Weeknotes 123; the year of the (digital) avatar

A short and quick weeknotes as I am a bit in a holiday mode as everyone. Last week, we had some ThingsCon after, but mainly it was about catching up with the other work. Having updates with the graduation students and speaking to students that like to do new projects. Good to see more students find their way than we can cater to the Cities of Things Lab. 

Making plans for 2021 more concrete was another thing. I might be updating more on that later. 

Also, as you do in these times for holidays start; three sessions to end the year. With INFO’s colleagues, including a ‘Secret Sinta’ celebration, with TU Delft IDE with some quizzes and with the Connected Everyday Lab.

Ok. let’s check on the news of last week…

Year of the digital avatar 👾
Interesting observation; will the year of the virtual meeting lead to the year of the digital avatar? I see more and more that we are creating a digital cover-up layer between the real world that creates the opportunity to modify the experience on the fly. Like with spacial audio, with deep fake and also with digital avatars too.
Scientists digitally rebuilt this dinosaur's brain and made some surprising discoveries
Scientists digitally rebuilt this dinosaur’s brain and made some surprising discoveries
“Scientists have digitally rebuilt the brain of a dinosaur, revealing “surprising” insights into its diet and behavior.“Two thoughts: This is a super interesting way to learn about dinosaurs.And this might be an indicator how we are developing evolutionary into the creating nature like intelligence. We have some time to go…
Box 023: 150-Year Interface – The Bounding BoxI like the experimental arty explorations of Tobias Revell. He is now updating us in his project on the bounding box.“The Bounding Box refers to the lower-polygon structure around a 3D object used to more efficiently compute interactions.”
What’s Breakfast Cereal Got To Do With The Future?
This is a super nice explainer by Julian Bleecker how to build interesting design fictions. 
Why Do Many Self-Driving Cars Look Like Toasters on Wheels?
Nice question. Functionally because you indicate there is something new happening, without steering etc. 
And because it looks more cute and comforting.
Here Is What The Air Force's New Robot Dogs Are Actually Capable Of
Here Is What The Air Force’s New Robot Dogs Are Actually Capable Of
More robot-doggies. Logical place of operation: the army. “The Air Force is officially putting robot dogs into operational use. Here’s how they will be used today and how they will likely be used tomorrow.”
KODA Announces Pre-Sale of World’s First Decentralized AI Robot Dog
“Unlike other robot dogs on the market, it’s meant to interact socially with its owners. Through the company’s blockchain-enabled decentralized AI infrastructure, the robot dog is meant to serve a multitude of purposes: family companion, seeing-eye dog, a vigilant guard dog, or a powerful supercomputer capable of solving complex problems.”I got interested with with the social interactions, but got a bit annoyed with the buzz-word bingo that follows… 
Heterogeneous sensing in a multifunctional soft sensor for human-robot interfaces
The right touch….“We characterize the performance on both detection and decoupling of deformation modes, by implementing both a simple algorithm of threshold evaluation and a machine learning technique based on an artificial neural network. The proposed soft sensor is able to estimate eight different deformation modes with accuracies higher than 95%.”
Engineers develop soft robotic gripper: Inspired by twining plants, it has a variety of possible applications
“Now, researchers in the University of Georgia College of Engineering have designed a new soft robotic gripper that draws inspiration from an unusual source: pole beans”More touch-sensitiveness in robots.
Robots, friend & foe. We here at Ethical Futures Lab really…
Robots, friend & foe. We here at Ethical Futures Lab really…
Great explorations again.
LG Announces Autonomous Robot With Disinfecting UV Light For Various B2B Applications
We started thinking about air purifying robots a couple years ago, but now the first implementation is a virus disinfecting installment… 
An open-source and low-cost robotic arm for online education“Researchers at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico have recently created a low-cost robotic arm that could enhance online robotics education” Makes sense…
Alibaba’s Software Can Find Uighur Faces, It Told China Clients
Not surprising, still disturbing….“Alibaba’s website for its cloud computing business showed how clients could use its software to detect the faces of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities within images and videos” 
Google to shut down Android Things, a smart home OS that never took off
“The OS never got much traction aside from a small number of smart speakers and displays.”Indeed, the question is what is the reason it doesn’t got the traction. HomeKit of Apple seems to be picked up more and more. Maybe the market for smart home devices is more a Apple-premium market still? Or, is not so much a OS-related thing, and is integrated in the products more than in the remote… The move to the edge so to say….
Stacey on IoT | Edge ML gets a boost
To keep track on the latest on Edge Ml, follow the newsletter of Stacey Higginbotham, like her last one, with a nice overview of some latest developments at MIT and others.
Nigeria is now the No.2 bitcoin market on this fast-growing global marketplace
Nigeria is now the No.2 bitcoin market on this fast-growing global marketplace
Will bitcoin be a way for Africa to leapfrog a finance system again after the mobile payments?“The increased awareness and availability of easy-to-use bitcoin platforms to Nigerians have largely increased bitcoin liquidity in the country”
An exploration of online & hybrid events – what they are and what they will be – Van Dusseldorp’s Future of events
And to close: Check the new newsletter of Monique if you like to keep updated on the future of events and beyond. 
This week will be slow. On Tuesday though I might tune in to hear from David Li what is the current state of innovations in Shenzen. David is running the Shenzen Open Innovation Lab and was our host for the ThingsCon research trip we did back in 2017. Rob van Kranenburg invited him for a NGI deep dive coming Tuesday.
Next week will be holiday time so expect the next newsletter January 4 again!
Have some relaxing holidays.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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