mercredi 10 septembre 2014

Dropbox Acqhires KBVT’s Computer Vision Geniuses To Mine Its Photos


Dropbox doesn’t just want to store your photos. It wants to organize and make them more useful too. That’s why today it acqhired the two computer vision and machine learning professors who founded Kriegman-Belhumeur Vision Technology (KBVT). After a decade building KBVT, Columbia University’s Professor Peter Belhumeur and UCSD’s Professor David Kriegman will start work at Dropbox today, though existing tech they’ve built won’t come with them.
Dropbox VP of Engineering Aditya Agrawal tells me his company needed this talent because “The rate at which we’re all creating memories is going up so quickly that the ability to organize, curate, and make sense of the memories we’re accumulating” is a huge opportunity. Photographs are one of the most plentiful types of data on the web and are also extremely important to people. Dropbox or any other company could be sitting on a gold mine if they can figure out how to squeeze more strategic value out of photos or offer added benefits to users who store their treasured moments with them.
And these guys? They’re the real deal.
citationsBelhumeur is a computer science professor and Director of Columbia’s Laboratory for the Study of Visual Appearance. He has an engineering Ph.D from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences. He researches computer vision, face recognition, and machine learning for visual recognition. His academic papers have accrued over 21,000 citations and he built the Leafsnap and Dogsnap iOS apps to help people ID tree and bird species from images.
DavidKriegman-copyKriegman has published over 150 papers on robotics, computer graphics, face recognition, and object recognition. The Stanford Ph.D has received tons of awards in his field and is the Editor-in-Chief of the research compendium IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence.
Agrawal tells me Kriegman and Belhumeur’s expertise could help Dropbox to recognize what’s in your photos so it could organize them by theme, location, and many other ways. The two professor’s work on facial and object recognition could help Dropbox scan all your photos and tag them with metadata about what’s in them. Imagine if you could pull up all the photos where someone is “laughing”, or that features a “sunset” or “dog”.
DogsnapDropbox has plenty of photos for the guys to mine. The service now has 300 million users, up 200% in 18 months, and has 80,000 paying customers.
There’s no specific plan for what Kriegman and Belhumeur will work on just yet, as Dropbox wants them to get a good look at their data set and let the academics figure out the smartest thing to do next. “I think the exact spectrum that will be possible with this tech is still being figured out”, Agrawal tells me. “The reason why researchers are gravitating to these big companies is that the time is right to build some really cool shit.”

Source : Techcrunch

Des baguettes intelligentes - From China, smart chopsticks alert diners if their food is unsafe to eat

Chinese tech giant Baidu has created smart chopsticks, which detect contamination in food and use a red light to indicate to diners that they should think twice about finishing their meal.



jeudi 7 août 2014

E-commerce : ce gigantesque business qu'Apple bâtit en catimini

L'activité la plus en croissance d'Apple n'est pas celle que vous croyez. Pourtant, à 16 milliards de dollars par an, elle concentre toutes les attentions de Tim Cook.
Interro surprise : quel est le produit d'Apple dont la croissance en dollars est la plus forte ? Si vous pensiez à l'iPhone ou à l'iPad, c'est raté. La croissance de l'un comme de l'autre est en baisse. Il s'agit en réalité de l'e-commerce, au travers d'iTunes, d'iBooks et des app stores. La vente de produits non Apple au travers des produits Apple a crû de 19% à 4,4 milliards de dollars au premier trimestre 2014.
Bien entendu, cette activité est encore l'une des plus faibles sources de revenus d'Apple. Mais ce chiffre reste impressionnant : s'il existait une start-up réalisant plus de 16 milliards de dollars par an de ventes de biens numériques - et affichant une croissance de près de 20% par an -, on ne cesserait de parler d'elle.
Ce serait même la société la plus sexy du monde. Qui rabaisserait au statut de nain un site marchand comme Zappos, qui vient de publier un chiffre d'affaires annuel dépassant tout juste 2 milliards de dollars.
La presse IT a beau être obsédée par les projets d'iWatch d'Apple et par son nouveau modèle d'Apple TV, on gagne à s'intéresser de plus près à l'activité que son PDG Tim Cook est en réalité déjà en train de bâtir. Car il est plus que probable que la croissance future d'Apple provienne davantage de la vente en ligne et sur mobile que du lancement de produits qui restent à inventer.

