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Hulu dives into eSports with four ESL-made shows

A handful of TV networks have started to incorporate more eSports content into their lineups and now eSports have made their way to streaming video on demand as Hulu and ESL have teamed up to create four new eSports series. “Esports appeals to a younger, more digitally savvy audience so Hulu is a perfect platform to build out our original content and expose the world of esports to new audiences,” ESL Senior VP of Global Media Rights and Distribution Nik Adams said in a statement.

Player V. Player will be a gamified debate show featuring eSports influencers discussing the latest eSports topics. They’ll earn points as they debate and wrap up each show by playing a classic video game. Another show, Bootcamp, will follow CS:GO team The Immortals as they find three new players and train for November’s IEM Oakland event. Defining Moments will be a series that covers the major, history-defining moments of eSports with each episode focusing on a specific theme, such as trick-shots, controversial moves and reflex skills. And lastly, ESL Replay will be a quickly paced, documentary-style recap of the best moments from four of the biggest eSports tournaments around the world.

ESPN has played host to quite a bit of eSports content and TBS, NBC and Disney XD have jumped into the ring as well. Facebook, Twitter and PlayStation Vue have also aired eSports competitions this year while this deal with ESL is Hulu’s first foray into the world of eSports. All four series are set to premiere this fall.

Source: ESL


Google created a fun way to learn about simple AI

You’ve probably heard the term “machine learning” quite a bit — basically, it refers to training computers to learn without directly programming them. It’s a particularly hot topic these days when it comes to AI, since machine learning is the best way to create artificial neural networks, which function similar to the human brain. To help us wrap our minds around these ideas, Google created Teachable Machine, a web tool that lets you create simple programs using your webcam.

While it’s not particularly deep, Teachable Machine is a fun way to break down the complex notion of machine learning without having to dive into code. It’s a simple enough tool for children to use, but it’s also fascinating enough to intrigue adults. Within a few minutes, I taught it to display a cat GIF when I waved my hand, and play bird sounds when I made a fist. And surprisingly enough, Teachable Machine was able to swap between the two when I changed my hand orientation almost instantly.

Teachable Machine conveys just how important pattern recognition is becoming in the technology world. It’s used in photo apps to recognize faces and objects, but it also powers supercomputers like IBM’s Watson. Looking ahead, we might eventually be able to use similar machine learning techniques to train our smarthomes. For example, it could automatically turn on your living room lights and TV when it detects you’ve come home. Or a pet feeder could dispense more food when your cat sits in front of it.

Even though Teachable Machine relies on your webcam and microphone, Google says it works entirely locally in your browser. It’s not storing anything on the company’s servers. That brings up one issue with machine learning as it creeps deeper into our lives: They’ll always be watching and listening.

Source: Teachable Machine


‘Robot Wars’ returns on October 22nd

Of course, Robot Wars is coming back for another season. The show’s revival in July 2016 was a huge success, reminding everyone how much fun it is to watch homemade robots smash each other to bits. Season nine debuted in March and Season 10, the BBC has announced today, will start on Sunday, October 22nd at 8pm on BBC Two. There will be new teams, of course, as well as some updated rules. The new trailer hints at a “Fog of War” hazard, which engulfs competitors in a thick mist, as well as a 10-robot battle royale mode. The latter sounds like total carnage, especially if Sir Killalot and the rest of the house robots are allowed to get involved…

We hope you’re ready for the new series…#robotwars

— Robot Wars (@UKRobotWars) October 9, 2017

Via: Gizmodo UK

Source: Robot Wars (Twitter)


The Best Budget Subwoofer

By Brent Butterworth

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, they may earn affiliate commissions that support their work. Read the full article here.

If anyone asked me what’s the best, most affordable way to add bass to a small stereo, home theater, or computer sound system, I’d tell them to buy the Monoprice 9723 subwoofer. The 9723 emerged as the clear favorite after 20 hours of testing by our panel of audio experts, including extensive blind comparisons with 12 other subwoofers that cost less than $300. It delivers powerful, well-defined bass notes that can shake your couch a little and help make movies and music sound more satisfying and realistic.

