Daily Archives: March 14, 2020

UC Riverside to lead scalable quantum computing project using 3D printed ion traps – 3D Printing Industry

Posted: March 14, 2020 at 9:50 am

UC Riverside (UCR) is set to lead a project focused on enabling scalable quantum computing after winning a $3.75 million Multicampus-National Lab Collaborative Research and Training Award.

The collaborative effort will see contributions from UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, with UCR acting as project coordinator.

Scalable quantum computing

Quantum computing is currently in its infancy but it is expected to stretch far beyond the capabilities of conventional computing in the coming years. Intensive tasks such as modeling complex processes, finding large prime numbers, and designing new chemical compounds for medical use are what quantum computers are expected to excel at.

Quantum information is stored on quantum computers in the form of quantum bits, or qubits. This means that quantum systems can exist in two different states simultaneously as opposed to conventional computing systems which only exist in one state at a time. Current quantum computers are limited in their qubits, however, so for quantum computing to realize its true potential, new systems are going to have to be scalable and include many more qubits.

The goal of this collaborative project is to establish a novel platform for quantum computing that is truly scalable up to many qubits, said Boerge Hemmerling, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside and the lead principal investigator of the three-year project. Current quantum computing technology is far away from experimentally controlling the large number of qubits required for fault-tolerant computing. This stands in large contrast to what has been achieved in conventional computer chips in classical computing.

3D printed ion trap microstructures

The research team will use advanced 3D printing technology, available at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to fabricate microstructure ion traps for the new quantum computers. Ions are used to store qubits and quantum information is transferred when these ions move in their traps. According to UCR, trapped ions have the best potential for realizing scalable quantum computing.

Alongside UCR, UC Berkeley will enable high-fidelity quantum gates with the ion traps. UCLA will integrate fiber optics with the ion traps, UC Santa Barbara will put the traps through trials in cryogenic environments and demonstrate shuttling of ion strings while the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will be used to characterize and develop new materials. The project coordinator, UCR, will develop simplified cooling schemes and research the possibility of trapping electrons with the traps.

We have a unique opportunity here to join various groups within the UC system and combine their expertise to make something bigger than a single group could achieve, Hemmerling stated. We anticipate that the microstructure 3D printed ion traps will outperform ion traps that have been used to date in terms of the storage time of the ions and ability to maintain and manipulate quantum information.

He adds, Most importantly, our envisioned structures will be scalable in that we plan to build arrays of interconnected traps, similar to the very successful conventional computer chip design. We hope to establish these novel 3D-printed traps as a standard laboratory tool for quantum computing with major improvements over currently used technology.

Hemmerlings concluding remarks explain that many quantum computing approaches, while very promising, have fallen short of providing a scalable platform that is useful for processing complex tasks. If an applicable machine is to be built, new routes must be considered, starting with UCRs scalable computing project.

Early quantum technology work involving 3D printing has paved the way for UCRs future project. When cooled to near 0K, the quantum characteristics of atomic particles start to become apparent. Just last year, additive manufacturing R&D company Added Scientific 3D printed the first vacuum chamber capable of trapping clouds of cold atoms. Elsewhere, two-photon AM system manufacturer Nanoscribe introduced a new machine, the Quantum X, with micro-optic capabilities. The company expects its system to be useful in advancing quantum technology to the industrial level.

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Featured image showsUniversity of California, Riverside campus. Photo via UCR.

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Deltec Bank, Bahamas Quantum Computing Will have Positive Impacts on Portfolio Optimization, Risk Analysis, Asset Pricing, and Trading Strategies -…

Posted: at 9:50 am

Quantum computing is expected to be the new technology, fully integrated with the financial sector within five to ten years. This form of computer, also known as supercomputers, are capable of highly advanced processing power that takes in massive amounts of data to solve a problem in a fraction of the time it would for the best traditional computer on the market to resolve.

Traditional Computer vs. Quantum Computing

A typical computer today stores information in the form of bits. These are represented in the binary language (0s and 1s). In quantum computing, the bits are known as Qubits and will take on the processing of similar input but rather than break it down to 0s and 1s will break the data down significantly greater where the possibilities of computational speed can be almost immeasurable.

Quantum Computing in Banking

Lets examine personal encryption in banking for example. Using a security format called RSA-2048, traditional computers would be able to decrypt the security algorithm in about 1,034 steps. With our best computers on the market, even with a processor capable of performing a trillion calculations per second, these steps translate to 317 billion years to break the secure code. While it is possible, it is not practical for a cyber-criminal to make it worthwhile.

A quantum computer, on the other hand, would be able to resolve this problem in about 107 steps. With a basic quantum computer running at one million calculations per second, this translates to ten seconds to resolve the problem.

While this example centered on breaking complex security, many other use cases can emerge from the use of quantum computing.

Trade Transaction Settlements

Barclays bank researchers have been working on a proof of concept regarding the transaction settlement process. As settlements can only be worked on a transaction-by-transaction basis, they can easily queue up only to be released in batches. When a processing window opens, as many trades as possible are settled.

Complex by their very nature, Traders can end up tapping into funds prior to the transaction being cleared. They will only be settled if the funds are available or if a collateral credit facility was arranged.

