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FLYING TRAINS COULD BE COMING YOUR WAY

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It sounds like something Q, the tech guy in James Bond movies, would create: A plane that lands on a runway, shrugs its wings off, turns into a train and rolls on to rails to drop you off at your local station.

That’s what a French entrepreneur, who’s made millions by connecting engineers with industrial groups, is pitching to Boeing Co. and others. “Link & Fly” is Akka Technologies’s new flagship aircraft design, with wings that come off to hasten turnover at airports and make boarding easier and closer to passengers’ homes.

“After cars go electric and autonomous, the next big disruption will be in airplanes,” Akka’s Chief Executive Officer Maurice Ricci said in an interview in Paris. Boeing is among prime customer targets for Akka, as it seeks to limit its dependence on the likes of Airbus SE and Renault SA in Europe.

With Akka’s futuristic concept, passengers would board a train-like tube at a neighborhood station and have their retinas scanned for security during the ride to the airport. Wings would then be attached to the pod for take-off. The company has showcased the idea in a 3D mock-up video, gathering interest from potential customers in Asia, Ricci said, without naming any company.

Disruptive Flights

Plane makers have begun to react as technology companies come up with disruptive ideas — from Uber’s investments in flying taxis to Kitty Hawk, a startup backed by Google’s co-founder Larry Page that’s creating a battery-powered single-person plane. Airbus took the offensive with a new division to oversee transport of the future, while Boeing has made a noisy foray into jetpacks.

While Akka’s not banking on convincing a plane maker to necessarily build the entire “Link & Fly” concept, it’s betting on the design to be an attention grabber and a showcase, parts of which are likely to end up in customers’ commercial aircrafts down the line.

For planemakers and the companies gravitating around them Asia, and especially China, offer opportunities for new business. Chinese plane builder Comac is developing its own fleet, and could turn to the European aeronautics ecosystem for technology partners.

Akka, which has a market value of 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and whose biggest shareholder is Ricci, employs engineers that customers can hire on a project basis as consultants. The company developed an autonomous car concept in 2008 and in 2014 partnered with Dassault Systemes to offer services to carmakers.

The stock has risen about 23 percent this year, multiple times the 1.8 percent increase in the benchmark CAC 40 Index and a matching jump in the broader SBF120 Index.

U.S. Market

Similar to Airbus’ A320 jet in size and target usage, the Akka Link & Fly carriage for short-range flights carries 162 passengers and the seats can be taken out to move freight instead. With the wings clipped on, and the engines fixed on top, the design has wingspan of about 49 meters, is 34 meters long and 8 meters high.

Akka generates 75 percent of its sales in France and Germany and became more dependent on auto manufacturing with the takeover of a Daimler engineering unit about seven years ago. The Paris-based company hopes its new concept will woo new aeronautics customers in the U.S. The purchase of Texas-based engineering firm PDS Tech in June is a first step. Ricci expects the acquisition to close in three to six months.

“Planes need to become more efficient, less polluting and less noisy,” said Ricci. “Our role is to point our customers to technologies of the future.”

 

 

 

 

Source: Bloomberg

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Hardwares

THE NEW PIXEL 3’S CAMERA WILL LET AI PICK OUT THE BEST PHOTOS FOR YOU

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Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones were just unveiled this morning at an event in New York City. As expected, both phones are coming with a near-identical set of front-facing and rear-facing cameras that are powered by artificial intelligence. That allows them to do all sorts of algorithmic work behind the scenes, all powered by what Google calls its new Pixel Visual Core chip.

Among the new AI features built into the Pixel 3 camera are two new shooting modes called Top Shot and Photobooth. Top Shot uses Google’s work in image and object recognition and computer vision to analyze photos and pick the best shots in a given batch. With Top Shot, you’ll be able to capture a number of photos before and after the moment you press the virtual shutter button, while the software will pick out the best shot.

