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World’s Smartest Chess Board Lets You Move Physical Pieces Without Touching Them

Square Off, the world’s smartest, most connected chess board, gives the centuries-old sport of chess a 21st century touch by allowing players halfway around the world to interact with physical pieces without actually touching them.

Chess has been available as a digital game for years, but true fans know that there’s nothing like playing on a high-quality physical board. That’s hard to do when your opponent is thousands of miles away, or at least it was until someone came up with away to allow people halfway around the world to play chess on a physical board made of rosewood. It looks like a magical set out of a Harry Potter movie, but it’s actually a wonder of technology that harnesses robotics and internet connectivity to make the impossible possible.

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Russian Cows Wear VR Headsets to Reduce Their Anxiety, Increase Milk Production

In an attempt to reduce cows’ anxiety and hopefully increase their dairy production, a cattle farm in Moscow’s Ramensky district has equipped its herd with specially-designed virtual reality headsets.

Research has shown that there is a link between a cow’s emotional state and it’s daily milk yield. In the past, we’ve heard of dairy farms playing soothing classical music for their cows in order to lower their stress level and increase productivity, but as technology advances, new mood-altering solutions are introduced. For example, the RusMoloko farm in Moscow recently equipped its cattle with VR systems adapted for the “structural features of cow heads”.

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Chinese Researchers Create Stretchable Display Thin Enough to Be Worn as Temporary Tattoo

A team of researchers from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Nanjing University recently unveiled an innovative display that is thin and flexible enough to be worn on skin, like a type of temporary tattoo.

Having to check a stopwatch to see your time while running, or looking at your smartphone screen to see who is calling may soon be things of the past thanks to a new and revolutionary human-machine interface that allows information to be displayed directly on human skin. Called alternating-current electroluminescent (ACEL) display, this new invention consists of an electroluminescent layer made of light-emitting microparticles sandwiched between two flexible silver nanowire electrodes. The ceramic nanoparticles embedded in stretchable polymer make this ACEL display brighter than any other, allowing it be clearly visible even in a well-lit room.

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Harry Potter Fans Eye Toyota’s New Electrically-Powered Witch’s Broom

Called an “e-broom”, Toyota’s latest mobility platform looks like a futuristic witch’s broom that users can ride to get around. Apparently, quidditch fans found the concept very intriguing.

Unfortunately, Toyota’s e-broom isn’t yet able to make quidditch players airborne, like in the popular Harry Potter books, but they are capable of propelling people on the ground, as long as they are wearing roller-skates. The e-broom is meant to be ridden like a witch’s broom, only instead of relying on magic to whisk its users towards the sky, it relies on an electrical motor and a wheel at the bottom to propel its rider forward at moderate speed. It’s not as impressive as we’d like it to be, but at least it’s a step toward a real life quidditch broom.

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French Researchers Build Creepy Phone Case That Mimics Human Skin

A team of French and English researchers recently showcased a prototype phone case called Skin-On, which not only mimics the look and feel of human skin, but also enables interaction communication through gestures like pinching or tickling.

Developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and Sorbonne University, Skin-On consists of a layer of stretchable copper wire in between two different forms of silicone layers. The materials are mass-produced, and the creators of Skin-On claim that the cost of a commercial version of the case would be around $6.5. While anyone could build it, project leader Marc Teyssier admitted that finding the right balance to create what is essentially artificial skin was challenging, considering the case was also supposed to detect touch. But why bother making a smartphone case that everyone generally agrees is “decidedly creepy”. Dr Anne Roudaut, Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction, explains:

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You Can Now License Your Face to Be Used on a Humanoid Robot

If you’re short on cash and don’t mind selling the rights to your face, you can stand to make £100,000 ($130,000) by licensing your mug to a robotics company to be used on one of their humanoid robots.

According to a recent blog post by London-based outsourcing company Geomiq, a robotics company is currently looking for a “kind and friendly” to put on a humanoid robot once it goes into production. This will potentially entail using this person’s face on thousands of robots around the world, so the company is willing to pay no less than £100,000 ($130,000) in licensing fees. The robot in question is designed to be a “virtual friend” for elderly people, and is scheduled to go into production next year.

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Vatican Launches Smart ‘eRosary’ That Brings Religion and Tech Together

The “Click to Pray eRosary” is a smart gadget shaped like a regular rosary and designed to educate young, technology-focused youths how to pray the rosary.

The smart eRosary can be worn as a bracelet and is activated by making the sign of the cross. It comes with a companion smartphone app which synchronizes with the gadget and allows access to an audio guide, exclusive images, personalized content, and also tracks the user’s progress. According to the Vatican website, the eRosary is designed “to help young people pray the Rosary for peace and to contemplate the Gospel”.

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Chinese Company Develops New Recognition System Based on Veins in the Human Hand

While most human identification technology companies choose to focus on facial recognition, one Chinese startup claims to have developed  much more accurate identification system based on micro traits of veins within human hand.

Developed by MELUX, AirWave is an incredibly efficient identification system that is said to be a million times more accurate than facial recognition technology. There are only 80 to 280 feature points on the face that artificial intelligence can asses when scanning an individual, but AirWave is able to scan more than a million micro-feature points in the palm of the hand in under 0.3 seconds, making it virtually impossible to cheat. A simple swipe of the palm over a special sensor is all that’s required to get an ultra-accurate authentication and/or authorization in real time.