As you could probably handle a small number of trades in your head, you would need to rely on a computer after about 10-20 transactions. The same can be described for our current computational power in that it is now nearing the point where it will need more and more time to resolve hundreds of trades at a time.

With quantum computing using a seven-qubit system, it would be able to run a greater amount of complex trades in the same time it would for a traditional system to complete the trades. It would take the equivalent of about two hundred traditional computers to match the speed.

Simulating a Future Product Valuation

Researchers at JP Morgan were working on a concept that simulates the future value of a financial product. The team is testing quantum computers to perform complex intensive pricing calculations that normally take traditional computer hours to complete. This is a problem as each year greater complexity is added via newer algorithms, getting to the point where it is nearing an impossibility to calculate in a practical sense.

The research team has discovered that using quantum computing resulted in finding a resolution to the problem in mere seconds.

Final Thoughts

Banks are working on successful tests today with quantum computing to resolve extreme resource-intensive calculations for financial problem scenarios. Everything from trading, fraud, AML, etc. this is a technology not to be overlooked.

According toDeltec Bank, Bahamas - Quantum Computing will have positive impacts on portfolio optimization, risk analysis, asset pricing, and trading strategies is just the tip of the iceberg of what this technology could provide.

Disclaimer: The author of this text, Robin Trehan, has an Undergraduate degree in economics, Masters in international business and finance and MBA in electronic business. Trehan is Senior VP at Deltec International http://www.deltecbank.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the author, and not necessarily reflecting the views of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries and/or employees.

About Deltec Bank

Headquartered in The Bahamas, Deltec is an independent financial services group that delivers bespoke solutions to meet clients unique needs. The Deltec group of companies includes Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, Deltec Fund Services Limited, and Deltec Investment Advisers Limited, Deltec Securities Ltd. and Long Cay Captive Management.

Media ContactCompany Name: Deltec International GroupContact Person: Media ManagerEmail: Send EmailPhone: 242 302 4100Country: BahamasWebsite: https://www.deltecbank.com/

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Deltec Bank, Bahamas Quantum Computing Will have Positive Impacts on Portfolio Optimization, Risk Analysis, Asset Pricing, and Trading Strategies -...

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Top AI Announcements Of The Week: TensorFlow Quantum And More – Analytics India Magazine

Posted: at 9:50 am

AI is one of the most happening domains in the world right now. It would take a lifetime to skim through all the machine learning research papers released till date. As the AI keeps itself in the news through new releases of frameworks, regulations and breakthroughs, we can only hope to get the best of the lot.

So, here we have a compiled a list of top exciting AI announcements released over the past one week:

Late last year, Google locked horns with IBM in their race for quantum supremacy. Though the news has been around how good their quantum computers are, not much has been said about the implementation. Today, Google brings two of their most powerful frameworks Tensorflow and CIRQ together and releases TensorFlow Quantum, an open-source library for the rapid prototyping of quantum ML models.

Google AI team has joined hands with the University of Waterloo, X, and Volkswagen, announced the release of TensorFlow Quantum (TFQ).

TFQ is designed to provide the developers with the tools necessary for assisting the quantum computing and machine learning research communities to control and model quantum systems.

The team at Google have also released a TFQ white paper with a review of quantum applications. And, each example can be run in-browser via Colab from this research repository.

A key feature of TensorFlow Quantum is the ability to simultaneously train and execute many quantum circuits. This is achieved by TensorFlows ability to parallelise computation across a cluster of computers, and the ability to simulate relatively large quantum circuits on multi-core computers.

As the devastating news of COVID-19 keeps rising at an alarming rate, the AI researchers have given something to smile about. DeepMind, one of the premier AI research labs in the world, announced last week, that they are releasing structure predictions of several proteins that can promote research into the ongoing research around COVID-19. They have used the latest version of AlphaFold system to find these structures. AlphaFold is one of the biggest innovations to have come from the labs of DeepMind, and after a couple of years, it is exhilarating to see its application in something very critical.

As the pursuit to achieve human-level intelligence in machines fortifies, language modeling will keep on surfacing till the very end. One, human language is innately sophisticated, and two, training language models from scratch is exhaustive.

The last couple of years has witnessed a flurry of mega releases from the likes of NVIDIA, Microsoft and especially Google. As BERT topped the charts through many of its variants, Google now announces ELECTRA.

ELECTRA has the benefits of BERT but more efficient learning. They also claim that this novel pre-training method outperforms existing techniques given the same compute budget.

The gains are particularly strong for small models; for example, a model trained on one GPU for four days outperformed GPT (trained using 30x more compute) on the GLUE natural language understanding benchmark.

China has been the worst-hit nation of all the COVID-19 victims. However, two of the biggest AI breakthroughs have come from the Chinese soil. Last month, Baidu announced how its toolkit brings down the prediction time. Last week, another Chinese giant, Alibaba announced that its new AI system has an accuracy of 96% in detecting the coronavirus from the CT scan of the patients. Alibabas founder Jack Ma has fueled the vaccine development efforts of his team with a $2.15 M donation.

Facebook AI has released its in-house feature of converting a two-dimensional photo into a video byte that gives the feel of having a more realistic view of the object in the picture. This system infers the 3D structure of any image, whether it is a new shot just taken on an Android or iOS device with a standard single camera, or a decades-old image recently uploaded to a phone or laptop.

