Singing AI 🎙️ Colour blind glasses 👓 Declining plane sales ✈️!

Technology News

Microsoft’s AI generates voices that sing in Chinese and English

Researchers have developed an AI system, DeepSinger, that can generate singing voices in multiple languages by training on data from music websites. Music artists are often pulled in for pick-up sessions to address mistakes, changes, or additions. AI-assisted voice synthesis could eliminate the need for this, saving time and money. The researchers report that from lyrics, duration, pitch information, and reference audio, DeepSinger can synthesize singing voices that are high quality in terms of both pitch accuracy and “voice naturalness.” They calculate the quantitative pitch accuracy of its songs to be higher than 85% across all three.

Amazon’s new smart shopping cart lets you check out without a cashier

The Dash Cart is a smart version of the tried-and-true food transport vehicle. It’s equipped with a touchscreen and various hardware components to automatically detect what items you’re placing inside and even how many of those items you’ve picked off the shelf. When you’re done shopping, you’re allowed to take the cart through a special lane that checks you out digitally without requiring a human cashier to ring you up. “[The Dash Cart] has a ring of cameras, a scale, and computer vision and weight sensors to determine not just the item, but the quantity of the item.” The cart also has a coupon scanner built in and supports Amazon’s Alexa shopping lists feature.

Science News

Study finds that special filters in glasses can help the color blind see colors better

A new study found that special patented glasses engineered with technically advanced spectral notch filters enhance color vision for those with the most common types of red-green color vision deficiency (“anomalous trichromacy”). Notably, the ability to identify and experience expanded color was also demonstrated when color blind test subjects were not wearing the glasses. The researchers found that wearing the filter glasses increased responses to chromatic contrast response in individuals with red-green color blindness. It is unclear how long the improvement lasts without wearing the filters, but the evidence shows that the effect persists for some time.

Socially distant surgery is now possible nine miles away

A team of Italian physicians demonstrated that it was possible to successfully complete an invasive surgery on a patient from 9 miles (15 kilometers) away using remote-controlled robotic tools. Thanks to the emergence of 5G, this surgery is now possible in a way it never was before, which could help make live-saving surgeries more accessible in remote parts of the world and even in space. The scientists were able to successfully complete the operation as they would have done in person and only experienced at most 280 milliseconds of lag between the surgeon’s commands and the robot’s actions.

Business News

Boeing 737 MAX cancellations top 350 planes in first half of 2020

Boeing customers canceled orders for 355 of its 737 MAX jets in the first half of 2020 as the damage done by the jet’s grounding and the coronavirus crisis to the airline industry continued to mount. The planemaker, which has now been striving to get its once best-selling MAX planes back in the air for more than a year after two fatal crashes led to its grounding, said airlines and leasing companies canceled another 60 orders for the jet last month. Deliveries in the first half of the year also sank by 71% to just 70 planes as customers canceled or deferred shipments due to the collapse in air travel from coronavirus-led travel restrictions.

Richard Branson secures $1.5 billion rescue for Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson is pumping more money into Virgin Atlantic as part of a £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) rescue deal to keep the airline solvent just days before it is due to resume passenger flights. The carrier said in a statement that the recapitalization plan will be deployed over the next 18 months and has the support of shareholders, including Delta Air Lines, new investors and existing creditors. Global aviation has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with airline industry losses expected to top $84 billion this year, according to the International Air Transport Association. The company said it expects to be profitable again from 2022.

Miscellaneous News

Aztec palace’s remains uncovered off Mexico City’s main Zócalo plaza

The remains of an ancient Aztec palace have been discovered under a stately building in Mexico City. During renovations at the building off the capital’s central Zócalo plaza, workers found basalt slab floors. The floors were part of an open space in the palace of Aztec ruler Axayácatl, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said. Axayácatl reigned between 1469 and 1481 and was the father of Montezuma, one of the empire’s last rulers. The building which stands on the site now – the Nacional Monte de Piedad – is a historic pawnshop that was built in 1755.

Queen Elizabeth II sells gin made from leaves found at Buckingham Palace after tourist revenues crash

Queen Elizabeth II is selling gin made from leaves found at the back of Buckingham Palace as cash from tourists visiting her residences has plunged. Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, launched a premium small-batch London dry gin for sale in its shops on Monday, infused with bay and mulberry leaves found in her back garden. It comes days after it was reported revenues from tourists visiting her homes were wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, causing an £18 million ($22 million) black hole in the finances.

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