Xiaomi-Backed Yi Technology Partners With Google to Launch VR Rig With 17 Cameras

Xiaomi-Backed Yi Technology Partners With Google to Launch VR Rig With 17 Cameras

Xiaomi-backed Chinese company Yi Technology earlier this year launched its Yi 4K+ action camera, which was claimed by the company to be the first in camera market to capture 4K videos at 60 fps. Now the company has announced two new cameras, Yi Halo and Yi 360 VR, for professional users and consumers, respectively.

Coming first to the Yi Halo, the camera has been developed in partnership with Google and is especially targeted at professionals. The Yi Halo camera comes with 17 camera units in total and allows users to showcase their creativity while creating VR content. The camera has been developed to work with Google’s Jump professional virtual reality platform. Yi Halo comes with support for various image quality settings including ISO, WB, EV, shutter, and flat colour. Further the newly launched VR camera is capable of shooting videos in 8K resolution at 30fps and 5K resolution at 60fps.

“We designed the Yi Halo to be modular and upgradeable. When new firmware is released, you can upgrade all cameras at once with just a few clicks on the control panel. In the unlikely event a Yi Halo unit camera is damaged in the field, simply replace it with one of the two included spare cameras. When new Yi Halo unit camera hardware is released, simply replace the existing unit camera to upgrade the Yi Halo,” the company says on its website.

The Yi Halo camera is powered by an 18 Ambarella A9SE75 chipset. It comes with built-in Wi-Fi, sports a 2.2-inch LCD screen with 640×360 pixel resolution, and can be controlled using an Android smartphone app as well. The camera offers a battery life of 100 minutes in video recording. The Yi Halo has been priced by the company at $16,999 (roughly Rs. 10,93,000) and will be made available late summer this year.

yi 360 story Yi 360 VR

Moving on to the Yi 360 VR, the consumer-centric camera, as the name suggests, it can record videos and pictures in 360-degrees. It is capable of recording videos with 5.7K resolution at 30fps. The camera weighs just around 170 grams and can be easily carried around by users. The Yi 360 VR camera is powered by Ambarella H2V95 chipset and comes with two 12-megapixel Sony CMOS IMX377 sensors. It features Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and offers connectivity options including HDMI, USB 2.0 (Type-C), and micro SD card. Just like Yi Halo, Yi 360 VR can also be operated using a smartphone app as well.

New camera may capture distant images without long lens

 SAVI system, SAVI prototype, Matrix Special effect, SAVI camera array, remove aberrations, SAVI's "synthetic aperture", computer programme replaces long lens, Science, Science news

Scientists develop a unique camera that can capture detailed images of distant objects without using a long lens, may lead to less bulky telescopes.

Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a unique camera that can capture detailed images of distant objects without using a long lens, an advance that could lead to telescopes that are less bulky. The system known as SAVI – for “Synthetic Apertures for long-range, subdiffraction-limited Visible Imaging” – does not need a long lens to take a picture of a faraway object, researchers said.The prototype built by researchers reads a spot illuminated by a laser and captures the “speckle” pattern with a camera sensor.

Raw data from dozens of camera positions is fed to a computer programme that interprets it and constructs a high-resolution image.Researchers including those from Rice University in the US, built and tested the device that compares interference pat terns between multiple speckled images. Like the technique used to achieve the “Matrix” special effect, the images are taken from slightly different angles, but with one camera that is moved between shots instead of many fired in sequence. The prototype only works with coherent illumination sources such as lasers.

However, it is a step toward a SAVI camera array for use in visible light, researchers said. The speckles serve as reference beams and essentially replace one of the two beams used to create holograms, researchers said. When a laser illuminates a rough surface, the viewer sees grain-like speckles in the dot, as some of the returning light scattered from points on the surface has to go farther and throws the collective wave out of phase. The texture of a piece of paper – or even a fingerprint -is enough to cause the effect.

“Today, the technology can be applied only to coherent (laser) light,” said Ashok Veeraraghavan of Rice University.”That means you cannot apply these techniques to take pictures outdoors and improve resolution for sunlit images -as yet,” Veeraraghavan said.”With a traditional camera, the larger the physical size of the aperture, the better the resolution,” he said.

“If you want an aperture that is half a foot, you may need 30 glass surfaces to remove aberrations and create a focused spot. This makes your lens very big and bulky,” he added. SAVI’s “synthetic aperture” sidesteps the problem by replacing a long lens with a computer programme the resolves the speckle data into an image, researchers said.
“You can capture interference patterns from a fair distance,” Veeraraghavan said. The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

Poker AI Again Trounces Human Challengers – This Time From China

Alan Du’s never met a poker adversary with such a stone-cold demeanor. It’s the fifth day that the venture capitalist and World Series of Poker veteran has gone up against this opponent – and the losses are stacking up.

