Amazon releases new Echo/Alexa devices

Amazon announced a ton of new connected devices today for their Alexa ecosystem, including the first serious revision of the basic Echo (now $99) and the Echo Plus, an Echo with smart home hub built in. Also announced is the Echo Spot, a new form factor for a screen-bearing Echo with camera. The somewhat odd ones are the Echo Connect, a VOIP box that connects a landline to an existing Echo device in the home. The Connect then allows the Echo to act as a smart speakerphone, enabling voice-controlled dialing and the like. Potentially huge for accessibility, it’s an unusual product for the Echo ecosystem.

 

But not quite as odd as the Echo Buttons, which are 2-for-$20 accessories for playing games with an existing Echo. The idea is to use them like buzz-in buttons on game shows, with the Echo acting as a gamemaster for trivia games and the like.

I suppose the Buttons + Echo might make for a fun library trivia night activity? Let me know if you plan to try it out at your library.

Source: Amazon debuts redesigned $99 Echo, plus a slew of new Echo devices, too | Ars Technica

3D Scanning with Water

The research is documented in a paper entitled “Dip Transform for 3D Shape Reconstruction,” which you can access here. In the paper, the researchers describe how they created what’s called a dip scanner, which literally dips an object into a bath of water. The object is repeatedly dipped in different orientations, and the water’s volume displacement is measured, which provides an accurate representation of the object’s entire shape.

Source: 3D Scanning with Water: Researchers Introduce New “Dip Transform” Method | 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

 BlackBelt 3D Printer

This is the first truly novel FDM 3d printer that I’ve seen in years…not only do they look like they’ve solved a few issues (printing at an angle allows for overhangs to be dealt with differently) but the never-ending printed is genius. The printer isn’t cheap, but this is extremely clever engineering.

I look forward to seeing this come to fruition.

Elon Musk Thinks We’re Four or Five Years Away From Neural Lace

Elon Musk’s neural lace project could turn us all into cyborgs, and he says that it’s only four or five years away. The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has long been an outspoken critic of unrestricted artificial intelligence, and has been quietly researching the concept of “neural lace,” a merger of machine learning and human intelligence that could revolutionize our species. In a profile published Monday in Vanity Fair, Musk said he thinks a “meaningful partial brain interface” could be here in less t

Source: Elon Musk Thinks We’re Four or Five Years Away From Neural Lace | Inverse

DJI MG-1S – Agricultural Wonder Drone

Farmers are required to manage acres of farmland at a time, and have recently begun to tap into aerial technology to do so efficiently and sustainably. DJI MG-1S revolutionizes the way in which farmers can utilize drones to manage and take care of their crops. In this video, three individuals in the agricultural drone industry speak of their experiences with DJI’s MG-1S and tell us why it stands out amongst the UAV choices when considering factors of precision, effectiveness, intuitiveness, ease of use, s

Robot Scanners + AI metadata = Ripcord

Sounds more and more like Rainbows End every day…

Ripcord takes your static, paper records collecting dust in warehouses and uses robots to scan, OCR and upload them to Ripcord Canopy, our cloud platform. Once on Ripcord Canopy, you can manage your records or integrate them into your existing enterprise systems. Ripcord’s end-to-end solution includes shipping, scanning, indexing, auto-classifying and unlimited access to Ripcord Canopy. We also include connections to the enterprise systems you already use at no extra cost.

Source: Digitization | Ripcord

The Internet of Cows

Yep. IoT for Cows. I can’t wait for this to be hacked somehow, and used a a distributed cownet.

Tie the cowlar on the cow’s neck. The Cowlar simply consists of a strap designed to comfortably fit around your cow and a small magic box that measure temperature, activity and cow behaviour, i.e. whether it’s eating, sleeping, ruminating or showing lameness.

Source: Cowlar – How It Works

Google and Levi’s connected smart jacket 

The connected denim smart jacket made in partnership between Levi’s and Google’s ATAP division now has a price tag, but its release date has been pushed from this spring to the fall. The jacket, which will cost around $350 when it goes on sale, is the first commercial product containing ATAP’s Project Jacquard technology, which uses conductive fabric to turn a standard article of clothing into a connected device of sorts that can send instructions to your smartphone, like pausing or skipping a song that’s playing by double tapping your wrist.

Source: Google and Levi’s connected smart jacket will come out this fall and cost around $350 – The Verge

Introducing Handle

Handle is a research robot that stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps 4​ ​feet vertically. ​It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. ​​​Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles​ found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere.