Friday, January 27, 2006

Smart Spy Cams

More about smart spy cams, the combination of CCTV and image recognition technologies that poses a whole new world of privacy challenges.

NYT: The New Security: Cameras That Never Forget Your Face

The camera network - using software from 3VR Security Inc., a San Francisco company that makes surveillance technology - already knew what the houseman looked like; facial recognition algorithms had built a profile of him over time. With a couple of mouse clicks, managers combed through hours of videotape taken that night by the hotel's 16 cameras, and found every place he had been - including the back entrance he slipped out of, three hours into his shift. He became 1 of 10 employees dismissed from the hotel since 3VR's surveillance package was installed last June.

More about Smart Spy Cams: Britain will be the first country to monitor every car journey, DARPA's simple plan to track your every move, London: Panopticon Cracks

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Interesting Link

Created as a tribute to Joseph Weisenbaum - Eliza as a robot that you can chat with over the internet (you get a video stream of the moving robot).

CNN compiled some interesting scenarios about Googles future.

The Top 50 Inventions of the last 50 years.

Upcoming Conferences: 4th Workshop on Principles and Practice of Semantic Web Reasoning PPSWR'06, RuleML-2006: Second International Conference on Rules and Rule Markup Languages for the Semantic Web, ECAI'06 workshop on Contexts and Ontologies: Theory, Practice and Applications (C&O-2006), International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS-2006),4th Workshop on Principles and Practice of Semantic Web Reasoning PPSWR'06

The Political Link: A look at Kuwait in the wake of the death of its ruler.

Last weeks interesting link.

Virtual Reality Workout

I can't wait to be able to combine physical exercise with playing computer games - so here are two developments into this direction: :

The VirtuSphere: full body immersion Virtual reality at last:

Inside the VirtuSphere, the virtual explorer can physically navigate the virtual world with genuine human movement, - the headset is wireless, and senses 360 degree movement, but unlike any existing virtual reality or gaming peripheral, the floor moves and each virtual step is accompanied by a real one of the same dimensions. [...] Wearing a wireless, head-mounted display, users can walk, jump, roll, crawl and run in any direction over unlimited distances without encountering real-world physical obstacles. The Virtusphere is a fundamental step forward for the entire science as it offers six degrees of freedom.
The hardware looks pretty solid - but don't underestimate the difficulty of displaying those DOOM images on the headset exactly in sync with the fast movements of a player trying to evade bullets and monsters ...

And West Virginia is using "Dance Dance Revolution" (one of first and most succesfull computer game / physical exercise combination) for exercise classes in public schools.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Friend The Robot

AI Topics has a nice selection of articles on robot-human relations: Needing a shoulder to cry on? Try your new robot pal, Developing Robots as Social Companions and Robotic pets offer health benefits, too. You may also want to read this older post about the same topic.

The image to left shows a Japanese "Actroid" - a robot for events (whatever that may mean). The image is a slightly altered version of this wikimedia image (License).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Picture

Time for a new random picture; this time a Shimano Deore LX crankset with integrated bottom bracket - everyone should have one ! :-)

The Interesting Link

There where a few interesting links about internet advertisment: Google's Shadow Payroll Is Not Such a Secret Anymore(about AdSense, free registration required), Microsoft introduces its own online ad system Ad Center(german article). There's also a great NYT article about advertisments for mobile phones. Finally Jakob Nielsen's Search Engines as Leeches on the Web (what the hight cost per click of AdSense does to eCommerce sites).

John Batelle in a CNN interview on the future of online search.

Search Engine Watch: Video Search: Still "Early Days"

A strange project called "Quaero"[German] - that wants to challenge google, but nobody knows much about it. A bit more information is here and here (strange flash site, click the lowest link - "Automatische Verarbeitung multimedialer Inhalte") .

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Robot, a article about the winners 2005 prize for "Progress Towards Machine Intelligence".

Prof. Lockemann - one founder of the FZI recently received a Bundesverdienstkreuz (one of the highest honours of the German state - more about Bundesverdienstkreuz in general).

Conferences and academic stuff: 1st International Workshop on Semantic Technologies in Collaborative Applications STICA06 WWW'06 Workshop on Models of Trust on the Web (MTW'06).
The Journal of Theory and Practice of Logic Programming has a special issue und Logic Programming an the web (deadline 2nd March). There is a Mobile Services and Ontologies Workshop at the The 7th International Conference on Mobile Data Management (MDM'06).

The university of Poznan is looking for a visiting scholar for 4 month in the area of applications of Semantic Web Technologies to Information Retrieval and Filtering

The Political Link: Wealth Grows, but Health Care Withers in China

Last weeks Interesting Link.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Location Based Advertisment And Free Phones

Google tests local search on Google Maps (I predicted this last october - yea it was obvious). This, of course, is just an intermediate step - in the end you obviously want to deliver these advertisment to mobile users based on their current location. I expect that in the future your willingless to accept location based advertisment on your phone may pay (a large part of) your mobile phone bill. Imagine that: your mobile phone company offers free 50MB/month data traffic - you only have to accept that now and then there will be a message alerting you some restaurant/shop/event close by.

That offers realy interesting possibilities - the moment you enter the parking lot of a Target store, your mobile phone tells you how much cheaper Walmart would be. The parking lot of Burger King? Heard of the new Wendy's that opened two blocks south? (that makes for interesting law suits - is placing an virtual add on your competitors property trespassing?)

Update 16.01.:The NYT has an article about mobile advertisment and location based advertisment.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006


Help NASA find star dust in aerogel.

NASA had send a probe traveling through space that contained blocks of so called Aerogel (very fascinating stuff - the image to the left shows 2g Aerogel supporting a 2.5kg brick) that where exposed to "star dust". This probe returns to earth tomorrow and it is expected that a small number of "space grains" will be embedded in the Aerogel - the challenge now is to find these very small particles. In order to do so, they will take microscopic pictures of the Aerogel and YOU can - via a "virtual microscope" - search the aerogel for traces of space grain. In essence they are using the interested public to analyze their pictures.

I think this idea will be received enthusiastically and will be a major success. I though about something similar in the aftermath of the bomb attacks on the London subways - then it was the challenge to sift through thousands of hours of CCTV coverage for leads - why not ask the public to help? I'm sure millions of Britons and people around the world would have loved to do their share to bring those responsible to justice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Interesting Link

For some reason almost all my links from last week are related to games: Lego Mindstorm robots are back and your own virtual reality room is yours for only $3000. In case you didn't read the emails from the Semantic Web Mailing List - Sodoku in OWL. And finally - I love the "Entertaible" a display-table trying to replace all board games! (I really think there is great prospect in technologies trying to bring computer gaming "into the living room" (and into the gym)). I wonder if they plan to combine it with this technology[german] - then game pieces could actually be shown in 3D (without goggles and anything).

Not game related, the guardian about text mining and The translator blues - will I get replaced by a machine?. And a funny Time article Help! I've Lost My Focus (what email, phone and blackberry do to your efficiency at work.)

The Political Link: The unsustainable fishing practices of fishers almost all around the world are really one of the worst environmental disasters of our time. If you want to learn more about it (and about the simple methods that would make everyone better of), read this book.

Last weeks interesting link

Two Books

One former and one current guy from Karlsruhe released books in the last few days:

Semantic Management of Middleware by Daniel Oberle (or: Dr. Oberle - this is his dissertation).

Semantic Management of Middleware contributes an ontology-based approach to support the development and administration of middleware-based applications. The ontology is an explicit conceptual model with formal logic-based semantics. Therefore, its descriptions may be queried, may foresight required actions, or may be checked to avoid inconsistent system configurations. Semantic Management of Middleware builds a rigorous approach towards giving the declarative descriptions of components and services a well-defined meaning by specifying ontological foundations and by showing how such foundations may be realized in practical, up-and-running systems.
More about the book here.

