Connect with us

General

Amazon Alexa Now Lets You Choose Your Own Adventure

Advertisement
Print and present this voucher code to get $20 off orders over $100. Free shipping on orders $99 or more. Restrictions may apply. See voucher for details.

For a while, it seemed Netflix had the monopoly on nostalgia (see: Stranger Things, Fuller House, Everything Sucks!, Carmen Sandiego).

Amazon’s latest partnership, however, aims to divide and conquer society’s sentimentality.

Chooseco is working with Amazon subsidiaries Audible and Alexa to create the first immersive audio-book experience, featuring two titles from the publisher’s famous Choose Your Own Adventure series.

The new skill transports listeners to the underwater Lost City of Atlantis or the snowy peaks of the Himalayas in R. A. Montgomery’s “Journey Under the Sea” and “The Abominable Snowman.”

You decide your fate in the professionally narrated stories, available on all Alexa-enabled devices.

Simply ask your digital assistant to “open Choose Your Own Adventure” to get started. Along the way, say “go back” to regress one scene, “start over” to return to the beginning, or “change story” if you’re sick of the cold or sea life.

Each book features progress tracking and automatic bookmarking, as well as numerous possible endings—28 in “The Abominable Snowman” and 37 for “Journey Under the Sea.”

“We knew that Choose was perfect for this space,” Melissa Bounty, associate publisher at Chooseco, said in a statement. “How better to immerse YOU in the story?

“Swapping text on the page for narration and sound effects for illustrations was simple,” she continued. “But we needed to figure out how to make the listening experience interactive.”

The first Choose Your Own Adventure book written by R. A. Montgomery, under the pen name Robert Mountain (via Chooseco)

Enter Amazon, which owns Audible and its expert sound team, and has long been fine-tuning Alexa’s seamless interactivity.

“We learned a lot when we brought the series into e-book format,” Chooseco CEO Shannon Gilligan said. “There are critical elements of CYOA in print form that keep reluctant readers engaged … and it was a challenge to replicate this experience with e-books.”

So it’s no surprise the company faced similar roadblocks when adapting the tales in audio format.

“It ultimately led us to working with Audible,” Gilligan said.

There is no word on when (or if) Amazon and Chooseco will add more titles to Alexa’s repertoire.

Chooseco is careful, though, about who it lends the CYOA brand to.

The publisher recently sued Netflix, alleging the original film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch infringes on its trademarks.

Written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, the standalone movie encourages viewers to make decisions for the main character—young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), who is adapting a fantasy choose-your-own-adventure novel into a video game in 1984.

In a lawsuit filed last month, Vermont-based Chooseco claimed Netflix “intentionally and willfully” exploited its famous mark for “the positive associations with—and nostalgia for—the brand” by adults who read the novels as kids.

“Viewers have already been confused about the brand’s association with the film and are likely to be confused in the future,” Chooseco argued, adding that the company has “suffered reputational harm” due to viewers’ “negative associations” with Brooker’s mind-f**k of a flick.

More on Geek.com:

SOURCE

Advertisement
for innovative and exceptional clothing for men, women, and kids. Browse stylish, affordable, high-quality basics that are simple, essential and universal.
Code: WeekendNF5. Up To 70% OFF Women's Healthcare

General

IBM AI Loses Debate to Human Champion

Advertisement
Samsung J7 V just $5 mo. New device payment purchase req'd. Plus, free shipping.

In the battle of man versus machine, crushing defeats by DeepMind’s artificially intelligent Go and StarCraft gaming systems tipped the scales in favor of automation.

But humankind is making a comeback.

On Monday, IBM’s seven-year-old AI debating system Project Debater went head-to-head with a mortal world debate champion Harish Natarajan in a public contest.

The pair, moderated by Intelligence Squared host John Donvan, delivered arguments for and against the resolution “We should subsidize preschool.”

With just 15 minutes to prepare for the event, Project Debater and Natarajan each delivered a four-minute opening statement, four-minute rebuttal, and two-minute summary.

A tall, sleek monolith with a rectangular mouth of blue sound waves, the IBM machine’s knowledge base consists of about 10 billion sentences, collected from newspapers and journals.

In a live debate, it searches for short pieces of text in its massive digital library to defend or oppose the motion.

“This requires a deep understanding of human language and its infinite nuances and very precise stance identification,” creators Ranit Aharonov and Noam Slonim wrote in a blog post. “[That’s] something that is not always easy for humans and is certainly very difficult for computers.”

[embedded content]

In a matter of seconds, Project Debater can remove redundant argumentative texts, select the strongest remaining claims and evidence, arrange them by theme, and create a narrative of support or contention.

It also listens to and digests the opponent’s responses, building a counterstatement in a “surprisingly charming and human-sounding” way, according to Donvan.

Project Debater debuted in June, participating in its first live public event before a small audience. At this week’s IBM Think conference in San Francisco, it faced off against Natarajan in front of a large in-person audience, with many more watching via livestream (video above).

The winner was determined by his (Natarajan’s) or her (Project Debater’s) ability to convince the audience of the persuasiveness of their arguments. Results were formulated in a real-time online poll.

Before the debate, 79 percent of the audience agreed that preschools should be subsidized, while 13 percent disagreed (8 percent were undecided). After hearing both sides present, 62 percent agreed that preschools should be subsidized, while 30 percent disagreed—clinching Natarajan’s win.

