A Software Engineer at Google Research named Chao Chen published on the Google AI Blog the 11th of August 2020. The article published was named: On-device Supermarket Product Recognition. Although I have been writing mostly about natural-language processing the last few days I thought I would take a short break from this endeavour to look at this research.
Supermarket. Image credit: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Chen stresses the challenges faced by users who are visually impaired.
It can be hard identifying packaged foods in grocery and kitchen.
Many foods share the same packaging — packed in boxes, tins, jars, and so on.
In many cases the only difference is text and imagery printed on the product.
With the ubiquity of smartphones Chen think we can do better.
Using machine learning (ML) he suggests to address this challenge. Since the speed has developed and computing power in smartphones has increased many vision tasks can be undertaken entirely on a mobile device.
However, in COVID-19 times, it may be advantages as well to not physically touching a product to examine packaging information.
Early experiments with on-device product recognition in a Swiss supermarket, posted on Google AI blog.
He mentions the development of on-device models such as MnasNet and MobileNets (based on resource-aware architecture search).
Using these developments such as these, recently released Lookout, an Android app that uses computer vision to make the physical world more accessible for users who are visually impaired.
“Lookout uses computer vision to assist people with low vision or blindness get things done faster and more easily. Using your phone’s camera, Lookout makes it easier to get more information about the world around you and do daily tasks more efficiently like sorting mail, putting away groceries, and more.”
This was built with the guidance from the blind and low-vision community, and supports Google’s mission to make the world’s information universally accessible to everyone.
It is brilliant to see Google going in this direction for those who have difficulty accessing information. Chen writes:
“When the user aims their smartphone camera at the product, Lookout identifies it and speaks aloud the brand name and product size.”
How is this accomplished?
S supermarket product detection and recognition model.
Elastica: A Compliant Mechanics Environment for Soft Robotic Control
Soft robots can be used in various spheres, such as agriculture, medicine, and defense. However, their complex physics means that they are hard to control. Current simulation testbeds are insufficient for taking the full advantage of elasticity.
A recent paper on arXiv.org proposes Elastica, a simulation environment tailored to soft robot context. It tries to fill the gap between conventional rigid body solvers, which are incapable to model complex continuum mechanics, and high-fidelity finite elements methods, which are mathematically cumbersome. Elastica can be used to simulate assemblies of soft, slender, and compliant rods and interface with major reinforcement learning packages. It is shown how most reinforcement learning models can learn to control a soft arm and to complete successively challenging tasks, like 3D tracking of a target, or maneuvering between structured and unstructured obstacles.
Soft robots are notoriously hard to control. This is partly due to the scarcity of models able to capture their complex continuum mechanics, resulting in a lack of control methodologies that take full advantage of body compliance. Currently available simulation methods are either too computational demanding or overly simplistic in their physical assumptions, leading to a paucity of available simulation resources for developing such control schemes. To address this, we introduce Elastica, a free, open-source simulation environment for soft, slender rods that can bend, twist, shear and stretch. We demonstrate how Elastica can be coupled with five state-of-the-art reinforcement learning algorithms to successfully control a soft, compliant robotic arm and complete increasingly challenging tasks.
Samsung Brings Its Flagship Camera Innovation to Galaxy A Series – GalaxyA71 & A51, to Make Your Social Profile Awesome
Our social media profiles are reflection of our true personalities. Needless to say, we make that extra effort to make them look and feel special. What helps us in the process is a powerful smartphone that can not only capture stunning photos and videos, but also help us quickly process and share them across to our friends and family members.
Samsung’s phones are known for their excellent smartphone cameras. Over the years, the company has been shipping highly innovative and impressive cameras on its flagship smartphones. Samsung is now bringing its innovative flagship camera experiences to its Galaxy A series phones, the Samsung Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A71. These new flagship-level camera features can help you spice up your social media profiles by capturing and sharing stunning photographs and videos.
Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive new camera features in Samsung’s Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 smartphones at can help you take your social media posts to the next level:
Single Take Makes Your Special Moments Extra Ordinary
Everything you do is worth sharing on your social media profiles and messaging platforms. Your social profiles help you stay connected to your loved ones by helping you share your most memorable moments. Single Take is a new feature on Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 smartphones, which was earlier available only on Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S20 series.
