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Smile’s Innovation Watch #28

Smile’s Innovation Watch #28

☀️ Summer is here, and even if most of us have a 🏡 #staycation this year and that kinda sucks, let’s take time to reflect on the way we are, usually, consuming travel and holidays. Let’s seize the opportunity to discover our region or country. Stay hydrated, wash your hands, wear your masks 😷. This summer edition is a fusion of 2 months of news, some fresher than others, but with 2 mini-series on TikTok and the Twitter hack.

This is our Innovation watch.

🦠 COVID-19 Special

💡 Innovation

Airbus built a self-flying plane

Airbus successfully tested taxi, take-off, and landing of their A350-1000 XWB. People think that after take-off, pilots can just Netflix-and-Chill while autopilot is doing everything. Still, Airbus takes it to the next level this time, showing that complex maneuvers can be done without any pilot input. Over 500 flights were conducted to capture data and train image recognition technology to understand the approach of the different procedures. But the technology doesn’t rely only on external cameras, but also on GPS and radio signals emitted by the control tower. Airbus push for fully autonomous operation, not just for passenger flights, but also tested successfully air-to-air autonomous refuel last April over the Atlantic.

NASA built an Off-World Helicopter

Well, it’s more like a big drone than an actual helicopter, which can carry passengers. Planned to land in the Jezero crater in early 2021, it will be only a technology demonstration. Five flights in the Martian air (less than 1% of Earth density) are planned, 90 seconds each. It seems very short but, to create an upward lift, the blades have to spin ten times quicker than on Earth, up to 2800 revolutions per minute!

OpenAI GPT-3 is the hottest thing around

End of May this year, OpenAPI researchers released a paper about GPT-3, a language model capable of achieving state-of-the-art results on many language-related tasks from translation to generating an entire article. Just check out this piece of art made with nearly no prior training and just a quick brief. The possibilities are endless, and there’s no one day passing without someone releasing new experimentation with this model. And since good news doesn’t come alone, OpenAI opened APIs to use all their natural language processing models, free of charge, for the two first months.

🗽 Privacy & Freedom

Facial recognition for the poors

Rite Aid, a convenience store, installed facial recognition technology in lower-income, non-white neighborhoods only (200 stores). The system is scanning every customer’s face at the entrance and in all the alley and pushing messages to the staff if they detect a previously known shoplifter or if you’re acting funny. As a problem hardly comes alone, the DeepCam LLC system worked with a firm in China-funded mainly by the communist state. Funnily, that’s what triggered US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, to voice about the system, not the fact that it’s deployed to police only the poor and Black & Latino communities, even if it had reported case of false-positive with the “black people” syndrome (where a too poorly trained model to recognize all the people of colors as the same person and not different ones).

Zoom closed account of U.S. based Chinese activist

Zoom, which we already talked about many times regarding their security issues and their acquisition of keybase, has been reported to terminate US-based activists’ accounts after holding an online commemoration of the 31st anniversary of June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Even if US-based company, Zoom operate their development in Chinage and Zoom calls can be “accidentally” routed through Chinese servers. Taiwan banned the use of Zoom due to security concerns and schools in the NY State, the US Senate, and the German ministry of foreign affairs. It also follows June’s statement that free call will not be encrypted end-to-end to be monitored by “authorities”.

Apple rejects Facebook Gaming platform

Apple doesn’t see with the right eye that Facebook offers an integrated platform where you can stream, play, buy games, without having control over that last part. Selling apps and especially video games is the privilege of Apple, taking a 30% fee for each subscription. It’s not the first time an app is rejected for that reason or remotely killed from all users’ phones. But this time, we’re not talking to an independent developer or a small studio. It’s Facebook vs. Apple.

💰 Acquisition

Amazon is buying a self-driving tech firm Zoox for more than $1 billion

Amazon is the latest giant entering the self-driving market after Google and Apple, but it’s the actor for whom self-driving could benefit the most. From operating a self-driving fleet of delivery vans to re-use the tech to whence the robots in their warehouse or just keeping the project of developing robot-taxis, the potential is enormous for the company.

Palantir is filling an IPO

The friendly secretive company that collaborates with all the intelligence agencies around the world (including the USA and France) is filling an IPO to maybe going public. You’re not making money in this business without a loose sense of morality, just like they created profiles of immigrants and aid deportation efforts by the ICE. The company validation hovers at $26 billion so far, thanks for the massive investments from all the intelligence agencies and government over the past years.

Waymo and Volvo partner to develop electric robotaxis

In an exclusive partnership, Waymo will integrate its technology into a new Volvo electric vehicle designed for ride-hailing. Waymo’s strategy so far has been to partner with automakers. Waymo handles the design of its hardware suite, software, and computing system. It then works with the automakers to create vehicles that integrate easily with its so-called Waymo Driver.

🔓 OpenSource

Github finished their Arctic vault deposit

We talked about this project into a previous edition. Github plans to safekeepings all open-source projects on their platform for the next 1000 years in case civilization collapses. 21 Tb of data were written in 186 piqlFilm and are readable both by computer or a human with a regular glass. The project suffered COVID-19 pandemic as anyone with the closure of the Norwegian border but is now completed.

The first open-source LiDAR Dataset

Usable for both academic and commercial use, PandaSet combines Hesai’s best-in-class LiDAR sensors with Scale AI’s high-quality data annotation. Forty-eight thousand camera images, 16 000 LiDAR sweeps, +100 scenes of 8s each, 28 annotations classes, and 37 semantic segmentation labels.

