The amazing supercomputer simulation in the video above takes you through 13 billion years of cosmic history, modeling the violent and dynamic processes that created the large-scale structure of our universe.
As you might imagine, recreating the entire universe in a computer is a bit of a challenge, mainly because of the huge range of scales that relevant processes happen at. Astronomers need to simulate a chunk of the universe that’s about 330 million light-years across–large enough to contain all the important elements but not so large it crashes your supercomputer. But the movement of stars and gas (the smallest elements of cosmic structure) happens on scales generally around 3 light-years across, a difference of eight orders of magnitude. Getting all this detail is almost like creating a simulation of a person growing up that takes into account the action of every enzyme and DNA strand within their body.
To make things easier, most simulations have focused on dark matter and dark energy (which tend to operate on very large scales and make up 96 percent of the universe), mostly ignoring the contributions of ordinary matter. This produces a picture of the cosmic web, but is missing some important details.
“This is Social Media Week here in New York City, and yesterday, I spent one hour listening to four speakers in a panel about The Future of Publishing. The panel was hosted by Salon Media Group and led by Salon.com Editor in Chief, Dave Daley.”
3D printing can enhance product development, transform traditional production methods, enable direct digital manufacturing, and facilitate personal fabrication. In this video, Christopher Barnatt of ExplainingTheFuture.com highlights what this means for businesses, as well as offering some broader predictions.
More information on 3D printing can be found in Christopher's book "3D Printing: The Next Industrial Revolution" (http://www.explainingthefuture.com/3d... ;), and at:http://www.explainingthefuture.com/3d...
Het W3C of World Wide Web Consortium (de groep die de open standaarden definieert voor het web), overweegt om ‘blending modes’ te introduceren in de opmaaktaal CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Deze innovatie zou webontwikkelaars toelaten om geavanceerde grafische manipulaties aan documenten toe te voegen en zou op termijn Photoshop overbodig kunnen maken.
Nuances als helderheid, tint, contrast en transparantie zouden in de nabije toekomst rechtstreeks in stijlbladen kunnen worden aangepast. Hoewel blending modes al in HTML5 geïntroduceerd werden via het canvas, heeft de voorgestelde vereenvoudiging ook verre implicaties voor niet-designers. Blending modes zijn immers de geheime ingrediënten in de kunst van de digitale fotografie en film en zouden onze internetervaring danig kunnen verbeteren.
Tegenwoordig kunnen ontwikkelaars en designers hun geavanceerde foto’s en afbeeldingen niet rechtstreeks uit Photoshop (of vergelijkbare grafische designprogramma’s zoals het gratis alternatief GIMP) aan een webpagina toevoegen en moeten ze die eerst overzetten naar een simpeler formaat dat werkt op het web (zoals JPEG). Dat betekent dat grafisch webdesign voorlopig nog niet zo geavanceerd is als het zou kunnen zijn.
Blending modes op het web kunnen daar verandering in brengen. Designers zouden de kleuren van individuele teksten, foto’s en data zorgvuldig kunnen aanpassen en ze op interactieve wijze wijzigen op basis van gebruikersinteracties. Volgens Nick Stockton van Quartz zou dat geheel nieuwe vormen van digital storytellingin het leven kunnen roepen. Zelfs Adobe, het bedrijf achter Photoshop, ziet genoeg potentieel in dit vooruitzicht om de nieuwe standaard van web blending modes officieel te steunen.
Het enige nadeel aan deze mogelijke toekomstige uitbreiding van CSS is dat grafische designers die momenteel op Photoshop vertrouwen in de toekomst zullen moeten leren programmeren (als ze dat nu nog niet kunnen tenminste) om de definitieve overstap naar het web te maken. (via: Quartz)
An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University have taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore's Law, which states that the device density and overall processing power for computers will double every two to three years. In a paper that will appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they designed and assembled, from the bottom up, a functioning, ultra-tiny control computer that is the densest nanoelectronic system ever built.
Samsung was early to market with asmartwatch in the Galaxy Gear, and now it looks like it might be one of the first in the mix with a glasses-based computing device. A new report from the Korea Times(via Verge) suggests that Samsung is currently developing a Google Glass competitor, which is in fact provisionally named “Galaxy Glass,” set for launch in September at the annual IFA tech conference.
