In partnership with flavor and fragrance producer Symrise, IBM Research built an AI that can learn about formulas, raw materials, historical success data, and industry trends.”

7 AI tools mobile developers need to know

Might come in handy for those looking to bring in some AI to their mobile apps (or create a new one from scratch!).

Elephant trunks form joints to pick up small objects; research could translate to robotics

“Understanding how elephants use their trunks to pick up small objects could lead to robots designed with flexible hands or grippers”.

Airbnb details its journey to AI-powered search

“In a research paper, Airbnb talks about its learnings in deploying an AI-powered search tool across its mobile and web portals”.

Photos: Robots take over at Japan Robot Week 2018

Finally, here’s even more photos of robots, this time from Japan Robot Week 2018!

 

Internet of Things and Makers

Smarter homes: lessons learnt

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino wrote a whole book on “smart homes as a technological, sociological and design movement”, this blog post has a summary of her findings.

Amazon opens up Alexa for business to third-party devices

“What this means in real terms is that office equipment can now have Alexa features built-in, without the need for an Echo (or other) assistant device.”

Prop building gets easy with the Adafruit Prop-Maker FeatherWing.

Add lights, sound and interactivity with ease to your props — cosplayers will love this.

LoRa Alliance™ enhances LoRaWAN™ protocol with new specifications to support firmware updates over the air

It’ll be much easier to make remote updates now, which is great news as that’s a pretty important feature in the land of the IoT.

Burn some time with this Arduino Reddit browser

This Arduino project shows the user random posts from /r/showerthoughts on Reddit.

Short length of wire turns STM32 microcontroller into good-enough wireless UART blaster

This clever concept can send wireless UART output from a bare STM32 microcontroller without needing a radio or other module.

How to reduce ground bounce: mitigating noise with PCB design best practices

All About Circuits has this guide to what ground bounce is and how you can avoid it using design decisions from PCB layout to programming.

Environmental sensors: Omron, Bosch, and Sensirion sensors for smart homes, IoT devices, wearables

All About Circuits also had a list of some of the leading environmental sensors and what they measure.

Amazing Arduino-based, 3D printed wire bending machine

A computer-controlled wire bending machine was featured by Make.

 

Events and Conference Discount Codes!

AI & Big Data Expo North America (28-29 Nov)

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

AIMed North America (12-15 Dec)

The biggest conference of its type in North America – content developed by clinicians, specifically for clinicians – focusing on how AI and ML are effectively deployed to transform healthcare systems and patient outcomes. Use the coupon code MP20 for a discount!

JOLT Roadshows (early 2019)

At JOLT Roadshows, inspirational speakers from the world’s leading enterprises will share how they have embraced AI to improve revenue, customer retention, and experience! They’re at six locations throughout early 2019 in both USA and Canada. Click the link for info — it’s free!

 


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