2020-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-07-06 14:30:24 UTC
2020-07-07 03:15:40 UTC
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Unreal Engine developer Epic Games has released Live Link Face, an iPhone app that uses the front-facing 3D sensors in the phone to do live motion capture for facial animations in 3D projects like video games, animations, or films.
The app uses tools from Apple's ARKit framework and the iPhone's TrueDepth sensor array to stream live motion capture from an actor looking at the phone to 3D characters in Unreal Engine running on a nearby workstation. It captures facial expressions as well as head and neck rotation.
Live Link Face can stream to multiple machines at once, and "robust timecode support and precise frame accuracy enable seamless synchronization with other stage components like cameras and body motion capture," according to Epic's blog post announcing the app. Users get a CSV of raw blendshape data and an MOV from the phone's front-facing video camera, with timecodes.
[...] For those not familiar, Unreal Engine began life as a graphics engine used by triple-A video game studios for titles like Gears of War and Mass Effect, and it has evolved over time to be used by indies and in other situations like filmmaking, architecture, and design. It competes with another popular engine called Unity, as well as in-house tools developed by various studios.
we surveyed 2,225 American adults of all ages. On average millennials drive for 8% fewer of their typical weekly trips than baby boomers or Gen Xers.
Moreover, this difference does not disappear when we control for demographic information, proving that millennial behavior is not just about being young, single and low-income. Instead, what distinguishes millennials are their attitudes.
Millennials are more pro-environment than previous generations and less likely to believe driving gives them independence. They also see driving as more dangerous and want a travel mode that offers side benefits such as exercise or the ability to read or use social media.
The generational difference has profound implications for auto manufacturers.
As COVID-19 surges, hospitals and independent biomedical technicians have turned to a global grey-market for hardware and software to circumvent manufacturer repair locks and keep life-saving ventilators running.
The dongle is handmade, little more than a circuit board encased in plastic with two connectors. One side goes to a ventilator’s patient monitor, another goes to the breath delivery unit. A third cable connects to a computer.
This little dongle—shipped to him by a hacker in Poland—has helped William repair at least 70 broken Puritan Bennett 840 ventilators that he’s bought on eBay and from other secondhand websites. He has sold these refurbished ventilators to hospitals and governments throughout the United States, to help them handle an influx of COVID-19 patients. Motherboard agreed to speak to William anonymously because he was not authorized by his company to talk to the media, but Motherboard verified the specifics of his story with photos and other biomedical technicians.
William is essentially Frankensteining together two broken machines to make one functioning machine. Some of the most common repairs he does on the PB840, made by a company called Medtronic, is replacing broken monitors with new ones. The issue is that, like so many other electronics, medical equipment, including ventilators, increasingly has software that prevents “unauthorized” people from repairing or refurbishing broken devices, and Medtronic will not help him fix them.
[...] Delays in getting equipment running put patients at risk. In the meantime, biomedical technicians will continue to try to make-do with what they can. “If someone has a ventilator and the technology to [update the software], more power to them,” Mackeil said. “Some might say you’re violating copyright, but if you own the machine, who’s to say they couldn’t or they shouldn’t?”
I understand that there is an ongoing debate on the "right to repair". However, many manufacturers increasingly find ways to ensure that "unauthorised" people cannot repair their devices. Where do you stand on this issue? During the ongoing pandemic, do medical device manufacturers have the right to prevent repair by third parties?
(2020-04-14) Raspberry Pi to Power Ventilators as Demand for Boards Surges
(2020-03-31) Professional Ventilator Design "Open Sourced" Today by Medtronic
(2019-11-18) US-CERT Warns of Remotely Exploitable Bugs in Medical Devices
(2018-10-17) Medtronic Locks Out Vulnerable Pacemaker Programmer Kit
(2018-08-15) Hack Causes Pacemakers to Deliver Life-Threatening Shocks
(2014-10-28) US Security Agencies Look at Medical Device Security
Previously (right to repair):
(2020-07-06) Fixers Know What "Repairable" Means--Now There's a Standard for It
(2020-04-21) 'Right to Repair' Taken Up by the ACCC in Farmers' Fight to Fix Their Own Tractors
(2020-03-13) Europe Wants a 'Right to Repair' Smartphones and Gadgets
(2020-01-09) Popularity of Older Tractors Boosted by Avoidance of DRM
(2019-06-21) Hackers, Farmers, and Doctors Unite! Support for Right to Repair Laws Slowly Grows
(2019-04-30) Reeducating Legislators on the Right to Repair
(2019-02-22) Right to Repair Legislation Is Officially Being Considered In Canada
(2018-10-13) 45 Out of 50 Electronics Companies Illegally Void Warranties After Independent Repair, Sting Reveals
(2018-09-21) John Deere Just Swindled Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair
(2018-04-17) Apple Sued an Independent iPhone Repair Shop Owner and Lost
(2018-03-08) The Right to Repair Battle Has Come to California
(2018-02-02) Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech's Repair Monopoly
(2018-01-28) Washington State Bill Would Make Hard-to-Repair Electronics Illegal
(2017-05-25) Apple, Verizon Join Forces to Lobby Against New York's 'Right to Repair' Law
(2017-03-08) Right to Repair
We were requested to investigate “near ultrasound” (NUS) links as part of our research on developing the Simmel reference design for a privacy-preserving COVID-19 contact tracing device. After a month of poking at it, the TL;DR is that, as suspected, the physics of NUS is not conducive to reliable contact tracing. While BLE has the problem that you have too many false positive contacts, NUS has the problem of too many false negatives: pockets, purses, and your own body can effectively block the signal.
