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Quest: smart home healthcare project receives funding

Ranine Awwad

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Quest smart home healthcare project receives funding

The University of Glasgow has received £5.5 m in new funding from the UK government for the Healthcare Quest project that will tackle the use of smart home technology to support independent living for elderly and disabled people. The money comes as part of a £32 m funding package announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC at London Tech Week.

During the next 30 years, a total of six university-led projects will work on creating frugal technologies that have the potential to improve the prevention, prediction, diagnosis and/or treatment of a range of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), according to the Quest website.

Statisticians from Lancaster University are involved in the project. Dr. Rebecca Killick who is leading on the statistical element of the research, and currently serving as Senior Lecturer jointly in the Mathematics & Statistics Department and the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University explained that “This project will bring hospital-level sensing into the home enabling practitioners to make diagnoses on long-term insights. We are proud to be leading the statistical developments to make this exciting vision a reality,” according to the Lancaster University website.

Quest aims to use quantum technologies to remotely monitor healthcare markers such as blood flow and heart rate to assess wellbeing from the home. The project brings together 16 experts with multidisciplinary skillsets. Quest involves 12 partners across academia, industry and healthcare organizations.

Professor Jonathan Cooper, the University’s Wolfson Chair of Bioengineering, acting as the project’s principal investigator said: “We believe that the home environment has huge potential as a place where transformational healthcare changes can occur in the future. We hope to find new ways to make the home an extension of our physical bodies, providing the kind of detailed feedback on our wellness and monitoring of health markers that we cannot do ourselves”, according to a news release published on Glasgow website on September 7, 2020. Moreover, he added, “The analysis of the data streams from the sensors will be validated using clinically-approved models, providing users with 24/7 medical expertise to help them keep fit and healthy.

In addition to the funding received from the UK government, the researchers will receive support from Aridhia, HAS Technology, Howz, IBM, Microsoft, Moodagent, Photon Force, Savii ARMED, and Sphere, according to Lancaster University.

Ranine joined Inside Telecom as an Investigative Journalist. Her extensive fieldwork and investigations shed light on many socio-economic issues. Over the past few years, she has transformed her key findings into in-depth analytical reports. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication.

Technology

AI-equipped robot shocks fans during the basketball Olympics

Rim Zrein

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Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games kicked off in July, showcasing its technological advancement after it got postponed due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.  

Luckily, the postponement gave creators and innovators the time to utilize the latest technology to offer those who tune in to watch an experience of a lifetime. 

One of the many inventions that took audiences by surprise is Toyota’s AI-equipped basketball robot, which hones the ability to shoot hoops that might arguably put professional basketball players to shame. 

Under the name CUE, the AI-robot made an appearance during halftime of USA-France men’s basketball Olympics and showed the crowd its ability to shoot with almost a 100 percent accuracy from short distances. 

The 6-foot-10-inch-tall Japanese robot shocked audiences when it scored a free throw, a three-pointer, then nonchalantly walked over to the midcourt line and shot a half-court pointer.  

CUE uses its built-in sensors in its torso to calculate the distance, angle, and strength in order to perfect its aim.  

However, NBA players should not feel replaceable, as CUE can’t dribble or jump and is somewhat slow as seen in the video below where it took quite some time for Toyota’s AI-robot to shoot the three-pointer. 

Technology is arguably the star of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games. The state-of-the-art technology witnessed during the sports games is fascinating. 

The fact that an AI-equipped robot was able to replicate some of our human abilities, might just be a step into accelerating the drive to replace humans with artificially intelligent machinery.  

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What to expect from Facebook’s smart glasses

Rim Zrein

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Facebook

During Facebook’s recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the company’s next hardware release will debut the tech giant’s collaboration with Ray-Ban eyewear on a pair of augmented reality glasses. 

The long-awaited Ray-Ban “smart glasses” were supposed to launch in 2021. However, as a steep plunge in COVID-19 cases forced most of the world into a lockdown, a lot of tech firm’s plans changed. 

“Looking ahead here, the next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in partnership with EssilorLuxottica,” Facebook head and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things.”  

The “neat things” Zuckerberg is talking about remains a mystery. However, the smart glasses concept came up while Zuckerberg was describing his outlook on Facebook’s future, which includes a virtual reality unlike no other

“I’m excited to get these into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey towards full augmented reality glasses in the future,” Zuckerberg expressed. 

Considering Zuckerberg’s comments on the release didn’t satisfy tech fan’s curiosity, CNET spoke with Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of AR/VR hardware, who explained that they’re indeed smart glasses, but not AR glasses as Facebook has said so far. 

