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25 Jan

Travelers spending part of their journey at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol can now choose to pass the time by joining in conversation with others -- even if they don't speak the same language -- thanks to some newfangled seating installations.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recently came up with KLM Connecting Seats, devised in collaboration with DDB & Tribal Amsterdam, and installed them at the Amsterdam airport.

Every one of the seats has been designed to permit travelers to rest their heads in the middle of the headrest. Speakers are located on either side of the headrest, and a directional microphone allows for far-to-face communication to happen as the conversation is translated in real time.

DDB & Tribal Amerstam and the airline took advantage of Google’s Cloud Speech, Cloud Translation and Web Speech to ensure that the conversations could occur as translated in real time. This includes various dialects of world languages.

23 Jan

Chinese startup NIO has come up with an alternative to the Tesla X, a popular electric-vehicle SUV in China despite being slapped with high import tariffs.

Recently, NIO announced the launch of its first production car, the NIO ES8, an all-electric SUV that's pegged at a cheaper price than the Tesla X. And while the introduction of the vehicle was announced several months ago, NIO's leadership decided to make a bigger deal out of the official introduction: Thousands of guests were reportedly flown in to Beijing for a spectacular product launch event.

The 7-seater ES8 features a 70 kWh battery pack that allows for an NDEC-rated range of 220 miles (355 km), which translates into a real-world range of about 186 miles (about 300 km).

21 Jan

If getting someone in your household away from a favorite video game seems impossible, you aren’t alone. In fact, video game addiction has become so prevalent, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to add “gaming disorder” to its list of diseases in 2018.

Mental health professionals have long dealt with patients who exhibit signs of the disorder, an impaired control over gaming that includes an inability to quit. Someone with a gaming disorder likely finds that it interferes with other areas of his or her life, the experts say. Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse have been studying the condition for the past six years and join others in the field who believe making it official means it will be easier to diagnose and treat it.

19 Jan

If you’ve spent much time interacting with voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, you know that text-to-speech isn’t an exact science yet. Digital diction tends to sound more robotic than human voices, although technology has improved things in recent years.

Thanks to Google, things will only continue to get better. The tech giant recently published a paper that described its upcoming Tacotron 2, an advanced way to electronically deliver speech that achieves a mean opinion score (MOS) of 4.53 compared to the 4.58 score for recorded human speech. The MOS score measures how realistic something sounds.

17 Jan

A Chinese group known as MINI LIVING has partnered with Nova Property Investment Company, a Chinese project developer, to revitalize a dormant industrial facility in Shanghai's historic Jing’An neighborhood. The goal: To create a multi-faceted co-living complex that will include cultural and leisure offerings, apartments, and work spaces.

MINI has tackled a number of projects designed to revitalize abandoned or under-used urban spaces, including an Urban Cabin, which, in one photo, looks like a short railroad boxcar plopped into an urban plaza/patio, and, in another, looks like a colorful art exhibit sitting alongside slightly whitewashed brick buildings fronting a narrow street or alleyway.

The organization's Shanghai project goes a healthy step further in its aims -- to take an actual building, in this case an old paint factory, and turn it into an urban center that allows for plenty of working, living, and interaction.

The whole idea promotes the concept that people can actually receive more when they give away, or share.

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