Une opportunité fantastique

touchid business insider 300
Le scanner Touch ID © Steve Kovach / Business Insider
Lors de la présentation de ses derniers résultats financiers, Tim Cook a abordé ce sujet spécifiquement. "Globalement, nous constatons combien les gens aiment pouvoir acheter du contenu - que ce soit de la musique, des films ou des livres - depuis leur iPhone, en utilisant la fonctionnalité Touch ID [qui, sur l'iPhone 5S, scanne l'empreinte digitale pour servir de code d'accès ou valider un achat sur l'App Store, iTunes et iBooks, ndlr]. Elle est incroyablement simple, facile et élégante. Et ouvre très clairement la voie à de nombreuses opportunités. Le domaine des paiements mobiles est l'un de ceux qui nous intrigue et que nous avions en tête en créant Touch ID. Mais nous ne nous limitons pas à cet usage. Je n'ai donc rien de précis à annoncer aujourd'hui, si ce n'est qu'en observant les caractéristiques démographiques de nos clients et le volume des ventes réalisées via des terminaux iOS comparé à la concurrence, on voit bien l'opportunité fantastique que constitue cet outil."
Si Tim Cook avait fait exactement la même annonce à propos de montres ou de télévisions, tout le monde serait devenu dingue. Les fans d'Apple sauteraient de joie dans tous les sens.
Mais comme il parle de retail, activité aussi lucrative qu'ennuyeuse, tout le monde l'ignore. En termes de m-commerce, Apple devance déjà Google et Android. Même si les détenteurs de smartphones sous Android sont plus nombreux, les achats se font davantage sur les iPhones. Ce à quoi Tim Cook fait probablement référence lorsqu'il évoque "le volume des ventes réalisées via des terminaux iOS comparé à la concurrence" qui constitue "une opportunité fantastique".

Touch ID ne sert pas à ce que vous croyez

Justement, parmi les récentes avancées technologiques d'Apple, l'une des plus importantes a été conçue pour le commerce. La plupart des gens pensent que Touch ID couvre uniquement les questions de sécurité : personne ne peut utiliser ou voler votre iPhone 5S car on ne peut pas le déverrouiller sans l'empreinte digitale de son propriétaire. Mais ainsi que Business Insider l'a déjà noté, Touch ID a une utilité bien plus importante. Elle rend votre téléphone presque totalement sécurisé et par conséquent, transforme votre iPhone en moyen de paiement mobile quasiment parfait.
Raison pour laquelle Eddy Cue, le directeur e-commerce d'Apple, se consacre actuellement à bâtir l'activité de paiements mobiles de la société, selon le Wall Street Journal. La vice-présidente online stores Jennifer Bailey et lui ont rencontré Paypal, Google, Square, Stripe, Braintree et Venmo dans le cadre de cette démarche.
Par une extraordinaire coïncidence - à moins que ce n'en soit pas une - Apple est, au même moment, en train de construire une infrastructure de marketing mobile pour la distribution à travers tous les Etats-Unis. Elle s'appelle iBeacon.

Apple bâtit une infrastructure d'achat nationale

Les magasins sont déjà en train d'installer ces émetteurs bluetooth à basse énergie afin de pouvoir, lorsque vous passerez devant un rayonnage, pousser une publicité ou une offre sur votre iPhone. Bientôt - si vous laissez activée la fonctionnalité iBeacon de votre iPhone - Apple et ses partenaires sauront où vous faites vos achats, à tout moment, ceci à un degré de précision de quelques dizaines de centimètres.
Et s'il devient possible de payer avec son téléphone plutôt qu'avec son porte-monnaie, alors Apple aura "bouclé la boucle" du commerce sur mobile avec succès.
Pendant des années, on a considéré que l'eldorado du marketing mobile consisterait à trouver le moyen d'encourager un utilisateur de smartphone à aller acheter quelque chose en boutique, puis à parvenir à attribuer immédiatement cette vente à ce téléphone ou à ce propriétaire de téléphone. C'est ce que les marketers entendent par "boucler la boucle". Certaines entreprises ont essayé, mais c'est moins facile qu'il n'y paraît. Car vous pouvez faire des check-in Foursquare ou Facebook chez Gap autant que vous voudrez, si le caissier ne peut pas lier votre check-in à la vente, alors cette action n'est presque d'aucune utilité.
Qu'un utilisateur d'iPhone puisse accepter une offre en boutique via iBeacon puis payer avec son téléphone résout en théorie ce problème.
Et si Tim Cook a vraiment trouvé la clé de tout cela, ce business prendra immanquablement une ampleur que les montres connectées n'atteindront jamais.