The feature has been only available on high-end phones through the dual-lens portrait mode. But, now it will be available on every mobile device even with a single, rear-facing camera. To bring this new visual format to more people, the researchers at Facebook used state-of-the-art ML techniques to produce 3D photos from virtually any standard 2D picture.

One significant implication of this feature can be an improved understanding of 3D scenes that can help robots navigate and interact with the physical world.

As the whole world focused on the race to quantum supremacy between Google and IBM, Honeywell silently has been building, as it claims, the most powerful quantum computer yet. And, it plans to release this by the middle of 2020.

Thanks to a breakthrough in technology, were on track to release a quantum computer with a quantum volume of at least 64, twice that of the next alternative in the industry. There are a number of industries that will be profoundly impacted by the advancement and ultimate application of at-scale quantum computing, said Tony Uttley, President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions in the official press release.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a panic globally and rightfully so. Many flagship conferences have been either cancelled or have been moved to a virtual environment.

Nvidias flagship GPU Technology Conference (GTC), which was supposed to take place in San Francisco in the last week of March was cancelled due to fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Whereas, Google Cloud also has cancelled its upcoming event, Google Cloud Next 20, which was slated to take place on April 6-8 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Due to the growing concern around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in alignment with the best practices laid out by the CDC, WHO and other relevant entities, Google Cloud has decided to reimagine Google Cloud Next 20, the company stated on its website.

One of the popular conferences for ML researchers, ICLR2020 too, has announced that they are cancelling its physical conference this year due to growing concerns about COVID-19. They are shifting this event to a fully virtual conference.

ICLR authorities also issued a statement saying that all accepted papers at the virtual conference will be presented using a pre-recorded video.


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NIST Works on the Industries of the Future in Buildings from the Past – Nextgov

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The presidents budget request for fiscal 2021 proposed $738 million to fund the National Institutes of Science and Technology, a dramatic reduction from the more than $1 billion in enacted funds allocated for the agency this fiscal year.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committees Research and Technology Subcommittee on Wednesday held a hearing to hone in on NISTs reauthorizationbut instead of focusing on relevant budget considerations, lawmakers had other plans.

We're disappointed by the president's destructive budget request, which proposes over a 30% cut to NIST programs, Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., said at the top of the hearing. But today, I don't want to dwell on a proposal that we know Congress is going to reject ... today I would like this committee to focus on improving NIST and getting the agency the tools it needs to do better, to do its job.

Per Stevens suggestion, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter Copan reflected on some of the agencys dire needs and offered updates and his view on a range of its ongoing programs and efforts.

NISTs Facilities Are in Bad Shape

President Trumps budget proposal for fiscal 2021 requests only $60 million in funds for facility construction, which is down from the $118 million enacted for fiscal 2020 and comes at a time when the agencys workspaces need upgrades.

Indeed the condition of NIST facilities are challenging, Copan explained. Over 55% of NIST's facilities are considered in poor to critical condition per [Commerce Department] standards, and so it does provide some significant challenges for us.

Some of the agencys decades-old facilities and infrastructures are deteriorating and Copan added that hed recently heard NISTs deferred maintenance backlog has hit more than $775 million. If the lawmakers or public venture out to visit some of the agencys facilities, you'll see the good, the bad, and the embarrassingly bad, he said. Those conditions are a testament to the resilience and the commitment of NISTs people, that they can work in sometimes challenging, outdated environments, Copan said.

The director noted that there have already been some creative solutions proposed to address the issue, including the development of a federal capital revolving fund. The agency is also looking creatively at the combination of maintenance with lease options for some of its facilities, in hopes that it can then move more rapidly by having its officials cycle out of laboratories to launch rebuilding and renovation processes.

It's one of my top priorities as the NIST director to have our NIST people work in 21st-century facilities that we can be proud of and that enable the important work of NIST for the nation, Copan said.

Advancing Efforts in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing

The presidents budget request placed a sharp focus on industries of the future, which will be powered by many emerging technologies, and particularly quantum computing and AI.

During the hearing and in his written testimony, Copan highlighted some of NISTs work in both areas. The agency has helped shape an entire generation of quantum science, over the last century, and a significant portion of quantum scientists from around the globe have trained at the agencys facilities. Some of NISTs more recent quantum achievements include supporting the development of a quantum logic clock and helping steer advancements in quantum simulation. Following a recent mandate from the Trump administration, the agency is also in the midst of instituting the Quantum Economic Development Consortium, or QEDC, which aims to advance industry collaboration to expand the nations leadership in quantum research and development.

Looking forward, over the coming years NIST will focus a portion of its quantum research portfolio on the grand challenge of quantum networking, Copans written testimony said. Serving as the basis for secure and highly efficient quantum information transmission that links together multiple quantum devices and sensors, quantum networks will be a key element in the long-term evolution of quantum technologies.

Though there were cuts across many areas, the presidents budget request also proposed a doubling of NISTs funding in artificial intelligence and Copan said the technology is already broadly applied across all of the agencys laboratories to help improve productivity.

Going forward and with increased funding, he laid out some of the agencys top priorities, noting that there's much work to be done in developing tools to provide insights into artificial intelligence programs, and there is also important work to be done in standardization, so that the United States can lead the world in the application of [AI] in a trustworthy and ethical manner.

Standardization to Help the U.S. Lead in 5G

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., asked Copan to weigh in on the moves China is making across the fifth-generation wireless technology landscape, and the moves the U.S. needs to make to leadnot just competein that specific area.

We have entered in the United States, as we know, a hyper-competitive environment with China as a lead in activities related to standardization, Copan responded.

The director said that officials see, in some ways, that the standardization process has been weaponized, where the free market economy that is represented by the United States, now needs to lead in more effective coordination internally and incentivize industry to participate in the standards process. Though U.S. officials have already seen those rules of fair play bent or indeed broken by other players, NIST and others need to help improve information sharing across American standards-focused stakeholders, which could, in turn, accelerate adoption around the emerging technology.

We want the best technologies in the world to win and we want the United States to continue to be the leader in not only delivering those technologies, but securing the intellectual properties behind them and translating those into market value, he said.

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We May Be Living in a Simulation, but the Truth Still Matters – The New York Times

Posted: at 9:50 am

Wednesday night, in no particular order in the space of an hour: The N.B.A. suspended its season. Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife have the coronavirus. President Trump, who had spent time hate-tweeting Vanity Fair magazine earlier in the day, banned travel from Europe. And, of course, the former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, wearing a pink, fluffy bear outfit, sang Sir Mix-A-Lots Baby Got Back on The Masked Singer. Correction: Badly sang it.

In perhaps the most accurate assessment of the night, Josh Jordan tweeted: We are living in a simulation and it has collapsed on itself.

I do not believe in the simulation hypothesis, which he is joking about here. For those not familiar, it posits that what we think of as reality is not actually real. Instead, we are living in a complex simulation that was probably created by a supercomputer, invented by an obviously superior being.

Everythings fake news, if you will, or really just designed as a giant video game to amuse what would have to be the brainiest teenagers who ever lived.

Crazy, right?

But while most people think they actually do exist, wouldnt it be nice to have a blame-free explanation to cope with the freak show that has become our country and the world? (I vote yes, even if some quantum computer just made me type that.)

It would be, which is why the idea of the simulation hypothesis has been a long-running, sort-of joke among some of Silicon Valleys top players, some of whom take it more seriously than you might imagine.

Some background: While the basic idea around the simulation hypothesis really goes back to philosophers like Descartes, we got a look-see at this tech-heavy idea in the 1999 movie The Matrix.

In the film, Keanu Reevess character, Neo, is jarred out of his anodyne existence to find that he has been living, unaware, in a virtual world in which the energy from his body, and everyone elses, is used as fuel for the giant computer. Neos body is literally jacked with all kinds of scary-looking plugs, and he finally becomes powerful enough to wave his hands around real fast and break the bad guys into itty-bitty bytes.

The idea that were all living in a simulation took off big time among tech folks in 2003 when Oxford Universitys big thinker of the future, Nick Bostrom, wrote a paper on the subject. He focused on the likely amazing computing abilities of advanced civilizations and the fact that it is not too crazy to imagine that the devices they make could simulate human consciousness.

So why not do that to run what Mr. Bostrom called the ancestor simulation game? The ancestors, by the way, are us.

My mind was blown again a few years later on the topic. During an interview that Walt Mossberg and I did in 2016 with the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, an audience member asked Mr. Musk what he thought of the idea. As it turned out, he had thought a lot about it, saying that he had had so many simulation discussions its crazy.

Which was not to say the discussions were crazy. In fact, Mr. Musk quickly made the case that video game development had become so sophisticated that it was indistinguishable from reality.

And, as to that base reality we think we are living in? Not so much, said Mr. Musk. In fact, he insisted this was a good thing, arguing that either were going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality or civilization will cease to exist. Those are the two options.

Oh my.

I would like to tell you that was not the last time I heard that formulation, or one like it, from the tech moguls I have covered. The Zappos founder Tony Hsieh once told me we were in one after we did an interview, as we were exiting the stage. I think he was kidding, but he also went over why it might be so and why it was important to bend your mind to consider the possibility.

After hearing the simulation idea so many times, I started to figure out that it was less about the idea that none of this is real. Instead, these tech inventors used it more to explain, inspire and even to force innovation, rather than to negate reality and its inherently hopeless messiness. In fact, it was freeing.

At least that is my take, giving me something that I could like about them, since there was so much not to like.

To my mind, tech leaders do not use the simulation hypothesis as an excuse to do whatever they want. Theyre not positing that nothing matters because none of this is happening. Instead, it allows them to hold out the possibility that this game could also change for the better rather than the worse. And, perhaps, we as pawns have some influence on that outcome too and could turn our story into a better one.

Perhaps this optimism was manifesting in the hopeful news that the Cleveland Clinic may have come up with a faster test for the coronavirus. Or that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the coronavirus task force, exists as a scientific superhero to counter all the bad information that is spewed out to vulnerable citizens like my own mother by outlets like Fox News.