Single Take lets you indulge in your special moments, while still capturing the best parts of it. Imagine being at a birthday celebration of a loved one, and wondering about which camera mode to select. Single Take can help you enjoy the moment while still being able to capture all the important details in a maximum of 7 photos & 3 videos based on the moment and lighting condition.
All you have to do is pick Single Take mode, and capture a moment for a few seconds. Your Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 phone will be able to deliver stunning photos and videos that ensure you don’t miss out on anything important, and still end up with a bunch of great photos and videos to share on your social media profile.
Night Hyper lapse to Impress Everyone on Your Feed
Out at a party? The new Night Hyperlapse mode can help you capture stunning night-time videos to impress your social media friends and family. The mode helps you capture long-exposure style videos and light trails that are nothing but pieces of pure bliss when you share them on your social media profiles. Your friends and family will nudge you, asking you how you captured these. Night Hyperlapse mode is now available on Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 phones.
Custom Filters to Add that Special Touch to Your Photos
While social media is fun, it’s also filled with a lot of noise. You’re not going to make it if you don’t look different and extra special. Well, Samsung has you covered here as well. The new Custom Filters feature in the Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 can help you create stunning and highly personalized photos using custom-set filters.
All you have to do is create a custom filter using any of your existing photos. Custom Filters uses on-device AI to capture the rich colours and vibes of your existing photos. You can then use these filters and apply them on new photos you capture on the Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 to create personalized photos. Once you share these on your social media profiles, they’ll look stunning and extraordinary, unlike anyone else’s photos.
Smart Selfie Angle to Make You and Your Friends Looks Great
Selfies are quite an essential part of social media. While everyone is shooting and sharing selfies, not all of them are going to look as good as yours, thanks to this highly innovative camera feature on the Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51.
The new Smart Selfie Angle mode on the Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 help you capture great selfies with your friends. Every time you use the front camera to capture a selfie with your friends, the camera can automatically switch to a wide-angle mode. The mode is built to capture great details when more than one person is involved in a selfie. This means your selfies with your friends are going to look fabulous when you share them on your social media profiles.
Quick Video to capture videos easily when you are in the move
Never miss an important moment in your life by fiddling with smartphone camera modes. The new Quick Video mode in the Samsung Galaxy A51, Galaxy A71 lets you capture a video by long-pressing the camera button to kick off the recording. You won’t have to manually switch to the video recording mode in the camera while you shooting for your social media profiles.
It makes capturing videos for your social media post simpler and easier, especially while you’re on the move. Quick Video is essential to capture those precious few seconds of moments which you’ll cherish for a long time in the future.
Switch Camera While Recording that can help you save a lot of time
You can now seamlessly switch between front and rear cameras while recording a video on your Samsung Galaxy A51. The feature is great for social media influencers and other users who want to create pro-level videos using both front and rear camera. You don’t have to stop recording to switch cameras anymore, making it more convenient and efficient to capture great videos.
AI Gallery Zoom Adds That Magical Touch to Existing Photos
AI Gallery Zoom is a great feature that make the images look sharper & clearer. For example, if you get one of your photos from a friend, on a messaging platform, it could turn out to be slightly blurred due to compression systems.
This feature ensures those unclear photos look more clear in your Gallery. It can make images look sharper and visually appealing, so you can easily share them on your social media profiles. The feature uses an on-device AI-powered mechanism so your personal data doesn’t leave your phone ever. The feature is also useful if you’re migrating from an older, less powerful smartphone, and are importing photos from it.
Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 Are Perfect for Social Influencers
You can capture a wider world with the Ultra Wide Night Mode camera’s wider field of vision. The Quad Cam’s built-in 5MP Macro Cam shoots with clarity and quality helping you bring out the ultra-fine details of your close-up shots. The Slow- mo Selfie feature on the Galaxy A71 lets you capture all kinds of stunning slow motion selfies with its 32MP front camera. So, what’s stopping you from becoming the next big thing on social media? It could be your existing smartphone. Switch to the new and powerful Samsung Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 and feel the difference today. The smartphones now come with Samsung’s highly innovative and powerful flagship-grade camera features that can make your social media posts pop, turning you into a celebrity amongst your fans and followers.
Stone Pro dock v. StayGo Twelve South hub: Flexibility vs. portability for Mac users
Although Apple doesn’t build its own Mac docking stations or hubs, others fill the gaps. Here’s how to decide which of two popular options—a Henge Docks or Twelve South product—is best for you.
