Blog / Tech Round-up: Instant avatars, drones that blow bubbles and Apple’s new routing feature for electric vehicles

July 8, 2020

Modelling 3-D humans from a single photo

The rise of VR - whether in gaming or digital workplaces or learning environments - means that more and more of us will want to transport ourselves into virtual worlds, body and all, in the shape of a realistic avatar. Previously, multiple photos or a few frames of a video was needed to construct your alter ego, but new research enables realistic avatars to be created with just one photograph. Mindblowing. https://github.com/facebookresearch/pifuhd

Drones that blow bubbles

There’s an artwork on the corner of a street off Bethnal Green Road in East London that I used to walk past nearly every day. It’s a powerful message about the catastrophic die-off in the world’s bee population, and along with some beautiful painted bees, it carries the message: “When we go, we’re taking you with us.” We know we’re dependent on insects such as bees to pollinate the crops we eat, so researchers have been brainstorming solutions to prepare for the worst-case scenario. One of the latest ideas is to set free an army of robot drones that blow bubbles that land gently on the plants to pollinate them. This is obviously an awesome idea, although it would be much better to keep the bees if we possibly can: https://futurism.com/the-byte/new-technique-save-agriculture-bees-die

Apple’s solution for range anxiety

While electric vehicles are taking an ever-increasing slice of the new car market, there is one thing that holds many people back from taking the plunge and making their new motor an EV: the fear that they are not going to be able to find fuel easily and thus will not be able to drive as far as in a traditional vehicle. Apple obviously believe the future is electric, which is why their upcoming iOS14 will offer a new feature - the ability to plan your route via car charging stations to ensure you don’t run out of juice. Even better, the feature works directly with your vehicle battery to read its charge level and direct you to the charging station when you’re ready. https://m.futurecar.com/4001/Apples-Upcoming-Electric-Vehicle-Routing-Feature-Looks-to-End-Range-Anxiety

Solar satellites

While the sight of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites moving into orbit has become a regular - if still exciting - feature of our night skies for some time now, scientists believe that their transmission power is just scraping the surface of what it is possible for satellites to do. Hence a group of researchers based at America’s Naval Research Laboratory has launched a test satellite that aims to beam solar power through space. The Photovoltaic RF Antenna Module (PRAM) project works by using one of three different frequencies of light to transmit significant amounts of power over a distance wirelessly and could ultimately be used to provide additional power to some of the most remote places on the planet. https://m.futurecar.com/4001/Apples-Upcoming-Electric-Vehicle-Routing-Feature-Looks-to-End-Range-Anxiety

A new wave installation

A spectacular outdoor art installation welcomes visitors to Seoul’s Coex K-Pop Square - a huge curved digital billboard above the Coex Convention and Exhibition Center gives the impression of a giant wave crashing inside a massive rectangular cube… total sci-fi. Make sure you click the link and scroll down to watch the video - it’s worth it. https://dornob.com/giant-digital-waves-crash-against-the-facade-of-a-museum-in-seoul/