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CES: Intel, Alibaba, to
track athletes with AI

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Intel and Alibaba announced on the eve of CES in Las Vegas that the companies are teaming up to develop athlete-tracking technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI), aimed to be deployed at the Olympic Games 2020 and beyond. The technology uses existing and upcoming Intel hardware and Alibaba cloud computing technology to power a deep learning application that extracts 3D forms of athletes in training or competition.

“Optimised to run on Alibaba Cloud infrastructure, Intel developed a novel technology concept called 3D Athlete Tracking that uses AI to analyse video of athletes in ways that are expected to improve both the training process and has the potential to enhance the audience experience during actual competition,” said Navin Shenoy, Intel executive vice president and general manager, Data Center Group. “This technology has incredible potential as an athlete training tool, (and) creating an entirely new way for broadcasters to analyse, dissect and reexamine highlights during instant replays.”

How it works (as supplied by Intel):

The combination of computer vision with AI deep learning algorithms will generate a 3D Mesh that enables coaches and trainers to extract intricate real-time biomechanical data — via multiple standard video cameras without the use of special sensors or suits — from which they can analyse performance and introduce new training enhancements.

Specifically, the technology leverages advanced pose modeling techniques and other AI algorithms designed to analyze the biomechanics of an athlete’s movements. The performance is captured with regular video cameras, the AI algorithm is applied with a heavy dose of computing power and a digital model of the performance is created that can be analysed in different ways.

“We are proud to partner with Intel on the first-ever AI-powered 3D athlete tracking technology where Alibaba contributes its best-in-class cloud computing capability and algorithmic design,” said Chris Tung, CMO, Alibaba Group. “With our technological advancements, Alibaba is transforming the sports media and broadcasting industries. We continue to collaborate with industry leaders and drive innovations to create new experiences for the world to enjoy.”

Click here to see how Intel participates in Alibaba’s Singles Day.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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