IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 15th December 2016
Welcome to this week’s Internet of Things round-up, bringing you the latest stories in the connected world. This week: vehicle-to-vehicle communication might be mandatory from 2017 if a proposal from the U.S. Department of Transport is accepted, Google announces the creation of its self-driving car company, and a London translation firm is hiring the first emoji specialist.
U.S. Department of Transportation proposes vehicle-to-vehicle-comms
The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed that all new cars in U.S. should be able to talk to each other. The proposed rule would require all new ‘light duty’ vehicles to include built-in vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The idea is that the technology would prevent many thousands of accidents per year, by using short-range communications to inform automated driver-assist functions such as emergency braking in the event of getting too close to another vehicle. The vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) guidance will be coming soon from the Federal Highway Administration. The proposal has come in for its fair share of criticism over fears that adequate security will be difficult to implement.
Loom.ai is building expressive avatars from uploaded photos
Loom.ai is aiming to create realistic avatars that can capture a user’s personality. The company allows users to upload a photo of themselves, from which they can design an unusually accurate virtual representation. The team is well-versed in this skill and includes visual effects experts from LucasFilm and DreamWorks, while CTO Kiran Bhat worked as R&D facial lead on The Avengers. What sets Loom.ai apart in the VR space is the system it is developing to learn about users’ personalities, creating avatars that are more than just a visual replication.
London translation agency advertises for ‘Emoji translator’
A London-based translation agency is hiring the world’s first emoji specialist, and recognizes emoji use as a language in its own right. Today Translations is searching for someone able to interpret emojis from facial expressions to food items, while maintaining an awareness of cultural differences in usage and interpretation. The successful candidate will submit monthly reports on trends, carry out translations, and research cultural differences in adoption and usage.
Pokémon Go exercise benefits exaggerated, says study
Think playing Pokémon Go can make you fitter? Think again, say researchers from Harvard University, who found that the positive effects of the augmented reality game are short-lived. Katherine Howe, who co-authored the research, said that whilst playing the game moderately increased physical activity in the short-term, the effect was not sustained over a period of six weeks. The results are based on responses to an online survey of 622 non-players and 560 avid fans of the game, all aged between 18 and 35. All the respondents had an iPhone 6, which automatically records steps, giving researchers valuable data about participants’ activity level before and after downloading the game.
Hi-tech goggles let Paralympian see boyfriend clearly
Paralympian Libby Clegg, who is partially-sighted, has been able to see her boyfriend clearly for the first time thanks to sophisticated prototype goggles. The prototype is designed by GiveVision and enhances the vision that its wearers have left, by emphasizing contrast between light and shade and sharpening the edges of objects. Libby has Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, meaning that the middle of her vision is fuzzy. The goggles enabled her to see details she hadn’t perceived before – such as eye colour, and the numbers on a vending machine.
Google creates self-driving car company Waymo
Google has announced the creation of a new self-driving car company called Waymo, which will be owned by its parent company Alphabet. While the technology has been in development for over 10 years, this is the company’s first attempt to commercialise it. Some say the announcement suggests that Google may be changing tack on its original goal of offering fully automated vehicles.