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Creating Time-Lapse Videos from Crowd-Sourced Photos

Introduced at this year's SIGGRAPH imaging conference, researchers from Google and the University of Washington have developed an approach to creating seamless time-lapses videos not from the images of a single camera, but from the publicly shared photos from the crowd. In their tests, they sorted through 86 million photos to group them into collections by location, and automated a process to warp and color-correct photos taken from the same viewpoint. Those photos were then ordered chronologically and stitched together into a time-lapse video. It's a similar idea to what Microsoft had done with its Photosynth program, but the output is a video showing the passage of time instead of a 3D map. Read more at the project's website. (h/t Engadget)

In Brief: Fujifilm and Panasonic's New Compact Cameras

Over the past decade, mirrorless cameras emerged as a photography platform to challenge the leading DLSR makers. And while they've been successful at forcing the Canons and Nikons to innovate, the category has gone through growing pains of its own, most notably increasingly bulky body sizes that limit their advantages over shrinking entry-level DSLRs. Prices have risen as well, as MILC makers figure out how to segment their models and adjust to shorter product cycles. But a new trend seems to be bringing mirrorless cameras back to their compact roots, with Panasonic and Fujifilm both announcing interchangeable lens cameras today that look like great entry models. The Panasonic G7 is a smaller version of the popular GH4, and is equipped with a micro four-thirds sensor with 4K video recording. Fujifilm's X-T10 is a more compact version of the awesome X-T1, with the same 16MP APS-C sensor. Both retail for $800 (X-T10 body only), and aim to be more than just companion cameras for DSLR shooters.

Photo Gallery: Rick Baker's 'Monster Maker' Auction Collection

Check out some photos from our recent visit to Prop Store's Rick Baker 'Monster Maker' auction collection. The warehouse was like the storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark--a treasure trove of effects artifacts and iconic creatures from Baker's filmography. The detail in some of these props and animatronics was stunning--I personally gravitated toward the Men in Black aisle to get up close to the worm guys. We'll have more videos from our visit this week and next on the site. Until then, find out more about this historic May 29th auction at www.propstore.com/rickbaker

Show and Tell: Favorite Helping Hands Set

For this week's Show and Tell, Will shares with us his new favorite set of helping hands for the workshop. We've all see those small third-hand tools sold at electronics and craft stores, but the best set is the one we've used at Adam's shop. This precision tool is made for jewelers, and are great for big soldering projects too. (Thanks to B&H for providing the One Man Crew system for this video. Find out more about it here!)

Google Play App Roundup: Bleep, Knights of Pen & Paper 2, and Sunburn!

We're really getting spoiled these days. There are great Android apps coming out all the time, but it can still be hard to find them amid all the clutter. The Google Play App Roundup is all about clearing the junk out of the way so you can find the best apps. Just click on the app name to go straight to the Google Play Store and pick up the app yourself.


BitTorrent's various projects are mostly about leveraging the power of many individuals to create decentralized services. However, the newly released Bleep messaging app is a little different. Rather than dealing with the many, this secure messaging client relies on direct one-on-one connections and local encryption.

Bleep was released as an Alpha several months ago, but now it's "done." BitTorrent has cleaned up the interface, squashed some bugs, and added new featured over the course of the beta. What we have now seems like a capable messaging service, and it supports completely anonymous usage. You can install Bleep and pick a nickname without adding your phone number or email. This is simply the name others will see when chatting with you.

Should you choose, you can also verify your information with Bleep so any of your friends who sign up will see you in their contact lists. Otherwise, adding Bleep contacts is done by sharing your ID or letting the other party scan your QR code if you meet them in meatspace. All messages sent over Bleep are encrypted locally and sent directly to the recipient, making it difficult to eavesdrop on the conversation. You can also send pictures and initiate VoIP calls.

The big new feature added for the launch of Bleep is called Whisper. It's basically an off-the-record chat with Snapchat-like automatic deletion. Any message or image you send will be deleted 25 seconds after it is viewed. BitTorrent opted for an odd method of privacy protection for Whispers. The message only shows up when the sender's name is hidden. If you toggle the name display on, the message is blurred. This is intended to disassociate the sender and message in screenshots and photos taken of the Whisper. It's a nice sentiment, but I can't help but note you can take two screenshots and match them up pretty easily.

