Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Flexible Camera Could Change the way We Take Photos


Silicone – A New Type of Camera Lens, Wrapped Around Things

Cameras are amazing but have not changed much for the last 100 years and one is still limited to shooting whatever is before you. However a piece of silicone is a new type of camera lens which can be wrapped around things, totally extending its point of view. This camera technology does not seem to be a pocket size or pretty as smartphones manufactured by Apple or Samsung but the A4 sized sheet of silicone that computer scientists from the Columbia University School of Engineering will be presenting at the International Conference on Computational Photography in May.

This would turn the world of photography upside down. The silicone is said to be a flexible layer which is protected with optical lenses that detect light and combine to portray an image of the environment. On attaching them to a silicone sheet, the lens array tends to become flexible, overcoming a main difficulty. Gaps seem to appear between the signals from the lens with the image being blurred, if they do not change their focal lengths when the sheet is bent. The silicone sheet tends to enable specially adapted lenses to alter their focal lengths automatically when the sheet is bent which means that the image is capable of staying in focus.

Cameras to Be More Attractive

The team intends making the camera more attractive, producing them like rolls of plastic or like the shape of credit cards which can be utilised to wrap around things in daily life, like lamppost or cars in order to get a 360 degree view of the environment. Project leader Shree K. Nayer states that present day cameras tend to capture the world from a single point in space.

While the camera industry had made remarkable progress in shrinking the camera to a tiny device with increasing image quality, it has been exploring a radically different approach to imaging. It is believed that there are various applications for cameras which are large in format but very thin and highly flexible. Dr Shree Nayar, director of Columbia University’s Computer Vision Lab, tends to study the science related to photography and wondered one day that it would be nice if there were cameras that could be wrapped around things. This led his team to go and make one.

Camera Lens – Vaguely Like Flexible Solar Tile

Researchers at the lab comprising of research engineer Daniel Sims as well as postdoctoral researcher Yonghao Yue had explored this question with their Flexible Sheet Camera study. The team had made a flexible lens array which could be wrapped around the daily object and capture unique images, mounting in way that was not possible earlier. Nayar, one of the study leaders had placed the project in the view of the present limitations. The camera lens seems vaguely like a flexible solar tile and when bent, it tends to capture an image which may appear changed though is still a high quality full picture.

Silicone was used by the team for the prototype sheet camera which enable the focal length of each lens differ with the curvature of the sheet, which means that there is no missing information as the lens bends. The main issue was in the material. Nayar had informed DT that if one chooses the right material and the right shape, the material itself bends in a way which you need and that gives it the right optical properties without adding any additional engineering. The silicone lens was the outcome of much testing and research.

Moore's Law and the Future of Solid-State Electronics


Moore’s Law – Driving Force of Social & Technological Change

Moore’s Law is said to be the observation which the number of transistors in a thick integrated circuit tends to double almost every two years. Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor has been named after the observation, whose 1965 paper had described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit. He had projected this rate of growth which would continue for another decade.

He had revised the forecast to doubling every two years, in 1975, looking forward to the next decade.His prediction seems to be accurate for many decades and the law was utilised in the semiconductor industry for guiding long-term planning as well as to set targets for research and development. Innovations in digital electronics were strongly connected to Moore’s law – memory capacity, quality-adjusted microprocessor prices, sensor as well as the number and size of pixels in digital camera.

Digital electronics had made their contribution to world economic growth towards the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Moore’s law tends to describe a driving force of social and technological change, economic growth and productivity. Semiconductor electronics, for 50 years had shaped a reduction in cost per transistor of over 30% a year while doubling the transistor for a chip every two years.

Special Case of Learning Curve

Though, at that time, Moore did not realize that the Moore’s Law is a special case of the learning curve, which has been popular for more than one hundred years and the good news is that it should continue at least in the future. Consider the learning curve as sitting one rung above Moore’s Law in the classification of theories. The learning curve does not seem to care how we tend to achieve the reduction in cost per switch merely that we certainly do since we always have.

 As we tend to attain lower cost, new application as well as computer architecture seems to emerge, quickening the growth in unit volume and reducing further the cost per switch while growing the entire market for semiconductors. Unfavourably, the learning curve does not care if the switch is a logic transistor or a memory bit and both of them seem to carry the information intelligently.

