Big Tech &
Alexa will help pay for your gas at ExxonMobil pumps (1 minute read)
ExxonMobil and Fiserv are developing an Alexa skill that will help users pay for gas at Exxon and Mobil stations across the US. When it is activated, the voice assistant will confirm both the location and pump number. It will then activate the pump and use Amazon Pay to pay for the gas. The skill is scheduled to be released in 2020 at 11,500 stations. A short video is available that demonstrates the process.
Samsung’s ‘artificial human’ project definitely looks like a digital avatar (2 minute read)
Neon is Samsung's mysterious artificial human project. It appears that the company is building realistic human avatars that can be used for entertainment and business purposes. The Core R3 technology used in Neon can autonomously create new expressions, movements, and dialog, all of which can be completely different from the original captured data. A video was leaked that shows lifelike human figures that may have been generated with Core R3. It is still unclear to what extent the avatars in the videos were computer-generated. A big claim with Neon is that the avatars can be mistaken for real humans. The leaked footage can be viewed in the article.
A two-legged delivery robot has gone on sale—and Ford is the first customer (1 minute read)
Agility Robotics has made its two-legged robot, Digit, available for sale, and its first customer is Ford. Ford has been testing the robot for vehicle-to-door delivery since May 2019. Digit is able to carry items weighing up to 40 pounds and can navigate semi-autonomously. It requires some guidance to avoid obstacles. The specific price for each unit has not been released to the public, but it is in the low-mid six figures. Agility expects to be making a maximum of 30 bots in 2020.
Toyota will transform a 175-acre site in Japan into a ‘prototype city of the future’ (3 minute read)
Toyota plans to transform a 175-acre site of a former car factory into a prototype city of the future. The city will then be a place where it can test autonomous vehicles, innovative street design, smart home technology, robotics, and new mobility products. Toyota plans to build the city at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. It will house 2,000 people, starting at the end of 2021. The city will be powered by Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell technology. It is unknown what Toyota's policies around access to data, privacy, or nondisclosure agreements will be. Google's similar Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto has faced constant criticism.
Programming, Design & Data Science
awesome-mobile-security (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains resources on mobile security. There are two main sections, Android and iOS. Each section contains links to general resources, books, courses, tools, labs, talks, and some other miscellaneous information.
Products I Wish Existed, 2020 Edition (10 minute read)
The new technologies that we have today have opened up new niches for startups to fill. Remote work is becoming more common, and ways of hiring these workers will need to evolve. New forms of social media will need to adapt to social trends. Companies have opportunities to provide governments with networking and surveillance technology, and there is a lot of opportunity for companies looking to help the planet. War is changing, and defense will need to start relying on software-based defense contractors. New discoveries in biotech will mean that new types of fertility and longevity treatments will soon be available. Different new types of healthcare services will be possible.
Hatsune Miku is the most exciting addition to Coachella’s 2020 line-up (5 minute read)
Coachella is bringing in Hatsune Miku, a blue-haired CGI idol that was created as part of a software that generated songs that was made in 2007. The software was released around the same time YouTube arrived in Japan, and Miku became popular as people began sharing videos of her songs. Some of these videos became so popular, her songs entered the charts in Japan. Miku has since collaborated with Pharrell and Lady Gaga and has toured around the world. Holographic performances still involve a lot of work for everyone in the team. Miku's songs are all fan-made. Creators own the rights to their work, but Crypton, the company behind the software, gets usage rights. Coachella has previously had virtual performers, such as a holographic Tupac in 2012.