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The Sound Leading the Blind

Scientists at Georgia Tech have come up with a pretty intriguing way to help blind people "see." Using a wearable laptop, 2 GPS receivers, a head and body compass, a gyroscope-based tracker (to measure the head's tilt, of course), 4 small cameras mounted on a helmet, and a bone phone vibrating device that hooks up to your neck (so your ears can still be free for listening to the sounds around you), the system gives you sound directions to get to your location. So, what's that mean exactly ? If you need to go straight ahead, you'll hear a tiny ringing sound from straight ahead, and if you need to turn right, the direction that sound is coming from will change. Amazingly, the sound beacon device seems to be working quite well. It only weighs about 3 pounds to lug around, and in tests it's proved pretty intuitive: people seem to get the hang of it within minutes, and can maneuver through complicated mazes within 20 minutes of use. Of course, the fact that all of the cameras are mounted on a CONSTRUCTION HELMET (instead of say, a baseball cap) does make you wonder, but I'm excited to see how this technology pans out.

Click here to read more at the MIT Tech Report (Thanks Dad!)

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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