Google has yet to put a firm timeline on the consumer launch of its own Google Glass wearable computer, which is available to developers and early adopters via Google’s ‘Explorer’ program. Some reports had suggested a general launch for late 2013, but then later information from Google revised the release timeline to sometime in 2014. Samsung could conceivably beat Google to the punch, but as we saw with the Galaxy Gear, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Amit Singhal is working on the missing links between today’s Google search and a true conversational machine. Check out these videos to find out more!
During Amit Singhal’s 13 years at Google, the company has been evolving the iconic search bar into a voice-controlled search engine that allows for a more natural, conversational search – à la Star Trek’s LCARS computer.
They aren’t there yet.
If you ask Google – using voice – who Bill Clinton is, and then ask who his (using the pronoun instead of his name) daughter is – Google can tell you. You can even follow that up by asking what her job is, and again, Google understands.
If however, you follow up your question about Bill Clinton with, “Who was the next president?” Google is stumped. Its ability to hold context means that it can only hold a conversation as long as you stick within some narrow parameters. Clearly search has not reached Her status – as envisioned by Spike Jonze. Most people are not in danger of mistaking Google for a love interest. Still, the system’s current competence is quite a feat considering it happens to be ‘conversing’ and interfacing with millions of people at once.
Amit Singhal, however, believes that the current situation is just a stepping-stone, and that natural, ‘frictionless’ conversation with a computer is an attainable goal.
In ruins today, Hadrian's Villa can only hint at its second-century glory. But a new digital archaeology project promises to transport computer users to the Roman emperor's opulent compound as it might have been nearly 2,000 years ago.
Five years in the making, the Digital Hadrian's Villa Project brings to life all 250 acres (101 hectares) of the estate in Tivoli, Italy, through 3D reconstructions and gaming software. The project launched Friday (Nov. 22), and the first of its 20 interactive Web players should be publicly available sometime before Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), said the project's leader Bernie Frischer of Indiana University.
The demo videos for these Web players sort of look like "The Sims," as they take advantage of a "virtual world" gaming platform. The software will allow users to tour the building complexes of Hadrian's Villa through an avatar of a historical figure such as a Roman senator, courtier or a slave, project researchers said. [See Images of Hadrian's Villa Reconstructed]
Even if this discovery has been overstated doesn't mean that it doesn't capture something interesting about the way the world works.
DNA As An App
DNA Contains Puns
On of the most startling things about the dual nature of the duons is that it makes us wonder what else could be hiding within those double helixes? The duons are like words or phrases within the “text” of our DNA that mean two different things, depending on context. And yet, as in human language, not all words have this double meaning. The Science paper suggests that these duons are “highly conserved” through evolution, which means that they are the Darwinian keepers. But as with puns and other figures of speech, the duons power also contains the danger of miscommunication since mutations within them are highly likely to lead to disease.
The phone call came from a charming woman with a bright, engaging voice to the cell phone of a TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer. She wanted to offer a deal on health insurance, but something was fishy.
When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.
Over the course of the next hour, several TIME reporters called her back, working to uncover the mystery of her bona fides. Her name, she said, was Samantha West, and she was definitely a robot, given the pitch perfect repetition of her answers. Her goal was to ask a series of questions about health coverage—”Are you on Medicare?” etc.—and then transfer the potential customer to a real person, who could close the sale. You can listen for yourself to some of the reporting here:
Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian calls for better safeguards and oversight on government online surveillance programs
If politicians claim that the public has nothing to worry about metadata surveillance is harmless because the practice not pry into the content of private communications, they’re wrong.
That’s the gist of a paper this week by Ann Cavoukian, Ontario privacy commissioner, who called for better safeguards and judicial oversight on online government surveillance programs to protect individual privacy rights.
Metadata surveillance programs gather and analyze private sector metadata, according to her paper, A primer on metadata: Separating fact from fiction. The practice enable federal agencies to “instantaneously” create a digital profile of the “life of anyone swept up in such a massive data seizure.”
Read more: http://www.itworldcanada.com/article/metadata-more-revealing-than-content-ontario-privacy-chief/82889#ixzz2lyGcPZDW ; or visit http://www.itworldcanada.com for more Canadian IT News
Belinda Suvaal's insight:
Metadata en privacy. Dit verdient dringend aandacht.
Economic theorist and author Jeremy Rifkin explains his concept of The Internet of Things. Rifkin's latest book is The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (http://goo.gl/4estV2).