Despite the setback, IBM should consider this a win: More than half of participants said that Project Debater better enriched their knowledge about the topic, compared to only 20 percent for Natarajan.

“Ultimately, what we saw was that the interaction of man and machine could be enriching for both,” Slonim said in a statement following the debate. “It’s not a question of one being better than the other, but about AI and humans working together.”

More on Geek.com:

SOURCE

Advertisement
Click this link to get $200 discount on iPad. Includes free shipping. Restrictions may apply.
Code: 3wick. Enter this discount code at checkout to save an extra £5 on Molton Brown 3 Wick Candles at allbeauty.com.
Continue Reading

General

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Taps Performance Capture Tech to Elevate Effects

Advertisement
40658034 Apple 13.3" MacBook Air - Intel Dual Core i5 1.8GHz, Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage, Intel HD Graphics 6000, 12 Hour Battery Life, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Mac OS Sierra - MQD32LL/A

Alita: Battle Angel is a thrilling mix of powerful cyborgs, post-apocalyptic cities, and gory fights. The sci-fi movie’s action sequences are courtesy of an advanced innovation: performance capture technology.

The futuristic flick, which hits theaters on Feb. 14, follows Alita (Rosa Salazar), an abandoned cyborg who becomes a fierce warrior to fight corrupt forces. This plot would be hard to accomplish with basic animation, however, performance capture technology enabled the movie’s team to generate lifelike special effects, PCMag reported.

[embedded content]

“This is the tech we’ve been developing. In an earlier test shoot, for [a movie that never got made, based on the novel] Brother Termite, when aliens were arriving, we had an actor perform with an umbrella rig around his head—12 cameras—everywhere,” Jon Landau, the producer of the film, told PCMag. “We saw a future where we would use that facial performance capture to drive performance rather than animating it.”

To make this digital vision possible, Alita: Battle Angel’s team partnered with Weta Digital, a visual effects company based in New Zealand. Unlike other animation systems, this performance capture technology doesn’t interfere with actors’ performances.

Rosa Salazar as Alita in ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ (Photo Credit: PCMag)

“The giant system [we have today], when it loses a data point, it’s still able to solve for the skeleton and what the muscles do,” Landau added. “[In our partnership with] Weta Digital … we’re now [able] to create Salazar’s performance from the inside, driving the performance from a muscle base—not putting a mask on the actor through animation—to make sure we are living up to the performance that Salazar is giving us.”

According to Weta Digital, performance capture technology notes details of an actor’s face performance, analyzes how their muscles move, and then maps these motions onto a virtual character. (For example, see Salazar above with dots on her face during the filming process.) What makes this technology cool is that it provides animated figures with human-like reactions, so directors can keep a good shooting flow without stopping to map every facial movement.

“I’m pretty technically proficient and I usually do my own visual effects supervisor role, but now I get to geek out with [Weta Digital],” Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel’s director, told PCMag. “We can take it to another level having them and their knowledge.”

More on Geek.com:

SOURCE

Advertisement
Code: VZWDEAL. Enter this coupon code at checkout to get $100 discount on Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Includes free shipping. Restrictions may apply. Device payment purchase required.
Click this link to get $200 discount on iPad. Includes free shipping. Restrictions may apply.
Continue Reading

General

General Motors Starts Taking Orders for Its First Electric Bike

Advertisement
Samsung J7 V just $5 mo. New device payment purchase req'd. Plus, free shipping.

General Motors is reimagining future transportation with its first ARĪV electric bike brand.

In November 2018, General Motors held a global crowdfunding campaign for its new eBike brand. After fans submitted potential names, General Motors decided to call the brand ARĪV, which is pronounced like “arrive.”

The brand includes two connected eBikes: the Meld compact eBike and the Merge folding eBike, which will each retail between $3,106 and $3,782 in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. General Motors, which is taking preorders for the eBikes now via BikeExchange.com, said it will start shipping orders in a few months.

General Motors didn’t provide too many details on the eBikes, however, it said that the eBikes’ motors can reach speeds up to 15.5 mph and contain four levels of pedal-assisted power. There are also key safety features, including a rechargeable front, rear LED lights, and oversized break rotors. Plus, the eBikes’ batteries can be charged in approximately 3.5 hours and receive up to 40 miles of ride time on a single charge.

ARĪV Merge Electric Bike (Photo Credit: General Motors)

Connectivity is another key feature for both eBikes: They can connect to an app that provides users with key riding metrics, including distance, motor assist level, remaining battery level, and speed. Each eBike comes with a Quad Lock mount as well, so users can safely secure a smartphone to the handlebars during rides. General Motors also said it’s working on additional app features, including, “a mode that will use a proprietary algorithm to help riders arrive at their destination sweat-free.”

General Motors did not disclose if its new eBikes will be available in the U.S. and other countries, however, more details on specs and pricing are available on Bike Exchange’s website.

More on Geek.com:

SOURCE

Advertisement
Samsung J7 V just $5 mo. New device payment purchase req'd. Plus, free shipping.
Continue Reading

Deals

Advertisement
Samsung J7 V just $5 mo. New device payment purchase req'd. Plus, free shipping.
Click this link to get $200 discount on iPad. Includes free shipping. Restrictions may apply.
Code: RIO12. Save $12 on all flights (ECONOMY CLASS)from Miami to Rio de Janeiro!

Trending