Flash Memories Substituting Rotating Media

Percentage of transistors used for memory against logic functions on most of the advanced integrated circuits has increased since 1995. Though the memory can be inserted on the logic chip, currently referred to as the system-on-a-chip, or SoC, the memory also seems to reside in dedicated memory chips.Flash memories that are now substituting rotating media for computer storage are reducing their price per bit at a much faster rate than the price per gate of logic.

In the meanwhile, new memory architectures like 3D XPoint announced by Intel and Micron assure another order of magnitude or more with regards to cost reduction together with improvement in performance. Moore’s Law would become immaterial to the semiconductor industry but the progress of reducing the cost per bit and cost per switch will tend to continue indefinitely, due to the learning curve. Together with it, the number of new applications for electronic will continue to be restricted only by the creativity of those who will hunt for solutions to new problems.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Future Prosthetics Are Here


Tailored Prosthetics – Alternative Limb Project

When one of the clients, an ex-serviceman Ryan Seary had lost part of his left leg and left arm, while clearing mines in Afghanistan, he had felt psychologically prepared for amputation due to his military training. Sophie de Oliveira Barata creates tailored prosthetics through the Alternative Limb Project which, while they are functional and beautiful, tends to make a great impact on the lives of the wearer.

She had informed the audience at Wired Health 2015 that it was everything that came next which proved most challenging. She adds that early on in rehab, his physio got touch with her informing her that he had this guy and was wrapping fur around his leg and didn’t know what to do with him.

 He told Oliveira Barata that he wanted something cool-looking, three dimensional and removable, in case it did not suit the occasion. He also wanted to look down and see his toes again. Seary was wearing a common model with a microprocessor in the knee, though had already painted the `nails’ to personalise it by the time the London-based designer had met him.

Breaking Down Barriers & Boundaries

It had this horrible looking footshell where the toes were replaced with silicone, matching all the various skin tones by building the silicone one layer on top of the other. The nails were handmade and hairs from the back of the neck was utilised on the toes, making it realistic. The muscle plates had been modelled using 3D programmer Rhino and worked like a clip cover.

The design had been inspired by whale bones, trees, shells and the ocean with knots of trees that worked into the joints. But it was what occurred once he had donned the striking product in public that proved to Barata that her work could show unexpected effects. People had been coming up to him, stating that it was really interesting and how was it made.

They could not believe that the carefully crafted silicone foot was not real and wanted to know how it functioned. It was breaking down barriers and boundaries.

Extension of Personalities

Most of the clients that de Oliveira Barata tends to work with, seems to have a strong idea of what they need from their prosthetic. As with fashion for several people, it tends to become an extension of their personalities.Model victoria Modesta had donned some of the striking designs ranging from black lacquered spike to a white silicone design fixed with LED lights.

De Oliveira Barata commented that `she expressed her individualism and her progressiveness through her prosthetic and for her it was the ultimate power dressing and the spike leg was her dream. Veronika Pete, another client, desired to close the gap between her thigh and the bottom of her leg but when it was not possible, de Oliveira Barata had opened up the space in the knee socket to introduce a kind of turbine engine. She had also introduced secret compartments, crystallised designs and more to her line of fantastic limbs, fingers and toes. She stated that it tends to change everything and one is very much in control of the process.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

You can now Report Multiple Abusive Tweets in one go


Users Can Report Various Abusive Tweets in Single Report

Users now have the privilege of reporting various abusive tweets in a single report after an update to twitter’s harassment rules. Twitter had stated that it required making user feel safe while expressing themselves on the social network. Twitter had mentioned in a blog post announcing the change, that the behaviour which crosses that line into abuse is against the rule and want it to be easy for user to report and have introduced an improvement to reporting process, the ability to attach multiple tweets to a single report.

The update would enable users to add more information regarding the extent of abuse, providing extra context which could be helpful in getting reports resolved quickly. Twitter had regularly come under fire due to its inability to stem the flow of abuse that often tends to take place against the minority groups.

However, steps have been taken in preventing the abuse from recurring both by Twitter as well as by governments. Trolls, in the UK who tend to use false profiles to pester other users would now face prosecution. In Germany, hate speech posted to Twitter, Facebook and Google will now be deleted within twenty four hours.