That being said, we did develop a pretty decent-performing NUS data link, so we’ve packed up what we did into an open source reference design that you can clone and use in your own projects.
The lab of Jeremy Day, Ph.D., at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has used single-nucleus RNA sequencing approaches to compare transcriptional responses to acute cocaine in 16 unique cell populations from a portion of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, or NAc. This molecular atlas is “a previously unachieved level of cellular resolution for cocaine-mediated gene regulation in this region,” said Day, an associate professor in the UAB Department of Neurobiology.
The atlas was just the beginning of a major study, published in the journal Science Advances, that used multiple cutting-edge technologies to describe a dopamine-induced gene expression signature that regulates the brain’s response to cocaine.
“These results mark a substantial advance in our understanding of the neurobiological processes that control drug-related adaptations,” Day said. “They also reveal new information about how transcriptional mechanisms regulate activity-dependent processes within the central nervous system.”
The approaches used in this study, Day says, may also help dissect the role of similar gene programs that mediate other types of behavior, memory formation or neuropsychiatric disorders.
The NAc is deeply involved in drug addiction, and detailed understanding of how drugs alter its neural circuitry to initiate addictive behavior can suggest new therapeutic interventions. The NAc is a central integrator of the brain’s reward circuit, and all addictive drugs acutely raise the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the NAc. Dopamine signaling during repeated drug use leads to widespread changes in gene expression, initiating alterations in neural synaptic circuitry and changes in behavior associated with drug addiction.
Previous studies of changes in NAc gene expression were only able to look at bulk tissue — a mix of many different cell types. When the Day lab looked at single cell changes by RNA-sequencing 15,631 individual rat NAc nuclei, they found a surprise. Only a small fraction of neurons in the NAc were transcriptionally responsive to cocaine administration — mainly a specific subcluster of medium spiny neurons that express the Drd1 dopamine receptor.
The researchers next comprehensively defined the core gene structure that is activated when dopamine is added to a striatal neuron culture system. Similar to the responses in the rat NAc after cocaine administration, transcriptional activation predominantly occurred in Drd1-receptor-medium spiny neurons. Day and colleagues identified a core set of around 100 genes altered by dopamine, which also correlated with key genes activated in the NAc of rats given cocaine.
Katherine E. Savell, Jennifer J. Tuscher, Morgan E. Zipperly, et al. A dopamine-induced gene expression signature regulates neuronal function and cocaine response [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4221)
T-Mobile has almost 20 times more 5G cities than AT&T and Verizon combined, according to a new analytics report by Ookla. T-Mobile is sitting on 5,013 cities with 5G -- and that's before adding in the former 5G sites of Sprint after the carrier's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint -- while AT&T has 237 5G cities and Verizon has 39.
Verizon was by far the fastest in speeds, though, charting at a speed score of 870 in comparison to AT&T's 78 and T-Mobile's 64 in Ookla's report.
"Only T-Mobile is doing the hard work to deliver 5G coverage and performance. Sure, it would be easier to deliver blazing speeds in postage stamp-sized areas like Verizon, but our strategy is different," said Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile. "T-Mobile's strategy is built on delivering a meaningful 5G experience people can actually use."
There are now 5,164 cities across the US with 5G, according to Ookla.
Google has deep roots in open source. We're proud of our 20 years of contributions and community collaboration. The scale and tenure of Google's open source participation has taught us what works well, what doesn't, and where the corner cases are that challenge projects.
