IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 17th November 2016

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Welcome to IBM’s IoT weekly round-up – a quick taster of the week’s events in the connected world of the Internet of Things. This week: move over fireworks, Disney’s using a fleet of LED-lit drones for aerial displays; Shakespeare’s airborne sprite Ariel is brought to life in Stratford-upon-Avon with a touch of virtual reality; and Google’s AI wants you to play Pictionary to help it learn. Read on for this week’s stories.

Intel and Disney light up the sky with a 300 drone display

Disney and Intel gave a dazzling aerial holiday show with a display by hundreds of LED-lit drones. The fleet of drones, provided by Intel, moves seamlessly in a dazzling display that would rival even the most spectacular fireworks, painting the sky with huge three-dimensional images that seem to come to life. The drones are called the Shooting Star, and the entire fleet can be operated by a single person.

The Royal Shakespeare Company brings mixed reality to its Tempest

The Royal Shakespeare Company is breathing magic into its production of The Tempest with a little help from virtual reality. Hovering above the stage is a virtual version of Shakespeare’s shape-shifting spirit Ariel – a shimmering blue avatar, whose movements are controlled and whose words are spoken by Mark Quartley, an actor hidden in the wings. Mark wears a sophisticated motion-capture suit that translates his movements to the avatar (known affectionately as ‘Mushy’) in real time.

Google’s AI challenges you to a Quick Draw

Google has developed a series of AI experiments that anyone can use, including a Pictionary-style game. Quick, Draw! challenges players to draw an item of its choosing, using their mouse or touchscreen. Google’s machine learning tries to guess what you are creating, and shouts out its guesses. Through repeated interaction, the AI is gathering data and consolidating its decision-making ability. The idea is that interaction with human users will enable machine learning by feeding it data, which it can then apply to different situations.

Drop off keys securely in a connected lockbox

Dropboxes are a secure spot where people can safely leave or pick up keys for access to property. Popular with realtors the world over, dropboxes are increasingly used by Airbnb-ers to make key hand-offs easier. Toor is giving these secure spots the connected treatment, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, adding Bluetooth and cellular connectivity to dropboxes. Using the company’s app, home owners can schedule pick-ups and leave feedback for guests or potential buyers based on their visit. The Toor will hit the market in the summer, retailing at $149 for the standard version.

Snapchat’s IPO thought to approach $25bn

California-based company Snapchat has filed confidentially with the SEC for an initial public offering (IPO), which could value between $20billion and $25billion, according to confidential sources. The IPO may come as soon as March, and would be one of the biggest offerings in recent years.

Westfield Labs wants to bring digital smarts to retail stores

Westfield Labs, the digital development arm of well-known retail giant Westfield, has a mission to integrate data smarts with the physical shopping experience. The pitch envisages shoppers receiving personalized greetings on entering the shopping mall, along with targeted notifications and deals based on shopping history and personal preferences. They could also receive notifications when something on their digital wish list is nearby.

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