This week, we have a parrot sneakily ordering treats via Amazon Echo, Walmart’s new robot fry cook named “Flippy”, AI-powered “one button Photoshop” for selfies, sad news of ODG’s AR patents being sold next year, unbelievably realistic AI-generated human faces from Nvidia and lots more.

An Amazon Echo loving parrot, Walmart's robot fry cook and a machine learning powered enhanced selfie

An Amazon Echo loving parrot, Walmart’s robot fry cook and a machine learning powered enhanced selfie


Virtual Reality

AltspaceVR update brings custom avatars, new worlds & the return of Reggie Watts

There are way more options for customising your avatar in AltspaceVR now, the virtual world is continuing its expansion!


A regulatory filing confirms that the IMAX VR experiment is over.

December’s Oculus Rift updates include a dash keyboard and improved wishlists

You’ll have things to decorate your VR home as well as a new keyboard set up.

Oculus founder offers go VR headset mods to fix battery life and weight

Palmer Luckey, no longer at Oculus, published his own guide to improve the Oculus Go’s user experience with several DIY modifications!

HTC thinks Christians are VR’s next big audience

HTC have produced the “world’s first feature-length VR movie” and it’s all about the miracle stories of Jesus.

LooxidVR is a virtual reality headset that aims at analyzing your emotions

LooxidVR is a VR headset that can read and analyse your emotions using EEG and eye tracking data.

Virtual reality gaming and the pursuit of “flow state”

“RaveRunner is a game you can get lost in, and by stimulating so many senses it allows you to let your higher level thoughts slip away — you become purely reactionary and non-judgemental.”

How to suppress the controller pairing popup in your Vive Focus app

Wondering how to remove that popup asking you to pair the controllers? Here’s how!


Augmented Reality

Patent sale for Osterhout Design Group (ODG) planned for January

An asset sale is planned for January, before the R-9 headset ships… things aren’t sounding promising, but I’m sure one of the big players will purchase the patents and tech!

Smartglasses maker North picks up Intel’s Vaunt patents

Speaking of patents, North are apparently eagerly using acquired patents from Intel’s exciting (but sadly shut down) project Vaunt for their own (also exciting!) AR headset — Focals.

Latest version of Unity lays foundation for Project MARS augmented reality development tool in 2019

Project MARS is a new AR authoring tool that’s on the way!

Niantic picks an AR fight with Pokémon Go players via trainer battles rollout

On Wednesday, Niantic began rolling out the new Trainer Battles player versus player fight mode. I still don’t get why it didn’t have that at the start?

Test your puzzle-solving skills in this AR escape room

It’s a really curious concept, worth checking out if you’re interested in escape rooms and it’s available for both iPhone and Android.

Caltech scientists use AR to help the blind navigate

“Scientists at Caltech are using AR to give objects in a room a voice, allowing the visually impaired to hear their surroundings”.

Tesla files patent for AR manufacturing system

Tesla are looking to increase their assembly line productivity using a Google Glass-type device.



Fitbit updates Versa and Ionic smartwatches with new apps and a better dashboard

The update is rolling out this week! They’re also releasing “a new Exercise API and open-source tools that should make it easier for developers to create apps for more complex activities like skiing and snowboarding” (ones that don’t focus on steps).

The unwearable lightness of being: my week without a smartwatch

After a rash on her wrist left her without a smartwatch, Lauren Goode from Wired realised just how far wearables has come.

Garmin sets eyes on medical wearables with its latest partnership

“Garmin has announced it’s partnering with Actigraph, maker of medical-grade monitors, to combine its wearable know-how with Actigraph’s health expertise.”

Fitbit missing manual: everything you need to know about your Fitbit

This could be handy, especially if you’re about to gift someone a Fitbit this holiday season!

Fitbit deals galore in Amazon 12 days of Christmas sale

Speaking of gifting a Fitbit…


Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics

These incredibly realistic fake faces show how algorithms can now mess with us

Nvidia researchers have come up with a very very impressive way to generate super realistic human faces using two dueling neural networks.

Alexa can control your home security system

“Amazon has enabled a Security Panel Controller framework that lets you control security systems with your voice”.

AI bot plays Castlevania so you don’t have to

CastlevaniaBot is a plugin for the Nintaco NES emulator that plays Castlevania all on its own.

Windows 10 may offer deeper support for AI helpers like Alexa

Currently it looks like Microsoft may allow you to activate apps with a hotword and possibly swap out Cortana on a system level.

Here’s how you can master the latest AI technologies

It’s a sponsored post at VentureBeat but this could be a good thing to grab if you’re looking to learn at only US$39.

Amazon and Walmart add more robots, but insist they won’t terminate jobs

“Companies like Amazon and Walmart say their automation efforts will lead to new jobs, but critics worry about the humans who could be phased out”.

AI weekly: this machine learning report is required reading

VentureBeat say the “AI Index 2018 is one of the only attempts out there to give a comprehensive look at the state of artificial intelligence around the world”.

Music Transformer: Generating music with long-term structure

Google’s latest AI is “an attention-based neural network that can generate music with improved long-term coherence”.

Facebook open-sources PyText NLP framework

Facebook AI Research is open-sourcing some of the conversational AI tech it is using to power its Portal video chat display and M suggestions on Facebook Messenger!

AI for social good in asia pacific

In this blog post, Google say they won’t offer a “general-purpose” facial recognition API just yet, they say it “merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes”.

Meet Serve, the newest member of the Postmates fleet

Serve is the “first robotic delivery device created from the ground up by an on-demand delivery company”.

Robot makes world-first baby coral delivery to Great Barrier Reef

An update on this which was mentioned this back in Issue 167 — the robot assistance for the reef was completed successfully with more planned for 2019!

New tool uses AI to roll back problematic continuous delivery builds automatically

“How do you deal with an issue after moving onto the next delivery milestone?” Of course, like everything these days, the answer is AI.

Prisma’s new AI-powered app, Lensa, helps the selfie camera lie

Lensa is a “one button Photoshop” for your selfies that’s coming early next year.

Walmart is testing ‘Flippy’ the robot fry cook

“Flippy, the burger-flipping, chicken tender-frying robot, might be making an appearance at a Walmart deli near you”.

Building a life-size bumblebee transformer

One robot engineer attempted to build a real Transformer. It is amazing.


Internet of Things and Makers

Parrot fell in love with owner’s Amazon Alexa and uses it to order shopping

This parrot has so far demanded treats such as strawberries, watermelon, raisins, broccoli and ice cream.

A deep dive into low power WiFi microcontrollers

Hackaday had a look at what is a very important part of IoT’s future.

GE announces new industrial IoT software business

GE “has given the clearest signal yet that running a successful software business is very different from running an industrial conglomerate”.

Vintage lab equipment converted into a Raspberry Pi computer

This looks so very cool! An old school Beckman Model 421 dumb terminal from the early 80s given new life via Raspberry Pi!

Raspberry Pi Smart Scale

This DIY project combines a Wii balance board, a Raspberry Pi and an online data analytics platform!

How to make your umbrella into a weather station with a Particle Photon

What a curious idea indeed.

Amazon’s Alexa-compatible echo wall clock displays ongoing timers

Amazon’s clock shows your active timers with LED lights in the minute positions around the clock face edge.

Musical mod lets MRI scanner soothe the frazzled patient

This MRI scanner actually plays music through its gradient coils!



Events and Conference Discount Codes!

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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