One of the places we've historically seen projects stumble is in managing their trademarks—their project's name and logo. How project trademarks are used is different from how their code is used, as trademarks are a method of quality assurance. This includes the assurance that the code in question has an open source license. When trademarks are properly managed, project maintainers can define their identity, provide assurances to downstream users of the quality of their offering, and give others in the community certainty about the free and fair use of the brand.
In collaboration with academic leaders, independent contributors, and SADA Systems, today we are announcing the Open Usage Commons, an organization focused on extending the philosophy and definition of open source to project trademarks. The mission of the Open Usage Commons is to help open source projects assert and manage their project identity through programs specific to trademark management and conformance testing. Creating a neutral, independent ownership for these trademarks gives contributors and consumers peace of mind regarding their use of project names in a fair and transparent way.
Is it good or a new kind of evil?
Also at Phoronix.
What just happened? Sheng-Chang "Charles" Chiang, president and CEO of Taiwanese technology company Micro-Star International (MSI), reportedly fell from a building to his death earlier today. The circumstances behind the fall aren’t known at this hour as police are conducting an investigation according to a Google translation of a story originally published by ET Today.
[...] Our thoughts are with the family of Chiang and all of those affected by the matter at MSI.
PC: Charles Chiang, CEO of tech brand MSI, dies at 56 after falling from a building (emphasis in original retained):
The general manager of the technology brand MSI, Charles Chiang, He died Tuesday at age 56 after falling from a seven-story building. The news was reported by Taiwanese media and confirmed by official channels of the company.
Sheng-Chang Chiang died when he fell from a company building, causing him “a severe head injury with a stroke and contusions”, according to local reports. [He] passed away on the way to the hospital.
His fall has been investigated by the Taiwan police since, according to the family, Charles had no reason to commit suicide. The option of a homicide is being considered.
Authors of the new Springer book identify mass psychogenic illness as the likely cause of Havana Syndrome, a mysterious condition affecting American and Canadian diplomats stationed in Cuba between 2016 and 2019.
Dozens of embassy staff reported an array of complaints that have baffled the medical community, the most prominent being concussion-like symptoms without head trauma. U.S. Government physicians have promoted the theory that the diplomats and their families were the victims of a sonic attack. Studies of the embassy patients have been inconclusive. In their book Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria, the authors Robert W. Baloh and Robert E. Bartholomew observe that the outbreak is notably similar to the appearance of 'shell shock' and other combat syndromes. The two medical experts conclude that neurological complaints from an overstimulated nervous system have been misdiagnosed as concussions and brain damage when the real cause is stress.
[Source]: Springer Book
However, I think this mystery is far from solved. For example: Why were diplomats & embassy staff, predominantly from the US and Canada, affected?, Why not other American citizens? Why only between the years 2016 and 2019? Why not before or after? What do you guys think about this?
[Ed Note: Fixed date in last paragraph. Thanks c0lo!]
It doesn’t get much more futuristic than living on Mars—and guess what? There’s a 3D printed home for that, too. In fact, there are a few; last year saw the conclusion of a contest held by NASA called the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
[...] The top prize ($500,000) went to AI Space Factory, a New York-based architecture and construction technologies company focused on building for space exploration. Their dual-shell, four-level design is called Marsha, and unlike Martian habitats we’ve seen on the big screen or read about in sci-fi novels, it’s neither a dome nor an underground bunker. In fact, it sits fully above ground and it looks like a cross between a hive and a giant egg.
The team chose the hive-egg shape very deliberately, saying that it’s not only optimized to handle the pressure and temperature demands of the Martian atmosphere, but building it with a 3D printer will be easier because the printer won’t have to move around as much as it would to build a structure with a larger footprint. That means less risk of errors and a faster building speed.
The building material would combine basalt fiber and bioplastics made from plants grown on Mars.
Tesla will be able to make its vehicles completely autonomous by the end of this year, founder Elon Musk has said.
It was already "very close" to achieving the basic requirements of this "level-five" autonomy, which requires no driver input, he said.
Tesla's current, level-two Autopilot requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands on the wheel.
But a future software update could activate level-five autonomy in the cars - with no new hardware, he said.
Regulatory hurdles could block implementation even if the remaining technical hurdles are overcome.
In this study, McKenzie and Punske discuss how languages evolve over time whenever communities grow isolated from one another. This would certainly be the case in the event of a long interstellar voyage and/or as a result of interplanetary colonization. Eventually, this could mean that the language of the colonists would be unintelligible to the people of Earth, should they meet up again later.
