Applications of ML – Improving Depth detection, Night Sight, Video Play and Notifications

Here are a few fascinating applications of ML. I mostly track business applications of ML so I was pleasantly surprised to see how Unsupervised Learning and Reinforcement Learning (two ML techniques that do not get much coverage) was being used by two of the biggies in the AI and ML space.

The first two – Depth detection and Nightsight are posts from Google AI Blog.  The following concepts were covered in these posts.

  • PSL Positive shutter lag
  • Motion metering
  • Exposure stacking
  • Astrophotography
  • Super-resolution
  • Auto white balancing and Learning based AWB algorithm
  • Ultra long shot photography
  • Optical Image stabilization

    Facebook Horizon article covered how they were improving user experience with Reinforcement Learning.

  • Improving video playing using Reinforcement Learning (RL)
  • Improving user notifications using Reinforcement Learning

Links to articles:

  1. Under the hood of the Pixel 2: How AI is supercharging hardware – Google AI 
  2. Google AI Blog: Night Sight: Seeing in the Dark on Pixel Phones
  3. Horizon: An open-source reinforcement learning platform – Facebook Code 

Ideas From KCG Innovation Challenge

We started with 40 ideas ( 5 each from 8 departments). After initial screening, we selected 16 ( 2 from each department) and had them present to an external jury. Here are a list of these ideas. we will award three top ideas. We will support many of these ideas turn to prototypes.

  1. Robotic sewage Cleaners
  2. Detecting Landmines Using QuadCopter
  3. Partial Replacement of Natural Course Aggregate with Plastic Aggregate
  4. BIM Modelling using alternate Realities
  5. Voice ATM
  6. IOT based fire alert system
  7. Detecting and helping Dyslexia in Children
  8. Detecting early signs of foot problems for Diabetic Patients
  9. Automating powering up and down classrooms in a college
  10. Water Management system using IOT
  11. Automatic segregation of  recyclable material
  12. Hybrid Solar Panel
  13. MTC Bus Tracking
  14. IOT based Smart glasses
  15. Flexible and Compact couch
  16. Temperature control Jacket

Linklog: Indian Product Innovation? Why Don’t We See Much?

From The Limitations of Jugaad by Radhika Chaada

Think of the R&D labs in India for Microsoft, Adobe, GE, or any other Western company. They are considered among the best within their parent companies – but only for solving pre-determined problems. The problems themselves are conceptualised and defined in the West.

When I spoke to Anand Chhatpar, CEO, BrainReactions, this is what he had to say. “The people in Bangalore used the same Dell Inspiron computers, the same broadband Internet connections, the same Microsoft Windows platform PCs, the same programming languages and databases used in Silicon Valley, but the people in the US were making multi-billion dollar Google, while the people in India were still testing office applications and doing grunt-work for American companies. Why? One of the investors, one of the scientists and a large number of employees in Google are Indians, the technology is the same, so why was Google not developed in India? In fact, almost 40 per cent of Silicon Valley start-ups have been formed by Indian entrepreneurs. Why then were the entrepreneurs in India still doing work on contract in the service sector and not innovating products for the world?” And he added that while globally, India was being heralded as a software powerhouse, he did not have a single programme on his computer that was made by an Indian company.

Fair enough. I used to ask myself the same questions. After spending most of the past two years in India, I see a lot of hope. Here is why:

  1. I visit several engineering and management institutes to give talks on Technology Trends, Entrepreneurship and I find a lot of students eager to start and looking for  guidance.
  2. Indian government is doing a lot with Innovation Fund. They give grants and are hard at work in setting up Incubation Centers. One of my recent talks involved Incubation 2.0.
  3. Informal startup communities are gaining traction. These include Chennai Open Coffee Club with over 1500 participants and similar coffee clubs in Bangalore, Pune and other places.
  4. The silos of professional societies like TiE local chapters, Nasscome Emerge Community and the informal startup communities are slowly inter-connecting.
  5. We are still a long way from producing a Google or Microsoft. But the product culture seems to be improving –  an encouraging sign.
  6. A band of us evangelize product innovation, point to social media as a lowering the entry barrier into global entrepreneurship and working to provide as much support as we can.
  7. Zoho is a beacon. I hope to see more companies following their lead.

Posted via email from Dorai’s LinkLog

Three Courses Every Engineering Institution Should Consider Adding

In addition to teaching core engineering subjects, I think we need to add three (may be optional) courses.

1. Entrepreneurship
2. Learning and Thinking
3. Innovation

The idea is to give students an appreciation of what entrepreneurship is all about. Students joining smaller start-ups learn every thing faster in the first few years (though may not make as much money).

We take both learning and thinking for granted. The best training we can give students is the ability to understand how they learn and think. We can include several aspects of thinking including critical thinking, later thinking, thinking about thinking etc. Learning to learn is taught implicitly (by just forcing them to learn a lot). Increasing awareness of learning styles, multiple intelligence will help students realize several ways to accelerate their learning.

Innovation is taking ideas and realizing an implementation (the joy of doing). Most of the labs I see repeat some standard set of problems. Why not let the students do a bit of exploration and research in problems they are interested in solving and innovate in identifying and solving problems?

Posted via email from Dorai’s posterous

LinkLog: Internet – A Resource for Going Green

From Why Internet is an Innovation – our Best Resource for Going Green by Courtney Webster

As an entirely online resource, the Internet can be used to share information across the world, without ever having to waste natural resources. Online bank statements reduce corporate mailings, while websites like www.photobucket.com allow us to share our pictures without making eco-costly prints. When shopping online, using credit cards and online order confirmation, we save the paper and ink that would other wise be used to print cash and receipts, and without making the trip to the store, we’re reducing our carbon footprint in the process.