How we picked and tested

Our test panel of inexpensive subwoofers. Photo: Brent Butterworth

For this article, I decided to limit the maximum price to $300, which I figured was the most a casual listener would want to pay to add bass to a small system. There are few editorial reviews of subs priced less than $300, so I decided to call in as many as I could for a listening test. I scoured the top-selling options on websites like Amazon and Crutchfield, and then contacted every company that makes an under-$300 sub. In the end, I tested the 11 models pictured above, plus two additional models since this guide was first published.

Testing began with a roughly 10-hour listening session in which I auditioned all of the subwoofers in the same acoustically treated listening room I’ve used to test more than 100 other subwoofers over the past 14 years. I connected each subwoofer to my Denon AVR-2809ci home theater receiver and used a surround-sound system made up of Sunfire CRM-2, CRM-2C, and CRM-BIP speakers. I used a crossover point of 100 hertz, what you might use with a small set of speakers, and played several of the toughest bass test tracks I know of, including Holly Cole’s “Train Song,” Olive’s “Falling,” and the recording of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Symphony No. 3 (Organ)” from the Boston Audio Society Test CD-1. I also used bass-heavy action-movie soundtracks via Blu-ray, including U-571 and San Andreas. To learn more about my test environment and the measurements I took, please see our full guide.

Next, I brought in audio experts and Wirecutter contributors Geoff Morrison and Lauren Dragan for a blind testing session. I hung a thin black drape to prevent them from seeing which sub was playing and didn’t share the subwoofers’ identities until they’d given me their opinion and ranking of each sub. They used music of their own choosing, and each of them also watched a bass-heavy action movie scene.

Our pick

The Monoprice 9723 sounds terrific for its price, and its curved sides make it look slightly nicer than the average “big black box” subwoofer. Photo: Brent Butterworth

For both Geoff and me, the Monoprice 9723 subwoofer was not only the best value of the bunch, but also our favorite of any of the subs, regardless of price. Lauren ranked the 9723 second to the Dayton Audio SUB-1500, but when I told her the price difference and placed the two subs side by side so she could see their relative sizes, she said without hesitation that she thought the 9723 should be the top pick.

Unlike some of the smaller subwoofers we tested, the 9723 sounds like a “real” subwoofer. It adds a lot more bass and gave my system a nice full, satisfying bottom end without sounding boomy or annoying. “By far the best,” Geoff said, describing the sound much as I did.

But as powerful as the 9723 is for its price, it does have its limits. “It feels a little reined in compared with subwoofer #7 [the Dayton SUB-1500],” Lauren said when playing Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” This characteristic, probably the subwoofer’s internal maximum volume limiter kicking in, made the 9723 sound somewhat artificial to her.

For a subwoofer, the 9723 even looks sort of nice, with curved sides and a detachable fabric grille covering the woofer. At 17 by 17.25 by 17.5 inches, it’s not small, but it’s also not so huge that it’d be hard to fit into an ordinary living room.

Since we first posted our guide, we have learned of complaints about the 9723 in this thread on the Slickdeals site. Some users have reported receiving scuffed or damaged units, and some have complained that the subwoofer produces inadequate volume or excessive hum. To investigate these issues, we purchased an additional sample of the 9723, using a friend’s credit card and shipping address so that Monoprice wouldn’t know that the subwoofer was going to us. The purchased sample arrived in new condition, and its measured performance closely matched that of the review sample. You can read more about this test in this blog post.

If our top pick sells out

The BIC America V1020 strikes a nice compromise between physical size and deep-bass power. Photo: Brent Butterworth

Our tests found a subwoofer that splits the difference between the Monoprice 9723 and the Pioneer SW-8MK2 (our original compact pick, which we praised for its precise, musical sound): The BIC America V1020. It has the Monoprice’s muscle and some of the Pioneer’s appealing precision. At 16.5 by 15 by 13 inches, it’s also sized between the Monoprice and Pioneer models. The 10-inch woofer sounds obviously more muscular than the Pioneer SW-8MK2’s 8-incher, and more powerful even than the Dayton Audio SUB-1000L’s 10-incher.