Image: Google

It’s similar to Google’s Motion Photos feature that creates GIFs from short snippets of video. You can still browse through the alternates to pick out others, Google says. Photobooth, on the other hand, takes a bunch of photos of you or your friends using the front-facing camera, but only when it recognizes that the subjects of the photo are making a funny face or smiling. You don’t need to even press the shutter.

Google also announced a feature called Super Res Zoom, which uses a burst of photos to amp resolution when you zoom into a subject, and Night Sight, which uses machine learning to artificially brighten dark spots in photos. For Pixel 3 XL owners, you’ll be able to access a wide-angle lens for a feature Google is calling Group Selfie Cam.

Some of the AI-powered software here, specifically a feature like Photobooth, was built initially for Google Clips, the company’s square-shaped photo and video capturing device that automatically operates on its own to let parents capture moments of their kids. Now, it appears that Google has taken a lot of the knowledge there and integrated it into its Pixel devices to help ease the pain of picking a photo or tinkering with all the settings to capture the perfect shot.

Since the original Pixel, the defining feature of the device line has not been its design or the relatively spartan stock Android it runs, but the camera. Using its advancements in artificial intelligence, Google was able to achieve a staggeringly capable camera that has only improved with last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. So it makes sense that Google has put more resources toward improving the Pixel 3 camera and positioning it as one of, if not the most important, reason why you’d pick its device over an iPhone XS or a Samsung Galaxy S9 / Note 9.

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Mobile Phones

FACEBOOK IS LAUNCHING A NEW MEMORIES PAGE TO REMIND YOU OF THE DAYS WHEN FACEBOOK WAS GOOD

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Facebook announced a new page today called “Memories,” where it’ll surface old content from the days of Facebook past. It’s similar to the “On This Day” feature you’ve likely seen in your News Feed. In addition to “On This Day,” memories will include a few new sections, including Friends Made on This Day, seasonal or monthly recaps, and memories you might have missed from the past week. It’s a simple feature that’ll probably give people happy feelings that they’ll then want to share.

The company has been attempting to perfect “On This Day” since it launched, in an effort to only surface positive posts and not painful memories. Users can dismiss stories in their News Feed or block out specific people, dates, or date ranges in their preferences. It also automatically detects potentially negative memories based on friend reactions and keywords; the post then will stop showing up in News Feeds. Clearly, Facebook wants to keep things cheery, at least when it comes to reminiscing, and it’s willing to take Memories out of the feed so as to not trigger anyone who wasn’t expecting a dark post.

 

 

 

 

Source:  The Verge

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Business

BANK OF CHILE HIT BY CYBER-ATTACK, HACKERS ROB MILLIONS

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Shares in the Bank of Chile were down on Monday after it confirmed hackers had syphoned off $10 million (roughly Rs. 67 crores) of its funds, mainly to Hong Kong, though the country’s second-largest commercial bank said no client accounts had been impacted.

The cyberheist is the latest in a string of such attacks, including one in May in Mexico in which thieves used phantom orders and fake accounts to steal hundreds of millions of Mexican pesos out of the country’s banks, including Banorte.

Shares in the Bank of Chile, which is controlled by the Chilean Luksic family and Citigroup, were down 0.47 percent at CLP 100.4 ($.16) in mid-day trading.

Bank CEO Eduardo Ebensperger told Chilean daily La Tercera in an interview on Saturday that hackers had initially used a virus as a distraction, prompting the bank to disconnect 9,000 computers in branches across the country on May 24 to protect customer accounts.

Meanwhile, the hackers quietly used the global SWIFT bank messaging service to initiate a series of fraudulent transactions that were eventually spotted by the bank and cancelled but not before millions were funnelled to accounts abroad.

“The [attack] was meant to hurt the bank, not our customers,” Ebensperger said.

Ebensperger said a forensic analysis conducted by Microsoft had determined the attack was the work of a sophisticated international group of hackers, likely from eastern Europe or Asia, and that the bank had filed a criminal complaint in Hong Kong.

The bank said in a May financial statement that it would work with insurers to recoup the lost funds.

 

 

 

 

source: Gadgets 360

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