Amazon working on Alexa powered smart glasses

Amazon working on Alexa powered smart glasses

Amazon developing pair of smart glasses with its Alexa voice assistant, and a home security camera linked to its existing Echo connected devices.

US Navy: Xbox controllers to steer periscopes in submarine

The smart glasses are purely an earbuds-free housing for Amazon’s Alexa AI with a bone-conduction audio system. It enables the wearer to hear Alexa without need of wire.

The FT reports the glasses would wirelessly tether to a user’s smartphone for connectivity. They are also apparently designed to look like a regular pair of spectacles. So worn it comfortably.

Amazon’s glasses with microphone

If Amazon’s glasses contain an always listening microphone. It still represent a privacy concern though it’s not clear if that’s Amazon’s intention at this stage. The wearer would need to touch the glasses to summon the AI’s ear.

Meanwhile Amazon has doubled down on Echo. Turning its single breakout product into a full category portfolio with an entry level option $50 Echo Dot, a portable speaker Echo Tap, a speaker-plus-screen for in-home video comms Echo Show, and a fashion-focused selfie-taker and style assistant Echo Look.

The paper notes that Amazon hired Babak Parviz, founder of Google Glass in 2014 he says he’s been closely involved in the project. It also points to several other Glass researchers, engineers and designers having moved to Amazon’s labs. With analysis of their LinkedIn profiles.

Rivals were soon putting out their own AI-powered Echo clones, such as Alphabet’s Google Home smart speaker. Apple is also now getting in on the smart speaker game, with the Siri housing Home Pod.

Amazon’s secretive Lab 126 product development division tasked with studying the smart home market to determine which devices make sense for Amazon to build next.

It also reports that the planned Internet-connected Echo camera would be able to tie into Amazon’s existing Echo products. Allowing users to view the video feed on the Echo Show’s screen. There’s a potential privacy risk here too. If a security camera Echo device configured to connect to any camera in the Echo family.

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But despite some extant tech giant competition. Home security is a mainstream concern and thus a popular category in its own right.

Facebook HHVM engine moves to Hack instead of PHP 7

Facebook HHVM engine moves to Hack instead of PHP 7


Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM), a speedy engine for PHP will not target PHP 7. PHP 7, the most-recent major PHP release, but instead will focus on Hack, a PHP spinoff.

The next long-term support release of HHVM 3.24, is due in early 2018 and will the last to commit to PHP 5 support.

The HHVM team said, trying to support both PHP 7 and Hack would lead to undesirable compromises on both fronts. We plan to decouple ourselves even more from PHP so that we can make Hack great without having to account for all the oldest, darkest corners of PHP’s design.

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PHP 7 represents a substantive departure from PHP 5, changing multiple behaviors, some of which not backward-compatible. With PHP 7, the builders of HHVM want to do the same. Consequently, HHVM will not aim to target PHP 7. The HHVM team believes a clear path toward making Hack a fantastic language for web development, untethered from its PHP origins.

Facebook used HHVM for years, almost exclusively to run Hack. The language already had addressed many of PHP5’s shortcomings that PHP 7 also fixes, as well as others that it does not.

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By cutting loose from PHP, the HHVM team hopes to provide developers a better, higher-performing experience with HHVM and Hack. The HHVM team has lots of features, libraries, and performance opportunities in the pipeline

Hack built on the PHP ecosystem, and Facebook has plans to make HHVM compatible with current versions of major PHP tools, such as Composer and PHPUnit.

But the eventual goal for Hack to have its own ecosystem of core frameworks. Hack tools and libraries in the works include the Hack Standard Library. TypeAssert, for converting untyped data to typed data, and an autoloader for classes, type aliases, and functions.

More information: [HHVM]

Researchers discover molecular add-ons, like web browsers

Researchers discover molecular add-ons, like web browsers

Molecular add-ons

New research proves cellular proteins identify and communicate with one another using molecular “add-ons”. Scientists liken the protein add-ons to web browser plug-ins.

Slowly, researchers beginning to understand how proteins develop to perform specific functions. While, proteins have an interface region where they connect with other proteins. However, it’s clear exactly how key proteins find each other within a crowded cellular environment.

Now, researchers report that it’s the add-ons that enable proteins to connect exclusively with the right dedicated partner.

Florian Busch, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State, called the existence of protein add-ons “a previously unknown fundamental driving principle” to ensure that proteins interact in specific ways.

