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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens
2021 Covid-19 Test

This week’s list of data news highlights covers July 24, 2021 – July 30, 2021 and includes articles on classifying COVID-19 variants and shopping for back-to-school clothes.

1. Tracking Olympic Performances

Omega Timing, the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games, has developed an AI system that has learned to provide live insights on athletes’ performance in multiple sports. The system uses data from cameras and sensors in athletes’ clothing to automatically detect and inform broadcasters of game actions in real time, such as how high a player jumps or the type of move by a volleyball player.

2. Modeling Asteroid Collision Paths

Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado have used a supercomputer to better understand how asteroids impact the Earth. The team modeled collision paths for asteroids from the outer half of the asteroid belt on a NASA supercomputer and found that six-mile wide asteroids hit the Earth more frequently than previously thought.

3. Shooting Basketballs

Toyota has created an autonomous robot that can shoot basketballs. The robot’s AI system uses sensors to locate the basket and determine the power and trajection needed to reach the net. The robot then uses robotic arms to shoot the basketball into the hoop. An earlier prototype of the robot shot 2,020 baskets in a row to set a Guinness World Record for the “most consecutive basketball free throws by a humanoid robot (assisted).”

4. Installing Smart Traffic Poles

Officials in Coral Gables, Florida have installed smart traffic poles around the city. The poles contain free public wifi, CCTV cameras, and sensors to collect and transmit environmental and traffic data. City officials can use the data to improve city planning, traffic management, and public safety.

5. Classifying COVID-19 Variants

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have created a machine learning model to classify COVID-19 variants. The team trained the model on data from genomic sequences found in thousands of COVID-19 samples. The model then sorted 800,000 sequences into 1,200 variant lineages. 

6. Exploring Olympic Fencing

Yahoo! News, a U.S.-based news publication, has launched an augmented reality app for sports fans to learn more about Olympic fencing. The app features a virtual fencer and displays targets and rules for three disciplines of fencing: foil, épée, and sabre. 

7. Organizing Electronic Health Records

Researchers at Stanford University have created an AI system that can organize patient health records and expedite clinical data retrieval. The team trained the system on data collected from 60 gastroenterology patient records. In tests, the AI system reduced the time needed to review patient records and extract relevant clinical information by 18 percent. 

8. Shopping for Back-to-School Clothes

American Eagle, a U.S.-based fashion brand, has partnered with Snapchat to launch an augmented reality app for shoppers to virtually try on clothes. The app uses Snapchat’s self-facing camera to display selected looks from American Eagle’s Back-to-School collection. Shoppers can also dress their virtual Bitmoji avatars with the brand’s first-ever digital clothing line.

9. Scouting Surfing Locations

Surfline, a U.S.-based surf forecasting company, has developed a machine learning model that can identify ideal beaches for surfing competitions. The model uses data on seafloor shapes, wind patterns, buoy measurements, and polar-ice cover to predict wave behavior. Surfline most recently partnered with Olympic officials to identify Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach as the best venue for the inaugural Olympic surfing competition.

10. Planning Flight Routes

Alaska Airlines has partnered with Airspace Intelligence, a U.S.-based aerospace software company, to launch an AI system that accelerates flight dispatching. The system uses data on weather conditions, air traffic, and travel length to predict ideal flight paths. In a pilot test, the system reduced flight times by 5.3 minutes per flight.

Image credit: Flickr user Prachatai

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