Transcript -- We are just beginning to glimpse the bare outlines of an emerging new economic system, the collaborative commons. This is the first new economic paradigm to emerge on the world scene since the advent of capitalism and socialism in the early 19th century. So it's a remarkable historical event. It has long-term implications for society. But what's really interesting is the trigger that's giving birth to this new economic system. The trigger is something called zero marginal cost. Now, marginal costs are the costs of producing an additional unit of a good and service after your fixed costs are covered. Business people are all aware of marginal costs, most of the public isn't. But this idea of zero marginal cost is going to dramatically intimately affect every single person in the world in the coming years in every aspect of their life.
There's a paradox deeply embedded in the very heart of the capitalist market system previously really undisclosed. This paradox has been responsible for the tremendous success of capitalism over the last two centuries. But here's the irony, the very success of this paradox is now leading to an end game and a new paradigm emerging out of capitalism is collaborative commons. Let me explain. In a traditional market, sellers are always constantly probing for new technologies that can increase their productivity, reduce their marginal costs so they can put out cheaper products and win over consumers and market share and beat out their competitors and bring some profit back to investors. So business people are always looking for ways to increase productivity and reduce their marginal cost, they simply never expected in their wildest dreams that there would be a technology revolution so powerful in it's productivity that it might reduce those margins of cost to near zero making goods and services essentially free, priceless and beyond the market exchange economy. That's now beginning to happen in the real world.
The first inklings of this zero margin cost phenomenon was with the inception of the World Wide Web from 1990 until 2014. We saw this zero marginal cost phenomenon invade the newspaper industry, the magazine industry and book publishing. With the coming of the World Wide Web and the Internet all of a sudden millions of people, then hundreds of millions of people, and now 40 percent of the human race with very cheap cell phones and computers they're sending audio, video and texting each other at near zero marginal cost. So what's happened is millions of consumers became prosumers with the advent of the Internet. And so they're producing and sharing their own videos, their own news blogs, their own entertainment, their own knowledge with each other in these lateral networks at near zero marginal costs and essentially for free bypassing the capitalist market, in many instances altogether. This zero marginal cost phenomena, as it invaded the information industries, wreaked havoc on big, big industries. Newspapers went out of business; they couldn't compete with near zero marginal costs. Magazines went out of business. And my own industry publishing has been just wracked by free e-books and free knowledge and information.
But, you know, the strange thing about it is at first a lot of industry watchers said this is a good thing because if we give out more and more information goods free and people are producing and sharing it free, these freemiums will stimulate people's appetite to want premiums and then upgrade this free goods and information by getting more customized information. I'll give you an example. Musicians give away their music free when they started to see this happen hoping that they would get a big loyal fan repertoire and then their fans would be enticed to go to their concerts and pay premium in order to be there in person. And then, of course, we saw this with newspapers. The New York Times will give you ten free articles a month, freemiums, hoping that you'll then upload upgrade to premiums and by their subscription service. It didn't happen on any large scale. This was very naïve by industry watchers. Sure, some people have moved from freemiums to premiums but when more and more information goods are out there nearly free shared with each other, music, film, arts, information and knowledge, attention span is not there to then want to go to the premiums when you have so much available already in the freemiums.
Early Facebook investor and noted Silicon Valley libertarian Peter Thiel thinks that too many Americans have mistakenly blamed technology for rising inequality. “Technology is an easy scapegoat,” he argued, in a big-think discussion put on by political lobby, FWD.us.
In a wide-ranging discussion with MIT professor Andrew McAfee, the two duked it out about technology’s role in social ills. “I think technology has helped,” Thiel said. “You have things like Facebook, like Google–technology has helped to offset some of the brutal effects of globalization”.
While globalization has flooded the low-skilled job market with ultra-cheap outsourced labor, technology has relieved the beleaguered middle-class with services in health, education and leisure that were once the exclusive domain of the wealthy, Thiel asserts.
Indeed, he partly blamed the failure to recognize the contributions of technology on an American mindset that is “anti-technology.” For instance, he notes, there was no financial industry-like bailout of Silicon Valley during the first dot-com bubble. He also notes that the nation’s general animosity toward tech can also be seen in the movie industry, which inundates the masses with tech super villains from “The Matrix,” “Avatar,” and” The Terminator” in a period of high tech hostility (compared to more tech-friendly movies, such as “Star Trek” in the ’60s and “Back To the Future” in the 80s, which is when he thinks the U.S. was less anti-tech).
