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A Remote-Controlled Plane Flies Through New York City

I would imagine that New Yorkers would be a little concerned about any unusual aircraft zipping around their airspace. So it is particularly remarkable that a team managed to assemble a remote-controlled miniature airplane, equip it with a camera, and fly it around various parts of the city, including parts of Manhattan, over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, over the Statue of Liberty, and so on -- without getting arrested or having their aircraft taken down. Here's the video:

According to various bloggers, this flight is legal as long as it remains below either 400 or 500 feet (one blogger says 400, the video's uploader claims 500). Any pilots in the audience want to educate us on the legality of private flights in New York City?

This is one of those rare YouTube videos where the comment thread is interesting. A pilot actually weighs in on the potential danger caused by the flight, if it were to intercept a commercial flight path (remote-controlled bird strike, anybody?). Some key comments:

"...we have GPS on board and know the altitude at all times. additionally a person on the ground informs us of incoming traffic. we never exceeded 500 ft and never gotten within a mile of a private or commercial aircraft.? the altitude in the video looks much higher than it really is due to the wider field of view of our camera." -nastycop420 (video uploader)

"Excellent work! I appreciate the time, effort, and coordination that went into this. When I taught RF in college, I had my students build a UAV w/FPV as a class project. There were no? spread-spectrum RC radios back then, so we digitized the trainer-cord output of a Futaba tx and rolled our own spread-spectrum control link. We used ATV for the video link. System range was ~15 miles (air) and ~3.5 miles (ground). Was the most popular project we ever did.
Again, I applaud your efforts!
Joel" -MrTurboparker

"I'm flying! Nice? vid bro!" -britanese (Okay, not ALL the comments add to the dialogue.)

Some sample heights achieved in the video: Brooklyn Bridge (276.5 feet), Statue of Liberty (305 feet), Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (693 feet...higher than the creators claimed to have ever flown on this outing). Wow. More video from the same group after the jump.

Downhill Flight from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

Chicken or Black Sheep - Episode 2 from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

For more on the vehicle, check out this forum post. Apparently its maximum altitude is over 3,000 meters! Oh, and the official name for this hobby is "FPV RC" (First Person Video, Remote-Controlled) in case you want to go a-Googlin'.

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IKEA
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Design
IKEA’s New Augmented Reality App Lets You Test Out Virtual Furniture in Your Home
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IKEA

No matter how much measuring and research you do beforehand, buying a piece of furniture without knowing what it will look like in your home is always a gamble. With its new augmented reality app, IKEA hopes to take some of the guesswork out of the process. IKEA Place features more than 2000 items in the Swedish retailer's inventory, and visualizing them in the space where you live is as easy as tapping a button.

As WIRED reports, IKEA Place is among the first apps to take advantage of Apple's ARKit, an augmented reality platform that debuted as part of iOS 11. iPhone and iPad owners with the latest update can download IKEA's new app for free and start browsing through home goods right away.

To use the tool, you must first select the product you wish to test out, whether it's a loveseat, a kitchen table, or a dresser. Then, with the camera activated, you can point your device at whichever space you want the item to fill and watch it appear on the screen in front of you.

According to IKEA, the 3D models are scaled with 98 percent accuracy. Factors that are hard to analyze from photos online, like shadows, lighting, and textures, are also depicted as they would appear in real life. So if a sofa that looks great under the lights of a store looks drab in your living room, or if a desk that seems tiny online doesn't fit inside your office, the app will let you know. It's the closest you can get to seeing how a piece of furniture complements a room without lugging it through the doorway.

IKEA isn't the first company to improve interior design with computerized images. Several hardware stores and furniture outlets offer their own AR apps. Other services like Modsy let customers pay to create full virtual models of their homes before populating them with 3D furniture. Even IKEA had a basic AR app prior to this one, but it was glitchy and not always accurate. This newest iteration aims to provide a more seamless shopping experience. And with the latest iOS update placing a greater emphasis on AR, you can expect to see more apps using the technology in the near future.

[h/t WIRED]

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Alex Wong/Getty Images
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Art
The Library of Congress Wants Your Help Identifying World War I-Era Political Cartoons
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. government’s official library wants your help. And it involves cartoons.

The Library of Congress just debuted its new digital innovation lab, an initiative that aims to improve upon its massive archives and use them in creative ways. Its first project is Beyond Words, a digitization effort designed to make the research library’s historical newspaper collection more search-friendly. It aims to classify and tag historical images from World War I-era newspapers, identifying political cartoons, comics, illustrations, and photos within old news archives. The images come from newspapers included in Chronicling America, the library’s existing newspaper digitization project.

The tasks involved in Beyond Words are simple, even if you know nothing about the illustrations involved going into it. The Library of Congress just needs people to help mark all the illustrations and cartoons in the scanned newspaper pages, a task that only involves drawing boxes to differentiate the image from the articles around it.

Then there’s transcription, involving typing in the title of the image, the caption, the author, and whether it’s an editorial cartoon, an illustration, a photo, a map, or a comic. The library also needs people to verify the work of others, since it’s a crowd-sourced effort—you just need to make sure the images have been transcribed consistently and accurately.

A pop-up window below an early 20th century newspaper illustration prompts the user to pick the most accurate caption.

Screenshot via labs.loc.gov

The data will eventually be available for download by researchers, and you can explore the already-transcribed images on the Beyond Words site. Everything is in the public domain, so you can remix and use it however you want.

With the new labs.loc.gov, “we are inviting explorers to help crack open digital discoveries and share the collections in new and innovative ways,” Carla Hayden, the library’s head, said in a press release.

Other government archives regularly look to ordinary people to help with the monstrous task of digitizing and categorizing their collections. The National Archives and Records Administration, for instance, has recently crowd-sourced data entry and transcription for vintage photos of life on Native American reservations and declassified government documents to help make their collections more accessible online.

Want to contribute to the Library of Congress’s latest effort? Visit labs.loc.gov.

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