Sony is selling a personal wearable AC unit

July 9, 2020

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Announced in 2019, Sony is now selling its Reon Pocket, a personal temperature control unit that sells for about $130 (14,080 Japanese Yen). According to Design Boom:

the reon pocket utilizes thermoelectric cooling but sony says you can also use it as a heater on winter days. it can supposedly cool a user's body temperature by 13 degrees celsius (23 degrees fahrenheit) and raise your temperature by about 8 degrees celsius (about 14 degrees fahrenheit).

the reon pocket is a bluetooth device about the size of a card wallet that slips into a special undershirt with a pocket at the base of the neck. it connects to an app which gives users control of the temperature via their smartphone.

the wearable air conditioner supports ios and android, has a battery life of 90 minutes and a charge time of 2 hours. it looks a little like an apple mouse, weighs just 85 grams and uses USB-c.

It's a similar concept as the Embr Wave, which is a wearable bracelet that also heats and cools, but sells for more than double the price at $299. I imagine the Reon Pocket is more effective since it sits at your neck/back versus your wrist, but the problem is you have to wear that stupid undershirt to make it work. Although I suppose you could skip the shirt and just tape it to your back like John McClane in Die Hard. Yippee ki-yay, you poor sweaty bastards. I've got a weird device taped to my back and that makes me cooler than you. Literally.

Keep going for the product video or check out the main Japanese site here.

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Japan reopens theme parks, bans screaming on roller coasters

July 9, 2020

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Japan recently reopened their theme parks, and in addition to masks, their guidelines include a ban on screaming on roller coasters because it spreads coronavirus. According to The Wall Street Journal:

A video showed the two executives, both clad in masks, sternly riding the coaster in complete silence. It ended with a message: "Please scream inside your heart."

The ban on screaming, along with a recommendation that visitors wear masks, is included in guidelines released by Japan's theme-park associations when parks began reopening in May. The guidelines are being followed by most parks in the country, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. The associations said they were following the judgment of health officials, who have said actions such as coughing and singing can spread droplets widely.

"Please scream inside your heart." Yeah, I already do that all day every day, Japan. At first I thought this was an Onion article but the site says The Wall Street Journal so now I'm only 50% sure it's a joke. Personally I don't scream on roller coasters anyway because I'm super tough and manly and there's no time to scream when you're busy eating steaks and bench pressing things.

Keep going for the full video of the two execs trying reaaally hard to look chill while riding a roller coaster.

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Interpolated Apollo 16 rover footage creates an immersive moon-driving experience

July 8, 2020

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YouTuber Dutchsteammachine took 16mm NASA footage of the Apollo 16 Lunar Roving Vehicle traversing to Station 4 and increased the framerate from 12fps to 60fps using DAIN-AI. They also color corrected the footage and synchronized audio to create a pretty immersive experience of riding around on the moon. Although I must admit the scenery gets a bit repetitive. I mean, lunar soil as far as the eye can see? Where's the cheese? Wasn't there supposed to be some cheese up there?

Keep going for a shot of what the Lunar Roving Vehicle looks like along with the full video.

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Gary Larson reveals new 'The Far Side' comic strips

July 8, 2020

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Gary Larson teased he was working on something new awhile ago, but yesterday he finally posted some of his new work on his site. He writes:

So a few years ago--finally fed up with my once-loyal but now reliably traitorous pen--I decided to try a digital tablet. I knew nothing about these devices but hoped it would just get me through my annual Christmas card ordeal. I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again. I was stunned at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I simply had no idea how far these things had evolved. Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I drew was a caveman.

The "New Stuff" that you'll see here is the result of my journey into the world of digital art. Believe me, this has been a bit of a learning curve for me. I hail from a world of pen and ink, and suddenly I was feeling like I was sitting at the controls of a 747. (True, I don't get out much.) But as overwhelmed as I was, there was still something familiar there--a sense of adventure. That had always been at the core of what I enjoyed most when I was drawing The Far Side, that sense of exploring, reaching for something, taking some risks, sometimes hitting a home run and sometimes coming up with "Cow tools." (Let's not get into that.) But as a jazz teacher once said to me about improvisation, "You want to try and take people somewhere where they might not have been before." I think that my approach to cartooning was similar--I'm just not sure if even I knew where I was going. But I was having fun.

So all it took for Gary Larson to start making strips again was getting his hands on an iPad. Sure, they completely revolutionized smartphones and the way we engage with our digital world, but getting Gary Larson to create new The Far Side strips should be Apple's crowning achievement. They might as well just shut down the company because this was their endgame all along, right?