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Peruvian Company Creates Wooden Laptop Designed to Last Forever

In an age when tech companies are encouraging consumers to constantly buy newer, more-expensive gadgets, one Peruvian company has just a launched a sustainable wooden laptop designed to last at least 10 to 15 years.

In an attempt to bring new and affordable technology to the most remote areas of Peru, the Carrascos —a family made up of computer specialists and marketing experts – created the Wawalaptop, an SBC (Single Board Computer) with a wooden casing that can easily be taken apart for repairs and upgrading. The 0.1-inch (25.65-centimeter) laptop is lightweigh, ultra-portable and very affordable. A Wawalaptop costs 799 Peruvian Sol ($235), and an upgrade, which basically means a better circuit board, can be bought with about $35 on the free market.

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Terrifying Deepfake App Lets You Swap Faces with Virtually Anyone

Zao, a Chinese artificial intelligence-powered app that allows users to swap faces with actors and other celebrities in videos and GIF images, has sparked serious privacy concerns due to how convincing the transformation can be.

Uploaded to China’s iOS App Store last Friday, Zao became the number one downloaded app on the platform in only two days and looking at what it can do, it’s easy to see why. By using artificial intelligence, the app is able to take a simple picture of the user and superimpose it on to the face of any character in a video or GIF with truly breathtaking results. For example, one user claims it only took them under 8 seconds to swap faces with Leonardo DiCaprio and fulfil their dream of starring in blockbusters like Titanic.

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Chinese Scientists Use Innovative Chip to Power Autonomous Bicycle

While tech giants like Tesla and Google are working hard to perfect autonomous cars, a team of scientists in China is developing a self-driving bicycle and their results are pretty impressive.

Showcased in a short video presentation, the autonomous bicycle developed by scientists at Tsinghua University, in Beijing, can balance itself while also avoiding obstacles, following certain trajectories and obeying vocal commands. It can do all these things thanks to a revolutionary type of computer chip that combines two different architectural approaches to computing that hadn’t really worked well together until now, due to communication difficulties between the two systems. However, if this self-driving bike is any indication, the Chinese seem to have solved those issues.

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Chinese Startup Creates App That Finds Lost Dogs Using Photos of Their Nose

Chinese facial-recognition startup Megvii has been making news headlines for an app that allows people to track down their lost dogs using photos of their unique noses.

The idea of using AI-powered facial recognition technology to identify pets isn’t new, but what makes Megvii’s solution special is that instead of analyzing several facial features, like the eyes or snout, it focuses solely on dogs’ noses. Apparently, the patterns on a dog’s nose are just as unique as the ones on out fingertips, allowing the company’s app to track down pooches by matching their noses against a database with 95 percent accuracy. Megvii claims that its method is both cheaper and less invasive than inserting identification chips under the animals’ skin.

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Emirati Businessman Wants to Tow Icebergs from Antarctica to the Arabian Gulf

An Emirati entrepreneur and inventor has been working on an ambitious project that involves towing a giant iceberg all the way from Antarctica to the Arabian Gulf in order to provide fresh drinking water for the UAE.

Because of its arid climate, the United Arab Emirates doesn’t have too many options when it comes to water sources. In fact , the Arab country relies heavily on desalinated water, which is not only expensive to obtain but very harmful to the environment. But businessman Abdulla Alshehi thinks he may have found a much better, albeit unconventional alternative. For the last six years he has been working on a plan to tow a 2km x 500m iceberg from Antarctica and use modern technology to tow it 5,500 miles to the Arabian Gulf. The floating block of ice would not only provide drinking water for millions of people, but also determine positive weather changes in the region.

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Online Pet Store Uses Face Recognition Technology to Allow Dogs to Do Their Own Shopping

Brazilian pet shop chain Petz has combined face recognition technology and artificial intelligence to create a groundbreaking platform that allows dogs to buy their favorite products by analyzing their facial expressions.

There’s nothing more disheartening for dog owners that buying a new toy for their pooches only to see them turn their nose up at it. Well, thanks to Pet-Commerce, an online pet-store created by Brazil’s Petz brand, you can avoid such disappointing experiences by allowing the dog to choose his favorite products. All you have to do is hold an internet connected camera to the dog’s face and allow the AI powering Pet-Commerce to analyze its facial expressions as you scroll through the different products listed on the site. Once it detects excitement, it automatically adds the product to your shopping cart and you can finalize the transaction when you’re done.

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Meet Liam Nikuro, Japan’s First Virtual Male Influencer

1sec Inc., a Japanese technology company that specializes in blending the digital world with our reality, has created Japan’s first virtual male influencer, a young music producer named Liam Nikuro.

If you thought making it as an Instagram influencer these days was hard, we have some bad new for you: it’s about to get even harder, with perfect-looking virtual models entering the fray. Following the success of digital social media stars like Miquela and Imma, a Japanese tech start-up set out to create the Asian country’s first virtual male model. The result of their hard work is Liam Nikuro, a young heart-throb “from Los Angeles” who reportedly works in some of the coolest and most profitable industries of our time – music, fashion, and entertainment.

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