In fact, it felt like a minor miracle when the tireless Dr. Fauci popped up on Sean Hannitys show this week to kindly school him on his irresponsible downplaying and deep-state conspiracy mongering of the health crisis. Pushing back on the specious claim that the coronavirus is just like the flu a notion also promoted by Mr. Trump Dr. Fauci said, Its 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, to a temporarily speechless Mr. Hannity. You got to make sure that people understand that!

I sure have Dr. Fauci to thank for saying that, which he repeated in congressional testimony too. In all this mess, it felt like a positive turn in the game. But just in case a game it is, Ill also raise a simulated glass to those teenagers somewhere out there pushing all the buttons to make it so. Not so much for Sarah Palins singing, but Ill take that too.

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The 10 most innovative virtual and augmented reality companies of 2020 – Fast Company

Posted: at 9:49 am

Virtual reality and augmented reality technology is finding niches in both workplaces and in consumer applications. The companies whose work in the space stood out this year include makers of the core hardware and software like Snap and Microsoft, as well as a number of smaller players that have applied spatial computing in new environments such as stadiums (Dallas Cowboys) and horror gaming (Illumix). These achievements may be small steps toward a future where spatial computing replaces our mobile and desktop screens as our go-to interface.

For scanning the world to apply lenses to it

The ephemeral messaging platform has increasingly become an AR company in recent years. In 2019, it added a good deal of artificial intelligence to the mix as well by introducing a new feature called Scan. Scan uses computer vision technology to understand objects in the cameras view, then suggests AR overlays, called lenses, that are relevant to that object. If your camera is trained on a dog, for instance, Scan might bring up pet-friendly lenses. Snapchatters just press and hold on the camera screen to scan the world around them. Snap says more than 70% of its daily active users play with its lenses every day.

Read more about why Snap is one of the Worlds Most Innovative Companies of 2020.

For improving its HoloLens 2 with better field of view and gesture controls for business adoption

Microsoft is trying to help business users transition away from the 2D screens most use every day to a future of hands-free, wearable user interfaces and 3D holographic images. Its HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset, released in 2019, doubles the field of view of the first HoloLens, features a more balanced and comfortable design, and greatly improves the resolution of the 3D imagery you can see through the lenses. It also adds hand tracking, which lets you navigate the content youre seeing in the lenses, as well as full eye tracking, which lets you scroll through text with your eye movements. Microsofts enterprise customers are using HoloLens to do such things as access information to help the customers in front of them, and to collaborate with faraway coworkers within virtual work spaces.

Read more about why Microsoft is one of the Worlds Most Innovative Companies of 2020.

For taking the guesswork out of frames shopping with its Virtual Try-On tool

Warby Parker may have more than 115 physical store locations, but not all of its customers can necessarily get to one to try on their glasses, or some may simply prefer the e-commerce experience. The drawback of online apparel shopping, of course, is not being able to try things on. Warbys new Virtual Try-On tool lets customers fit 3D images of different glasses to their faces so they can get a pretty good idea of how theyll look. The addition of the Try-On tool to the Warby app helped double monthly downloads year over year in 2019, the company says.

For exciting fans with stadium-wide AR activations such as Pose With the Pros

The Dallas Cowboys worked with AT&T, Samsung, and Nexus Studios to prepare AT&T Stadium for some big-time AR experiences for fans. The organization relied on the Nexus Studios AR platform to create holographic images that can be seen through the users phone. The holographic images of players, mascots, and more can also interact with fixed objects like the stadium itself. During halftime of a 2019 game, the Cowboys streamed a live AR football game featuring giant cartoonlike players that appeared to be happening on the field. The team also installed large photo kiosks where fans can watch as virtual Cowboys gather around them for a selfie, which can then be shared on social media.

For immersing kids in reading

The famed VR company Within is breathing some fresh air into AR storytelling with its Wonderscope platform and a series of interactive AR stories for kids. The stories feature cute characters that play-act stories in the real space right in front of the child, while the child reads lines aloud to move the story forward. The company was invited to showcase its AR stories in 16 Los Angeles public schools through a program with L.A. Public Libraries and the after-school program L.A.s BEST. Later this year, the company will unveil Supernatural, a fitness-training application for VR.

For VR training programs used to train more than a million Walmart employees

Strivr is using VR to give employers a cost-effective way to train employees. The company offers modules for training employees to do everything from treating customers with empathy to dealing with an armed robbery in the workplace. Strivr is now providing training solutions to Walmart, where the company has distributed 17,000 VR headsets that give employees access to more than 55 of its learning modules. The program includes almost 4,600 Walmart stores in the United States and more than 1 million employees.

For making showrooming an asset for retailers

VisionX uses machine vision to build AR and VR applications for retailers that let customers visualize what their products might look like in their own living room or bedroom. Viewed through the camera of a smartphone or tablet, products like a lamp or a coffee table appear in 3D, and the application intelligently measures for scale and adjusts the lighting and shadows to make the experience realistic,as well as detect room attributes for optimal object placement.

For scaring gamers with Five Nights at Freddys AR: Special Delivery

Horror games and augmented reality are a good mix if done right. Scary things can be even scarier if presented convincingly in the context of the real world. Five Nightswas already a VR game, a cult hit with creepy-looking characters against an eerie backdrop, and its transition to AR is a triumph. Part of the reason FNAF works well in AR is because of the jump scares: Ghoulish animatronic creatures tend to jump out at you from behind real-world objects. And all you have to protect yourself is a flashlight and a shocker.