Article de Jim Edwards. Traduction par Flore Fauconnier, JDN
Source : Businessinsider

jeudi 31 juillet 2014

Xiaomi’s One More Thing

Xiaomi’s One More Thing
The young electronics company Xiaomi is exploding in China and seems posed to take over the world. In the four short years since its founding, Xiaomi has become the electronics brand to watch in the most populous nation on earth.
Xiaomi is the now the real deal — thanks in part to its unabashed appropriation of design cues from companies like Apple. But if Xiaomi wants to maintain its growth and expand outside of China, it must be prepared to accept the consequences for its tendency to blatantly rip competitors off.
The Chinese market operates under a different set of standards than the U.S. Here, originality is of utmost importance and intellectual property is highly regarded and protected. Though China has IP laws, they are generally considered weaker and are infrequently enforced.
Historically, however, the act of copying is sometimes worth the risk. Apple notably copied Xerox’sgraphical user interface, and likewise, Microsoft copied Apple’s OS implementation for Windows. Both companies had great success — and both took flak for doing so. More recently Samsung stole several notable features from Apple, locking both companies up in endless court battles.
But Xiaomi is a different animal. Where Apple and Microsoft largely cribbed a concept, Xiaomi replicates designs and design elements. The products aren’t clones, per se, in that they aren’t identical down to the individual components or even functions, but the company undeniably looks to other products for design ideas. The company produces some original products, but the design of many of its offerings are more mashups than homages.
This shouldn’t be taken as the ignorant act of an immature company: Xiaomi knows exactly what it’s doing.
There have been many ‘inspirations’ for Xiaomi’s designs, but the company’s focus on Apple is staggering. Last week, CEO Lei Jun, wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, did his best to emulate Steve Jobs while unveiling the new Mi 4. He repetitively talked about Apple’s products. He even specifically stated that his company went to the same manufacturers that produce the iPhone to see what they could make for Xiaomi. And the presentation ended with a slide that stated “One more thing…”, an Apple hallmark.
one-more-thing
It was the only slide in the 95-minute show that was in English.

Don’t Think Different

Apple’s influence on Xiaomi is widely known. Businessweek called the Mi 4 an “iPhone-esque smartphone.” Last year The New York Times called Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun a Steve Jobs “knockoff.” Brian Blair, analyst at Rosenblatt Securities, explained to CNBC last year that Xiaomi is not anxious to expand outside of China because the company is still in copycat mode.
“Samsung was in the copycat mode for a long time,” he added.
Xiaomi is widely known to take heavy inspiration from other companies’ products and marketing materials, but it most often copies Apple’s. The Mi 4 is Xiaomi’s best iPhone copy yet. It clearly takes inspiration from the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5. And for good reason: The iPhone is widely popular in China but carries a premium price tag.
Then there’s the company’s streaming box, the Mi Box, which bears a striking resemblance to the Apple TV as shown above. And in the case of the MiPad tablet, the company clearly looked at the iPad mini and iPhone 5c for their design choices — even in the MiPad’s marketing photos. TheXiaomi Mi Router Mini looks just like the Apple Magic Trackpad. The Mi Power Bank is a blatant iPod mini rip-off. Worse yet, the camera lens shown on the Mi 3 product page was the Apple Aperture icon — seriously: The lens shown on the phone was, without question, the icon of an Apple product until Xiaomi finally changed it on July 29.
Xiaomi’s focus on Apple is smart. The iPhone is expensive in Xiaomi’s primary market of China, where Xiaomi products are available for significantly less (the Mi 3 sells for about half of Apple’s budget iPhone 5c.) By constantly comparing and contrasting itself with Apple, Xiaomi is capitalizing on an established brand. So far it’s working: Xiaomi is seeing explosive growth in China, ending 2013 with a 271% year over year growth. Bloomberg reports that Xiaomi intends to sell 100 million handsets next year.
But Xiaomi doesn’t just copy Apple.
Xiaomi’s website was filled with what appear to be pilfered images. Many of the images shown on the Mi 3 camera roll on the website and on stage during Xiaomi’s announcement of the device were lifted and cropped. In some cases watermarks were removed. Here’s one stolen from National Geographic. And another from Flickr. Two are ripped from Getty Image users (1) (2). Xiaomi changed the images on July 29 after others noticed the infringement.

