Tech Universe: Tuesday 29 November

By Miraz Jordan

Can a fully automated drone land safely on the heaving deck of a carrier? Photo / Thinkstock
Can a fully automated drone land safely on the heaving deck of a carrier? Photo / Thinkstock

AESTHETIC ALGORITHM: The Aesthetic Image Search program from Xerox automatically categorises images into good and bad. Its algorithms first understand the content of the image, without needing text tags.
Then it filters the images for good or bad aesthetic elements, using known photographic principles such as avoiding cluttered backgrounds.
Its results show images in 2 groups: good and bad aesthetics. So binary, but surprisingly accurate. Open Xerox.

ROTARY MOVES: Seeing a helicopter land on the bed of a moving truck is a bit special. But when you find out the helicopter is an autonomous drone, with no pilot, then it really is something. The Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird rotorcraft was getting in a bit of practice for landing on an aircraft carrier even in high seas and low visibility.
It's a big jump from a smoothly horizontal flatbed truck to a heaving aircraft carrier. sUAS News. Video here.

FINGERS IN THE AIR: Microsoft's Kinect pops up all over the place as a control system for games, scientific projects and other gestural interfaces. Now it has a rival: the Russian Displair projects images onto a stream of cold fog and allows a person to interact with the images by gesture alone. Where Kinect detects large body movements,
Displair uses an infrared camera to capture fine hand gestures. Cold fog though? TechCrunch.
Video here.

ROBOTS IN PRISON: In South Korea robots are soon to become prison guards — for a month long trial in one prison, anyway. They'll patrol the corridors and monitor conditions inside the cells. Sudden or unusual activity will cause them to alert the human guards. Unlike passive cameras, the robots can analyse activity and assess whether it may cause a problem. The appearance of the robots is being customised to make them appear humane and friendly. It'll be interesting to see if the prisoners bond with guard robots the way people do with carer robots.
The Wall Street Journal.

CARTERCYCLE: Car? Scooter? Motorbike? How about all three rolled into one package? The Tilter is an ultra-compact electric vehicle for city dwellers. It puts an air-conditioned cabin around a 3-wheeled vehicle that's not much bigger than a scooter. The doors slide open towards the front of the vehicle, and the seats resemble car seats, although they're inline rather than side by side. The back seat flips up if you need to carry goods rather than a passenger. A built-in smartphone dock will let you use custom apps as a car computer. The Tilter can travel 120 Km on a charge at speeds up to 110 Kph. It's an innovative idea for a vehicle. Tilter. Video here.


Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz


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