You can check out his new strips here.

EDIT: Larson only mentions 'digital tablet' so it's not verified it's an iPad, but the strips definitely have a Procreate feel to them.

NASA intentionally destroys SLS rocket propellant tank

July 8, 2020

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On June 24, 2020, NASA engineers completed the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's structural testing for the Artemis lunar missions by locating the point of failure for the liquid oxygen tank. According to NASA:

For the final test, the liquid oxygen tank test article -- measuring 70 feet tall and 28 feet in diameter -- was bolted into a massive 185,000-pound steel ring at the base of Marshall's Test Stand 4697. Hydraulic cylinders were then calibrated and positioned all along the tank to apply millions of pounds of crippling force from all sides while engineers measured and recorded the effects of the launch and flight forces. The liquid oxygen tank circumferentially failed in the weld location as engineers predicted and at the approximate load levels expected, proving flight readiness and providing critical data for the tank's designers. The test concluded at approximately 9 p.m. CT. This final test on the liquid oxygen structural test article met all the program milestones.

So basically they blew up their own liquid oxygen tank to make sure it would fail where they expected it to fail. Sure, NASA. Sure. That's the same excuse I gave my girlfriend when I left the stove on and accidentally burned down part of our kitchen. It was just a test, honey, I meant to do it. I'm basically a NASA engineer.

Keep going for the full video.

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Incredibly charming handmade cardboard Tetris

July 8, 2020

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This is an extremely charming handmade cardboard Tetris game. I mean, I guess it's Tetris? The pieces are right and all, but this girl has at least 4 lines that haven't been cleared so I don't know what's up. Me thinks no matter how far she gets she's going to end up losing. And I guess that's the real life lesson right there. Just give up, kid. It never gets easier.

Keep going for the full video of the totally unfair cardboard Tetris.

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Tesla Model 3 narrowly avoids flying tire

July 7, 2020

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A Tesla Model 3 owner narrowly avoided an accident when their Autopilot warned them of an oncoming tire flying down the freeway. According to the driver:

The Tesla did not dodge the tire, I did. However, the autopilot gave me the time and view which allowed me to see the tire coming from the other side of the freeway. Also, the car stabilized very quickly after swerving to avoid getting hit. The car kept me from flipping over and spinning out into five lanes of traffic.

So technically Autopilot just told the guy there was a tire flying at him and it was up to him to actually dodge it. It's a cool story, but I need my Autopilot to do all the dodging for me. I can't be trusted to save my own life. Coordination isn't one of my strong suits and if it was up to me I'd end up driving straight into the tire, and then into the divider, and then into all the cars in front of me, and then somehow into a gas station that would explode into a giant fireball.

Keep going for the full video of the near miss.

EDIT: So it's a bit vague, but it actually seems like the only reason they dodged the tire was because they were using Autopilot and then just kind of looking around taking in the scenery and saw an incoming tire. So technically the Autopilot didn't really do anything except let this guy not focus on the road and instead focus on more important things like random objects flying towards his car.

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Disney develops high resolution neural face-swapping

July 7, 2020

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The folks at Disney Research Studios have moved one step closer to replacing human actors by developing this algorithm for high resolution face-swapping in images and videos.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first method capable of rendering photo-realistic and temporally coherent results at megapixel resolution. To this end, we introduce a progressively trained multi-way comb network and a light- and contrast-preserving blending method. We also show that while progressive training enables generation of high-resolution images, extending the architecture and training data beyond two people allows us to achieve higher fidelity in generated expressions. When compositing the generated expression onto the target face, we show how to adapt the blending strategy to preserve contrast and low-frequency lighting. Finally, we incorporate a refinement strategy into the face landmark stabilization algorithm to achieve temporal stability, which is crucial for working with high-resolution videos. We conduct an extensive ablation study to show the influence of our design choices on the quality of the swap and compare our work with popular state-of-the-art methods.

This is basically like supercharged DeepFakes and the results are pretty impressive. Disney Research Studios claims they're developing this for movies and visual effects, but I can think of some other *ahem* more adult oriented applications as well. Yes, I'm talking about porn. What else would I be talking about? I'm always talking about porn. This is the Internet. Everybody's always talking about porn. Why is Disney Research Studios even pretending they're not doing this for porn? I wonder how many more times I can type Disney and porn in the same sentence before I get sued.

Keep going for a video of the face-swapping in action. It's still not perfect, but it's significantly better than the alternative methods.

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