Google’s plan to 3D map the inside of your house using your mobile phone

Google maps and street view has already changed the way we navigate the world around us but now its mission is to 3D map what we can see, using mobile phones, as we see it.

It has build a 5” prototype phone with customised software and hardware which can build a real-time 3D map of wherever you point the phone.

Project Tango, an international collaboration, is aiming to give mobile devices an understanding of the space we live in, as well as the motions it is possible to make.

There are thousands of potential applications for the software and hardware which, include those that will solve simple everyday problems to those which will improve the lives of others.

One possibility is being able to see where products are located in large supermarkets by using a real-time map on your phone.

Google hopes the technology will be able to create a better living environment which is more connected. It says possible uses for the developments will include being able to map the homes of the visually impaired and provide them with directions to help their mobility.

Sensors in the phones, developed by the search giant, make more than 250,000 3D measurements every second and while doing so update the position of the phone and create a map of the environment.

The phone runs Android software and includes development API information, with which Google is encouraging developers to create their own apps and uses for the software.

The team behind Project Tango have been working with universities, research labs and industrial partners to help harvest ten years of research from robotics and computer vision to concentrate the technology into a mobile phone. So far the team has included partners from across the world.

Johnny Chung Lee, the project lead at Google’s ATAP said: “We are physical beings that live in a 3D world yet mobile devices today assume that physical world ends at the boundaries at the screen.

“Our goal is to give mobile devices a human scale understanding of space and motion.

“We have created a prototype phone containing highly customised hardware and software designed to allow the phone to track its motion in full 3D in real-time as you hold it.”

tango2-credit-google

At present 200 prototype development kits have been created and Google has already allocated some of these devices for projects in the areas of indoor navigation, single/multiplayer gaming and new algorithms for processing sensor data.

It is calling for professional developers to take control of the other devices and help to build more than a touch-screen application and say it expects to have allocated all its devices by the middle of March.

If you would like to receive one of the developer kits you can apply to Google directly.


Images and video courtesy of the Google’s Project Tango.


Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag