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How Virtual Humans Learn Emotion and Social Intelligence

At USC ICT's Virtual Humans lab, we learn how researchers build tools and algorithms that teach AI the complexities of social and emotional cues. We run through a few AI demos that demonstrate nuanced social interaction, which will be important for future systems like autonomous cars.

Testing: Black Talon Indoor FPV Quad

As I write this, the 2016 National Drone Racing Championships have just ended. This style of First Person View (FPV) competition continues to gain traction all over the world. In fact, the recent national event enjoyed coverage by ESPN. While not everyone has the space or resources necessary to set up a full-blown FPV race course, recent developments with miniature multi-rotors allow FPV racers to duke it out just about anywhere…even indoors.

I've talked about small FPV quads before, but none of those ships were ideally suited for small-scale racing…at least not in box-stock form. Most tiny racers must be modified in some fashion. For example, the uber-popular Tiny Whoop is basically a Blade Inductrix with micro FPV gear added. It won't be long, however, before mandatory mods become a thing of the past. I was recently offered the chance to check out a new mini FPV quad that has all of the necessary elements for indoor racing in a turnkey package.

THE BLACK TALON FROM AERIX DRONES IS A READY-TO-FLY MINI-QUAD WITH ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS NECESSARY FOR INDOOR FPV RACING.
Hands-On with Shaper Origin Handheld CNC Router!

This is super cool: a handheld CNC router that uses computer vision to let you see exactly what you're cutting through the bit, and compensates for any shaky hand movement with automatic stabilization. We visit Shaper to learn about the Origin and test out its features!

Digitizing Photorealistic Humans Inside USC's Light Stage

We learn how actors are digitized and turned into photorealistic models inside USC ICT's Light Stage capture system. Paul Debevec and his team at the Graphics Lab are focused on inventing technologies that create the most realistic-looking virtual people, objects, and environments. We were blown away by the capabilities of the light stage!

Google Play App Roundup: Duo, Deus Ex GO, and It's A Space Thing

Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

Duo

Google announced two new chat apps at I/O last spring, and now the first of the two is available. Google Duo is a video chat application that's designed from the ground up to be easy. It's not as feature-rich as Hangouts, but it works much, much better for simple 1-on-1 video chats.

Google has made it clear that Duo will be the consumer-focused video chat solution going forward as it makes Hangouts a more business-focused product. So, Duo is tied you your phone number, in an attempt to make it easier to get people using it. When you first open the app you need to verify your number by SMS.

Starting a call is as easy as tapping the big call button at the bottom of the screen—it's basically the only button in the app. After you've been using Duo, your frequent contacts will show up there too. Your contact list will appear with Duo users up at the top. Those who have not installed Duo yet are shown below that with the option to send them an invitation to the app. If you select a Duo user, the call will start immediately.

The default functionality on Android includes Knock Knock, a way to see who's calling you before you pick up. When you place a call, your video will be live before the other person answers. That means they can see you before deciding whether or not to answer, like looking through a peephole in a door. This only happens if you are in the other person's contact list, though. Knock Knock is neat, but also a little weird to dismiss a call when your friend's face is staring expectantly at you from the screen.

The latency in Duo video chats seems very good, and the video is alright. It's not mindblowing quality, at least in my experience. There is a toggle in the settings to turn off the data saving feature, which makes it look nicer. According to Google, Duo is using a protocol called Quic that allows for better video compression. It can also hand the call over between WiFi and cellular data as needed. The only controls of importance when you're in a call are mute and a front/rear camera toggle.

Duo seems like a fine video chat app, but its success will depend on how many of your friends and family you can convince to install it. I would not be surprised to see Google start bundling Duo (and Allo) with the Google apps package for all phones.

Weathering Techniques for Cosplay Costumes

Making new fabrics look old and weathered is a practiced art. Doug Stewart has been working on costumes for film productions for over two decades. We chat about his work as a specialty costume maker and get a demo of his weathering process for costumes used at this year's E3.

Two Ding Dongs and A Microphone - Episode 46 - 8/19/16
Frank and I are two dings dongs talking into in a mic. We chat more about biz battles, showing up on time, upcoming conventions and the biggest hit of the summer, Stranger Things! If you're digging this show, please head over to http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek and support us with a few bucks. Also, thanks to our sponsor ScotteVest! Please use our affiliate link (in the comments) and use the code CREATUREGEEK to get 20% off your order! Thanks for listening!
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