The V1020 has much nicer speaker cable connectors than the Monoprice and Dayton Audio models—real threaded binding posts rather than flimsy spring clips. However, it has just one monophonic (i.e., not stereo) line-level input jack, which will make it more difficult to use with a computer and powered speakers.

A slim, easier-to-hide alternative

The Dayton Audio SUB-1000L measures just 6 inches thick, so you should be able to slip it behind a chair or possibly even under the couch. Photo: Brent Butterworth

Most subwoofers are blah-looking black boxes that take up a pretty good amount of space and detract from the decor of a room. The Dayton Audio SUB-1000L, on the other hand, is only 6 inches thick, so you can hide it behind or maybe even under a chair or a sofa. You can place it horizontally or vertically, and it even includes brackets that let you attach it directly to a wall.

It’s because of this well-thought-out design that we decided to substitute it for our previous compact pick, the Pioneer SW-8MK2, but the SUB-1000L was also a better performer. When we played action movies through both, the SUB-1000L had noticeable extra power on the deepest bass notes. It also sounded a little more satisfying with hip-hop and dance music, while maintaining a precise, melodic quality in the higher bass notes. It can’t match the punch, power, and clarity of the Monoprice 9723 or the BIC America V1020, but its combination of room-friendly design, sound quality, and price is available in no other sub we’ve tested.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


Mixcloud plans subscription service with Warner Music deal

Mixcloud — a user-generated audio site similar to SoundCloud but with more of a focus on long-form content — just signed a licensing deal with Warner Music, the Financial Times reports. This means that the site can soon begin to offer subscriptions. Mixcloud plays host to around 17 million listeners per month who tune in to some 12 million radio shows, DJ sets and podcasts. Some of its content generators include Tiesto, David Byrne of the Talking Heads and The Guardian.

Interestingly, Mixcloud says it’s not interested in pursuing the typical $10 per month payment structure utilized by Apple and Spotify. “We don’t want to do the $9.99 a month. That’s done. That market is served,” Mixcloud cofounder Nico Perez told the Financial Times. “What we’re building is going to be very customised.” The company said in a statement, “The deal will help enable an innovative subscription offering that allows fans to subscribe to individual creator channels for a more interactive listening experience. This approach will help audio creators on the platform monetise their content by developing a new marketplace for audio subscriptions.”

How this innovative subscription offering will play out is yet to be determined because Mixcloud is still negotiating with Universal Music and Sony Music. Warner recently made new deals with Spotify and Apple Music, but because Mixcloud offers much different content than those two and isn’t positioned as their rival, the music giant was more open to Mixcloud’s less typical payment structure. “If we do this right, you could see people subscribe to more than one service,” Warner Music Chief Digital Officer Ole Obermann, told the Financial Times.

Via: Variety

Source: Mixcloud, Financial Times


Deliveroo’s pop-up kitchens are ticking off local councils

Anyone that’s ever ordered food for delivery will know your postcode is only as good as the eateries that serve it. Earlier this year, Deliveroo announced “Editions” as a new way to bring different types of restaurant-quality food to more empty bellies. Deliveroo Editions sites are home to Rooboxes — delivery-only kitchens manned by chefs cooking for well-known establishments. The idea is that restaurants can use these proxy kitchens to serve a wider customer base, with Deliveroo cashing in on the increase in orders. That all sounds great on paper, but it appears Deliveroo didn’t quite think everything though, as some sites aren’t sitting too well with local councils.

As The Guardian reports, Southwark council has already told Deliveroo to suspend operations at a site in Camberwell, south London, on account of the company not having appropriate planning permission. Rooboxes are typically housed in shipping container-sized structures or pieced together inside industrial buildings. On top of the planning issue, nearby residents have complained of the nuisance and noise created by delivery vehicles buzzing around the site every night.

