We can now fake most any video, including the people

This is real, not a fake. This is based on the Face2Face technology developed at Stanford University. The facial movements of the actor are automatically translated to the “target” – several examples using well known politician’s faces.

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Union angry at Amazon’s new self service mini grocery store pilot test

The largest union representing grocery-store workers has come out strongly against Amazon.com’s launch of a store sans cashiers, a sign of how a recent generation of futuristic technology comes with a dose of angst for big parts of the workforce.

Source: Grocery-workers union lashes out against new Amazon store | The Seattle Times

When workers cost $20/hour ($15 minimum wage + $4 to $5 for benefits), while technology costs are falling, numerous businesses are moving from variable cost labor to fixed cost automation.

The feature photo I attached to this post is a photo of a self order kiosk I took inside a McDonald’s in St. George, Utah. Starbucks has a mobile app that let’s customers place their own order ahead of time. Another coffee shop I visit has, at times, flipped their order entry app (its just an iPod on a stand) around and let customers place their own orders and pay with a credit card, when they are short staffed.

The market (meaning the public) will determine if this is what people want or not.

 

Retailers using automation to reduce labor costs

Source: Retailers looking to save on labor costs turn to automation

$15 per hour minimum wage, $4 to 5$ hour in benefits adds up while the costs of automation fall dramatically. The former is a variable cost while automation is mostly a one time fixed cost. Labor intensive service businesses have advanced beyond experiments with automation and are now rolling out various solutions. The “featured image” attached to this article is a pair of self order kiosks in a McDonald’s in St George, Utah (photo by me). Starbucks offers a mobile app that let’s patrons order products in advance for pickup when the customer enters the store. If widely adopted, this could reduce the labor needed to take orders. To the extent these steps free up labor that may then be applied to higher value services, this will be good for all. But in some situations, this may simply free up labor – reducing the number of jobs. Plus, some of the people whose jobs become automated may lack the ability to learn new higher-value skills.

Majority of Americans may not be able to use VR headsets

Most (nearly all?) virtual reality viewers available online can not be used by those who need to wear eyeglasses, which is a majority of Americans.

The Problem

  • VR viewers lack space on the face side to accommodate the wearing of eye glasses.
  • VR viewers lack diopter adjustments.
  • VR viewers lack inter pupil distance (IPD) adjustments.

Who Does This Impact?

75% of Americans use some form of corrective eye lenses, split as 64% wear glasses and 11% wear contact lenses (Source: Corrective Lenses Statistics – Statistic Brain).

Nearly 100% of those over the age of 45 require reading glasses for close in viewing – or using most any virtual reality viewer. Almost all viewers lack sufficient space to wear reading glasses when the viewer is on the face. Attempting to wear reading glasses with a VR viewer is extremely uncomfortable as the viewer pushes the glasses into their face.

Unlike camera viewfinders that include a diopter adjustment, VR viewers are almost all fixed focal lengths or have limited adjustments (possibly only for myopia but not presbyopia).

Most VR viewers (but not all) have a fixed inter pupil distance (the distance between the eyes is fixed even though people have different distances – think of how binoculars work to address that!).

Consequently, VR viewing is – for a majority of Americans – either impossible or painful.

A few of the higher end viewers have – during the past year – begun to address this problem either by enabling the wearing of glasses while using the viewer, or by adding a focus adjustment.

The focus adjustment, however, is not sufficient. Of the 75% who need vision correction, some have significantly different corrections between the left and right eye. All VR focus adjustments make the same adjustment for both eyes – meaning such individuals can only get a good focus in one eye.

Again, think of binoculars. Binoculars solved this problem decades ago by having a master focus ring that adjust both eye views simultaneously, plus a single diopter adjustment for one eye. The inter pupil distance is adjusted in binoculars by positioning each lens further apart. Through these adjustments, binoculars long ago provided solutions to the majority that need vision correction.

