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Animojis, FaceID and facemapping, oh my: hello iPhone X

(TECH NEWS) The iPhone X boasts a plethora of new features but will any of them be worthy of Jobs’ level praise?

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SAY HI TO IPHONE X

Apples’s new iPhone X–pronounced iPhone Ten, but you can call it iPhone X if you’re nasty– boasts some new-to-iPhone features like edge-to-edge OLED display, no home button, facial recognition, and cutesy animojis.

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No home button means no more TouchID to unlock your phone. Instead, iPhone X utilizes FaceID, a facemap embedded as a passcode. Users will use facial recognition to unlock their device and approve ApplePay purchases prior to touching the pay pad.

CAN I SEE YOUR ID?

A small area on the top of the screen was reserved for new hardware, including the front camera, an infrared camera, flood illuminator, and dot projector.

In sufficient light, the hardware will project 30,000 dots across your face, creating a high-resolution 3D map.

Apple claims FaceID will work even with the addition of accessories like hats and glasses, and still recognize users if they get a haircut or change up their facial hair. The algorithm used to recognize facial features will auto-update with minor changes, and even adapt to low lighting so you’re not locked out of your phone while checking texts before bed.

FEEL LIKE A SPY

One version of the facemap with textures in the algorithm will be held for identification and approval in a secure enclave. Mostly I’m imaging the Cameron Diaz/Lucy Liu/Drew Barrymore version of Charlie’s Angels where they steal someone’s biometric info to break into a building. With the new iPhone, the Angels would have to replicate someone’s entire face, not just their retina.

While the possibility of false recognition for TouchID was 50K-to-one, Apple says that shoots up to a fairly improbable one million-to-one with FaceID. What about identical twins? They didn’t say. Currently, iPhone X is limited to one face per device, so hopefully that will keep sneaky kids, siblings, and friends from snooping on your phone.

ANIMOJI MANIA

The facemap features offer more than just practical security measures. Aside from unlocking your phone, iPhone X has “animojis.” Users can record and send ten second videos of themselves as one of twelve emojis. So far you can choose from either the monkey, robot, cat, dog, alien, fox, pig, panda, bunny, chicken, unicorn or the inexplicably prolific poop emoji.

The hardware maps 50 muscle tracking points and mimics in real-time how the users moves and speaks onto the chose emoji.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s basically the same thing as Snapchat’s facial filters and masks. In fact, the animojis will integrate with Snapchat, and Apple plans to open up their resources so other developers can use the facemapping in their own apps.

FACEMAPPING FUTURE

Apple’s Senior VP of software Craig Federighi joked, “if you were by chance wondering what humanity would do when given access to the most advanced facial tracking technology available, you now have your answer.” However silly it may seems, animoji’s abilities don’t end at cutesy and self-indulgent.

As Wired points out, while animoji currently mimics your emotion, someday it may be capable of predicting emotion as well.

This isn’t just scifi panic speculation, either.

Last year Apple acquired Emotient, a facial tracking software company that predicts human emotion by watching how faces move.

Utilizing machine learning, the software associates frowns, smiles, raised eyebrows, and glances with various emotions. Facebook, Google, and Amazon have already invested heavily in research around affective computing. It’s only a matter of time before Apple reveals it’s doing the same.

I GET SO ANIMOJITIONAL

For now, animoji remains a fun addition to an otherwise predictable array of not-so-new features. Other brands like Samsung and Android have offered edge-to-edge OLED displays for a while now, and face unlock is nothing new. It’s the animoji bonus features that might set Apple apart from the crowd for now.

Will it be worth $999 to animate myself as an expressive, moving fox head? Probably not. But I’m sure looking forward to all the horrifying, fascinating ways people will animojis, and crossing my fingers for some hilarious glitches.

#iPhoneX

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Tech News

AI’s reading abilities catch up with humans – scary or awesome?

(TECH NEWS) Measured by Stanford University’s reading comprehension test, AI achieves a major milestone and some people fear being replaced, others admire the innovation.

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Going into 2018, I decided not so much to set major resolutions off the bat, but rather set mini goals along the way. One of those mini goals started in November, when I challenged myself to watch 100 new (to me) movies in 365 days.

A few days ago, I hit number 35 which was the award-winning Joaquin Phoenix film, “Her.” Without giving too much away, the plot is set in the near future where a man develops a relationship with a life-like operating system (OS).

During one of their first conversations, the OS states that she read an entire book in under a second. While watching it, I couldn’t help but think that we’re not too far away from that.

Turns out my thought wasn’t far off, as artificial intelligence (AI) developed by Alibaba and Microsoft have out read humans on a Stanford University reading comprehension test.

“This is the first time that a machine has outperformed humans on such a test,” Alibaba said in a statement.

