Dive With a Blue Whale in New Virtual-Reality Experience

Live Science, 3/16/2017

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA) collaborated with designers from Wevr to develop an oceanic underwater virtual reality (VR) experience for visitors. The VR gives visitors an opportunity to explore and interact with marine animals in their natural habitat, with the further goal of raising awareness about environmental issues that threaten ocean wildlife.

Offline AI Revolution Awaits Smartphones

Phys.org/AFP, 2/27/2017

Phone manufacturers are attempting to make handsets operate offline by using artificial intelligence (AI) and faster processors. This could let handsets use data already stored to operate. Some companies are focusing on AI technologies that let handsets perform tasks before the user does. For example, Neura, a startup from┬áCalifornia uses an AI that takes data from user’s routine behaviors and then makes predictions on what the users next steps are. Handsets that operate offline and perform tasks before the user does become more helpful and user interactive.

Machine Learning Reveals Lack of Female Screen Time in Top Films

New Scientist, 3/8/2017

Shri Narayanan, from the University of Southern California, has developed a new program that runs facial recognition software and voice recognition software simultaneously to analyze gender bias in high-grossing box-office films. This program has analyzed 300 films, and the study shows that women are underrepresented on the big screen. Narayanan is also using machine learning and natural language processing to evaluate film scripts, to explore further biases.

Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

The New York Times, 2/22/2017

The federal government is attempting to bridge the growing digital divide in low-income families by expanding a subsidy program, Lifeline, to include broadband Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission’s main goal in revising Lifeline is to address the increasing number of students without online access needed to complete schoolwork and homework. Other methods are being used to in an effort to patch this divide, such as wifi-equipped buses and school-provided wireless hotspots.

Machine-Learning Algorithms Can Predict Suicide Risk More Readily Than Clinicians, Study Finds

Newsweek, 2/27/2017

Human clinicians are known not to be very accurate at predicting suicides, so researchers are developing machine-learning algorithms that use multiple factors to identify short-term suicide risk. Data scientists trained the algorithm on data from thousands of clinical records, from both non-fatal suicide cases and random patients. Accuracy was significantly better than studying only one risk factor at a time. Using such a system could aid clinicians in targeting at-risk patients and treating them early.

AI Predicts Autism From Infant Brain Scans

IEEE Spectrum, 2/15/2017

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill have applied deep-learning algorithms to brain scans of children with a high risk of autism. Algorithms used three indicators, brain surface area, volume, and the gender of the child, to determine if 6- to 12-month-old infants were likely to develop autism. The results were 81% accurate at predicting later diagnosis. This improves over a 50% prediction rate from behavioral questionnaires.

New Internet Security Device Launched to Safeguard Schools Against Child Abuse

Plymouth University, 2/20/2017

The University of Plymouth has developed ICAlert, an easy-to-install device that monitors network traffic and sends alerts if users try to access dangerous web content (such as child pornography or terrorist sites). They aim to make browsing safer for children and teens by providing the devices and software to schools at a low cost.

DACC and Virgin Galactic Team Up to Explore Virtual Reality

Las Cruces Sun-News, 2/10/2017

Do├▒a Ana Community College (DACC) and Virgin Galactic are teaming up to create a new educational outreach program. The partnership focuses on new virtual reality (VR) technologies and explores how they might be used in various settings and applications. It will begin with students using a VR simulation to learn concepts in aerospace technology.

New Smartwatch Software May Now Verify Your Signatures

Phys.org, 1/30/2017 (university press release)

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University have developed new software that will allow smartwatches to verify handwritten signatures. This software monitors the movement of the entire wrist in order to catch attempts at forgery, by identifying movements that do not match the movements of the original owner. The goal of this software is to reduce acts of forgery.