For the first time, researchers storing optical data into sound waves on a chip


Scientists analyzed proteins among 15,000 bacterial genomes, sorting different proteins into family tree-like groupings based on their genetic sequences. The analysis revealed interface structures present on some proteins, but not on others. Researchers realized the add-ons could explain the diversity of protein functionality.

While, scientists identified around 1,000 known protein geometries in nature. Some proteins can form complexes that perform hundreds of thousands of very specific functions.

Study analyzing how proteins interact with each other, and what the interfaces look like, how they are constructed, and how they evolved, researchers said.

Researchers manipulated molecular add-ons to see how their absence might affect bacterial colonies. They found the deletion of one add-on hampered the growth of Bacillus subtilis. They used native mass spectrometry to detect how the presence and absence of add-ons influenced the ability of proteins to interact with each other.

Researchers said, the native mass spectrometry technology could help identify the role of these interface ‘add-ons’. A way for a protein to find its critical partner protein even in a crowded cellular environment with similar structures present.

One of the exciting things about the study is researchers use “big data” in this case, entire protein and genome databases.

More information: [PNAS]

Wax method that melt off ice on roads during winter

Wax method that melt off ice on roads during winter

Researchers invented a new method of waxing that prevents the ice by melting itself on roads during winter.

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The Drexel university researchers found simple wax additive could keep roads and sidewalks ice-free. Wax added to concrete and store energy until it needs to be released. The released energy can warm the concrete and de-ice the road.

Paraffin oil is a common ingredient in wax products like candles, polishes and cosmetics. The material is cheap and chemically stable. As it turns from a liquid to a solid, it releases thermal energy. The oil fine-tuned to solidify at certain temperature ranges. So the additive designed to release energy during cold weather.

Phase change materials

Researchers plan to test the paraffin aggregate at larger scales. The technology eventually installed on highways and airport runways. But first scientists need to make sure paraffin doesn’t negatively effect the pavement’s durability or traction. By inhibiting the formation of ice and snow on the pavement or bridge surface. The use of PCM may reduce or eliminate the need for deicing chemicals/salts, snowplowing. Thus saving money and positively influencing the environmental impact of such operations.

Phase change materials incorporated into concrete using porous lightweight aggregate or embedded pipes and when PCM transforms from liquid to solid during cooling events, it can release thermal heat used to melt ice and snow, Yaghoob Farnam, an assistant professor of engineering at Drexel University, said.

Researchers tested the d-icing capabilities of concrete slabs featuring paraffin-filled pipes and a light-weight paraffin-treated aggregate. During testing at temperatures between 35 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit, snow on the control slab remained frozen, while slabs intersected by paraffin melted away the snow within 25 hours.

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Paraffin-filled pipes

In this study, paraffin oil was use as a PCM that is effective in releasing heat near the freezing temperature of PCM when the PCM undergoes a phase transformation from liquid to solid. The heat released during the phase transformation can melt ice and snow on the concrete pavement surface.

In the first round of testing, paraffin-filled pipes were more efficient than the paraffin aggregate. When scientists tested the different slabs at temperatures below freezing, they found the concrete aggregate treated with paraffin proved more effective at keeping the slab free of snow and ice.

The gradual heat release due to the different pore sizes in porous light-weight aggregate is more beneficial in melting snow when concrete is exposed to variety of temperature changes when snow melting or deicing is needed.

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Using porous lightweight aggregate in potential way of incorporating phase change materials in concrete as it is easy to implement in practice and can cover environmental conditions of various locations in the U.S. dealing with snow, especially melting snow or deicing in roads and bridges in the Northeast.


Salesforce Einstein celebrates its first birthday with the launch of new features

Salesforce Einstein celebrates its first birthday with the launch of new features

Salesforce Einstein

Just one year ago this week, Salesforce introduces Einstein, its artificial intelligence platform. The CRM giant is marking the occasion with the launch of several new features.

Einstein isn’t a product at all, even though Salesforce markets it like one. Instead, it’s a set of AI technologies underlies the entire Salesforce platform and attempt to add a smart layer wherever possible.

new features

Salesforce added two new capabilities today. The first is opportunity scoring, a tool designed for sales management to keep on top of the sales pipeline. It takes advantage of data mining and machine learning to surface the biggest deals most likely close in the pipeline.

Second feature specifically for sales staff, which helps manage their important emails. It essentially acts as a smart email assistant, using natural language processing to find the emails, and offers a suggested response to give an even bigger head start on conquering email.