Experts in the field of artificial intelligence at Stanford developed this test to measure and assess the growing reading abilities of computers. The test creates comprehension questions based off of a selection of Wikipedia articles.

Alibaba scored an 82.44, beating humans by a hair as they scored 82.304. The next day, Microsoft’s AI software also beat humans with the score of 82.650.

While this is a monumental feat for technology, it will pose a problem for humans as more jobs will be at risk. This is a continued issue for humans as robots are designed and trained for their jobs (i.e. Amazon).

The technology has already been put to work for the Singles Days shopping extravaganza, as a large numbers of computers were used for customer service queries. It’s suggested that the technology can be used for other customer service outlets, as well as having the ability to give museum tours.

Brands such as Facebook, Tencent, and Samsung have submitted AI models for the Stanford test in the past. “These kinds of tests are certainly useful benchmarks for how far along the AI journey we may be,” said Andrew Pickup, a spokesman for Microsoft. “However, the real benefit of AI is when it is used in harmony with humans,” he added.

AI continues to grow and shows no sign of stopping, and some humans are concerned what this will mean for the future – some fear being replaced, others laud the ability to innovate our world. What do you think?

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Tech News

Practice for coding interviews, live with another human

(CAREER) Looking to practice coding interviews with a real human? Earn yourself a sweet win-win situation with this online solution to acing technical interviews.

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Practicing for interviews with a friend helps prepare you for the real thing. When the time comes, unless y’all seriously slacked off or you got the company totally wrong, you should at least feel comfortable interviewing since you practiced with a pal.

Just about anyone can help you prep for standard interview questions like listing your strengths, weaknesses, and talking about a five-year plan. But when it comes to coding interviews, your friends may not be able to offer as much help if they’re not in the field.

Technical interviews typically include demonstrating not only solid communication, but also CS knowledge, coding, and demonstrable problem solving.

Well, count your blessings and say hello to Pramp, an online platform that helps you practice technical interviews for software engineering roles. Named for the acronym version of “practice makes perfect,” Pramp pairs you with a peer for a live HD video interview practice session.

Personal matching considers experience, education, target companies, practice topics you’d like to cover, preferred programming language, and availability.

You and your peer take turns being the interviewer and interviewee for 30 minutes each. Pramp provides the questions to ask 24 hours prior to the interview, and gives answers as well. There’s even a collaborative real-time code editor to share your work.

Pramp supports twelve programming languages, including C++, Java, and Python. You select multiple programming languages for your interviews.

Once the interviews are over, you provide feedback and rate each other’s performance.

There’s no limit to how many interviews you can participate in, and you can choose your level of anonymity. Pramp will only share what you allow, but if you go the public route, they’ve got a pretty sweet perk…

After a few coding interviews, Pramp assesses your strengths to match you with relevant opportunities. From there, you can schedule a phone screen directly on Pramp with a hiring manager. You don’t even need a resume.

Passing the phone screen gets you an onsite interview with the hiring manager. All that practice sure paid off, huh? You don’t need to install anything to start using Pramp, and mega bonus: it’s is free to use. Check them out now if you’re a prospective employee or employer to get connected with talent.

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Tech News

Upload a pic, this site sizes it for 7 social media sites at once

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Creating the correctly-sized images for each social media platform can take a lot of time and patience. A new app helps to make this process simple.

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A goal that most all of us have is to always be increasing efficiency and productivity. The more that we complete repeated tasks, the more we are able to cut out unnecessary steps and get to the end result faster.

I have found this to be true in terms of social media management. Each platform has their own rules, their own means of posting, and it takes time and attentiveness to get your message across each individual site.

One of the most time consuming aspects of this is the visual component. It’s not only time consuming, but also crucial to have as part of your post as that is what draws an audience’s attention.

The issue with this is that there are different settings for each platform, forcing us to have specially-sized photos for each social media site. This was a problem I ran into a few months back when I was attempting to create a logo for my company to be used for each platform. What looked good on Facebook, wouldn’t translate to LinkedIn, and so on.

Now, I’ve learned of a one-stop-shop to create sizes for each social media site. This was found in the form of Landscape.

Landscape describes itself as “streamlined image resizing for social media.” The app lets you prepare images that meet the aspects for each social media site.

The free app was created by Sprout Social and it’s easy to use. First, you select an image and upload it to Landscape. Then, you choose the social networks that you want the image to be sized for. Finally, you crop the images to their respective sizes and upload them to your pages.

“Landscape is a powerful image resizing tool designed to help social media marketers, content creators and business owners develop a standout presence in an increasingly visual social world,” says Sprout Social.

“Our tool offers social media professionals an efficient way to produce multiple image sizes optimized for social media profiles, messages and campaigns – ultimately giving them more time to focus on what matters most: fostering engagement and authentic conversations through social.”

It’s as simple as that and helps save you time and aggravation.

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