“We’re being careful not to call them augmented reality glasses. When you’re overlaying digital artifacts onto the world, that’s really augmented reality. These aren’t augmented reality glasses. However, they do a lot of the concepts we think will eventually be critical for augmented reality glasses,” Bosworth said. 

The features of the smart glasses aren’t all unique. However, as much as it’s ironic to state, Bosworth made it clear that one of the things Facebook is looking at for all their AR, starting with the smart glasses, is how can they help users be more present. 

This isn’t the first attempt a major tech company produces smart glasses, as Google did quite a stir back in 2014 following the release of “Google Glass,” which was a bold move, but failed nonetheless.  

The idea seemed exciting, but eventually transformed into an online meme. Besides, many weren’t keen with the idea of having a tech tool constantly emitting radiations at face level. 

The road to actual AR glasses could take more time than anticipated, while other tech giants hunt after similar goals.  

The Ray-Ban glasses coming this year will be a steppingstone into Zuckerberg’s “metaverse” vision for Facebook, but they likely won’t do as much as we’d like to believe. 

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Facebook profits top $10B as its CEO exalts the ‘metaverse’

Associated Press

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Facebook profits top $10B as its CEO exalts the 'metaverse'

Concerns about a revenue growth slowdown pushed Facebook’s shares lower in after-hours trading Wednesday, not long after the company reported that its second-quarter profits doubled thanks to a massive increase in advertising revenue.

But CEO Mark Zuckerberg set his sights far beyond the second half of 2021, exalting what he sees as the next phase of how people experience the internet. What the rest of the world might know as augmented and virtual reality with a dash of science fiction, Zuckerberg and others are calling “the metaverse,” a futuristic and somewhat vague notion that encompasses AR, VR and new, yet-to-be-imagined ways of connecting to one another via technology.

Zuckerberg expects the metaverse to be the next big thing after the mobile internet, although he’s had a spotty track record when it comes to predicting major trends of the near future. At Facebook’s f8 conference four years ago, for instance, Zuckerberg predicted a future where you will sit in your bedroom wearing a headset and take a virtual vacation with faraway friends and family, or use your smartphone’s camera to virtually spruce up your dinky apartment.

So far, this has not materialized. Then there’s Libra — now known as Diem — a cryptocurrency project Facebook launched in 2019 amid great fanfare. At the time, Facebook envisioned Libra as an emerging global digital currency; its ambitions have since been scaled back considerably amid regulatory and commercial backlash.

In a conference call with analysts, Zuckerberg called the metaverse the “next generation of the internet and next chapter for us as a company,” one that he said will create “entirely new experiences and economic opportunities.”

For now, though, Facebook still has to contend with more mundane matters such as antitrust crackdowns in the U.S. and elsewhere as well as concerns about how it handles vaccine-related and political misinformation on its platform. The company said, as it has before, that it expects challenges in its ability to target ads this year — including regulatory pressure and Apple’s privacy changes that make it harder for companies like Facebook to track people who can opt out of that form of surveillance.

Although the social network doubled its profit in the second quarter, in part because of higher average prices it charged for the ads it delivers to its nearly 3 billion users. But the company said it doesn’t expect revenue to continue to grow at such a breakneck pace in the second half of the year.

“This quarter’s results are extremely strong and show little sign of impact from Apple’s iOS update as of yet,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson, noting that in the year-ago quarter Facebook saw its slowest revenue growth since going public, so it was an easy comparison. “But it’s also due to the fact that there is enormous demand for Facebook and Instagram advertising, and more competition leads to higher ad prices.”

Separately, Facebook said on Wednesday that it will make vaccines mandatory for employees in the U.S. who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons. Google announced a similar policy earlier in the day.

The Menlo Park, California-based company earned $10.39 billion, or $3.61 per share, in the April-June period. That’s up from $5.18 billion, or $1.80 per share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 56% to $28.58 billion from $18.32 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $3.04 per share and revenue of $24.85 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

Advertising revenue growth was driven by a 47% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad and a 6% increase in the number of ads shown to people. Facebook said it expects ad prices, not the amount of ads it delivers, to continue to drive growth.

The company predicted uncertainty for 2021 back in January, saying its revenue in the latter half of the year could face significant pressure. Because revenue grew so quickly in the second half of 2020, Facebook said at the time that it could have trouble keeping up that pace.

Williamson said the third quarter will be an important one for the company, “as the full effects of the Apple update take hold.”

“We will have a much better sense of how well Facebook has been able to adjust its core ad targeting products to manage the reduced amount of information it can tap into,” she said.

Facebook had 2.9 billion monthly users as of June, up 7% from a year earlier.

Shares fell $11.77, or 3.2%, to $373.28 in after-hours trading. Earlier in the day, the stock hit an all-time high of $377. 55 in anticipation of the results, so the decline wasn’t unexpected.

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