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Due to limited space, or budget, or both, people tend to avoid investing in a high-end audio setup for their television sets. Sound bars try to solve this problem as they deliver loud sound while occupying lesser space. Sky, the cable provider from England, has teamed up with French start-up Devialet to create Sky Soundbox.

Sky Soundbox

The collaboration involves Devialet designing and producing the speaker, while Sky is just adding its brand name to the product.

Sky Soundbox comes in a compact black package (375x210x95 mm). It consists of six woofers and three full-range speakers. The walls of the room (in which the soundbar is deployed) are used to reflect the sound for an immersive experience.

Dynamic volume management automatically adjusts the volume depending on the content being played on the screen - whispers are loud, and explosion sounds are controlled. Dialogue Enhance mode makes speech clearer. Kids mode allows configuring the maximum volume. Late Night mode drops the bass.

On the connectivity front, Sky Soundbox supports HDMI, optical cable, and Bluetooth 4.1. In the UK, the speaker will be available in autumn this year at varied prices. Sky subscribers will be charged £299 ($390 approx.), while those who have the top Sky cable plan will pay £249 ($325 approx.). The retail price is £799 ($1,045 approx.). 
Currently, virtual reality experiences are limited to the person wearing the headset or holding the remote, making him/her isolated from the people around. Disney Magic Bench is a mixed reality prototype designed to make augmented reality experience a group activity by eliminating such hardware equipment.

Disney Magic Bench

One can just walk over to the bench and take a seat. The system senses the number of people and triggers various scenarios accordingly.

The system allows people to interact with virtual characters in a 3D space. A video screen in the front presents the scene, which is a result of algorithmically combining feeds captured by an RGB camera and a depth-sensor.

Haptic feedback from the actuators present beneath the Magic Bench makes the animated characters feel real. A thump when an elephant sits down, or a vibration when it snores, makes it all seem as if it is physically present.

Even though the product is in its research phase, the future of AR looks promising. Disney is showing the Magic Bench at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles next week.

Watch the immersive experience in the video below:

Source: EurekAlert
Intel's latest product, the Movidius Neural Compute Stick, packs deep learning algorithms into a standard USB drive. The idea is to make the powerful neural networks and Artifical Intelligence systems not only limited to large organizations but also available to small-scale businesses and developers.

Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick

The aim is to allow a broad range of AI applications to be built for mobile devices.

The Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick is powered by a Myriad 2 visual processing unit (VPU). The VPU is specifically designed for handheld and wearable devices. Faster processing power (more than 100 gigaflops) is combined with low power consumption (1W) and small size. All these properties make it a perfect fit for the use case in question.

The USB device can run the standard neural networks deployed in the industry. It can be tweaked to run custom-designed networks as well. It can also be used as an accelerator to boost the power of an existing computer.

The Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick is priced at $79.

Watch the product in the video below:

Lenovo backed Motorola has finally launched their flagship for the current year, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force. It was preceded by the mid-range smartphone Moto Z2 Play and the budget-friendly Moto G5 and G5 Plus devices earlier in the year.

Motorola Moto Z2 Force

The modular approach seen in the Z2 Play is maintained, meaning you can use all the Moto Mods you already own. Few interesting use cases include enhanced audio performance, larger battery, or improved camera capabilities. A new 360-degree rotatable camera mod is also launched, just like the one seen on the Essential Phone.

Regarding specifications, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4 GB of RAM, and features a dual-lens camera setup (f/2.0 12 MP each) at the rear. Just like the Huawei P10, one is a monochrome sensor, while the other is color. The 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen (2560 x 1440 pixels) comes with a protective ShatterShield technology.

The frame is sturdier, thanks to the 7000 series aluminum. The device runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It is not waterproof. The battery is reduced to 2,730 mAh (from 3,500 mAh in the first generation device). 64 GB internal storage is expandable up to 2 TB via the microSD card. USB Type-C port replaces the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The fingerprint sensor supports gestures.

Motorola Moto Z2 Force goes on sale on 10th of next month. Preorders in the US are open for $30 a month for two years ($720 total). The smartphone comes in gold, black, and gray color variants.

Motorola Moto Z2 Force specifications

Operating System: Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Storage: 64 GB internal (expandable up to 2 TB)
Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD
Resolution (pixels): 2560 x 1440
Primary camera: 12 + 12 megapixel
Secondary camera: 5 megapixel
Battery: 2,730 mAh
Dimensions (WidthxHeightxDepth): 76.0x155.8x6.1 mm
Weight: 143 g
Gionee has today launched their latest smartphone, the Gionee A1 Plus, in India. It is the elder sibling of Gionee A1, which was launched in the country earlier this year. Both these devices were first announced at the Mobile World Congress held in February 2017.

Gionee A1 Plus

The smartphone comes with a dual-lens camera setup (f/2.0 13 MP and f/2.2 5 MP) at the rear. The secondary camera is a f/2.0 20 MP shooter with customized selfie flash.

The device runs on 4,550 mAh battery (capable of fast charging), 4 GB of RAM, MediaTek Helio P25 octa-core processor, and 64 GB internal storage which is expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card. The 6-inch full HD display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Gionee A1 Plus runs on Amigo 4 OS based on Android 7.0 Nougat. It is priced at ₹26,999 ($420 approx.).

Gionee A1 Plus specifications

Operating System: Android 7.0 (Nougat)
Processor: MediaTek Helio P25
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Storage: 64 GB internal (expandable up to 256 GB)
Display: 6.0-inch FHD
Resolution (pixels): 1920x1080
Primary camera: 13 + 5 megapixel
Secondary camera: 20 megapixel
Battery: 4,550 mAh
Dimensions (WidthxHeightxDepth): 83.3x166.4x9.1 mm
Weight: 226 g
Price: ₹26,999 ($420 approx.)
Closed-circuit TV camera's and video systems are deployed in public places such as the airport, train and bus stations for security purposes. The authorized personnel then go through the generated footage manually to identify possible threats. To partially automate the process, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain have developed a system that can recognize and notify the use of guns in a video.

'Artificially Intelligent' system can recognize guns in videos

The method appears to be yet another application of object recognition technology, which has been around for quite some time now. Taking it a step further, the artificial intelligence built in this system makes sure it learns from its behavior and improve itself over time.

The sampling rate of the system is five frames per second - as good as analyzing the video footage in real time. Whenever the system recognizes a gun, it produces an alert sound along with surrounding the weapon with a red box on the screen. When tested on low-quality videos of movies such as Mission Impossible, James Bond, and Pulp Fiction, the system was accurate around 96 percent of the time!

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can make use of this system to prevent violent content on their portals. There is always a glimmer of hope, and technology can turn it into reality.

Watch the system in action in the video below. If you do not understand Spanish, enable and convert the subtitles in a language of your choosing.