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The company has gone from zero to 475 million AI-fueled predictions per day in the first year. Currently, they have 7000 developers working on AI programs on the platform, and announced a $50 million fund to encourage even more.

Salesforce says, Einstein enhances the employee and making their lives easier. Employees spend so much time in the sales, marketing and customer service functions on administrative overhead.

an intelligence layer

Salesforce added an intelligence layer with the goal of automating many of those administrative tasks, such as prioritizing important emails, entering information automatically from sources. For customer service or marketing, it could add smarts, to locate all the pictures related to an event or subject.

Salesforce latest Einstein AI feature helps brands to track images on social media

Whatever the task Einstein tech is attacking, Salesforce is trying to reduce the friction and put the tool to work for the user, rather than the reverse, which is how software has worked from the beginning of computers. AI flips the typical software workflow on its head. At its best, manual data entry would reduce or eliminated, and the software would work for the employee. Salesforce isn’t alone in this goal, but it’s trying to take advantage of it to enhance its products.

At just a year old, there is still a long way to go for this set of tools and technologies to meet that lofty goal. But, in the first year Salesforce demonstrate the power of adding this kind of intelligence to its products.

More information: [Salesforce]

US Navy: Xbox controllers to steer periscopes in submarine

US Navy: Xbox controllers to steer periscopes in submarine

The US Navy is putting Xbox controllers and digital cameras in its submarines so that it can do away with things like periscopes. On older submarines, the periscope would use traditional rotating tube mechanisms limited to one person using them at any time.

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The change of design at the Navy, and says that it is using the living room and leisure technology. In its most advanced submarines, the suitably-named Virginia Class Attack Submarine. These periscopes have previously controlled with a custom joystick that sets the Navy back some $38,000 a pop and require rigorous training to use. By replacing the joystick control with an Xbox 360 controller. The Navy’s new submarine has a periscope control system that’s a fraction of the price of the joystick

“The Virginia Class attack submarine is the U.S. Navy’s newest undersea warfare platform and incorporates the latest in stealth, intelligence gathering and weapons systems technology,” explains

Shelf Technology

Moreover, attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, support battle group operations and engage in mine warfare. Further, the change in technology inspired by junior officers apparently asked differences that make the submarine better to use. Agreed that periscope controls are clunky and awkward that only one person to use them at once.

Meanwhile, the Navy is just like you, probably, and likes to save money where it can. It and Lockheed Martin reportedly use off the shelf technology. In addition, presume that they may have got some kind of bulk discount on controllers.

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According to the report, a $30 controller can replace $38,000 worth of gear. US Navy will begin stocking its modernized Virginia-class submarines with them. Starting with USS Colorado expected as commissioned in November


For the first time, researchers storing optical data into sound waves on a chip

For the first time, researchers storing optical data into sound waves on a chip

storing optical data into sound waves on a chip

For the first time, researchers convert the digital information in the form of light waves into sound waves inside a microchip. The breakthrough is crucial in the development of photonic integrated circuits, the basis of computers that uses light instead of electrons to manage and store data.

If successful, these systems would not subjected to electromagnetic interference, produce too much heat, or consume too much energy.

Light is extremely useful when it comes to moving information across a great distance, but its unbeatable speed also a harm. As it makes it difficult for computer and telecommunication systems to process the stored information. Speed isn’t useful if the information cannot process.

Therefore, sound waves or rather the conversion from light to sound waves, work so well here. This process slows the information down long enough for it to process, before it’s converted back into light waves and sent on its way.

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“The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain,” said, Dr. Birgit Stiller, research fellow at the University of Sydney. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.

Photonic microchip

Traditional electronic devices used in telecommunications and optical fiber networks vulnerable to interference and can produce excessive heat using too much energy. Implementing light and sound waves on a photonic microchip eliminates these problems. Photons are immune to electromagnetic interference, and there is no electronic resistance to produce heat. With this process, overall bandwidth increases and data can travel at light-speed.

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Researchers said, unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously. Also, increases the efficiency of the device.

Researchers said, this work marks an important step forward in optical information processing. This concept fulfills all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems.

Computer systems are only going to continue getting bigger and faster, but the amount of heat that advanced devices create makes them difficult to use and maintain. However, companies like IBM and Intel explore the possibility of using such chips in their systems.

More information: [Nature communications]

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