New Year and new tech news, we realise that technology is evolving every day and as a part of the tech in Techstory, we bring you the latest in the technology from around the world under “TECH THIS WEEK!” now on! So by any chance if you feel that you’ve missed the tech news during the daily dose of your news column, don’t worry all you have to do is follow us every Sunday.
Pic-Scanning AI Estimates City Air Pollution From Mass Of Photos
A project called AirTick is using artificial intelligence to find clarity amid the smog. The app, built by a team at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, will estimate air quality by analysing large numbers of photos of the city.
Air sensors can be expensive to install, says Pan Zhengxiang, a graduate student who was inspired to create the app from his time fighting forest fires for the air force. A smartphone app provides the opportunity for a low-cost solution – particularly in a country such as Singapore, which has one of the world’s highest levels of smartphone ownership per capita.
AirTick will collect photos in bulk for any city it wants to track, recording when and where each was taken and the positioning of the camera. Those images will be checked against official air-quality data. The information will be used to train a machine-learning algorithm, which will learn to estimate the level of pollutants in the air solely on the basis of evidence from photos.
The idea is to gradually improve the algorithm so that the general public can eventually obtain accurate real-time estimates of the air quality in their neighbourhood. Smartphone cameras will act as a proxy for air-pollution sensors, which are less common.
Google DeepMind’s Algorithm Can Now Explore 3D Mazes
Google DeepMind thinks the best way to teach machines how to learn about the world is to place them in a virtual one, namely in video games. Since the entire experience is virtual, it’s easy to reproduce exact scenarios and get a nearly unlimited amount of data from a single game. In the past, DeepMind has developed algorithms to learn from (and beat) 2D Atari games like Breakout and Pac-Man.
In a recent paper, DeepMind has taken on the third dimension, and built a program that can navigate a 3D, Doom-like maze. The algorithm isn’t reading the code of the game, it’s literally looking at what any human player would see, and making decisions and judgments about where to go.
The algorithm was developed to explore a 3D maze-generator called Labyrinth, where the goal is to find rewards in a randomly generated maze. They also tested three other platforms, an Atari 2600 platform, a physics modelling platform, and a platform that resembled a car-racing game. Unlike Doom, there’s no shooting involved.
IOC President Looks Into The Future Of Technology
IOC President Thomas Bach dived into the future of technology, society and sport on a three-day tour through Silicon Valley this week. When visiting VISA, the delegation found out about new payment methods, including those involving cars. At Samsung, they got a first glimpse into 360-degree cameras and Virtual Reality by simply using a regular smart phone. At Facebook, the IOC group had the chance to try out Oculus Rift. How Twitter can help drive TV ratings was one of the topics being discussed at a meeting in its headquarters. The IOC President suggested inviting a member of social network Vine into the Artists in Residence programme of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. At the Mountain View Campus of Google, the IOC delegation was not impressed only by the technical developments being presented, but also by the bikes and sporting activities available to the employees of the company.
Some Fear the Death of Twitter As Company Prepares Algorithmic Timeline
#RIPTwitter was trending across the social media world Friday and Saturday following a report that Twitter would be changing to an algorithmic timeline next week — i.e., users would no longer be shown all the tweets, in reverse chronological order, from all the people they follow, but would instead get a Facebook-like feed of content determined by an algorithm bent on showing them what it thinks they’d like to see.
Put more simply, the new timeline would mean that instead of bombarding users — especially new users — with every tweet from every person they follow, an algorithm would show them a reduced selection of customized content and promote relevant and popular tweets, both from whomever they follow as well as from across the entire site. So far, Twitter has not confirmed that the change is coming next week, but it’s worth noting that the timing of the move could be linked to their Q4 earnings report, which is due out on Wednesday
Microsoft And GoPro Sign Patent Licensing Deal For File Storage Technology
Microsoft, though its Microsoft Licensing LLC, and GoPro today announced that they have signed a collaborative patent licensing deal for “certain file storage and other system technologies.” The terms of the deal are confidential and neither Microsoft nor GoPro shared any details beyond this basic statement. It’s unclear which patents are actually covered by this, for example.
It’s worth noting, though, that Microsoft Licensing explicitly lists the exFAT file system as one of the technologies that are available for licensing, so chances are this is covered under the agreement. This file system allows for saving larger files on storage media from 32GB to 256TB. The newest GoPro models can handle SD cards with up to 128GB of space. For larger cards, GoPro already uses the exFAT format, but for smaller ones under 64GB, it still uses the old FAT format, which then splits up files in 4GB segments because that’s the maximum file size for FAT32 disks.