Have you ever settled yourself down in front of an animated movie and marvelled at how the 3D figures are brought to life?
From Sulley’s wind-ruffled fur as he strides across the ‘Monsters’ University’ campus to the heart-wrenching fade-out of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong, in ‘Inside Out’, it’s the play of light across these 3D scenes that brings the characters so vividly to life. Each moment is painstakingly animated, textured and rendered to give a carefully crafted illusion of reality.
In these more recent productions, a technique called ‘ray tracing’ maps out each ray of light in a scene, giving rise to the shadows, reflections and 3D appearance of characters. Even with the help of vast banks of powerful computers, the rendering process takes hundreds of thousands of computing hours, and films can take years to finish.
A pilot study at Stanford university has recently demonstrated that their AI-powered wearable therapy, Superpower Glass, can help to develop social skills in children with autism by identifying facial expressions and ‘gamifying’ social interaction. We spoke with the study’s senior author, Professor Dennis Wall, to learn more about the technology and its potential.
QEPrize winner Dr Robert Langer has recently been selected as one of the five 2018 US Science Envoys. In his new position, he will focus on novel approaches in biomaterials, drug delivery systems, nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and the U.S. approach to research commercialization.
Science envoys are critical to strengthening bilateral science and technology relationships in the US, engaging with international audiences at all levels, and advancing policy objectives — such as increasing the number of women in science and advocating for science-based decision making.
Dr Langer was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for his revolutionary advances and leadership in engineering at the interface with chemistry and medicine. The technologies that his lab created have improved the lives of over two billion people around the world.
Given his recent appointment, we asked Dr Langer for his opinion of the top five areas in biomedical engineering ‘to watch’, as well as his thoughts on the potential for international collaboration.
From face recognition on our phones to Alexa virtual assistants — our lives are being fundamentally revolutionised by waves of new tech. We are developing smart cities, littering roads and traffic systems with sensors to monitor carbon monoxide levels and push traffic along, and our vehicles are soon to be autonomous. In the business world, new innovations are automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks, creating efficiencies and enhanced productivity never previously imagined.
But whilst hyper-connectivity and the Internet of Things produce a myriad of benefits, they also leave us more vulnerable to an increasingly sophisticated cyber-threat landscape.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the world as we know it. It’s not just the tech world that’s feeling the heat. AI has seamlessly become a part of our everyday lives without us even realizing it.
The realm of online security and cybercrime is an interesting space to watch. After the Hollywood limelight sensationalised them for years, the two topics are now moving away from popular culture. Lately, they’re located either in midst of socio-political debate or spread across the world’s media headlines.
Yet, at the same time, the field is a cornerstone of innovation. Rapid developments and the application of these innovations are paving the way forward for society. Funding continues to increase, and the perception of engineers in this area remains positive. The 2017 Create the Future report shows that 82% of international respondents see engineers as crucial to online security. As such, what is the state of engineering in this cybersecurity? Are advancements progressing as a self-contained endeavour, or are they more tightly interwoven with other processes? While the battle between engineers and cybercriminals rages on, where does the public fit?
The evolution of music creation has always been rife with controversy and resistance. Take the words of early 20th century classical guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia.
“Electric guitars are an abomination, whoever heard of an electric violin? An electric cello? Or for that matter an electric singer?”
But as Segovia probably knew; breaking barriers and ruffling feathers is the backbone of art and music. As with evolution of technology in any industry, the sea of change pays no respect to protests from the old guard. These days, electric violins, cellos and even singers are commonplace. As for electric guitars? Last year over one million electric guitars were sold in the US.
Dr Vinton Cerf was one of the recipients of the inaugural QEPrize, taking the accolade in 2013 for his part in creating the Internet. He was awarded the prize alongside Dr Robert Kahn, Louis Pouzin, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreessen, whose work gave rise to the fundamental architecture of the internet, the World Wide Web and the browser. We caught up with Cerf, who is now vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, to find out what his team has been working on since he received the prize.