How blockchain can build communities completely free of hierarchy

Blockchain technology has blown up. While a year ago blockchain was an unknown side note synonymous with Bitcoin, today there are dozens of applications making their way into mainstream media. To many, blockchain is a foreign concept reserved for computer science junkies and is irrelevant to the average mom and pop, but what many don’t realize is that blockchain is similar to familiar pillar in everyone’s lives: community. Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the statement that ‘blockchain is a new technology’. In a sense it is, for it allows us to build useful applications on top of it, but truly, it is just a group of individuals who follow a certain set of rules that allow them to trust each other. Anyone can play the game if they follow the rules, just like in a community. Similarly, blockchain is a community of participants across the globe that rally around a similar cause: to provide transparency, trust, and decentralization to the world. As communities and blockchains gr…

VR robots could help teleport juries to crime scenes

New technology is now emerging that could enable CSIs to capture and relay a much more immersive and representative picture of crime scenes, using 3D imaging, panoramic videography, robotics and virtual reality. For example, researchers at Staffordshire University, led by Caroline Sturdy Colls, used green screens, video game software and the latest virtual reality headsets (such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) to reproduce virtual crime scenes digitally. Jurors could potentially take a walk around the 3D worlds rendered using the system, and examine vital details of the scene. Unlike an edited video created to sway the jury, this form of evidence would be a simple matter of documenting a scene. This, of course, relies on those gathering the data to objectively preserving the crime scene without staging or tampering.
One issue with 3D recreations and computer-generated virtual reality simulations is that they require expensive headsets, and top specification computers to work. The fir…

Only data-savvy retailers will survive in tomorrow’s market

Today’s big data-driven marketplace only has room for the fittest. This sounds a little scary, I know. For a long time, mastering the art of accurate and effective number-crunching was no small feat. Over the last decade, machine learning has grown and matured from a flashy high-tech tool to a business essential. But too many retailers still fail to acknowledge the incredibly positive impact artificial intelligence (AI) and big data can have on their businesses and are suffering as a result of their sluggishness. AI is no longer an angsty teenager waiting to be taken seriously. It is fully grown and powerfully important. The sooner retailers understand this, the sooner they can leverage its advice and insights to their benefit — and there are a LOT of those. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I need to make one thing clear. Investing in AI is not a luxury, it is something all retailers must do if they want to survive — and thrive — in today’s tech-savvy market. Until now, most compa…

How Machine Learning AI going to make your phone even smarter

We all know that our smartphones are as powerful as desktop computers from a few years ago, and even supercomputers from a few decades ago—and now they’re on the verge of teaching themselves to become even smarter and more competent. Today, image-recognition AI company Clarifai debuted new software that allows mobile apps to do machine learning—the actual training of models—right on smartphones, going back to at least the iPhone 5, with no cloud server farm required. Understanding the significance of this development requires us to unpack some jargon. Tech companies frequently talk about apps that use machine learning—showing enough images or other data to an artificial intelligence program until it starts to discern important patterns, such as what a hamburger patty and bun look like. That’s how apps like Dog Breed Identifier or Food Calorie Counter, for instance, can identify what you point the phone’s camera at. But these apps aren’t learning on the phone what, say, a Yorkie looks…

New Development Makes Next-Level Brain Implants Possible

Current brain implants are less than ideal. They are crude brain-computer interface (BCI) devices that are implanted during an invasive procedure, and a relatively small number of electrodes make contact with the brain despite the large size of the devices. While they are somewhat effective in the mitigation of the effects of epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and other neuron degenerative conditions, they’d be far more useful with more electrodes making contact than the mere tens of thousands that is possible now. To dramatically improve BCI s, scientists need to create an implant device that is less invasive than current methods and can still offer more interactive channels, including direct interfaces with the visual and auditory cortices. This kind of BCI would create a vastly expanded range of contact points for brain function support by artificial systems. Enter the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and its Neural Engineering System Des…

Snap copied location sharing app Zenly to build Snap Map

Snap just announced a brand new feature today called Snap Map, which lets you view your friends on a map in real time and browse stories around you. If this sounds familiar, it’s because French startup Zenly has been working for years on a location sharing app so that you can see what your friends have been up to. According to multiple sources, Snap approached Zenly late last year about a potential acquisition but the talks remained very informal as Zenly immediately turned down the idea. If you’re not familiar with Zenly, it’s quite straightforward. When you open the app, it shows a giant map with your location and your friends’ location. You can send emojis and messages, but the main content is the location of your friends. Over time, Zenly got smarter. For instance, the app knows where you sleep and where you work, so it can automatically display a status icon next to your friends. The icons representing your closest friends are displayed most prominently. More importantly, Zenly k…

Home robot Kuri can now recognize pets, see and stream in HD (BOSCH)

Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri is an expressive bowling pin that will steal your heart and hopes to become a key element of your family’s home life, and its latest updates make it better at capturing cherished memories, at recognizing fuzzy friends, and at getting around.
The Kuri team has provided some updates on its progress in developing the robot, including news that its visual intelligence system can now identify and recognize pets, including dogs and cats. This is in addition to its ability to recognize human family members, which was previously announced. That means it can understand when it’s looking at a pet, and that information can have different consequences than if it were seeing a human, for instance. Kuri also now sports a better vision system, which includes a 1080p HD camera, which is now fully integrated with the rest of its systems. The 1080p virtual eyes mean that Kuri can stream live in top quality, as well as capture still images and video while interacting with the fam…