June 2, 2017

Weekly Wins: It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s… Dronuts!?

WRITTEN BY: Ivana Atlija

A new AR app turns you into a 3D cartoon, AI & drone technology is helping endangered animals, a polygonal humanoid is the latest in Bluetooth innovation, AI puts an end to snoozing during class and donuts are flying through the sky. Happy National Donut Day!

Miso Happy puts your face onto a 3D cartoon character and drones are doing everything from delivering donuts to combating elephant and rhino poaching. Plus, a futuristic Bluetooth speaker that features all the gadgets and gizmos you could ever want (or not want) and a student monitoring AI software is reducing distractions during class. Pick up some covfefe, grab some donuts, and begin your weekend with these Weekly Wins.

1. Miso Happy Gifts Us With AR 3D Selfies

The new augmented reality app Miso Happy takes your face and adds it to a 3D cartoon. Once you’ve taken a selfie, the app uses computer vision and landmark detection to detect your facial features and generate an animated character with your face.

You can choose from different outfits and activities, then watch your personalized character move around in the real-world backdrop of your choice. Some of the characters include a wrestler, snowboarder, rock star, disco dancer, beach bum, angel, and more. It wouldn’t be complete without 2D stickers, which the app comes packed with, too. Your final composition can be shared with friends as still images, videos or gifs.

The app is light hearted and gives AR a twist by incorporating and involving the user personally, producing results that are both strange and hilarious. Miso Happy is very user friendly and, with a focus on creating shareable content, will definitely become very popular.

Augmented reality with a personal touch

2. Dronuts

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… A donut delivering drone? A bakery in Denver paired up with Drone Dispatch, a nationwide drone service, to deliver fresh donuts via drone. Recipients of the flying robot desserts were city officials including police officers, fire fighters and the mayor.

The stunt was in celebration of National Donut Day, which commemorates the decade-old tradition of Salvation Army making and giving donuts to soldiers. The tradition has since evolved into establishments giving away free donuts (now by drone) to celebrate. Free desserts and you don’t have to leave your house? Doesn’t get much better than that.

3. AI & Drones Combat Poaching

Drones are being used for much more than delivering donuts. A collaboration between Neurala and the Lindbergh Foundation’s AirShepherd program will be using AI and drones to combat elephant and rhino poaching in Africa.

Intelligent drones with infrared technology will identify and pinpoint the endangered animals and software-based predictive analysis will help stop poachers before reaching their targeted animals. Human analysts don’t have to do much. The AI deep-learning software does all of this in real time, as the drone is flying, during the day and night, in an attempt to put an end to the killing of thousands of elephants and rhinos by poachers every year. This is a great example of how AI can be used for bettering and protecting the natural world.

4. Futuristic Bluetooth… Thing

If you’re in the market for a Bluetooth speaker, look no further. That is, if you want a three foot tall polygonal humanoid to join your household. Sound Heroes is the “Bluetooth speaker of the future” that is also a wireless charging dock, Wi-Fi range extender and subwoofer. It can also emit over 16 million RGB LED colours and features an “awesome” smoke dispenser, which is apparently enough to garner over 800 backers on their Indiegogo page.

The hero we didn't know we wanted

If a novelty Bluetooth speaker is of interest, but not the futuristic robot variety, then perhaps Fender’s upcoming products will do. Fender is joining the innovative Bluetooth speaker game with two models, the Newport and Monterey. Both are modelled after Fender’s classic amps and will be available this July.

5. Stay Focused With AI

Taking online courses may no longer be such a breeze. Say goodbye to letting tutorials play in the background while you scroll through Facebook or catch up on your YouTube subscriptions. Nestor is an AI software that will use students’ webcams to monitor their attentiveness. Using machine learning algorithms, Nestor examines students’ eye movements and facial expressions to determine whether they’re focused on the lesson or not.

AI measures your focus, engagement & attention

The software can also be integrated into the student’s calendar and social networks to suggest appropriate study times. Although seemingly invasive, it is intended to improve the capabilities of e-learning, develop lectures to be more interesting, and help (and/or force) distracted students to focus. Think of it as a virtual version of that teacher who always peers over your shoulder. Except in this case, you can’t lie about being on your phone. It’s always watching…