IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 12th October 2017

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Welcome to the weekly IoT round-up! This week, we get a sneak peek at the new Star Wars VR experience (coming soon to Disney Parks), and there’s good news for autonomous vehicles as California DMV rules to allow testing of driverless vehicles. Read on for the latest.

Science and Star Wars: real-world droids

IBM’s thought leadership program ‘Science and Star Wars’ explores how close real world science has come to Star Wars tech. Last week, it was time for droids to have a moment in the spotlight. In Episode 2: Droids, we met R2 Builders Club members Mike Senna and Michael McMaster, who introduced us to their very own R3-A3 droid, built with a Raspberry Pi and imbued with a personality courtesy of IBM Watson. Their R3-A3 can understand and respond to spoken language, recognize images and obey commands like ‘wave’, ‘open the door’ or even ‘take a photo’. It’s pretty well-versed in the Star Wars oeuvre too, as you might expect. This R3-A3 recognizes characters, understands its own place in the George Lucas cosmos and knows exactly how to take down an AT-TE with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. The episode also features Olli – the self-driving Watson-empowered shuttle bus that can interact with its passengers and manage its own routes.

California DMV will allow autonomous vehicle testing

More news for autonomous driving this week as the California Department of Motor Vehicles changes its rules to allow testing and public use of self-driving vehicles. The revised rules take into account feedback from automakers, local governments, insurance companies and consumers, and will permit companies to test autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel. The changes will be subject to regulations to cover testing, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still has the final say

MIT researchers develop digestible sensor

Last week, we wrote about the edible sensor designed to monitor the temperature of food in transit. This week, researchers from MIT’s Koch Institute have taken things a step further – with a digestible sensor that can monitor your stomach’s contents and digestive activity. The sensor itself is delivered by means of a dissolvable pill, and once swallowed adheres to the stomach lining to spot potential disorders and monitor drug intake. Don’t worry, it only hangs around in the gut for about two days, so you won’t be stuck with it forever.

Star Wars VR comes to Disney Parks

Star Wars fans will be delighted to learn that they’ll soon be able to suit up in a VR backpack and headset kit, and enter a huge, virtual reality experience in the guise of undercover Stormtroopers. Lucasfilm and VR startup The Void have released a trailer for the experience, which maps VR onto a physical space, or rather, two physical spaces – in Downtown Disney (Anaheim) and Disney Springs (Orlando.) The VR backpack means no messy wires to trip over, so explorers can roam free over the (considerable) space.

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