“The council is concerned by Deliveroo’s use of the Valmar Road trading estate as their kitchen pods are close to people’s homes, are clearly disturbing the residents and they didn’t apply for the necessary planning permission,” Southwalk Councillor Mark Williams said. “We have served a planning enforcement notice that requires Deliveroo to stop preparing and delivering food from the site. We encourage them to work with us and listen to local residents so that we can find a long-term solution.”

Southwark council is also said to be looking into another Editions site operating out of an east Dulwich car park. In Hove, residents have apparently complained about noise from delivery vehicles going to and from a local site. Deliveroo has an Editions site within a commercial building there, for which it received approval. Brighton & Hove City council has said they it’s looking at the site after fielding a retrospective planning application for modifications including additional ventilation, however.

Elsewhere, Haringey council said it hasn’t received a planning application for a site in Hornsey, north London, despite Deliveroo leasing the space already. In the Borough of Tower Hamlets, Deliveroo applied for and has been granted temporary permission to put Rooboxes in the car park of Blackwall DLR station.

Deliveroo Editions are a huge part of the company’s future expansion plans, and many are already up and running across London and beyond. In classic leap-before-you-look fashion, though, it appears Deliveroo hasn’t fully considered the consequences of dropping these delivery kitchens in car parks close to residential areas.

“We have been talking with local residents to put in place measures to deal with any concerns. Where there are issues with planning permission, we will work closely with relevant local authorities to ensure they are resolved,” a Deliveroo spokesperson told The Guardian.

Source: The Guardian


Sony’s first robot in years will be an Aibo sequel

Sony hasn’t been shy about promising a return to robots, but just what will this revival look like? We now have an idea… and it’ll seem remarkably familiar. Nikkei reports that Sony’s first device will be an Aibo-like robotic dog made with the help of the former Aibo team members who still work at the company, such as AI guru Masahiro Fujita. While there aren’t many details at this stage, you could think of it as a canine Amazon Echo. While it would behave like a pup, you could use it to control your smart home devices — imagine if you could tell your dog to turn on the lights and expect it to respond.

There aren’t any launch details at this point, but Nikkei says that Sony will open up the dog’s software to let third parties add features much like they can add “skills” to Amazon’s Alexa.

Reportedly, this home robot wasn’t guaranteed. Sony was thinking of making industrial robots, but decided that the market was too well-established to let in a newcomer. In-home robots are still relatively fresh, offering Sony a better chance at success. If this Aibo pseudo-sequel does take off, it’ll join a personal robot renaissance in Japan. The country developed a strong early reputation for robotics through machines like Aibo and Honda’s ASIMO, but that tapered off as AI from the era hit a wall and companies like Sony ran into financial trouble. As you may have noticed, though, AI is enjoying a resurgence thanks to progress in machine learning and products like smart speakers — Sony and others are coming back knowing that the technology is much more practical for everyday use.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review


New camera tech could help self-driving cars see around corners

Self-driving cars can detect much of the world around them, but they’re inherently limited by their reliance on line-of-sight vision. They’re not so good at spotting the visual cues that a car is just around the corner — you might spot the encroaching headlight beams, but a car might not. MIT’s CSAIL team may have a solution, though. They’ve developed camera technology that uses subtle changes in lighting on the floor to determine what’s around a corner. As objects reflect a small amount of light around walls, creating a “shadow,” you can piece together images of objects around the corner by capturing video of the floor and tracking the shifting colors.

It’s a surprisingly resilient system: it works indoors and out, in most lighting conditions and less-than-ideal weather like rain. And importantly, this doesn’t require lasers or other expensive technology that can easily be fooled by a scene’s lighting. You could easily mount this to an autonomous car at a relatively low cost and expect it to work.

