SAN FRANCISCO--When Swiss developers designed the QB1 robot, they weren't going for human-like looks or cute puppydog mannerisms.
Instead, they're hoping QB1 will hook people in on a more meaningful level--by providing a handy music-suggestion service--and thus giving the robot continuous exposure to data stemming from real human interaction.
Artificial intelligence "systems need to learn in the real world, from real people. You cannot program them with knowledge from the real world," said Frederic Kaplan, CEO and co-founder of QB1 developer OZWE.
The QB1 was showcased to the public last weekend at Swissnex, an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland here that's dedicated to bridging knowledge in science, education, art, and innovation between Switzerland and North America.
QB1 is what Kaplan calls a "robotic object"; people interact with it through gestures. In its first application, QB1 is loaded with a kind of disc jockey feature because that invites people to spend time with it.
Kaplan got this idea out of his experience working for 10 years with Sony's world famous dog-like AI robot, Aibo.
"What was frustrating was that nobody was interacting with it long-term. There are so many objects in your house, so why interact with an object that is only for pleasure?" he said. And as Aibo needed time with humans to learn, this was a fundamental problem.
"The limit for AI is not computing power, it's getting experience," Kaplan said. So QB1 tries to steal your time doing something useful, playing your music. The AI system incorporated into QB1 has about five different strategies to intelligently predict what music you want to listen to at the moment. … Read more
Watch what you say. Scientists in England have developed a computer that can not only read lips, but can tell the difference between languages.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia's School of Computing Sciences developed the technology by statistically modeling the lip motions of 23 bilingual and trilingual speakers. The resulting system is able to identify the language spoken by an individual with "very high accuracy," according to the university. Identifiable languages included English, French, German, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Polish, and Russian.
What gives you away? The movement of your articulators--when you wag your tongue, … Read more
One day, your computer will be a big-ass table with pictures of other people's kids all over it. We know it, Microsoft knows it and--judging by its fancy X-Desk surface computer--Epson knows it too.
The X-Desk works in much the same way as Microsoft's alternative, the Surface. An Epson positioned in the base of the table projects an image up toward a diffuser on the surface, while infrared Epson beneath recognize objects and gestures.
Epson reckons it'll be used in retail outlets for interactive gadget comparisons; in bars and clubs for interactive cocktail menus; in … Read more
SAN JOSE, Calif.--Artificial Muscle believes that when you touch your computer or phone, it should touch back.
The Silicon Valley company is working on putting haptic feedback in a variety of devices, from laptops to touch-screen phones. Though forced feedback isn't a new concept, the way this company is going about it is different. It showed off some of its technologies at the Interactive Displays 2009 conference here.
Instead of using the vibration motor in a phone to give feedback from a screen, the company has developed and patented an electroactive polymer that expands when it receives an … Read more
Ecotality is in talks with leading automakers--not only Nissan--concerning its electric charging stations for highway-legal electric cars, according to CEO Jonathan Read.
"We have been contacted by every major automaker about electric vehicle systems relating to charging and infrastructure. We expect to convert these discussions into firm contracts," Read told investors Wednesday at a shareholders' conference that was open to the press.
The Arizona-based company recently announced a partnership with Nissan and the local governments in the Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., areas to build charging stations for electric cars that would cover the regions and the 116-mile stretch … Read more
Start-up Bright Automotive unveiled a light-use vehicle on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that gets 100 mpg for its first 50 miles.
The Idea, as the plug-in hybrid utility vehicle is called, uses battery power almost exclusively for the first 30 miles when starting with a fully charged battery. It then moves to the electric with gas supplement system found on any typical hybrid vehicle.
Because of this 30-mile electric start, Bright Automotive estimates that in a 50-mile drive the Idea consumes half a gallon of gas, getting it roughly the equivalent of 100 mpg. On a total drive of 70 … Read more
Hybrid engines aren't the only way to improve fuel efficiency. Scuderi Group unveiled a cutaway of its Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine prototype at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2009 World Congress in Detroit. The new design is the first major change in engine dynamics since its creation 130 years ago, says Bill Wren, representative for the family-run start-up.
Most conventional internal combustion engines operate using the Otto Cycle. The Otto Cycle uses four strokes of a piston--intake, compression, power, and exhaust--that fire in quick succession using two revolutions of the crank shaft to complete the cycle. This process is only 30 percent efficient, which means you get only 30 percent the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.
In the Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine, the four strokes are divided over two paired cylinders--one intake/compression cylinder and one power/exhaust cylinder. On a conventional engine, the combustion occurs as the piston is going up. But in the Split-Cycle engine, the piston pair fires after top-dead center, and combustion occurs as the pistons comes down, producing more efficient, cleaner combustion with one cylinder pair and compressed air in the other. … Read more
Sometimes we hear about gadgets that are made for good but could definitely be used for evil. Take the PediSedate, a combo gaming device and sedation machine.
It's essentially a Game Boy system modified to distract kids ages 3 to 9 with Tetris or something while they're pumped full of nitrous oxide to knock them unconscious for dental surgery. Sounds evil, even though it's intended to make things easier on the kid.
But that's not all it does. The colorful headset includes systems to monitor the patient, such as a pulse-oximeter to slightly adjust the flow … Read more
A couple of years ago, I bought an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of playing Rock Band. I'd played it a few times and fell in love. I also love the Guitar Hero series and most of the other music-themed modern games out there. But sometimes things can go too far, and this might be one of those times.
Oh-No Banjo is a Guitar Hero-based game students from the Rochester Institute of Technology cooked up for the school's president, Bill Destler. He happens to be a hard-core collector of antique banjos from the 1840s to 1920s (as … Read more