Whether you’re working remotely from a home office or at corporate headquarters, if you’re using a Mac, chances are you must connect additional peripherals. The need is particularly true if your Mac is one of the newer laptop models possessing only a pair of USB-C ports, one of which is typically dedicated to the power adapter. A docking station is necessary, but which dock is right for you? The answer, as is so often the case, depends on the accessories you plan to use and how you plan to use the dock.
The $239.99 Henge Docks Stone Pro (Figure A) is a true docking station. Now owned and distributed by Brydge, the dock includes its own 87-watt power supply, a fact and value that should not be underestimated. Apple’s own 61-watt and 96-watt power adapters cost $69 and $79 by themselves, and that doesn’t include the cost of a necessary $19 USB-C charge cable. Wherever you use the Stone Pro, you can leave its paired power adapter with the dock, thereby saving you the hassle of schlepping a power adapter with you on commutes and freeing your OEM Apple adapter for secondary use and your travels.
Even when purchased at its full, non-sale price of $329.99, the Stone Pro is worth its cost due to the dock’s ability to power two 4K monitors. Thanks to the dock’s myriad ports, Mac users will find the desktop accessory handy for connecting a number of other peripherals. All told, the Stone Pro offers almost a dozen ports:
Audio / microphone
3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps USB-C
Three 4.1 Gen 1 5Gbps USB-A
Two Thunderbolt 3
Up to 4K60Hz DisplayPort
SDXC UHS-II SD Card
Because the Stone Pro ships with its own Thunderbolt 3 cable for connecting the dock to a Mac, there’s nothing else needed except the other peripherals you typically use in your home or corporate office. Connecting or disconnecting this single Thunderbolt 3 cable permits you to take your Mac and come and go. Using the Stone Pro, there’s no need to connect and disconnect multiple monitors, a power cable, external hard drives, printers, a network connection, and other peripherals every time you enter or exit the office.
Add in the fact the Henge Docks work well—I’ve used one for hundreds of hours and never encountered any connectivity or compatibility issues. Plus, the Stone dock series’ metal finish matches other accessories and looks good, while also propping up the Mac making its integrated display easier to see and the Mac keyboard easier to use.
The Stone Pro is a little bigger, though, and requires its own power adapter. Those are both blessings and curses. If you frequently work from a single location, the Stone Pro is my definitive preference and recommendation. If, however, you are frequently on the move, give Twelve South’s StayGo USB-C Hub a look.
StayGo USB-C Hub
Sized roughly a little smaller than an iPhone 11, the $99 StayGo USB-C Hub (Figure B) can easily be packed in a laptop bag and taken wherever you go. The StayGo doesn’t include a separate power supply, meaning you’ll have to pack your Mac’s standard Apple OEM power adapter whenever you travel whether traveling to work, your home office, a business meeting or a coffee shop. Twelve South does include a small travel cable that fits neatly inside the well-designed hub itself. In case you use the hub long-term in a single location, Twelve South also includes a 1-meter desk cable that better assists desktop deployment.
In addition to its USB-C port with pass-through 85-watt USB-C power delivery charging dedicated to connecting to the Mac and its 100-watt max USB-C power input port, the StayGo also includes the following:
4K Full 1080p 30Hz HDMI
USB-A 3.0 / BC 1.2 charging port with 5Gbps BC 12.75-watt fast charge
Two USB-A 3.0 with up to 5Gbps with 900mA power
SD/Micro SD UHS-I Card
Micro SD UHS-I Card
The StayGo’s aluminum shell dissipates heat, and support for a Micro SD card provides expanded compatibility for such media. While I suspect future versions will replace some of the USB-A ports with USB-C alternatives, until then Mac users can always tap a $19 Apple USB-C to USB adapter to eliminate any compatibility issues working with newer USB-C components.
If you require multiple displays, need a second power source and frequently work from just one other location, the Stone Pro will serve Mac users’ needs best. If you only work with a single HDMI-connected display and travel frequently, however, the StayGo will meet your needs and save you some money.
Regardless which you choose, both devices are well designed, work reliably and provide a range of additional connectivity options. In an age when Apple’s designers are increasingly limiting the number of ports native to MacBook laptops of all varieties, docks and hubs will prove necessary, so such third-party solutions should enjoy healthy sales.
Apple Weekly Newsletter
Whether you want iPhone and Mac tips or the latest enterprise-specific Apple news, we’ve got you covered. Delivered Tuesdays