Google, a company that spends billions of dollars on research and development, still hasn't found a good reason for everyone to own a pair of smart glasses. But an international team of researchers is rethinking how upgraded glasses could be useful -- by turning the wearer's nose into a remote control for other devices.
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Grabbing a quick coffee from a fast food joint means it's up to you to add as much coffee and cream as you need. But future generations may never need to deal with those tiny, easy-to-spill milk cups as scientists from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany have invented capsules that dissolve away to release a perfect portion of cream and sweetener into your coffee.
If you're a professional photographer who assumed that slapping an obtrusive watermark across your work would protect it from being misused online, Google has some bad news for you. A team of researchers from the company has found a way to automatically and perfectly erase the watermarks used by popular stock photography organisations.
The phones in our pockets might be getting more and more complicated, but many researchers advancing the field of robotics are actually engineering simpler bots designed to reliably perform very basic tasks. So instead of one day facing a terrifying future filled with terminators, these squishy rolling doughnuts might be our biggest threat.
Over the last 15 years, Australians have reduced the amount of time spent on physical and routine tasks at work by two hours each week thanks to automation. Retail workers have spent less time ringing up items and more time helping customers, bank employees less time counting banknotes and more time giving financial advice.
And if Australia played its cards right, we could be making $2.2 trillion from automation by 2030, according to research commissioned by Google.
Professional photographers often spend hours painstakingly perfecting their images in Lightroom and Photoshop before sharing them with the world. But researchers at MIT are promising similar results generated so quickly that your smartphone can correct and retouch a photo before you've even taken it.
The amount of data you can squeeze onto a hard drive continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with Seagate announcing a 60TB SSD late last year. But thanks to IBM and Sony, tape might still reign supreme when you need to archive massive amounts of data, as the companies have jointly developed a new kind of tape that can reportedly hold 201-gigabits, or roughly 25GB, per 645mm2.
Designing simpler spacecraft is what helped us finally put rovers on Mars and start exploring the Red Planet. Embracing simplicity might also give us simple, inexpensive robots that thrive doing very specific tasks, instead of multi-million dollar humanoids that have trouble just staying on their feet.
Imagine the worst case scenario. Dubious filmmakers use artificially intelligent computers to feed raw audio into a simulated version of Barack Obama. The audio is actually Obama's voice, and the face really is his face. But the lip movements? Totally fake. The filmmakers publish the video on the internet, and it's virtually impossible to see that it's a fake, because the technology is so good. This is not a hypothetical situation any more.
What if all those apps you rely on at work weren't trapped on your smartphone's tiny screen? They may not be for much longer. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Future Interfaces Group lab have come up with a novel way for your smartphone to spill out onto your desk while still letting you interact with apps you rely on using your fingers.
By now it's well documented that those tiny plastic microbeads used in face scrubs and toothpastes are contaminating lakes and oceans at an alarming rate. Starting next month they will be officially banned in the US for personal care products, but oily faces rejoice, eco-friendly replacements are already in the works.
Like maintaining a zen garden, or pruning a bonsai tree, some people stack and balance rocks as a way to relax. But robots don't really experience emotional stress, so why bother teaching a bot to balance rocks? One day, this robot's skills could prove invaluable when it comes to building structures on distant worlds we're trying to colonise.
AI-powered software that can automatically colourise old black and white photos exists, but it's often far from perfect. In comparison, manually colourising an image in Photoshop yields stunning results, if you have a lot of time and impressive skills. But a new app, developed at the University of California at Berkeley, cleverly merges both approaches so it's easy to accurately colourise a black and white pic.