Semantic Web and Peer-to-Peer edited by Steffen Staab and Heinre Stuckenschmidt

Staab and Stuckenschmidt structured the selected contributions into four parts: Part I, "Data Storage and Access", prepares the semantic foundation, i.e. data modelling and querying in a flexible and yet scalable manner. These foundations allow for dealing with the organization of information at the individual peers. Part II, "Querying the Network", considers the routing of queries, as well as continuous queries and personalized queries under the conditions of the permanently changing topological structure of a peer-to-peer network. Part III, "Semantic Integration", deals with the mapping of heterogeneous data representations. Finally Part IV, "Methodology and Systems", reports experiences from case studies and sample applications.
More about the book here

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Look at Altova SemanticWorks 2006

I had a look at Altova Semanticworks to see if I can hand it to a domain expert as RDF editor (i.e. (s)he's not computer scientist, but knows a lot about the stuff that needs to be modelled). Note that this is not a complete review - I only looked at a part of the functionality (not the OWL stuff) and I looked at it from a "domain expert" perspective.

  • our UI guys always tell us: Mind the blank page phenomena (user sits in front of the newly opened applications and has no clue what to do). The Altova programmers wheren't told that often enough: even with a decent amount of background knowledge I wasn't able to get started without the manual; and that isn't offered to me automatically.
  • I think it's wrong to ask users to type in file paths (of imported rdfs files) by hand - and even that isn't really working and there is no feedback on the correctness of the path. (It may not be clear what I mean: You don't have a dialog to navigate to the file, rather you type in C:/documents/ ... and you can't see the whole path if it gets a bit longer.)
  • the resource detail page works quite well.
  • some imported resources just disappear from time to time (reloading the imported files helps)
  • semanticworks allows to change the rdf file directly (nice!), but seems to only support the XML syntax (what about N3?)
  • I managed to create a file that SemanticWorks would not read back in... (without trying specifically to do so)
There where also some occasions where I got the impression that the program was not really doing what it is supposed to (for example: the imports of rdf(s) files are not attached to a rdf file - rather they seem to be set for the entire application).

So, No! - the way it looks right now, I'll not give this tool to a domain expert. But don't take my word for it - you can try the SemanticWorks yourself (free for a month).


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Googlespotting: Google Cube

I actually wanted to reduce Googlespotting in 2006, but this rumor is just to juicy: the Los Angeles Times writes about Google releasing:

its own low-price personal computer or other device that connects to the Internet.
Engadget reduces this to "Google PC" - which doesn't make sense (too much competition, too litle overlap with googles competencies). But a "Google Cube" - the centerpiece for your homenetwork, your connection to the voIP network, your connection to streaming video - could make sense. Read this article by Cringely to learn more.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Interesting Link

More technology related retrospectives: NewScientists 2005: The year in technology. Wired looks back at predictions that where made for 2005 and 2005 as the year of the robot. LA Times industry feeling the presence of the 800 Pound Google.
Small ideas, great effect - The 10 Greatest Gadget Ideas of 2005, and wired's take on the best and worst gadgets of 2005.

New Scientists Most Read Stories of 2005 point to a really great story: 13 things that don't make sense - a compilation of experiments and phenomena nobody can explain.

Another look at what 2006 may bring (in technology). Gloomy outlooks from British business leaders and more gloomy outlooks about tech companies.
What 2006 may bring for Web 2.0 and "It's time to bury RSS"

Another hint about the closed nature of Google Base. But despite all the excitement - the way it looks right now, if Google does not offer ways to build applications on top of Google Base - this is just going to fail.

Wired has a feature about Stanley - the driverless car that won the grand challenge. I especially liked the short Seven ways todays cars are already robots.
Over the holidays 50 years ago, two scientists hatched artificial intelligence.
More information about Britains initiative to monitor every car journey.
The Guardian has a nice article about MyLifeBits - Microsoft project to record everything you experience in you life.
Overview of Ajax (with loads of helppful links).

Upcoming Conferences: 2006 IEEE International Conference on Web Services (ICWS 2006) and we have a nice "holiday conference" for those of you that hadn't had a chance to visit Las Vegas: The 2006 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Applied Computing (actually that is a whole set of conferences - there's something for everyone). There is a special track on AI and the web at the AAAI2006.

The Political Link::John Simpson - a senior correspondent at bbc - guesses what 2006 may bring politically.

Last weeks Interesting Link

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Frohes neues Jahr!

(happy new year)