This tactic continued on the Mi 4’s product page where at least one image purportedly shot by the phone’s camera has been available online since at least 2006 and is also available for purchase through a stock image site.
Never mind that Xiaomi was passing off professional images as shots captured by the Mi 3’s camera. Again, here, Xiaomi apparently shows complete disregard for the intellectual property of others.
Xiaomi is even cribbing products from startups, and recently announced a virtual clone of the popular Kickstarter project Pressy. It’s essentially a little button that resides in a phone’s 3.5mm headphone slot. This little device raised $695K on Kickstarter in 2013 and is still available for pre-order for $27. The Xiaomi version costs $1-2 and does the same thing.

pressy

The Spin Zone

Even with the overwhelming evidence of copying, Xiaomi’s leadership is adamantly denying copying Apple’s design and has launched an all-out PR defensive. CEO Lei Jun apparently does not like the title “Steve Jobs of China.” Former Google VP and current Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra is aggressively trying to change the narrative surrounding the company, recently giving several interviews in which he stated that he is “sick and tired of people making sweeping sensationalist statements.”
Barra explained to The Verge and The Next Web that he sees Xiaomi as “an incredibly innovative company.”
It is hard to disagree. Xiaomi is innovating in Android customization for China, in sales methodology and especially in the quality of materials and specifications in its devices given their cost-to-price ratio.
But the fact remains that at even at high organizational levels, the company culture appears to be to ‘copy, not extend’. Whereas Samsung has now learned to lead the CE conversation, much as Sony did in the early 2000s, Xiaomi parrots.
Both Apple and Xiaomi found gaping holes in their home markets left from Samsung and Apple and then filled them with products designed to meet those needs.
Like Apple before it in the States, Xiaomi evolved the user interface for its core Chinese demographic. The smartphones ship with a heavily modified version of Android that allows sports a unique feature set and especially important for the Chinese market, allows for nearly endless customization. Forgoing Google services, Xiaomi launched its own application marketplace, which as of last year, had seen impressive download rates. MIUI is the best version of Android I’ve used and is available for many competitor’s handsets.
Many of Xiaomi’s innovations are centered around retail sales rather than the product designs themselves.
Xiaomi manages to sell its hardware below the market average by spending hardly anything on advertising and largely avoiding selling its products in stores, opting for direct consumer sales instead. According to Bin Lin, Xiaomi President, the company sells its products for nearly the cost of the bill of materials and does not factor in other line items like R&D and shipping. Unlike other top cell phone manufacturers, Xiaomi does not build up a large inventory of products prior to their launch.
So far, Xiaomi sells small batches of its products, sometimes around 5,000 units, allowing the company to hedge its costs while creating a consumer demand with a line-around-the-block mentality.
It must be stated here that all of those decisions are fairly innovative for the Chinese market — and the world, where carrier subsidies and sales generally dominate. It’s working, too. Recent data states that Xiaomi is now second to only Samsung in Chinese smartphone sales. The brand pushed Apple down to third place and is closing the gap on Samsung.
Xiaomi is currently set to expand operations to several new markets. The company launched in Singapore earlier in 2014 and is targeting 10 new markets by the end of the year, including Brazil, Mexico and Russia. VP Barra stated in April that the company intends to utilize the same business model in the new markets.