Not Tolerate Online Behaviour, Intended to Pester Users

Twitter had updated its rules, late last year to a more clearly state, that it would `not tolerate online behaviour which is intended to pester, intimidate or use fear to silence another user’s voice. The update is said to be rolled out on iOS, Android as well as on the web with Twitter stating that it assumes all user would have access to the feature within the next few weeks.

Twitter safety engineer Hao Tang had mentioned in a blog post that this update makes it easier to provide them with more information about the extent of abuse and reduces the time it takes to do so. That added context often helps them to investigate issues and get them resolved faster.

A little over a year ago, the then Twitter Inc. CEO Dick Costolo had admitted to employees in a memo of the company that `we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls’. Twitter’s brisk system of self-expression unluckily tends to facilitate a flood of wandering and disapproving tweets.

Easier to Report Threats to Law Enforcement

Earlier, when a Twitter use would be harassed or saw a user pestering another, abusive tweets had to be reported one at a time which takes six clicks to report a single tweet. Moreover reporting multiple offenses would get labour intensive, and individually reported tweets were not automatically considered part of the same harassment occurrence.

Hao Tang, state that this change would make it easier for the company to understand the extent of abuse some users deal with. The change would be made available on Twitter.com and Twitter’s iOS together with Android apps rolling out to users world-wide over the next few weeks.

This update trails the improvement over the last couple of years which target to make it easier for users of Twitter to report threats to law enforcement and as a rewriting of the company’s violent threats policy, the capability of sharing list of blocked Twitter accounts with other users and the launch of Twitter Safety Centre combining the resources that are available to victims of harassment.

Facebook Developing Camera App Similar to Snapchat


Facebook to come up with Stand-Alone Camera App

According to online source report, quoting people familiar with the matter, Facebook is coming up with a stand-alone camera app which will be like the disappearing photo app Snapchat, to upsurge user engagement and will encourage its 1.6 billion users to create and share photos and videos.The app which is being developed by the friend-sharing team of Facebook in London is said to be in its initial stage and may not come to completion, as per the report.

 Moreover, the newspaper has reported that the company is also said to be scheduling a feature which would enable user to record video through the app to start live streaming. The same had caused apprehension within Facebook, over increasingly passive behaviour on the social network of the user. Several of the users tend to check Facebook often or multiple times a day though few tend to share photos, video and update of status regarding their own lives.

Withdrawing the trend seems to be a growing priority within the company. Facebook spokeswoman had refrained from commenting on the product plans. She had mentioned that the overall level of sharing on Facebook had been strong and alike to levels in prior years. People familiar with the matter had stated that the camera-first format is focused in motivating users to create photos and videos.

Open to Personalized Feed/Articles

The flagship mobile app, in comparison, tends to open to a personalized feed or articles, status, updates and ads, which encourages users to use content, though not necessarily create it. The approach also tends to differ from Instagram image-sharing network of Facebook that had gained reputation as a place to post the best, most well-photographed pictures.

 Instagram tends to compel users to go through numerous steps before posting an image, inclusive of filters and it is not the first time that Facebook has built an app encouraging sharing. It had launched Slingshot, in June 2014, a Snapchat like app which enabled users to trade photos and videos, which disappeared after 24 hours.

It had earlier launched a photo-editing as well as sharing app known as Camera and none gained much traction among users which was later on dropped. The latest app would have a bit different features like the live-streaming mode. In the past year, the decline in sharing on Facebook has developed as a problem.

New Feature - `On This Day’

Technology news website – The Information had reported earlier this month that the original broadcast sharing on Facebook had dropped by 21% as of mid-2015 when compared with the earlier year.During the first quarter of 2016, 33% of Facebook users surveyed by market researcher GlobalWebIndex had informed that they had updated their profile status in the past month and 37% stated that they had uploaded or shared their own photos.

A year back, 44% had informed that they had updated their profile status in the past month and 46% stated that they had uploaded or shared their photos. The camera app just seems to be one way that Facebook intends tackling the issue.

 Facebook has also tried to re-engage users with a new feature known as `On This Day’ that permits users relive and share past posts. According to GlobalWebIndes, this together with similar features could have prompted more users to `like’ Facebook post. It also said that that in the first quarter of 2016, 82% of Facebook users had clicked `like’ at least once in the previous month up from 73% at the same period, a year earlier.