For helping customer service agents diagnose and fix problems

TechSees Smart Assist feature uses AR and computer vision to help customer service agents diagnose and fix malfunctioning hardware devices. The feature uses the support callers smartphone camera to give the customer service agent a view of the problem, while the computer vision model spots visible symptoms that lead to a diagnosis with 95% accuracy, the company says. Then the system can deliver advice and next steps to the client using annotations that show up directly on their smartphone screen. Some problems can even be solved without the help of a human customer service agent. TechSee says that its technology is being used by wireless service providers, consumer electronics companies, insurance companies, and utility companies.

For making a statement about sustainability with a white T-shirt you overlay with graphic messages via Instagram filter

In the future, when were all wearing AR glasses or contact lenses, physically printing words and images on objects like clothing and road signs may become unnecessary. Carlings is perhaps a bit ahead of the game, but its already come out with a T-shirt whose design shows up only when viewed through the Instagram app. The design even changes size and perspective from the vantage point of the smartphone. A logo at the top of the shirt triggers Instagram to display the design, which can be changed by the owner of the Instagram page whenever they want.

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Vocon extends architecture with extended-reality tech – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Posted: at 9:49 am

Cleveland-based architecture and interior design firm Vocon Inc. recently shipped 15 virtual-reality headsets to San Francisco so a client company could preview its new office. Within minutes of opening the packages, employees were able to don the headsets and get a realistic tour of their soon-to-be-built office space. That gave them a chance to raise questions and concerns for the company's change management team before they even moved into the space.

This is just one example of how extended reality or XR a term that groups together virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality under a single banner is quickly becoming a mainstream tool architects can use to foster a collaborative design process. Using this new technology, customers can get a realistic sense of what their spaces will look and feel like before a shovel ever hits the dirt, potentially saving time and money over the long term.

"To be competitive in the marketplace, if you do not have some sort of lab or team exploring these options, you're missing an opportunity to engage with the client," said Brandon Dorsey, technology director at Vocon. "Clients are asking questions about this early on."

When Vocon, which also has offices in Los Angeles and New York, dramatically renovated and expanded its offices on Prospect Avenue in Midtown a few years ago, following a flood that caused damage, the 180-person company placed its XR technology in a centrally located first-floor room. Previously, the firm's virtual-reality technology had been tucked away in a crowded back conference room. Today, it's a key space where clients are brought for tours or meetings.

"It's an executive briefing room that's designed around allowing the client to collaborate with us, and VR is a tool that's in that room," Dorsey said. "It's a selling point."

XR has become more mainstream in architecture recently, in part because the technology has improved so quickly. Cloud computing now allows much faster processing speeds, and the software that architects use for design today is already embedded with XR technology.

"It's already part of the workflow with the click of a button," Dorsey said.

The days when users were tethered to a cord and only experienced low-resolution graphics are gone. Today's XR systems produce high-resolution images and are typically wireless. They also allow for multiple users, and architects can make changes in real time to gauge clients' reactions. Haptic technology or 3D touch even adds sensory details to the user experience.

With XR taking off, it's become a must-have for architectural firms, especially those like Vocon that have a national and international client base. "It's time and money that we're seeing a big ROI on," Dorsey said.

He cited two examples that illustrate how XR can save a client time and money. In the past, where they sometimes ordered multiple versions of furniture just to see how they looked in the completed space, now they can eliminate those extra costs by viewing options ahead of time using XR. The technology can also give clients a realistic feel for the difference between, say, an 8-foot and a 9-foot ceiling, allowing them to avoid potentially costly change orders after construction starts.

"Typically, you wouldn't hear about that till afterwards, and then you'd have a retrofit change order to deal with," Dorsey said. "Now, we're taking care of it earlier through virtual reality."

Collaboration is another benefit. "Better hardware allows a multi-user VR experience," Dorsey said. "It allows all of the users to come together and actually be in the same space together and walk around together."

Finally, the technology gives clients and firms greater ability to plan and meet with one another remotely, rather than having to travel frequently for face-to-face meetings, something that could become increasingly useful as the coronavirus spreads and upends travel plans.

Although XR isn't cheap systems like Vocon's can cost many tens of thousands of dollars the tech is a necessity. "It's becoming part of an investment you have to make, just like you'd make an investment in a new PC, a better monitor or a new cellphone," Dorsey said.

By selling clients on the fact that XR can help them avoid costly last- minute changes, architects can build some costs into their proposals, increasing the firm's ability to recoup its investment. Dorsey heads up a three-member research-and-development team that explores how Vocon can use new technologies to serve clients, advance its practice and grow the business.

The company offers regular lunch-and-learn training in order to bring employees up to speed. "If you're going to invest in R&D, then you have to be willing to invest in training; otherwise the tools won't get adopted and they won't get used," Dorsey said. "You have to invest equally in both ends."

In the end, XR technology can be a net benefit for architects and their clients, he said. "Historically, the design process had a low number, but change orders had a heavy cost associated with them because of all the things that were not caught early on in the design process," he noted. "Now, we're flipping it digitally, and spending more time up front to prevent changes later."

