Facial tracking 😲 Flu protein 🦠 Verified sneakers 👟!

Technology News

Earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask

Researchers have invented an earphone that can continuously track full facial expressions by observing the contour of the cheeks – and can then translate expressions into emojis or silent speech commands. With the ear-mounted device, called C-Face, avatars in virtual reality environments could express how their users are actually feeling. The cameras record changes in facial contours caused when facial muscles move. Once the images are captured, they’re reconstructed using computer vision and a deep learning model. Translating expressions into emojis could help those in virtual reality collaborations communicate more seamlessly.

AI-Powered App Pinpoints Car Issues Simply by Listening to Its Engine

ŠKODA has released an artificial intelligence based app that can tell you exactly what’s going on with one of its cars merely by listening to it. The ‘Sound Analyser’ app records the car noises and compares it with pre-recorded sound patterns of ‘healthy’ ŠKODAs. It can then figure out what the issues are, if there are any, and how they can be fixed. The result is efficient and accurate car maintenance, which is meant to minimize the time a ŠKODA car spends in a garage to ultimately create higher customer satisfaction. As it stands, the current software is able to analyze 10 patterns with an accuracy of up to 90%, per the automaker.

Science News

Stopping lethal lung damage from the flu with a natural human protein

In mouse studies, all untreated animals given a lethal dose of influenza died within days. All but one of the infected mice treated with the experimental therapy not only survived, but remained energetic and kept weight on – despite having high levels of the flu virus in their lungs. The experimental treatment is a heavy dose of MG53, part of a family of proteins that plays an essential role in cell membrane repair. MG53 was found to prevent death from a lethal flu infection by blocking excessive inflammation. The researchers determined that MG53 stops an immune response mishap called a “cytokine storm,” which leads to tissue damage.

Scientists find dopamine, serotonin have unexpectedly profound roles in the human brain

Researchers have revealed dopamine and serotonin are at work at sub-second speeds to shape how people perceive the world and take action based on their perception. “For the first time, moment-to-moment activity in these systems has been measured and determined to be involved in perception and cognitive capacities. These neurotransmitters are simultaneously acting and integrating activity across vastly different time and space scales than anyone expected.” Better understanding of the underlying actions of dopamine and serotonin could deliver important insight into psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Business News

eBay Will Verify Collectible Sneakers Priced Over $100 To Cut Down On Counterfeits

eBay announced it will verify all collectible sneaker listings more than $100—a bid to combat rampant counterfeiting that is increasingly common on third-party marketplaces. Before a sneaker order ships, the seller will now be required to send it to an “independent third-party authentication facility for a comprehensive, multi-point physical inspection.” eBay is partnering with Sneaker Con, a company that hosts large conventions for sneakerheads, to run the facility. The move puts eBay in a better position to compete with other popular sneaker resellers, such as StockX and GOAT, that already have an authentication process.

Bank of England questions banks over negative rates

The Bank of England has written to UK banks asking them how ready they are if interest rates were cut to zero or turned negative. The UK would be following countries such as Japan and Switzerland if it cut borrowing costs to such a low figure. “We are also seeking to understand whether there may be potential for short-term solutions or workarounds, as well as permanent systems changes.” The past few years have been marked by problems with the computer systems of various British banks. While the Bank of England may set its base rate below zero, it is unlikely most consumers will immediately enter the world of being paid to borrow money.

Miscellaneous News

Fifth of countries at risk of ecosystem collapse, analysis finds

One-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats. More than half of global GDP – $42tn – depends on high-functioning biodiversity, according to the report, but the risk of tipping points is growing. Countries including Australia, Israel and South Africa rank near the top of Swiss Re’s index of risk to biodiversity and ecosystem services, with India, Spain and Belgium also highlighted. Countries with fragile ecosystems and large farming sectors, such as Pakistan and Nigeria, are also flagged up.

Maldives set to become world’s first country to offer a traveler loyalty program

Maldives is on track to become the first country in the world to have its own hospitality loyalty program. The Maldives Border Miles program will have three tiers: Abaarana (Gold), Antara (Silver) and Aida (Bronze). The three names all come from Divehi, the Indian Ocean nation’s primary local language. “Most tourism boards focus solely on glitzy ad campaigns and Photoshopped spreads, but this campaign from Maldives is both new and unique.” Maldives hotel rates can be pricey, but a points system could potentially balance out some of these costs with upgrades and freebies.

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