As a self-avowed libertarian, Thiel wasn’t thrilled about the government bail-out of the financial industry. But he shocked the crowed when he openly supported more taxes in exchange for less regulation.
“I wouldn’t mind paying more in taxes if I could do anything I wanted to do with the rest of the money, which I’m largely restricted in what I can do, from the FDA on down to the San Francisco zoning department.”
The privacy concerns surrounding Google Glass may get even worse now that an app has been unveiled that gives users access to “instant dossiers” on people they meet.
Last year, individuals in Congress asked questions about the privacy of Google’s new device, hackers were able to use the technology as a facial recognition device and an exploit was shown to be able to turn Glass into a covert surveillance device.
Now an app will allow an average person to have access to the kind of information that high-powered dignitaries and CEOs have assembled by a team of aides.
“Dossiers are this power tool that world and business leaders get and our goal is to democratize this,” cofounder and CEO Bhavin Shah,” said to VentureBeat in an exclusive interview.
So far, their efforts have resulted in an iOS application released last year, thanks in part to $10 million in investments.
“As an entrepreneur, you have a vision and hope that things come together so you can pursue it,” Shah said. “e wanted Refresh to feel like a diplomatic attaché whispering in your ear. Glass can help us realize our vision because the tech gets out of the way.”
Refresh pulls data from a wide range of sources popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook along with LinkedIn, Foursquare, Github, AngelList, Yahoo and Zillow, a real estate site.
Since Refresh connects with the user’s calendar, the app can pull up information on the person you’re meeting with automatically based on a future appointment.
The inspiration for the application came when Shah was working with Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Shah said he witnessed the power of the briefings given to Thompson and how they allowed him to connect with people more easily.
By leveraging technology like Glass, Refresh hopes to make this kind of information available to a much wider range of people. However, Shah recognizes that currently there is a degree of stigma surrounding Google Glass and that the userbase is somewhat limited.
“I like the analogy of Glass being like [the Sony] Walkman back in the early ’80s,” Shah said. “It was a weird awkward thing to be wearing out a Walkman in public, and then it became completely normal.”
With the user’s permission, Refresh “may access other personal information on your device, such as your contacts list and details, calendar or messages, in order to provide services to you.”
They may also access information from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter with the user’s permission.
The internet of things. Cybernetics. The quantified self. Brain-computer interfaces. We're wiring more and more of the physical world and the human body. But should we really extend thetechnification of the 21st century to the Earth's vegetation?
For better or worse, it’s happening. Italian researchers are building a network of connected "cyborg" plants (plantborgs? cyplants? cyberflora?) to use as organic biosensors. The plants are embedded with a tiny electronic device to monitor things like pollution levels, overuse of chemicals, temperature, parasites, acid rain, and communicate the data through a wireless network back to the lab.
The project is called PLEASED, for PLants Employed As SEnsing Devices. It's slated to finish in May, and lead researcher Andrea Vitaletti, a computer engineer at W-LAB of the University of Rome, spoke to the EU media group youris.com about the process last week. (Hat tip to Wired for digging it up.)
The rather ambitious idea is rooted in the fact that plants are remarkably intelligent (though justhow smart is still a matter of debate). Researchers believe it’s possible to harness that natural intelligence by "listening" to what plants know about their natural surroundings. Think: The exotic talking trees in Avatar, if humans joined in the conversation. If possible, that could tap into a massive amount of data about the environment.
Of course, society today is hardly suffering from a lack of data; we already have sensors measuring all kinds of environmental conditions. But researchers are intoxicated by plants’ potential as a self-sustaining, organic alternative to electronic sensors. They’re cheaper, ubiquitous, and have impressive sensing capabilities.
Those roots sprawling out through the ground and branches reaching up into the sky are plants' eyes and ears, constantly monitoring natural chemical and physical stimuli to survive—that intelligence is why plants have been able to adapt and evolve on Earth for so many millennia, Vitaletti explains. Plants give off an electrical signal when they interact with environmental stimuli, and now scientists want to analyze those signals to glean insights from the cybernetic flora.
Collecting the data involves wiring the hell out of the greenery. It similar to the process that makes it possible to control a prosthetic limb with just your thoughts, by transmitting the brain’s electrical activity to a computer. Plants are fitted with EEG sensors and hardware that reads and recording the signals in their "mind."
