Wovenware is making AI to track disease-carrying mosquitoes in Puerto Rico
- It’s been roughly a year since Hurricane Maria — the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record — devastated the island of Puerto Rico.
- (The mosquitoes themselves don’t cause disease; rather, they pick up diseases from infected blood and spread them through bites.) Two years ago, Puerto Rico registered 38,058 confirmed cases of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.
- The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust — a San Juan-based nonprofit organization that aims to foster growth in the island’s tech sector — in 2016 won a $50 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the spread of mosquitos on the island, with the goal of learning why a number of species have developed immunities to FDA-approved adulticides and larvicides.
- In early August, the company partnered with the Research Trust to develop a machine learning system that can automate the classification of Aedes aegyptis, a specious known to carry infectious diseases.
Battlefield V open beta results: DICE will scale back supply stations, improve vision
- Electronic Arts’ DICE studio said that Battlefield V’s open beta test drew players who poured tens of millions of hours into the game.
- The open beta ran from September 4 to September 11, with a focus on online play in the cities of Rotterdam and Narvik and modes such as Conquest and Grand Operations.
- One of the controversial additions to the game was “attrition,” where respawning players have limited ammo and health during certain parts of the online play, such as the final stage of Grand Operations, where 64 players battle for a number of in-game days.
- But players want DICE to tweak the attrition, and so players will spawn with stronger capabilities in the final game.
- The team will also tweak some weapons so the time it takes to kill enemies feels right.
Overwatch retools Torbjörn to make him a better damage-dealer
- Torbjörn began to fall off in popularity as his defense-focused playstyle couldn’t keep up with the high amounts of damage and speed of other characters.
- Adding new characters and maps is important to keep those players engaged and help grow its esports scene in the Overwatch League, but Blizzard also has to update and retool existing heroes.
- Instead, a new ability, Overload, increases Torbjörn’s defense, speed, and attack power for a short time.
- The old Molten Core increased his health and damage (similar to the new Overload ability) and also upgraded his turret.
- You can also toss now toss them a short distance when deploying them, giving Torbjörn access to turret locations that used to be out of reach.
- Symettra’s changes also gave her new offensive capabilities, turning her from a niche pick into a more consistent character.
- When Overwatch launched, it had four character groups: Tank, Support, Offense, and Defense.
The Walking Dead game creator Telltale Games lays off most of staff
- The Walking Dead game series creator Telltale Games has laid off a large part of its staff and may be in danger of shutting down.
- US Gamer also reported massive layoffs occurred, and The Verge said the company now has a skeleton crew of about 25 or so people from the original 250.
- Telltale Games saw meteoric success for its episodic game The Walking Dead in 2012.
- The company expanded dramatically under former CEO and cofounder Kevin Bruner, who grew the studio to more than 350 employees and added games such as Batman: The Enemy Within, Minecraft: Story Mode, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Game of Thrones.
- The company tried to replicate the decision-based storytelling of The Walking Dead across those games, but not all of them were as successful.
- The company had great storytelling skills, but if there was any fault, it was that it didn’t innovate on the technology, our source said.
Ousted Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner comments on studio’s fate
- The cofounder and former chief executive officer of Telltale Games has posted a public statement about the studio’s reported layoffs and potential closure.
- Bruner oversaw Telltale as it went from a small studio trying to make adventure games to one with a breakout hit in 2012 with The Walking Dead.
- In 2017, led by investor Lionsgate, Telltale’s board removed Bruner as CEO and replaced him with fellow cofounder Dan Connors.
- I left Telltale a year and a half ago after an extended period where the Board of Directors and I had very different visions of Telltale’s future and how we might get there.
- Today, I’m mostly saddened for the people who are losing their jobs at a studio they love.
- I’m comforted a bit knowing there are now more talented people and studios creating games in the evolving narrative genre.
AI helps Pixeldrive cut photo file sizes without substantially affecting quality
- They’re the cofounders of Pixeldrive, a web-based artificially intelligent (AI) tool that cuts photos down to as little as 10 percent of their original size.
- Pixeldrive — development around which kicked off eight months ago ahead of a planned launch in October — expands on research by Google and others investigating the use of neural networks in image compression.
- Photos make their way to Pixeldrive via one of two flows: an upload tool within a web-based dashboard built on Nextcloud, and integrations with third-party services like Dropbox.
- In fact, they said they’re already in talks with an unnamed phone manufacturer to integrate Pixeldrive’s AI into a photo-sharing app.
- Even on cutting-edge handsets with dedicated inference chips, Pixeldrive’s AI model takes three times as long to compress images, Doumet said.
Amazon Echo Show hands-on: More than a tablet glued to a speaker
- In some areas, performance of the first-gen Echo Show seemed a bit half baked, but the second generation made its debut yesterday alongside nearly a dozen other Alexa-powered devices, and it seems capable of making a case for the idea that a smart speaker with a screen is more than just a tablet.
- Whereas before you could see the time, trending stories, calendar events, some trending stories, and suggestions for things to say to Alexa, the new home screen gives you more options.
- Helping people cook meals still seems like a pretty important use case for Amazon, which last year said more than half of all Echo smart speakers are placed in the kitchen.
- The second generation feels like it drew some lessons from the initial experience as well as quality features from competitors like the Lenovo Smart Display or JBL Link View.
ProBeat: Amazon is throwing Alexa at the wall to see what sticks
- While Google is clearly focused on expanding Google Assistant’s language support and Google Home’s country availability, Amazon simply wants to stuff Alexa into everything it can.
- This year’s CES was full of companies adding Alexa to their existing device and simply marketing that.
- The former lets you control ordinary appliances, but still requires a separate Alexa device, and the latter adds Alexa to ordinary speakers, but it’s really just a dongle.
- Amazon also announced a $30 wall clock and a $60 microwave.
- Why would you want to tell Alexa to heat your food when you’re standing right there and can just hit the corresponding buttons?
- Amazon would be much better off focusing on making the Echo lineup unbeatable, teaching Alexa to outsmart the competition, and letting third parties do the rest.
California Cup will create Overwatch esports rivalry between Northern and Southern California
- When the global Overwatch League has its off season, a regional esports rivalry for Blizzard’s Overwatch video game will take over.
- The competition pits the Los Angeles Valiant against the San Francisco Shock, two inaugural teams in Blizzard’s popular Overwatch League.
- Above: The Los Angeles Valiant during an Overwatch League match.
- The Los Angeles Valiant are one of two Los Angeles-based franchises in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, which began play in January as the first esports league to feature local market affiliations for its teams.
- The Valiant’s owners are Immortals, a global esports organization based in Los Angeles.
- The San Francisco Shock is also one of the 12 esports franchises competing in the Overwatch League’s inaugural season.
- It is owned by NRG esports, a San Francisco-based esports organization competing in eight professional video game leagues.
Google is bringing support for all Android apps to Daydream VR
- Describing three new features as “experimental” for testing by developers, Google is adding Android app support to all Daydream devices, and the Lenovo Mirage Solo is getting both six degree of freedom (6DoF) controller support and a “see-through” mode.
- New APIs will support positional control tracking with six degrees of freedom, enabling users’ hands to move more naturally within a 3D VR space — but there’s a catch.
- But Google expects that See-through Mode will also enable Mirage Solo to offer mixed reality features, blending real world visuals with augmented ones akin to the Magic Leap One — without the latter’s severely limited augmented window size.
- The Android App support and See-through Mode are coming for all developers to try “soon.” Applications for Google’s 6DoF controllers are being accepted now, with no specific ship date.