His rival is literally inhuman, Du conceded after repeatedly keying bets into a computer and eliciting nary a hint of emotion. That’s because he went up against “Lengpudashi:” an updated version of the Libratus artificial intelligence program that achieved a major milestone by besting four of the world’s best poker pros in January.

Housed within a supercomputing center near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, its name, intended to resemble its English moniker, fittingly translates into “cold poker master.”

Du and five team members played 36,000 hands against the machine over the course of five days. On Monday, at a resort conference center on China’s Hainan island, the final point-based score was announced: the AI won by a landslide.

Poker is a popular game among venture capitalists because “every hand you play is like a venture, trying to assess risk and ROI,” said Du, a seed investor who became the first mainland Chinese to win a WSOP gold bracelet in Las Vegas last year. “We held ourselves very well when playing against this world-class opponent.”

Poker’s complex betting strategies and the element of bluffing make it particularly intriguing to AI researchers. A player also decides to bet, bluff or fold without ever seeing the opponent’s full hand – a different kind of challenge than games like chess or Go, in which all the pieces are clearly visible on a playing board.

Du had tried to prevail where the pros had fallen short by employing an understanding of AI. Unlike the players in the January match-up who drew upon years of professional experience, Du’s Chinese team, which included a former Oracle engineer and startup entrepreneurs, attempted to apply their knowledge of machine intelligence and game theory to counter the machine’s moves. It wasn’t enough.

The latest AI exhibition, organised by Sinovation Ventures and Hainan’s government, didn’t generate quite the same buzz as last year’s match-up between Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo and Korean master Lee Sedol in Seoul. Perhaps that’s because even casual observers are becoming accustomed to seeing AI software upstage humans.

Tuomas Sandholm, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, has been honing the research underlying Libratus since 2004, honing its ability to make decisions in situations with imperfect information. The point of training AI to win at games like chess, Go, and poker isn’t for the sake of games themselves, but because controlled environments help computers hone strategic decision-making. Those reasoning skills can then be applied to real-world problems such as business, finance, and cybersecurity, he said.

“People have a misunderstanding of what computers and people are each good at. People think that bluffing is very human – it turns out that’s not true,” said Noam Brown, Sandholm’s PhD student and a co-developer of Libratus. “A computer can learn from experience that if it has a weak hand and it bluffs, it can make more money.”

The AI didn’t learn to bluff from mimicking successful human poker players, but from game theory. “Its strategies were computed from just the rules of the game,” not from analysing historical data, Sandholm said.

Venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee, founder of Sinovation and an event organizer, said the rapid acceleration of AI technology over the past five years wasn’t possible before the advent of big data analysis. His fund has invested $120 million (roughly Rs. 775 crores) in AI-related companies in China – including facial recognition and loan-application startups – and he plans to devote a significant chunk of the money he’s currently raising to other AI ventures.

Also evident in the Hainan exhibition was the possibility of AI’s gradual democratisation. Brown said the computing power on display over the competition could be had for under $20,000 (roughly Rs. 12.9 lakhs).

“It’s surprisingly affordable,” he said. “Within 5 years, this could be running on smartphones.”

Pokemon Go Will Soon Get Co-Op Multiplayer; Update Brings Other New Features

Pokemon Go has struggled to remain relevant after becoming hugely successful last year but seems like Niantic, the game developer behind the app, is pulling up its socks to get some of its users back. Niantic has announced that the company will soon be adding “all new cooperative social gameplay experiences” to the augmented-reality mobile game going ahead. The company has also pushed out the version 0.61.0 update on Google Play and version 1.31.0 update on App Store respectively, with new features.

Apart from the mention of the upcoming co-op multiplayer element, Niantic also shared that the game is currently enjoying a user base of over 65 million monthly active users.

“Yesterday, Pokemon Go won the Best Mobile and Handheld Game at the British Academy of Film, Television and Arts Game Awards. We are surprised and grateful to be awarded this honour. We owe the continued momentum and recognition to the dedicated players exploring the world and creating adventures together in Pokemon Go. Each and every award Pokemon Go has won is a testament to the game’s awesome and supportive community,” the company said in a blog post.

Moving to the latest update to the game, it brings along support for traditional Chinese language, updates the Pokemon collection screen scroll bar, and carries various bug fixes, as per the change-log on Google Play.

We will have to wait for Niantic to provide additional details about the co-op element of the game but as the latest update doesn’t bring any remarkable improvement to the game, it seems unlikely that players will be returning to the game any time soon.

Microsoft’s Cortana comes to the top of your Android lock screen

No stranger to new platforms after hitting iOS and Android last year, Microsoft’s Cortana AI is coming to another atypical location: on top of your Android’s lock screen.

Cortana on Android has been updated to allow access to the Halo-inspired digital assistant and its feature over your smartphone’s lock screen — meaning information such as your schedule, reminders, and weather forecast can be pulled up in a snap without having to input an unlock code or fingerprint scan.

