21 March 2017

The latest stories: read, ranked and summarised by our curators.


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3 Star
Education app uses augmented reality to view internal organs

London-based start-up Curiscope has launched Virtuali-Tee, an augmented reality (AR) based app that allows users to see what appears to be their internal organs. Used with a special blue, red or green T-shirt, the app, which is available for iOS and Android, creates a digital window into the body, while tapping on certain organs provides users with a video animation. Curiscope CEO Ed Barton said the app could be used in schools. "AR’s potential in education is really about bringing things to life that perhaps have laid dormant beforehand," he said. The Virtuali-Tee T-shirt costs £20 to £24.

Tags: Augmented reality,EdTech Strategies,edtech,Augmented education,Curiscope

VR transforms STEM education in New York school

Students at a district school in Nassau County, New York are benefiting from virtual reality with the zSpace system. It is being used for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and has won praise from educators due to its use of a screen, rather than a headset. "This is as close to a hands-on experience as possible. It brings the concept to life," said John Trotta, assistant principal at Polk Street School. With zSpace, students and teachers wearing 3D glasses use a stylus to pick up and move objects from a screen, with the method encouraging group participation.

Tags: Virtual reality,Education technology,EdTech Strategies,Digital education

OpenAI researchers help robots develop their own language

Former Pixar and Stanford University roboticist Igor Mordatch at the OpenAI lab has found a way to encourage robots in a virtual 2D world to develop their own language. The bots navigate their world through trial and error, using reinforcement learning techniques as they go, reports an Open AI research paper. The bots are also given  the ability to name things and give each other directions in order to complete various tasks. It's a different approach to language learning to the current fashion of statistically analysing vast amounts of data. 

Tags: Chatbots,OpenAI,Natural language processing

Uber's autonomous cars remain on a steep learning curve

New figures reveal that Uber's self-driving car project is making erratic progress, according to documents leaked to Redcode. Although the cars are still learning some routes, among the data is "miles per intervention" how long a car drives before any human correction at all is required, which in March happened on average every 0.8 miles. But another metric reveals Uber's self-driving cars ran for 196 miles before requiring a "critical intervention", where a human takes action to avoid harming people or property. What the company calls "bad experiences", such as hard braking or jerky driving, occurred every two miles in March.

Tags: Uber,Autonomous vehicles,Self-driving cars,Future mobility,Autonomous vehicle technology,Future transport

Car insurer Jupiter signs Elafris for AI virtual agent platform

Nashville-based car insurance provider Jupiter Auto is partnering with San Francisco's Elafris, the company that developed the first artificial intelligence messaging platform for the banking insurance industry. They will develop an advanced virtual agent infrastructure that will allow Jupiter to provide a personalised, intelligent virtual agent service to its customers, designed to make it easier, faster and cheaper for its products to be purchased online.

Tags: Artificial intelligence,Motor Insurance,Elafris,Disruption in Insurance,Jupiter

Cancer treatments boosted by AI genomic sequencing

Data analytics company Sophia Genetics is enabling doctors to detect the origin of the genomic code mutations that cause cancer by running digitised genomics data through algorithms offered by artificial intelligence. "The more we understand the molecular events at the origin of the disease or disorder, the better we can understand the effects of what certain combinations of drugs are likely to be," explained Dr Jurgi Camblong, co-founder of Sophia Genetics. She added that without up-to-date technology it can take several months to determine a drug treatment. Sophia's platform is currently used by 240 hospitals in 39 countries.

Tags: Artificial intelligence,Digital Health,Genomics,Cancer,Gene Sequencing

2 Star
Y Combinator launches vertical track exclusively for AI start-ups

US accelerator and venture fund Y Combinator (YC) is launching a programme exclusively for start-ups working in artificial intelligence, according to YC partner Daniel Gross, who is set to personally mentor those taking part. Businesses admitted to the "YC AI" track will have access to machine learning experts to help them overcome technical problems and cloud compute credits to enhance their graphics processing units. YC is especially interested in companies with AI technologies that could enable the creation of robot factories, said Gross in his announcement.

Tags: Apple,Robots,Artificial intelligence,Venture Capital,iPhone,aerospace,Y Combinator,GPU

Blippar co-founder's background comes under scrutiny

Some of the claims made by Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and CEO of augmented reality company Blippar, about his past personal and business experiences have been called into question, reported Kadhim Shubber in the Financial Times.

Tags: Augmented reality,Blippar

Nvidia working with Paccar on autonomous trucks

Nvidia, the American chipmaker, has announced that it is working with truck manufacturer Paccar to develop self-driving vehicles. Nvidia will provide technology such as the Drive PX 2 self-driving system used by Tesla. 

Tags: Tesla,Autonomous vehicles,Nvidia,Future mobility,Future transport,Paccar Inc

1 Star
Tencent's AI Lab develops FineArt, a competitor to AlphaGo

The artificial intelligence (AI) lab of Chinese internet giant Tencent has developed FineArt, an AI-based machine that won the annual international AI Go tournament on Sunday, one year after its creation. The FineArt project, which uses the same neural network as AlphaGo, was begun last March and, according to Tencent, was beating senior professional Go players by November the same year. Tencent said the project has "significantly improved" the AI lab's engineering capabilities and furthered the company's interest in deep and strengthened learning.

Tags: Artificial intelligence,DeepMind,China,Japan,South Korea,Tencent,Tokyo

Everypixel stock image search engine learns to judge beauty

Stock photo agency start-up Everypixel has launched an algorithm that uses a neural network to measure the beauty of stock images. Everypixel worked with professional photographers, designers and editors to create a training dataset by testing 956,794 positive and negative patterns on a "heartless algorithm". The neural network then learned to give each image an aesthetic score, with the data improving with subsequent search results.

Tags: Artificial intelligence,Image Recognition,Everypixel

Point72 uses human traders' decisions to create algorithms

Point72 Asset Management, set up by trader Steven Cohen to manage his $11bn fortune, is using data generated by its portfolio managers to train systems intended to automate trading decisions. The model looks at patterns and relationships in the size of trading positions and the levels of leverage, hedging and risk, along with trading timings, pricing and market liquidity.

Tags: Big Data in Financial Services,Machine learning,Point72,Trading Desks,Point 72

Baltimore AI firm fighting ageing raises $10m for R&D

Baltimore-based bioinformatics firm Insilico Medicine has raised just under $10m in funding, according to papers filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Insilico focuses on developing drugs to fight ageing and age-related ailments using genomics, big data analysis and advanced algorithms. The firm will use the funding to advance its research and development, according to the SEC filings. Insilico has declined to comment on its funding, as the current round is still open to investment.

Tags: Artificial intelligence,Digital Health,Medical research,Health Records

Google Family Link trades parental control for children's online data

Google has launched Family Link, an application that enables parents to establish the security and parental controls of a child's first Google account. By tracking screen time, managing daily limits, establishing "bedtimes" and controlling which apps children use, Google directly competes with third-party parental control and monitoring software that's already on the market. Unlike parental control systems from Apple or Amazon, Family Link requires input from two active parties. The application is designed for use with children under the age of 13 and is only available to Android users.

Tags: Google,Education technology,Privacy,Future computing