One More Thing…

The company is young and clearly learning as it goes. Xiaomi is in proven hands with Lei Jun as CEO and ex-Googlers Lin Bin as President and Barra leading its international expansion. Four days aftera public shaming, the company removed all seemingly stolen images and photographs from its website. The Mi 3’s product page no longer shows an Apple logo for the phone’s lens.
Xiaomi doesn’t yet have the clout of Apple or Samsung, and if the company is intent on continuing with its current strategy of stealing the work of others, it will need to stay within countries where that’s acceptable. In the U.S., however, it will learn one more thing: the electronics giants are litigious and have deep pockets. The real battle, then, could still be coming.
Even if Xiaomi does not like the sweeping sensationalist statements comparing it to Apple, the company has earned the distinction. And for the most part, it’s a compliment. Apple, which has also blatantly copied other companies in the past, created a global empire that so far few have challenged. By many accounts, Xiaomi could, one day, challenge Apple — especially if it gets its feet underneath it with regards to original hardware design.
TechCrunch reached out to Xiaomi for comment but had not heard back at time of publishing.
Source : Techcrunch

QR Post, le QR code qui prend vos messages quand vous n'êtes pas là...

Un nouveau moyen de recevoir des messages sans avoir à donner son email et son numéro de mobile. Lorsque que vous êtes absent, le QR Post prend les messages et vous les transmet.



Comment ça marche?
1: On choisit un QR Post sur le site internet: http://www.qrpost.fr.
2: On reçoit le QR Post par la Poste.
3: On active son QR Post en le scannant une première fois et en saisissant ses coordonnées. Le voilà maintenant opérationnel.
4: On met son QR Post sur sa boîte aux lettres, sous sa sonnette et pourquoi pas, sur son pare-brise
5: La personne qui veut vous contacter, scanne le code et vous envoie un message que vous recevez par mail voire par SMS.

Source : QRPost

jeudi 1 mai 2014

Vers le cerveau électronique...


Brain-inspired circuit board 9000 times faster than an average PC

Bioengineers at Stanford University have developed microchips based on the human brain that are more energy efficient and up to 9000 times faster than the typical PC.

commentsBioengineers at Stanford University have developed microchips based on the human brain that are more energy efficient and up to 9000 times faster than the typical PC.


(Credit: Stanford University)

Simulating the human brain is one of the holy grails of computing — but it's extraordinarily difficult to do. Just last year, the longest simulation of brain activity to date was achieved. It used the fourth-most powerful computer in the world, Japan's K Computer, 705,024 processor cores, and running at speeds of over 10 petaflops. The simulation, using 92,944 processors, took 40 minutes to simulate one second of brain activity over the equivalent of one per cent of the brain, around 10.4 trillion synapses.
As for why it's important — if we could get a computer to operate with the power and speed of the human brain, we could make some incredibly advanced robots, or prosthetic limbs that operate with the speed and complexity of our own movements. It could also help us understand better how the brain actually works — a largely mysterious subject.
A team of bioengineers at Stanford University has created a circuit board that is able to simulate the activity of one million neurons — around seven billion synaptic connections — in real-time. At about the size of an iPad, the board — called the Neurogrid — consists of 16 custom-designed "Neurocore" chips made using 15-year-old technology laid out in a tree network. This is because it uses analogue computation alongside digital.
"Analog computation constrains the number of distinct ion-channel populations that can be simulated—unlike digital computation, which simply takes longer to run bigger simulations," the Neurogrid website explains. "Digital communication constrains the number of synaptic connections that can be activated per second, unlike analog communication, which simply sums additional inputs onto the same wire. Working within these constraints, Neurogrid achieves its goal of simulating multiple cortical areas in real-time by making judicious choices."
Using analogue computation also keeps power requirements low — 100,000 times less power than a supercomputer, according to principal investigator Kwabena Boahen, who has been working on the Neurogrid since 2006. A supercomputer requires one million Watts of power to simulate one million neurons, while the human brain uses just 20 Watts for 100 billion neurons. But the Neurogrid isn't quite as energy-efficient as the brain. "The human brain, with 80,000 times more neurons than Neurogrid, consumes only three times as much power," Boahen wrote in an article for the most recent issue ofProceedings of the IEEE.
Boahen and his team would like to see the Neurogrid developed for applications such as prosthetics — but first, the cost of creating the Neurogrid will need to be lowered. At the moment, a Neurogrid costs about US$40,000, but switching to modern manufacturing methods could reduce the price to as low as US$400, the team believes.