In addition to placement on top of the Android lock screen, Cortana is also getting a slight design tweak to make the service’s apps and widgets more streamlined on mobile devices.

While Cortana is mostly synonymous with Windows 10 PCs, Android and iOS devices aren’t the only branching-out points planned by the Microsoft-powered assistant.

BMW and Nissan both plan on bringing Cortana to their vehicles, providing drivers with some digital assistance from behind the steering wheel and also giving healthy competition to the likes of Apple’s long-standing Siri, Amazon’s ever-growing Alexa, and Samsung’s freshly announced Bixby.

Google, NIELIT Aim to Train 1 Lakh Android Developers in India

Google, NIELIT Aim to Train 1 Lakh Android Developers in India

The government-run IT institute NIELIT, in collaboration with Internet giant Google, will roll out courses to train 1 lakh students for Android application development for less than Rs. 5,000 per head.

“We will provide free of cost all course material for Android app development to NIELIT, which will then train hundred thousand students,” Google South East Asia and India Vice-President Rajan Anandan said in New Delhi while launching a series of IT initiatives with the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

Google India will equip the National Institute trainers with training modules and content. They in turn will do the outreach by leveraging the 10,000 NIELIT (National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology) centres across the country. Additionally, Google India will provide mobile training labs to reach artisan clusters across India.

“The Ministry of Electronics and IT intends to give impetus to the Prime Minister’s recent call for a ‘New India’. Collaboration with Google will be hugely beneficial in harnessing capabilities of technology for the India growth story,” MeitY Secretary Aruna Sundarajan said.

“We will soon send master trainers for training under Google for app development course. NIELIT should be able to roll out this course, maybe with a token amount of less than Rs. 5,000 per student. We are looking at making Indian youth more employable, fees are not a primary concern,” NIELIT DG Ashwini Kumar Sharma said.

Google and NIELIT will also run digital marketing training programme to train over 100,000 artisans per year across India to help them come online and tap into newer markets through improved visibility on Internet.

“Google will provide free of cost support for digital marketing course. NIELIT should be in position to start course for artisans by the end of May. We may charge a token amount for sustainability of the training for less than Rs. 1,500-2,000 per head,” Sharma said.

Google India and MeitY will undertake programme to enhance the government’s online presence, especially on mobile platforms, to enable citizen engagement and training and capacity building programmes on digital tools.

Google, MeitY and the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) will soon launch ‘Digital Payments Security Alliance’ with focus to create awareness on safe and secure practices and capacity building in digital payments.

Elgato Stream Deck Is a Control Centre for Pro-Livestreamers

Elgato Stream Deck Is a Control Centre for Pro-Livestreamers

Live streaming of video games has become big business in recent years, as anyone who frequents Twitch will tell you. The most popular broadcasters have followings in the order of millions, with some even taking it up as a full-time career. That seems to be the target market for Munich-based Elgato, which has announced Stream Deck, a programmable LCD control centre.

The Stream Deck has a total of 15 LCD keys spread across three rows, which can be configured to do a total of 210 actions – be it adjusting audio, welcoming/ thanking subscribers, displaying your Twitter username in the lower-third, or even bringing up memes on screen. It’s meant to liberate you from relying on keyboard shortcuts, and the daunting prospect of memorising dozens.

Of course, Elgato will provide you with companion software, so you can customise the functions available to you, as you please. You can create custom icons to truly personalise the Stream Deck. It will even allow you to create folders, so you can nest some common actions together.

The Stream Deck connects to your machine over USB, has dimensions of 118 x 84 x 21 mm, and weighs 190g. It’s compatible with both Windows 10 (64-bit), and macOS 10.11.

According to the website, it will be available in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain. Currently, it’s up for pre-order in the US at $149.95, in Australia at AUD 199, in New Zealand at NZD 229.99, and Germany at EUR 149.95.

Elgato says the Stream Deck will start shipping by May, though the New Zealand retailer states a late April launch.

Malware turns PCs into eavesdropping devices

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have demonstrated malware that can turn computers into perpetual eavesdropping devices, even without a microphone.

In the new paper, “SPEAKE(a)R: Turn Speakers to Microphones for Fun and Profit,” the researchers explain and demonstrate how most PCs and laptops today are susceptible to this type of attack. Using SPEAKE(a)R, malware that can covertly transform headphones into a pair of microphones, they show how commonly used technology can be exploited.

“The fact that headphones, earphones and speakers are physically built like microphones and that an audio port’s role in the PC can be reprogrammed from output to input creates a vulnerability that can be abused by hackers,” says Prof. Yuval Elovici, director of the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC) and member of BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering.

“This is the reason people like Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg tape up their mic and webcam,” says Mordechai Guri, lead researcher and head of Research and Development at the CSRC. “You might tape the mic, but would be unlikely to tape the headphones or speakers.”