[...] To illustrate, McKenzie and Punske use examples of different language families on Earth and how new languages emerged due to distance and time. They then extrapolated how this same process would occur over the course of 10 generations or more of interstellar/interplanetary travel. As McKenzie explained in a UK press release:
"If you're on this vessel for 10 generations, new concepts will emerge, new social issues will come up, and people will create ways of talking about them, and these will become the vocabulary particular to the ship. People on Earth might never know about these words, unless there's a reason to tell them. And the further away you get, the less you're going to talk to people back home. Generations pass, and there's no one really back home to talk to. And there's not much you want to tell them, because they'll only find out years later, and then you'll hear back from them years after that."
There are always emojis...
McKenzie, A., Punske, J.. Language Development During Interstellar Travel, Acta Futura, (12), 123–132. (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3747353)
Red Rover Red Rover and a Sat looking over
On July 30, NASA is sending Curiosity a new friend: their fifth Mars rover since the start of the program, called Perseverance.
Perseverance’s main mission is to look for signs of past life on Mars by studying the geology and taking rock and soil samples to be analyzed on Earth later.
[...] Like the Americans, China is landing a rover on Mars this summer, called Tianwen-1, according to a press release from the China National Space Administration.
Although not many details of the mission have been released, the rover is set to launch sometime in July, and is China’s first Mars exploration mission.
The United Arab Emirates are not landing a rover on the planet, but are instead launching a mission to orbit Mars and observe from space.
[...] The mission is aiming to understand the climate dynamics of Mars, the structure of Mars’ atmosphere and why hydrogen and oxygen are escaping from the upper atmosphere into space.
[...] Although these three missions are being operated by different countries, and have different goals, they all serve as important stepping stones towards the ultimate quest: achieving a human expedition to Mars by the end of the century.
Frailty and immune decline are two main features of old age. Researchers from the University of Bern and the University Hospital Bern now demonstrate in an animal model that these two age-related impairments can be halted and even partially reversed using a novel cell-based therapeutic approach.
[...] The team around Dr. Noti and Dr. Eggel could demonstrated that a certain kind of immune cells, known as eosinophils, which are predominantly found in the blood circulation, are also present in belly fat of both humans and mice. Although classically known to provide protection from parasite infection and to promote allergic airway disease, eosinophils located in belly fat are responsible to maintain local immune homeostasis. With increasing age the frequency of eosinophils in belly fat declines, while the number of pro-inflammatory macrophages increases. Owing to this immune cell dysbalance, belly fat turns into a source of pro-inflammatory mediators accumulating systemically in old age.
In a next step, the researchers investigated the possibility to reverse age-related impairments by restoring the immune cell balance in visceral adipose tissue. "In different experimental approaches, we were able to show that transfers of eosinophils from young mice into aged recipients resolved not only local but also systemic low-grade inflammation", says Dr. Eggel. "In these experiments, we observed that transferred eosinophils were selectively homing into adipose tissue", adds Dr. Noti. This approach had a rejuvenating effect on the aged organism. As a consequence, aged animals showed significant improvements in physical fitness as assessed by endurance and grip strength tests. Moreover, the therapy had a rejuvenating effect on the immune system manifesting in improved vaccination responses of aged mice.
They managed to work COVID-19 into the press release.
Daniel Brigger, Carsten Riether, Robin van Brummelen, et al. Eosinophils regulate adipose tissue inflammation and sustain physical and immunological fitness in old age, Nature Metabolism (DOI: 10.1038/s42255-020-0228-3)
Chih-Hao Lee. Young eosinophils rejuvenate ageing adipose tissues, Nature Metabolism (DOI: 10.1038/s42255-020-0230-9)
Comet Neowise looks like it could be the real deal. After two other comets discovered in 2020 -- Swan and Atlas -- looked promising but then fizzled and faded away without ever putting on much of a show, Comet C/2020 F3 (aka Neowise) seems poised to deliver.
[...] According to NASA solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry, it should remain visible just before and around the time of first light until July 11. The comet will then dip below the horizon as it transitions from being an early riser to a cocktail hour sensation, hopefully. It'll start to be visible again in the evening around July 15-16. It should be a little easier to see during the second half of July when it's a little higher in the sky. Until that point it'll be closer to the northeastern horizon.
[...] The comet's closest pass by Earth will be July 23, which might make for a particularly exciting viewing opportunity if the comet's brightness continues to hold where it is or even intensifies. It'll also rise a little higher in the sky on July 24 and 25 in case you miss the actual flyby date. Comets are notoriously fickle things that could always break up and burn out at any moment, so fingers crossed.
There's a possibility, for the most optimistic of us, that Neowise might brighten dramatically to become a so-called "great comet" that's easily visible and spectacular to see with the naked eye. While there's no strict definition of what a great comet is, it's generally agreed that we haven't seen one since Hale-Bopp in 1997.