Bijna één op de drie webwinkeliers heeft nog nooit een euro winst gemaakt. De helft van de webwinkels haalt een jaaromzet van minder dan 10.000 euro.
Dit concludeert de expertgroep Online Ondernemen van Shopping2020 in zijn eindrapport. Daaruit komt een weinig rooskleurig beeld naar voren van de verdiensten van webwinkels. Zo’n 80 procent van de online ondernemers heeft nog nooit een modaal inkomen verdiend met de webwinkel.
De overlevingskansen voor webwinkeliers zijn verhoudingsgewijs klein. Na vier jaar bestaat nog 41 procent van de gestarte online ondernemers, voor het gehele bedrijfsleven ligt dit percentage op 59 procent. Jesse Weltevreden, lector Online Ondernemen van de Hogeschool van Amsterdam en voorzitter van de expertgroep: ‘Vooral webwinkels jonger dan drie jaar zijn niet winstgevend; het is dan ook niet verwonderlijk dat een groot aantal het binnen vier jaar voor gezien houdt.’
Google will buy London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind. The Informationreports that the acquisition price was more than $500 million, and that Facebook was also in talks to buy the startup late last year. We’ve emailed Google and DeepMind for comment. The acquisition was originally confirmed by Google to Re/code.
Google’s hiring of DeepMind will help it compete against other major tech companies as they all try to gain business advantages by focusing on deep learning. For example, Facebook recently hired NYU professor Yann LeCunn to lead its new artificial intelligence lab, IBM’s Watson supercomputer is now working on deep learning, and Yahoo recently acquired photo analysis startup LookFlow to lead its new deep learning group.
DeepMind was founded by neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, a former child prodigy in chess, Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin, and researcher Shane Legg.
This is the latest move by Google to fill out its roster of artificial intelligence experts and, according to Re/code, the acquisition was reportedly led by Google CEO Larry Page. If all three of DeepMind’s founders work for Google, they will join inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who was hired in 2012 as a director of engineering focused on machine learning and language processing.
Kurzweil has said that he wants to build a search engine so advanced that it could act like a “cybernetic friend.”
European scientists from six institutes and two universities have developed an online platform where robots can learn new skills from each other worldwide — a kind of “Wikipedia for robots.” The objective is to help develop robots better at helping elders with caring and household tasks. “The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task”, says René van de Molengraft, TU/e researcher and RoboEarth project leader.
“RoboEarth simply lets robots learn new tasks and situations from each other. All their knowledge and experience are shared worldwide on a central, online database.” In addition, some computing and “thinking” tasks can be carried out by the system’s “cloud engine,” he said, “so the robot doesn’t need to have as much computing or battery power on‑board.”
For example, a robot can image a hospital room and upload the resulting map to RoboEarth. Another robot, which doesn’t know the room, can use that map on RoboEarth to locate a glass of water immediately, without having to search for it endlessly. In the same way a task like opening a box of pills can be shared on RoboEarth, so other robots can also do it without having to be programmed for that specific type of box.
RoboEarth is based on four years of research by a team of scientists from six European research institutes (TU/e, Philips, ETH Zürich, TU München and the universities of Zaragoza and Stuttgart).
Scientists claim to have developed a revolutionary new giant 3D concrete printer that can build a 2,500-square-foot house in just 24 hours. The 3D printer developed by Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis from the University of Southern California could be used to build a whole house, layer by layer, in a single day. The giant robot replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry, which squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home based on a computer pattern, 'MSN News' reported. It is "basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building," said Khoshnevis.
Contour Crafting is a layered fabrication technology and has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components, according to the project website. Using this process, a single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning.
The potential applications of this technology are far reaching including in emergency, low-income, and commercial housing. The technology may potentially reduce energy use and emissions by using a rapid-prototype or 3-D printing process to fabricate large components, according to the project website. Comprised of robotic arms and extrusion nozzles, a computer-controlled gantry system moves the nozzle back and forth.
"Our research also addresses the application of Contour Crafting in building habitats on other planets. Contour Crafting will most probably be one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on other planets, such as the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonisation before the end of the new century," researchers said on the project website. With the process, large-scale parts can be fabricated quickly in a layer-by-layer fashion.
