In between whiteouts, there’s always b-ball. Humans and AI go head-to-head in this free throw shoot-out.
From The Verge:
It’s a tale as old as time. Inspired by a famous manga about basketball, a group of engineers from Toyota worked together in their free hours to build a robot capable of shooting perfect free throws. Eventually, after perfecting their mechanical creation, they challenged professional human players and beat them shot for shot.
That’s the story reported by Japanese news agency Asahi Shimbun anyway, and the video evidence certainly bears it out. Although, exactly what technology is powering this free throw-shooting bot is unclear. Asahi Shimbun says AI was used to teach the robot how to shoot, but the video evidence makes the bot look pretty unsophisticated. It moves about on wheels and just repeats the same motions again and again.
Still, this sort of unimaginative perfection is apparently enough to beat the robot’s human opponents — a couple of players from local B-league basketball team Alvark Tokyo. This seems to always be the case when humans go head-to-head with AI and robots. Even if a machine isn’t as imaginative or talented as a human, it’s always more consistent.
Is there any need for smellable VR?
Modern virtual reality is a treat for the senses. Well, two of them at least. “Sight and sound have been the staple of VR environments,” Benjy Li, a postdoctoral researcher with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, told Engadget. Haptic feedback is starting to allow for basic touch, but the next radical evolution in VR could actually come via your nose (and/or mouth).
Li’s research team at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, recently submitted a study for peer review that examines how VR can influence one’s eating behavior with virtual food. “I can’t divulge too much details, since the paper is under review,” Li said, “but we found that adding the two senses [scent and taste] into the experience has an effect on human satiation.”
When these experiences are enhanced with scents and tastes, their therapeutic effects can be multiplied. For example, the smell of gunpowder might be used in treating certain cases of PTSD, or lavender, to create a calming effect. In the future, Li ventures, we could use VR to trick our brains into eating healthier, both for ourselves and the planet.
Frothy startup creates sensors that guarantee the freshest beer
With a background in computer science and engineering and a home-brewing hobby, Binary Beers is the combination of Michael Burton’s two passions. Burton co-founded the start-up with his wife Brooke Burton a few years ago, with the aim of measuring how much beer is left in a keg, the location of the keg and the temperature of the brew.
As a homebrewer, Burton says, “my biggest problem has been kegs run out when you least expect it.” Burton and his wife sold their car and house to fund the startup but it was not until Burton joined the University of Wollongong’s start-up hub iAccelerate this year that he realized the broader application of his idea.
Burton discovered beer kegs were running out and it was taking days before a replacement arrived, or beers were sitting around for too long, affecting quality. “We set about developing sensors that attach to the beer keg that track the location and the temperature of the beer so we can guarantee the beer being sold is fresh,” Burton says.
See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across.