A reasonable guess is that the VR industry views its customers as young gamers and hired young people with excellent vision to design their products, but who are oblivious to real world customers.

If the VR industry does not address these design defects urgently, the future of VR is itself in doubt.

When a majority of potential customers are likely to have unsatisfactory experiences, they will not purchase VR products and content. They will not post positive comments in reviews and online forums.

Media pundits said 3D failed because people had to wear “3D goggles” (their term for 3D glasses). In reality, the problem was a lack of compelling 3D content for consumers to watch at home.

VR, which really does use “3D Goggles” (and helmets too), is headed down the same path to oblivion if it does not deliver VR viewers that can be worn and used by a majority of the population. This is a significant VR industry marketing failure.

MIT researchers create synthetic “muscle fiber” using nylon cord for #robotics applications 

‘Some polymer fiber materials, including highly oriented nylon, have an unusual property: When heated, “they shrink in length but expand in diameter,” Mirvakili says, and this property has been harnessed to make some linear actuator devices. But to turn that linear shrinking motion into bending typically requires a mechanism such as a pulley and a takeup reel, adding extra size, complexity, and expense. The MIT team’s advance was to directly harness the motion without requiring extra mechanical parts.’

Source: Nylon fibers made to flex like muscles | MIT News

University of Washington: upcoming Internet accessible lecture on #IoT #Wearables Technology

Next Thursday at UW CSE or view remotely:
http://www.cs.washington.edu/events/colloq_info

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Computer Science and Engineering
COLLOQUIUM

SPEAKER:   David Kotz, Dartmouth College

TITLE:     Amulet: An Energy-Efficient, Multi-Application Wearable
Platform

DATE:      Thursday, December 1, 2016
TIME:      3:30pm
PLACE:     EEB-105
HOST:      Tadayoshi Kohno

ABSTRACT:
Wearable technology enables a range of exciting new applications in
health, commerce, and beyond. For many important applications, wearables
must have battery life measured in weeks or months, not hours and days as
in most current devices. Our vision of wearable platforms aims for long
battery life but with the flexibility and security to support multiple
applications. To achieve long battery life with a workload comprising apps
from multiple developers, these platforms must have robust mechanisms for
app isolation and developer tools for optimizing resource usage.

We introduce the Amulet Platform for constrained wearable devices, which
includes an ultra-low-power hardware architecture and a companion software
framework, including a highly efficient event-driven programming model,
low-power operating system, and developer tools for profiling
ultra-low-power applications at compile time. We present the design and
evaluation of our prototype Amulet hardware and software, and show how the
framework enables developers to write energy-efficient applications. Our
prototype has battery lifetime lasting weeks or even months, depending on
the application, and our interactive resource-profiling tool predicts
battery lifetime within 6-10% of the measured lifetime.

(Featured image: Seattle photo from University of Washington web site at http://www.washington.edu/about/)

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Vayyer’s 3D Sensors for home applications, sensors that see through walls

Sensors could also be utilized for advanced security and safety features in case of fire or intruder. AlertTracks the real-time movement of individuals inside the home and pinpoints and locates people in a structural fire or if home security has been breached.

Source: 3D Sensors To Make Your Home Smarter And Safer (Image of IC, above, is from the Vayyar web site.)

Their web site does not  yet reveal much about what their technology is about. Presumably their technology uses low power wireless signals with powerful software to interpret reflections. This would enable them to provide a “3D sensor” that sees through walls, providing position information. Perhaps like Kinect but using wireless RF signals.

If my interpretation is correct, this technology could have many useful applications in construction, repair and perhaps even imaging of humans.

Update: A separate tech article from a year ago, describing a product that uses Vayyar technology, suggests the above is exactly what this is about. Basically, this is a low power radar imaging system technology.

The Internet of Things is all about sensors, data collection, data analysis, and actuators/stepper motors and what not. The Vayyar technology adds a new capability to sensing by seeing through surfaces in 3D.