vendredi 18 avril 2014

Robots journalistes...


robots
Ninety percent of the news could be written by computers by 2030.
Software is writing news stories with increasing frequency. In a recent example, an LA Times writer-bot wrote and posted a snippet about an earthquake three minutes after the event. The LA Times claims they were first to publish anything on the quake, and outside the USGS, they probably were.
The LA Times example isn’t special because it’s the first algorithm to write a story on a major news site. With the help of Chicago startup and robot writing firm, Narrative Science, algorithms have basically been passing the Turing test online for the last few years.
This is possible because some kinds of reporting are formulaic. You take a publicly available source, crunch it down to the highlights, and translate it for readers using a few boiler plateconnectors. Hopefully, this makes it more digestible.
Indeed, Kristian Hammond, cofounder and CTO of Narrative Science, thinks some 90% of the news could be written by computers by 2030.
I imagine the computer populating a Venn diagram. In one circle, it adds hard data (earnings, sports stats, earthquake readings), in another, a selection of journalistic clichés—and where the two intersect, an article is born.
In truth, it’s a little more complicated than that. In engineering their software, Narrative worked with trained journalists to help the software determine an angle. For example, in the case of sports, the algorithm answers key questions like, “Who won the game and by how much? Was it a comeback or a blowout? Any heroics or notable stats?”
The program chooses an article template, strings together sentences, and spices them up with catch phrases: “It was a flawless day at the dish for the Giants.” The tone is colorfully prosaic, but human enough.
Early on, Narrative applied its algorithms to Little League baseball games. Participating parents would enter game stats into an iPhone app called GameChanger and the app would spit out written game summaries.
Since then, they’ve supplied content to major news sites. Forbes is open about its use of Narrative’s software, including an explanation in the article. The LA Times earthquake story, written by an algorithm created by one of their staff, included a disclaimer. But many more big sites anonymously use algorithms to write simple stories.
Narrative’s approach can be applied elsewhere too. The firm recently launched an app that works with Google Analytics to transform raw website metrics (traffic, sources, referrals, demographics) into accessible, natural language reports. These could be useful in any business, a kind of automated analyst to help make sense of big data sets.
The software clearly has some native advantages over the typical human.
For example, the LA earthquake hit at 6:25am. I doubt many West Coast journalists were at their desk that early. And if they were, few would have cared to scoop what amounted to a pretty inconsequential earthquake. Even if someone had been on it—how many could have penned and published a typo-free article in three minutes?
Ken Schwencke, the journalist who created the algorithm, was awoken by the quake, rolled out of bed, found the article awaiting his approval—and simply hit “publish.”
If a writer never had to compose a fifty word earthquake report again—few would complain. Better to leave the short, dry, purely informational articles to the bots.
In the perennially cash-strapped news business, unpaid algorithms could add lots of cheap content while (hopefully) freeing human writers to focus on and improve the quality of more in-depth, nuanced pieces.
“The way we use it, it’s supplemental,” Schwencke told the Huffington Post. “It saves people a lot of time, and for certain types of stories, it gets the information out there in usually about as good a way as anybody else would. The way I see it is, it doesn’t eliminate anybody’s job as much as it makes everybody’s job more interesting.”
But Narrative isn’t satisfied with Little League write-ups and data reports.
Hammond doesn’t mince words. He believes a computer could write stories worthy of a Pulitzer Prize by 2017. Not only would such a robot writer be fast and ever-wakeful, prowling the exponentially growing deluge of online information—it would know enough of the subtleties of human language and logic to write compelling stories too.
And the software needn’t be limited to the digital world. Such algorithms might one day find themselves a robot body, travel to war zones, and cover robot bull fights.
These robot-Hemingways might write existential think pieces that get to the heart (or emotional processor) of what it means to be a robot, and in the process, make us question what it means to be human—what sets us apart from the machines we make.
Photo credit: Silicon Republic
Source : Impactlab.net