AI isolates voices in a crowd

Google researchers have developed a deep-learning system designed to help computers better identify and isolate individual voices within a noisy environment. As noted in a post on the company’s Google Research Blog this week, a team within the tech giant attempted to replicate the cocktail party effect, or the human brain’s ability to focus on one source of audio while filtering out others—just as you would while talking to a friend at a party.

Source: Google works out a fascinating, slightly scary way for AI to isolate voices in a crowd | Ars Technica

Tiny cameras could hide almost anywhere

Hello, surveillance state!

Engineers have previously investigated the possibility of having a camera sensor power itself with the same light that falls on it. After all, it’s basically just two different functions of a photovoltaic cell — one stores the energy that falls on it while the other records how much energy fell on it.

Source: Under a millimeter wide and powered by light, these tiny cameras could hide almost anywhere | TechCrunch

Loomo

Ok, I totally want my own personal droid. It’s kind of silly how much I’d like to have this if I were in a city.

 

L.L. Bean To Link Boots, Coats to a Blockchain

I will say, this is maybe 2 years earlier than I thought this would happen. But no doubt that it would, or that eventually this will be commonplace (except of course for Designer Brands that sell privacy as a service).

In a test due to begin this year, L.L. Bean plans to ship a line of coats and boots with sewn-in sensors that send data to the public Ethereum blockchain platform. The retailer is building a data tracking and analytics system to use customer data stored on Ethereum. Loomia, a Brooklyn-based technology company, plans to provide sheets of flexible circuitry to embed in the apparel, along with a small hardware device that uses near-field communication signals to collect data from the circuits while the custome

Source: L.L. Bean To Link Boots, Coats to a Blockchain – CIO Journal. – WSJ

Paper Signals: A Voice Experiment from Google

Super interesting maker/prototyping experiment from Google…use a few pieces of cheap hardware and paper construction to build a device that listens to your voice, and acts as an ambient information sensor. Potentially really useful for maker programs in libraries (if you don’t mind the creepy Google factor).

Paper Signals are build-it-yourself objects that you control with your voice.

Source: Paper Signals: A Voice Experiment

LulzBot drops some hardware

Lulzbot, everyone’s favorite 3D printer company, announced some amazing new stuff today. The first is a new version of their customized Cura, my choice for quick and easy slicing/plating for Lulzbot printers. But the really interesting stuff is all the hardware they announced!

Modular Bed System for both the Taz and Mini

Dual Extruder v3, with a new water-soluble support filament

 

A new inexpensive enclosure for either the Taz or Mini, and very exciting for a lot of libraries, a stand-alone controller for the Mini that just clips on and allows for computer-free printing directly from an SD card.

It’s great to see Lulzbot continue to innovate and make their printers even more useful. There’s a reason they are my number one choice for libraries looking at a 3d printer purchase.

OMG a new Aibo!

 

From The Verge:

The new Aibo is available to pre-order in Japan today and will go on sale on January 11th, 2018; there aren’t any plans yet to release it outside of Sony’s homeland. It costs 198,000 yen, or about $1,700, as well as the monthly subscription — but what price can you put on cloud-powered robot companionship?

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