Create High Resolution 3D avatar from just a photo

It’s, at least, the promise made by this Facebook pre-trained model you can test with your picture, thanks to Google Collab. The result works better if you’re completely visible on the photo, cropped subjects tend to make the model trying “too hard” to compensate and create just monsters. 😁

🌱 Sustainability & Society

This massive dam will be made by robots

One of the five largest construction companies in Japan Is building a giant dam with robots. They are located in the Mie prefecture, in the SE corner of Jaman’s main island. A variety of robotic and automation technologies will be testing during this project to assess the potential. Cranes will be fully autonomous; concrete will be poured and applied by robots. However, the productivity will be only increased by 10% because of the human workers required to supervised, for now, the operation.

Turning Arabian desert air into bottled water

The Zero Mass Water, a company from Arizona, USA, will use renewable energy instead of the fossil fuel that powers the many desalination facilities in Dubai to harvest the moisture from the air to create bottled water at a plan 20km from the city. The bottling plant is run on solar, bottles are recyclable, and the caps are sustainable. They plan to produce 2,3 million liters, about the volume of a typical Olympic swimming pool, per year. The tech is still much more expensive than desalination for the same amount of water, but the brand hopes to compete with high-end brands like Fiji while offering a way more eco-friendly product.

Japanese convenience stores are testing robots to stack the shelves

With the COVID-19 situation, restoring business “as usual” is a priority for many economic sectors, and some Japanese companies such as Telexistence are taking the opportunity to replace some in-store assistants with robots. Robots from Telexistence are teleoperated by humans via VR headset and haptic gloves.

😁 Fun & WTF

KFC gonna 3D print your nuggets

The chicken restaurant chain will work with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to develop bioprinting technology that will “print” chicken meat, using chicken cells and plant material. Even if the bio-printed nuggets would be more environmentally friendly than regular chicken, it will still be flesh grow in the lab. Meanwhile, KFC does offer a vegetarian option at some of its restaurants with the Beyond Meat partnership in the USA.

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

MIT creates deep fake video of Nixon announcing Apollo 11 disaster

To raise awareness around deep fake, MIT released a 7-min video (that took half a year to produce) showing real NASA footage and the president talking about the tragic return. In reality, Armstrong and Aldrin safely landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and made it back home to Earth. The project is called “In event of Moon Disasters”, a reference to the conspiration theory around the creation of “fake landing” to show the public in case of the mission failure.

Snapchat release “minis”. Apps that are running into Snapchat

Meditation, flashcard, concert tickets, games, Coachella, registering to vote, etc.; All of those are the first minis available in Snapchat chat and bring a unique experience to all the chat participants that can use together in the minis. Of course, minis comes with unique stickers you can use to your next snap. 😉

🛠 Tools

Bootstrap 5 alpha is here

And the most significant improvement to date is maybe no longer depends on jQuery and dropped support for Internet Explorer. It also embraces CSS custom properties (since IE is out of the scope), which enables to move slowly away from all the Sass magic. Forms get a lot of improvements and less utility code to tends to a more semantically valid one.

Luckysheet is a nice, open source, online spreadsheet

Not only it’s fast and looks as professional as Google Spreadsheet, but it also supports custom formula you can write yourself (which can make then anything like API call). It supports pivot tables, charts, collaboration, matrix operation, screenshots, and plans to expand to have better print support, data validation, and Excel/CSV/TXT import and export.

One linter to rule them all

Leveraging on Github Actions, this package is triggered by whatever GitHub event you configured, let’s say a PR request, and try to lint the code. To prevent broken code from being merged on the default branch, saving much time in the code review process.

The rise of neumorphism

If you don’t know what’s neumorphism is, here’s a quick crash course. It’s the post skeuomorphism (Incorporating obsolete or skeuomorphic elements into a design, for familiarity or out of tradition, even though they no longer serve any functional purpose) and exploring how light is moving a 3D space.

Twitter’s massive attack on Apple, Obama, Musk and more

Last week, all of a sudden, some of the most followed accounts, from verified personalities, started to tweet links to the “cryptocurrency donation page” for COVID-19 and said the report’s owner would match all the donation made in the next hour. President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Michael Bloomberg, Apple, and more where impacted. In total, 130 accounts were targeted using compromised internal employee tools. A 17-years-old man has been arrested in Tampa, Florida since, tracked down by IRS (which de-anonymize the Blockchain transactions), FBI and local law enforcement.

The TikTok saga is ending with a Microsoft acquisition

TikTok went through a lot lately. After many suspicions of feeding the Chinese government with information about all the users, the scandal of the algorithm pushing beautiful people into user feeds, and hiding “ugly” ones, TikTok was reverse engineered, and it shows a lot of ugly things. Like sending your position continuously, or copying your clipboard every second and after each keystroke. It was leading several countries to ban it totally like India, for example. But in a giant twist, TikTok decided to open their algorithm and challenge competitors like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and others to do the same. But it wasn’t enough for the USA government. So ByteDance, the company owning TikTok, agreed to divest its operation in the USA (10 000 employees) and sell it to Microsoft. But Trump said he would put his veto against such action. Now, everyone is waiting for clarification from the White House.

That’s all folks

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