Object Recognition

Good Thinking

Radar system could detect people who fall onto train tracks

Although you may never have seen it happen yourself, it isn’t all that uncommon for large objects – including people – to fall onto the tracks at subway or railway platforms. While security personnel viewing CCTV feeds will catch some of these accidents, the cameras’ shots are sometimes obscured by people, poor lighting, or even the trains themselves. The results can range from lengthy delays in rail service, to fatalities. Now, however, researchers working on a project for the Université Lille Nord de France have developed a system that uses radar to automatically detect and identify objects that fall onto the tracks. When installed at a platform, the system could then shut off power to the tracks, and notify oncoming trains.Read More


Computer vision system recognizes 3D objects via heat diffusion

When we see a hand, regardless of whether it's open, in a fist, or pointing a finger, we still recognize it as a hand. If a computer has only been taught to recognize an open hand, however, it will probably have no idea what a fisted hand is. Getting computer vision systems to interpret images more like people do - to realize that a fist is a hand, for instance - has been one of the aims of artificial intelligence researchers for some time now. Things in that field may be about to take a step forward, however, as scientists from Indiana's Purdue University have just announced two new methods of three-dimensional object recognition, both based around heat diffusion.Read More

Mobile Technology

LookTel smartphone system tells you what you're looking at

Shortly available for consumer beta, LookTel is a smartphone object recognition package which is intended to help the visually impaired correctly identify such things as money, CD titles, landmarks and so on. An image captured by the phone's camera is sent to a PC which then quickly scans through a database and when a match is made, the result is returned to the phone and spoken to the user. Sighted user assist, a handy text-to-speech function and guided interface control also feature.Read More


Project Natal to ship in 2010

Microsoft has announced that its controller-less accessory for the Xbox 360, dubbed Project Natal, will ship by the end of 2010. Unveiled in June 2009, Project Natal is the Redmond company’s attempt to out-Wii the Wii. Instead of a hand-held controller, wireless or otherwise, Project Natal uses a 3D sensing unit on top of your TV to read your gestures, recognize your face or other objects, and even respond to your voice. Project Natal is among the latest examples of devices that are controlled by so-called “natural user interfaces”.Read More

Good Thinking

Green-thumbed robots: the future of sustainable precision agriculture?

March 26, 2009 When consuming your five a day of fruit and vegetables, have you ever stopped to consider the back breaking labor and significant resources involved in their production? According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratories (CSAIL), the robotic, computerized answer to minimizing these factors could be just around the corner. Students at the laboratory have undertaken a project that utilizes robots to take the thinking and manual labor out of producing specialty crops such as fruit and vegetables. Read More


Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to operate from the torpedo tubes of U.S. Navy Submarines

April 6, 2006 We’ve all held our breath in the movies as the submarine with the good guys in it slides between the mines, touching a chain here and there to heighten the drama. In the future, that scenario will need to be rewritten as it’s likely that an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) will be fired from the torpedo tubes well in advance of a minefield and scope out exactly where the mines are. Make that the not-too-distant future because Boeing is already into a second round of at-sea tests of its Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS). The LMRS is a 20-foot UUV designed to be launched, torpedo-style, from Los Angeles- and Virginia-class submarines and can survey the murky waters ahead for up to 60 hours. Originally planned for use in detecting tethered and bottom mines, the vehicle is designed to gather data and, upon completion, to home and dock to the submarine's 60-foot robotic arm for recovery back through the torpedo launch tube, enabling operators to retrieve data collected and prepare the vehicle for another launch. The vehicle's intelligence gathering capabilities have been sequentially tested and validated.Read More


Robotics toys get very intelligent.

July 26, 2005 As computer chips get more powerful and cheaper at an exponential rate, we’re going to see toys, cars, shoes, hats and even door knobs becoming surprisingly intelligent. How intelligent? Meet Amazing Amanda. Amanda is a 21” interactive doll that utilises voice recognition, sensory technology and articulated animatronics, so she can play the role of a baby girl more authentically than you’d have thought possible. Like a real toddler, Amanda can show the whole gamut of human emotions including laughing and crying and after an initial five minute bonding session (AKA voice recognition induction session) she even recognises her own ‘mother’s’ voice and responds differently to mum compared with strangers! Amanda can talk, respond to questions and loves to play games and sing songs! She interacts with her food, potty and hair accessories, knows when she is being fed, having her hair brushed and can be programmed to wake at the same time every morning to act as a pseudo alarm clock. She remembers mothers day, birthdays and through realistic animatronics, shows her feelings in her facial movements and voice responses. Does this sound like science fiction? Amazing Amanda hits the shelves in the US, UK and Australia next month with a retail price in the vicinity of US$100.Read More


Evolution Robotics unveils New ER2 Personal Robot

Evolution Robotics has introduced the ER2 multi-purpose personal robot to showcase its new Evolution Robotics Software Platform (ERSP) which features a new control architecture, breakthrough vision and navigation software components. Evolution Robotics has introduced the ER2 multi-purpose personal robot to showcase its new Evolution Robotics Software Platform (ERSP) which features a new control architecture, breakthrough vision and navigation software components. Read More


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