Innovation

Podcast Of The Week: The Blindboy Podcast - Science Week 2019

This week on his podcast, Blindboy interviewed Jerry Murphy and Clare Watson, two climate researchers working with the MaREI centre in UCC. The interview was part of Science Week 2019 and covers a range of topics about biofuel and how energy production can adapt locally in response to the climate crisis. The two scientists are currently working on a project on the Dingle Peninsula which uses locally produced biofuel to run a local transport bus.

Laser Voice Commands

Researchers from Tokyo and The University of Michigan have published a paper showing that it is possible to hijack voice assistants and issue commands using lasers pointed at the microphone. Commands can be issued from up to 350 feet away by vibrating the diaphragm of the device's microphone to simulate a real voice command. The research team successfully hijacked Google Home/Nest, Echo Plus/Show/Dot, Facebook Portal Mini, Fire Cube TV, EchoBee 4, iPhone XR, iPad 6th Gen, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2 devices.

The Mysterious Uncrackable Video Game

On their quest to unearth lost video game coding secrets, researchers John Aycock and Tara Copplestone of the Universities of Calgary and York stumbled accross a piece of code from the 1982 Atari 2600 game Entombed which they could not reverse engineer. The video game archaeologists contacted employees involved in developing the game, and they too recalled not being able to decipher the logic behind a particular data table which was used to generative valid maze structures within the game.

3D Ken Burns Effect From Single Image

Researchers at Portland State University and Adobe have demonstrated being able to generate a 3D Ken Burns effect (parallax) using a single image. The system uses neural networks to generate depth predictions and object boundaries, and context aware in-painting to generate the missing pieces of the video to simluate a moving point of focus. We can tick another Star Trek TNG sci-fi concept off the list.

Radiative Sky Cooling

Researchers at UCLA have produced a prototype energy unit that takes advantage of radiative sky cooling to generate electricity at night. As heat is radiated from objects facing the sky at night, a thermoelectric generator can be used to generate electricity from the temperature difference, in this case 25 milliwatts per square metre using equipment costing $30.

AI Voice Mimic Heist

AI generated voice mimicking software was used to persuade a director of a German energy subsidiary in the UK that their boss was on the phone and allowed theives to order the director to transfer funds to their bank account! This is believed to the first voice-AI assisted theft, so convincing that the director in question who made the transfer said that the software even imitated the tonality of the boss' voice.

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