Bleep messages seem to come in reliably in just a few seconds, and I'm not seeing any appreciable impact on battery life. It seems like a really neat service, but you'll have to convince your friends to use Bleep before you can do much with it. It's worth a shot if you've got privacy concerns with services like Hangouts and WhatsApp.

In Brief: Kickstart These RC Flying Versions of X-Prize Winners

Burt Rutan is well known for his large portfolio of innovative aircraft and spacecraft designs. In fact, Rutan was the visionary responsible for the X-Prize-winning SpaceShipOne and its mothership, White Knight. RutanRC is a startup company looking to produce flying models of SpaceShipOne (SS1) and White Knight (WK). Rutan, who is an advisor to the company, points to his childhood aeromodeling as the fuel that fed his lifelong passion and success. The company hopes that these models will inspire a new generation of young people to take an interest in aviation and aerospace.

The company's Kickstarter campaign has about one week to go and lots of cash to raise. Watch the video and you may find a familiar face. Backers can get early production units of the models. The WK model is a free-flight glider, while SS1 is an electric-powered RC model. The duo can be mated together for controlled flights as well.

Tested Builds: ErgoDox Mechanical Keyboards, Part 1

Time for another Tested Build series! All this week, Will and Norm are going to work on building their own mechanical keyboards, using parts sourced from the ErgoDox design. These split ergonomic keyboards can be customized to use your favorite mechanical key switches, with potential for modding. In this first episode, we go over all the components and start assembly! (Follow along the rest of this week of build by joining the Tested Premium member community here!)

Oculus Announces Some Rift Specs, System Requirements

As promised, Oculus is revealing a few more technical details about the consumer Rift virtual reality headset that it announced would be shipping in the first quarter of next year. First off, the company posted a blog post last Friday listing the recommended system requirements for running an Oculus Rift on a PC. An Intel i5-4590 or equivalent CPU is required as a bare minimum, as is 8GB of RAM. That part isn't surprising. But Oculus is also recommending a graphics card at least as powerful as an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD 290 GPU, with HDMI 1.3 video output. System will also need two USB 3.0 ports. As Oculus notes, that's beyond the specs of any current gaming laptop, though it doesn't rule out mobile systems that'll be out by next year. And as a reminder, all of the Oculus Crescent Bay prototype demos we last saw at GDC were running Nvidia GeForce Titan X GPUs.

The high system requirements were expected, as rendering for VR requires approximately three times the GPU power of 1080p gaming at 60Hz. The consumer Rift actually uses two screens running a combined 2160x1200 display resolution at 90Hz--the same display specs as SteamVR's HTC Vive (though it's not clear how their panels actually compare). Virtual reality is much less tolerant for framerate drops than gaming on a desktop monitor, so 90 frames per second is required as a floor. We also don't know what games and software will actually render at before being pushed to the displays, since downsampling may also be an option (meaning the visuals actually render at higher than 2160x1200 for anti-aliasing and text readability purposes).

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey also wrote on Twitter that the displays in the consumer Rift are "on the cutting edge of current display fabrication", which means that it should look better than what we've seen so far on prototypes. His note that high frame rates actually substantially increases perceived resolution of the display is interesting as well--we'll be on the look out for that if we get a CV1 demo at E3. Plus, we want to know more about the positional tracking and input solutions!

In Brief: Google's Self-Driving Cars Begin Public Road Testing this Summer

After last week's informative status update from Chris Urmson, the director of Google's self-driving car program, Google has announced that it will soon be taking a few of its prototype self-driving cars onto the public streets of Mountain View for tests. Public road tests is essential to the program, and Google has already been testing modified autonomous Lexus SUVs in California since last September. Those cars have logged almost a million miles of autonomous driving, data which will help Google's own "bubble" car. While Google claims that none of the 11 reported minor accidents that have occurred during private road testing were its cars' faults, the company is taking precautions for public road tests by ensuring that humans have manual control over the car if necessary--even though the prototype car is designed not to have a steering wheel. They'll also have a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. I'm interested to see these cars tested in real-world conditions, as long as Google is transparent about the results of its testing. Watch Google's video announcing the next step in its self-driving car program below.