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Porsche Taycan hits the virtual reality world – CNET

Posted: at 9:49 am

Welcome to the virtual world, Taycan.

The US served as one of the Porsche Taycan's launch markets, but as some global buyers wait for the marque's first electric car to reach them, Porsche will gladly show the car off in virtual reality.

The company said on Monday it had launched a virtual reality experience at numerous Porsche Centers around the world. Shoppers place a pair of VR goggles on to get up close and personal with the electric sedan in the digital realm.

Porsche said the experience is nearly representative of standing and examining the physical car, and those who take part in the digital experience can even explore the underside of the EV. The VR program shows the inside as well as the outside and even allows users to play with the roster of paint colors available for the car. For those who want to see the air move around, the VR experience will do that too, with simulated airflow the user can control.

The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S variants promise some pretty tantalizing performance to challenge the Tesla Model S Performance, though the EPA found its range estimates don't hold a candle (or, this is the digital age, so... a smartphone flashlight?) to the Model S Performance's. The highest-performing model, the Turbo S variant, received a 192-mile EPA-estimated range estimateand the regular Turbo model will go 201 miles per charge, the EPA estimated. Porsche at the time said it tends to be "conservative" with its performance figures and also touted a private test that revealed a range estimate of 275 miles for the Taycan Turbo in its normal driving mode.

Nevertheless, Porsche racked up a healthy list of preorders before the car launched -- over 30,000. The Taycan is just the tip of the iceberg for electric cars at the company, and if it's not available physically, you can see it in VR at 100 Porsche Centers. And soon, Porsche will let you design the car in VR, too.

Now playing: Watch this: 5 things you didn't know about the Porsche Taycan's tech


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When Virtual Reality Is More Than Real – Modern Materials Handling

Posted: at 9:49 am

As a next-generation technology, virtual reality (VR) may seem kind of out there. You know, little used and not especially well developed. More in the future than the present. Something you wouldnt be interested in unless youre an early adopter of next-generation technologies.

If thats what youre thinking, you need to reconsider. When it comes to lift truck operator training, VR is more widely used than most expect and already has a strong track record delivering well-trained operators in less time. VR is also a potential career development tool, too.

Overall, probably 10,000 lift truck operators have gone through VR training, explains Gijo George, business unit director at Hyster. Thats a strong number given the fact that the first use of VR for driver training only debuted at the ProMat 2013 materials handling show. Since then, the technology has become widely available.

Furthermore, companies as diverse as third-party logistics provider Willow Run Foods and GE Appliances have successfully used VR to train operators as part of OSHA-mandated training.

That said, VR is still in the early stages of adoption. George estimates that at most 5% of lift truck operators have been trained with it.

These may be the early days, but I fully expect VR to mature in the next three to five years, says Mike Morgan, founder of VR training supplier Really-Virtual Corp. (RVC).

Others in the field agree with Morgan and with good reason. While most people start with VR as a powerful training tool, the technology delivers more.

To start, it can also be used for screening employees. In other words, it helps to determine early on if someone is suited to operating a lift truck in the first place. The last thing any DC needs is an operator to show high proficiency on an orderpicker during training only to freak out the first time doing a pick 30 feet up.

Furthermore, VR also helps operators to develop and demonstrate additional skills for career advancement. Its all about finding and retaining labor and training them effectively, explains Stacey Barton, business manager for VR Simulator at Raymond.

In addition, explains Evelyn Velasquez-Cuevas, director of training at Yale Materials Handling, VR answers the call for training thats needed right now. With 40% turnover in warehouse personnel annually, companies can use VR now and reduce idle time in the training process. Using VR allows students to make the most of their training time and continue to practice, even while trainers are giving individualized instruction on real equipment at the facility. Furthermore, VR can enable someone to be better prepared for operating a truck by providing more information and practice up front, she says.

And as we all know, the best facility maintenance is the maintenance that never has to be done. And from all indications, VR training is a powerful training tool that makes operators safer, more proficient and less damage prone from day one, reducing accidents out on the floor.

Its important to note that VR does not bypass any of the lift truck operator training requirements set by OSHA. Instead, VR supplements lectures, hand-on training and a final skills assessment on a live truck in a facility.

VR fits in between the lecture and hands-on portions, typically saving time and cost, says Barton. Its a great training device for better on-boarding, she adds.

Just as with non-VR training, the technology allows a person to learn how to use a reach truck, orderpicker, counter-balanced or other class of truck. It is brand agnostic. That said, not all VR simulators are alike.

As would be expected, all systems use a VR headset to deliver the simulation experience to the student. In some cases, the student stands or sits on an actual, stationary truck and uses the actual controls as part of the training.

Another approach is a portable unit that is not a lift truck but allows the student to sit or stand and use the controls on the unit. Yet another option is a portable mat that the student stands on and all activity is simulated through the headset.

Its also worth noting that the software is not static once loaded into the system. Software can be updated by the supplier when updates are appropriate.

Regardless of the arrangement of the simulator itself, the emphasis in all cases is on providing an engaging training environment that keeps the attention of students. While not real in the traditional sense, VR presents real-world challenges that the student must learn to navigate. In addition, it allows skills development in the safest of environments with live trainer input augmenting the VR instruction.