Just don’t expect to see this on your next car. MIT’s current system doesn’t work when there’s virtually no light in either the hidden or visible scenes, so this probably won’t work on a country backroad with no lights whatsoever. Also, the system gets confused when the lighting constantly changes, such as patchy clouds passing in front of the Sun. The team hopes to find solutions, though, and they’re already confident enough to test it with a wheelchair. And while autonomous vehicles are the ultimate goal, this could be used for safety in piloted vehicles, such as warning you when it spots someone running into the street. This technology could easily reach the market — it’s likely just a question of fine-tuning.

Source: MIT CSAIL (YouTube)


Apple Reportedly Joining Parisian Startup Incubator ‘Station F’ to Assist App Developers

As Tim Cook meets with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris today, a new rumor is looking to the week ahead and what could potentially be announced by the Apple CEO as he continues his trip around France. According to information gained by Mac4Ever, Apple is set to announce its appearance at Station F, described as one of the largest centers for entrepreneurs in Europe and the largest startup facility in the world.

Emmanuel Macron appeared at the grand opening of Station F in June (via @joinstationf)
Apple will allegedly deploy a small team to Station F that will help developers create, validate, and manage applications to be launched on the iOS App Store. Given Cook’s arrival in Paris today, if Apple does end up supporting Station F in some way it makes sense that the announcement could come out of the CEO’s travels this week. Other companies with startup programs at Station F include Facebook, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and more.

According to our information, Apple would open – it is a first – an official cell in one of the largest centers of welcome for entrepreneurs in Europe. We do not yet know all the details, but the Apple would plan to deploy a small team, to help developers, especially in the creation and validation of applications.

Earlier this year, Apple opened its own iOS App Accelerator facility in Bangalore, built to support engineering talent and boost the growth of India’s iOS developer community. Apple has eagerly supported and promoted the App Store and its developer community over the years, since it and other Apple services — Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, iTunes, and iCloud — continue to grow and contribute to much of the company’s revenue.

In terms of Cook’s current trip, he has visited an iPhone X component supplier, the Normandy American Cemetery, and a few app-based startups. More details of his meeting with Macron — expected to cover international tax laws — should begin to surface throughout the day.

Tag: France
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2018 iPad Pro Models May Feature TrueDepth Camera for Face ID

iPad Pro models set to be released in 2018 will come equipped with a TrueDepth Camera and will support Face ID, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors in a note this morning.

Kuo believes Apple will add TrueDepth cameras to the iPad Pro to introduce a user experience that’s consistent with the iPhone X and boost competitiveness. With all high-end iOS devices equipped with TrueDepth Cameras, “ecosystem development” will also benefit.

According to Kuo, TrueDepth Cameras will be limited to the iPad Pro, which is Apple’s main flagship tablet device. Kuo also predicts 2018 iPhone models will adopt the new camera technology coming in the iPhone X, as he has mentioned in a previous note.

We predict iOS devices to be equipped with TrueDepth Camera in 2018F will include iPhone X and 2018 new iPhone and iPad models. Because of this, we believe more developers will pay attention to TrueDepth Camera/ facial recognition related applications. We expect Apple’s (US) major promotion of facial recognition related applications will encourage the Android camp to also dedicate more resources to developing hardware and facial recognition applications.

With Apple embracing facial recognition and the TrueDepth Camera, Kuo reiterated that he expects Android smartphone makers to begin researching facial recognition technology, abandoning under-screen fingerprint recognition technology. Apple has a serious lead over its competitors though, with Kuo previously saying it will take up to 2.5 years for Android hardware to catch up with the TrueDepth camera.

The iPhone X, Apple’s first product with a TrueDepth Camera for Face ID, is set to be released to the public on November 3. It’s not clear when the company plans to introduce new iPad Pro models, but the new devices could come as soon as the first half of 2018. The iPad Pro was last updated in June of 2017, introducing a new 10.5-inch model with slimmer bezels and new display technology.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPhone XTag: Ming-Chi KuoBuyer’s Guide: 10.5″ iPad Pro (Neutral), 12.9″ iPad Pro (Neutral)
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