A typical computer chassis contains a number of audio jacks, either in the front panel, rear panel or both. Each jack is used either for input (line-in), or for output (line-out). The audio chipsets in modern motherboards and sound cards include an option for changing the function of an audio port with software -a type of audio port programming referred to as jack retasking or jack remapping.

Malware can stealthily reconfigure the headphone jack from a line-out jack to a microphone jack, making the connected headphones function as a pair of recording microphones and turning the computer into an eavesdropping device. This works even when the computer doesn’t have a connected microphone, as demonstrated in the SPEAKE(a)R video.

The BGU researchers studied several attack scenarios to evaluate the signal quality of simple off-the-shelf headphones. “We demonstrated is possible to acquire intelligible audio through earphones up to several meters away,” said Dr. Yosef Solewicz, an acoustic researcher at the BGU CSRC.

Potential software countermeasures include completely disabling audio hardware, using an HD audio driver to alert users when microphones are being accessed, and developing and enforcing a strict rejacking policy within the industry. Anti-malware and intrusion detection systems could also be developed to monitor and detect unauthorized speaker-to-mic retasking operations and block them.

Toddler robots help solve how children learn

Children learn new words using the same method as robots, according to psychologists.

This suggests that early learning is based not on conscious thought but on an automatic ability to associate objects which enables babies to quickly make sense of their environment.

Dr Katie Twomey from Lancaster University, with Dr Jessica Horst from Sussex University, Dr Anthony Morse and Professor Angelo Cangelosi from Plymouth wanted to find out how young children learn new words for the first time. They programmed a humanoid robot called iCub designed to have similar proportions to a three year old child, using simple software which enabled the robot to hear words through a microphone and see with a camera. They trained it to point at new objects to identify them in order to solve the mystery of how young children learn new words.

Dr Twomey said: “We know that two-year-old children can work out the meaning of a new word based on words they already know. That is, our toddler can work out that the new word “giraffe” refers to a new toy, when they can also see two others, called “duck” and “rabbit.” “

It is thought that toddlers achieve this through a strategy known as “mutual exclusivity” where they use a process of elimination to work out that because the brown toy is called “rabbit,” and the yellow toy is called “duck,” then the orange toy must be “giraffe.”

What the researchers found is that the robot learned in exactly the same way when shown several familiar toys and one brand new toy.

Dr Twomey said: “This new study shows that mutual exclusivity behaviour can be achieved with a very simple “brain” that just learns associations between words and objects. In fact, intelligent as iCub seems, it actually can’t say to itself “I know that the brown toy is a rabbit, and I know that that the yellow toy is a duck, so this new toy must be giraffe,” because its software is too simple.

“This suggests that at least some aspects of early learning are based on an astonishingly powerful association making ability which allows babies and toddlers to rapidly absorb information from the very complicated learning environment.”

Lenovo Z2 Plus launched in India

Lenovo India has started sending invites of the launch of its Z2 Plus smartphone in the country on Thursday. The company is holding a launch event in New Delhi that’s scheduled to begin at 11:30am IST.

The Chinese consumer electronics giant will be launching the Lenovo Zuk Z2 – which was launched in China in May this year – as the Lenovo Z2 Plus in India.

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Detailing the reasons behind the rebranding in the country, Anuj Sharma, Head of Product Marketing, Smartphones, Lenovo MBG India told Gadgets 360, “Once we are getting into a particular price band, we want to make sure consumers know the brand. We want to sell the phone. We are not bringing the device as token flagship as India is still a big market for us. However, Zuk branding will be there on the box, with the text ‘Powered by Zuk’ as a hat tip for the Zuk team.”

The Lenovo Z2 Plus will be launched in two variants in the country – 3GB of RAM with 32GB of inbuilt storage, and 4GB of RAM with 64GB of inbuilt storage. Both variants are dual-SIM, and will support 4G SIM cards in one slot, and 3G SIM cards in the other.

The Z2 Plus won’t run Cyanogen OS – like the Lenovo Zuk Z1 (Review) did – and will instead come with the Google Now Launcher pre-installed. The company says India-specific features will include gesture shortcuts via the fingerprint scanner. It will also bear a dedicated pedometer and come with the company’s new U-Health app.

The Zuk Z2 smartphone launched in China features a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display with 2.5D curved high-fibre glass. It is powered by a Snapdragon 820 SoC clocked up to 2.15GHz. The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with EIS, an f/2.2 aperture, and PDAF. An 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture round off the optics on board the Zuk Z2. It packs a 3500mAh battery that supports fast charging – charging up to 80 percent in one hour. The Lenovo Zuk Z2’s connectivity options include offers 4G LTE (with support Indian LTE bands), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.1 BLE, and USB 2.0 Type-C port.