And, the instruction is quite specific. For instance, it includes basic driving and lifting activity, workplace operation and safety, pre-operational checks, horn operation and more.

A VR headset delivers the simulation experience to the student in most any setting.

Its important not to overstate the power of VR. As Velasquez-Cuevas of Yale points out, it does not simulate all possible conditions. It does, however, provide a broad, fundamental baseline that prepares students to work safely in the warehouse, she says.

Students receive experiential learning that they dont get in the classroom lecture portion of training, says Morgan, a military veteran. The idea here is the same as in the military. Make the training as close as possible to reality. With VR, we create the behavioral reality required to build operator habits and proficiencies, Morgan continues.

Its also efficient. Highly so. George of Hyster says VR condenses down to less than four hours the instructional content that typically requires 10 hours and more to present otherwise.

It may be early in the adoption of VR for lift truck operator training, but its anything but unnoticed. In addition to Modern, the technology has caught the attention of general circulation business magazines such as Forbes and Fast Company.

Ask the people over at Raymond about any awards theyve received for their VR efforts and the list is impressive. It stretches from business-to-business magazines and the trade association MHI to the Binghamton (NY) Chamber of Commerce.

Interestingly enough, VR acceptance, unlike what some might expect, is not generationally based. The generational obstacles are minimal, says George. And, thats after roughly 100 installs at 80 companies.

Barton of Raymond reports a similar lack of generational resistance. Weve found that its a great experience with all age groups, she adds.

One example of this was at Willow Run Foods, a food distributor in Kirkwood, N.Y. Company recruiter Ron Nolan long had trouble finding experienced lift truck operators for his DC. In conjunction with Raymond and several government agencies, Willow Run created an Opportunity Impact Training Program. Candidates ranged in age from 18 to 65.

The idea was to use VR to assess candidates skills so they were ready to go on day one. And, it worked. Candidates consistently described the VR technology as engaging and realistic. In addition, VR helped reduce the time between initial interview and starting the new job, too.

Over at GE Appliances DC in Commerce, Ga., VR scored another big win, explains Peter Chronopoulos, cofounder of RVC. Lift truck drivers needed to both operate the truck and master use of the carton-clamp attachment to move refrigerators and other large appliances.

We tailored the software to the specifics of the situation and reduced training time by 50%, says Chronopoulos. There was no risk to drivers or the appliances during VR training, he adds.

Lift truck operator training time can be reduced significantly with virtual reality.

In addition to speeding up training, GE identifies operator strengths early in the hiring process.

As Chronopoulos explains, VR can also be used with experienced operators. RVC, in conjunction with the Midwest Food Products Association annual convention late last year, created a virtual reality forklift rodeo. While rarely seen in the past 20 years, lift truck rodeos have traditionally had no VR component. With VR, lift truck rodeos may even make a comeback. Who knows.

At the Wisconsin event, VR was the centerpiece. Using a simulator, 15 operators showed off their skills from placing and picking loads to driving around a simulated course. Jason Culotta, association president, said the virtual reality rodeo displayed the importance of operator skills and safety practices in a fun and unique way.

Just as the rodeo extends the use of VR, initial interest in VR for training maintenance technicians is developing, too. Both Yale and Hyster are considering how VR could be used here. Barton says Raymond is in the exploratory phase of testing the technology with techs. None of these companies offer a timeline for development or commercialization of these capabilities.

Summarizing the value of VR in operator training, Morgan of RVC says the point here is not use of next-generation technology. Instead, VR is all about solving workforce challenges while opening the door to personal development and a career path, he says. Sounds like a solid approach in a time when the workforce is often the No. 1 obstacle to efficient warehouse and DC operation.

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Residents at Buxton House care home in Weymouth tour the world with virtual reality – Dorset Echo

Posted: at 9:49 am

RESIDENTS at a Weymouth care home have been riding roller coasters and diving under the sea, thanks to new virtual reality headsets.

Buxton House care home - which looks after people with dementia - is enabling its residents to break free from the limitations of reduced mobility by using the cutting edge technology to explore the world, all from the comfort of their home.

Previous trips have taken the residents to theme parks, given them the chance to walk with elephants in Africa and watch bears fishing in Canada. They have been on deep-sea diving expeditions to observe marine wildlife - something that many able-bodied people may not be able to experience.

Clare Baker, home manager at Buxton House, said: "At Buxton House we aim to create a great place to live your life, not just a care home. These VR headsets have been a great addition here, allowing residents to experience things not many people get to do and all from the comfort and safety of their home.

"It's also really rewarding for the staff here to see the amazement and wonder on the residents' faces when they use the headsets."

Buxton House is a 64-bed, purpose-built care home in Radipole Lane, close to the elderly care units of Westhaven House and Westhaven Hospital.

The home is run by Dorset-based charity Care South, which provides residential, dementia and in-home care across the south. The organisation was rated Good in all areas following its latest Care Quality Commission inspection.

For more information about Buxton House or to arrange a visit, call 01305 760834 or visit http://www.care-south.co.uk.

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Residents at Buxton House care home in Weymouth tour the world with virtual reality - Dorset Echo

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