There are several businesses that can do this, especially ones with mostly knowledge workers. Courtney points out Project Nvokh, a fascinating effort in going green.

A HeroCamp?

I attended a BarCamp at Chennai last week. I forgot to turn off alerts to the barcamp pbwik and keep getting notifications of new barcamps  I got one on (Super)HeroCamp and it piqued my curiosity. It is one of the more innovative BarCamps I have seen in a while. Here is an excerpt titled “Smaller Ideas” from the page:

The smaller ideas
1. What would it look like if we brought the structure of BarCamp into schools? What about a social network for students, teachers and parents where parents could make sure they could keep up with their kids’ curriculum, teachers could understand a little more about a student’s home situation and students could communicate more on the level that they understand? HeroCampSchoolNet
2. What if we provide local communities with an easy (Ning?) way to create a cross-generational learning network. Schools could tap into locals with expertise, and locals could tap the youth and creativity of students. The retired biologist down the street could help students create and maintain a sustainable organic garden, and students could learn about globalization and teach local businesses how to survive. HeroCampCommunityNet

I am always amazed at the innovative ways tools are used. The concept of BarCamp itself is an innvoative idea. Hosting camp announcements on a public wiki is another. The way the concept of BarCamp is being used builds upon both these. Hats off to people who innovate at every level. This is definitely one of my sources of inspirtation.

Learning Agility

I stumbled into IdeaCast from HBR a couple of weeks ago. First of all I love the title “IdeaCast”. You can’t pass up a pod-cast series with such a title. Like Knowledge@Wharton podcasts, this is an invaluable source of information. One of the pod-casts I listened to recently is about the Changing Role of Leaders. In this podcast Marshall Goldsmith talks about five of the new traits of a Future Leaders. Then Marshall goes on to add another (saying that he got it from one of the readers who commented on his blog post). He calls it Learning Agility.

The term appealed to me and I immediately Googled it and found this link.

It describes the common traits of learning agile people.

  • They are critical thinkers who examine problems carefully and make fresh connections with relative ease.
  • They know themselves well, leverage their strengths effectively and know how to compensate for their weaknesses.
  • They like to experiment and are comfortable with the discomfort that comes from change.
  • They deliver results in first-time situations through team-building and personal drive.

The author identifies a set of related characteristics, agile people may have:

  • Mental Agility -Ability to separate action from strategy and vision
  • Results Agility – Personal drive and presence
  • People Agility – Ability to build teams which includes Conflict Agility

I think Learning Agility is an important trait, for companies – especially startups. Most of the founders have it. A bigger challenge is to make it an essential ingredient of the startup culture.

Resources: Technology Podcasts and Videos

I am always on the lookout for good podcasts to listen to. Here is an opportunity to listen to thought leaders in the tech industry.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Interviews with Innovators by Jon Udel from ITConversations Network. ITConversations also hosts some interesting podcasts on Social Innovation and other interesting topics.

Talking with Talis is one of my more recent discoveries. In their own words, it is:

conversations with thought-leaders at the interface between Web 2.0, Libraries, and the Semantic Web…

Inside Silicon Valley from PodTech News is another one of my favorites. I became aware of PodTech when Robert Scoble moved there from Microsoft.

ScobleShow is another one of my favorite ones. Since Scoble is no longer at PodTech, I wonder whether this series will continue.

Channel 10 is a great source that covers products and innovations at Microsoft.  I have watched some really grate videos and podcasts there.

Google Engineering Edu and other Google tech talk videos is one of the best sources of technology information. Google often invites thought leaders, developers, language designers to their campus. They make these videos available free.

A talk a day is my motto. A technology or Science podcast or an audiobook is a great companion when I take my walks or sweat it out on my treadmill.

Innovation Propagation

Democracy was probably one of the greatest innovations in the world. How did it propagate? For a visualization of this story visit March of Democracy. While you are there explore other maps too.

Where has democracy dominated and where has it retreated? This map gives us a visual ballet of democracy’s march across history as the most popular form of government. From the first ancient republics to the rise of self-governing nations, see the history of democracy: 4,000 years in 90 seconds…!

This is a great and a very powerful way to track how a certain event or movement propagates around the globe. This is also a great way to teach history. Moving from the video, to the meta problem it solves, we can think of a tool to track propagation of innovation and other events. Many examples come to mind:

  1. Historic events – spread of religions, spreading of culture, propagation of ideas. These and many others originate in one or two places and spread globally over a period of time.
  2. This may also be a great tool for teaching economics, history and diffusion of various other types of innovation.
  3. I would love to see a map of the way Mathematics or Science spread.

With the advent of internet, ideas spread through packets. Bloggers, definitely are catalysts for propagating information and ideas. Hopefully, we can trace the spread at a more granular level and understand why certain ideas spread and why others dont.

Links: Emerging Technologies and Innovation

I enjoy reading about how technology enables innovative solutions. Here are a list of some interesting links

E-textiles to Monitor Your Health 

Virginia Tech (VT) researchers have been busy developing efficient e-textiles — electronic textiles and clothing with embedded wires and sensors — for six years now. Their computerized clothing can monitor your movements, sensing if you’re walking, running, standing, or sitting down.

Bridge Traffic Powers Its Monitoring Sensors

Researchers at Clarkson University, NY, have developed wireless bridge sensors which work without batteries. Instead, they are powered by the vibrations caused by passing traffic. This is good news for all the people in charge of maintaining bridges, who will no longer to have to replace batteries installed in hard-to-access locations.

Self-powered Nanowires

Many research teams around the world are building nanodevices of some kind. But these very small devices need very small sources of power to be fully functional. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have shown that a single nanowire can produce power by harvesting mechanical energy from its environment. ‘Made of piezoelectric material, the nanowire generates a voltage when mechanically deformed.’