The chief advantages of the Contour Crafting process over existing technologies are the superior surface finish that is realised and the greatly enhanced speed of fabrication, according to the project website.
Security experts have come up with a novel way to ensure your laptop or tablet hasn't been tampered with and your data compromised - glitter nail polish.
Physical tampering with devices to steal data, or install malware for monitoring purposes, is becoming an increasing problem, especially when travelling, where border officials can easily confiscate devices for ‘inspection’.
Problems with hardware interference and data theft have been particularly reported by business travellers to China. The UK government meanwhile has the right to suck all the data from a device and store it when people enter and leave the country.
Many people do fit tamper-proof seals over ports and screws, but these can easily be opened cleanly or replicated in minutes by anyone with minimal training, security researchers Eric Michaud and Ryan Lackey said, while presenting at the Chaos Communication Congress, reports Wired magazine.
The pair’s answer - create a seal that cannot be copied. Glitter nail polish is the perfect candidate for making the seal, the pair added, as a completely random pattern is created, unlike with standard paint or a sticker.
If you are competing with the plumbing company across town—or a startup across the world—you now have the same capabilities as the world’s largest corporations at your beck and call.
Brands are Becoming Platforms: Brands are important assets, usuallyaccounting for the majority of the value of a business. So it shouldn’t be surprising that brands have historically been jealously guarded and protected. Yet now, rather than sterile assets to be leveraged brands are becoming platforms for innovation and co-creation.
Apple, Intuit and Kareo have thousands of developers working to enhance their products and it doesn’t cost them a penny. By opening up its Watson system, IBM seeks to increase revenues at its consulting division and atSoftlayer, which it recently acquired. The company is also exploring a variety of revenue sharing models.
What’s becoming clear is that the age of the stand-alone brand is over. You’re either connected or you’re dead.
Google announced that they’ve acquired Boston Dynamics, creators of quad- and bi-pedal robots like Big Dog and PETMAN. This is Google’s eighth robotics acquisition.
The company did not disclose the details of the sale.
The announcement appeared in the New York Times where Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert said they would honor their DARPA military contracts although Google will not officially be a military contractor.
The company, founded in 1992, has been working on standalone, gas powered robots for the past decade. The robots are self-righting and very resilient. Robots like Big Dog can throw cinder blocks, handle rocky terrain, and run at 16 mph.
A few months ago, Andy Rubin, the engineer who spearheaded the development of Android at Google, initiated a new robotics effort at the company. Rubin, who is personally interested in robots, now wants Google to have a major role in making new kinds of robotics happen. Not just robotic cars, but actual real robots. A recent article in the New York Times has revealed more about Google's plans. According to the article, Google is funding a major new robotics group, and that includes acquiring a bunch of robotics startups:
Among the companies are Schaft, a small team of Japanese roboticists who recently left Tokyo University to develop a humanoid robot, and Industrial Perception, a start-up here that has developed computer vision systems and robot arms for loading and unloading trucks. Also acquired were Meka and Redwood Robotics, makers of humanoid robots and robot arms in San Francisco, and Bot & Dolly, a maker of robotic camera systems that were recently used to create special effects in the movie “Gravity.” A related firm, Autofuss, which focuses on advertising and design, and Holomni, a small design firm that makes high-tech wheels, were acquired as well.
The seven companies are capable of creating technologies needed to build a mobile, dexterous robot. Mr. Rubin said he was pursuing additional acquisitions.
Some brief highlights:
Schaft is one of the Track A teams participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge with their own custom robot based on the HRP-2.Industrial Perception spun out of Willow Garage back in March of 2012; read our Startup Spotlight post on them here.Meka Robotics builds research robots with series elastic actuators in them; they're probably best known for the M1 humanoid (pictured above in front of the Google logo) and Dreamer, which you can read about here.Redwood Robotics is (was) a collaboration between Willow Garage, SRI, and Meka that was supposedly designing a very low cost robotic arm. We've been asking around and haven't heard much for the last year or so, maybe now we know why.And of course, there's Bot & Dolly, which uses robot arms for precise and repeatable camera control, making things way more awesome than "precise and repeatable camera control" probably makes you think of.
Obviously, we're curious about what other acquisitions Rubin is pursuing, and more generally, just what Google is actually working on. Fortunately for us, the Google robotics group will at least initially be based right here in Palo Alto, meaning that I'll get a chance to put my spy drones and ninja outfit to good use.