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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers September 10, 2022 to September 16, 2022 and includes articles on using real-time data to improve road safety and training an AI system to identify explosive materials.

1. Predicting Smells

Researchers at Google have created an AI system that can predict a molecule’s smell based on its structure. The team trained the system with odor data from over 5,000 molecules. 

2. Preventing Falls

Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have created a robotic device that can prevent people from falling. The device uses sensors to detect if its user has started to lose their balance and manipulates a harness to prevent their fall. The device could help elderly adults or individuals with disabilities remain safe while maintaining independence. 

3. Advancing X-Ray Detection

Researchers at University College London have created an AI system that can identify explosive materials in x-ray images. The team trained the system to locate embedded explosive materials by identifying tiny bends produced when x-rays strike an object. In tests, the system achieved 100 percent accuracy. Further, the researchers noted that their system could be adapted for other applications, such as locating tiny cracks on an airplane’s surface. 

4. Preparing for Climate Hazards

The White House, the Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have launched a website to help communities prepare for climate-related hazards. Local officials can use the website to access and visualize data on extreme climate events, building codes, vulnerable populations, projected conditions, and federal funding opportunities. 

5. Launching Visitor Information Robots

The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia has launched smart robots to deliver information to visitors at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The robots will display information on prayer imams, muezzins, weekly schedules, and barcodes that visitors can scan to download services.

6. Supporting Data Sharing

President Biden has signed an executive order to create a national biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative. As part of the initiative, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will expand the Cancer Research Data Ecosystem, a data-sharing program designed to support patients with cancer and advance research on treatments, to include data on persistent poverty in public health surveillance of cancer and create a biosciences data center. 

7. Replenishing Inventory

Walmart has partnered with Focal Systems, a U.S.-based retail technology company, to use an AI system to detect low inventory levels on shelves in Canadian stores. The system will analyze video footage of the shelves to determine inventory levels and alert employees if it detects low levels. 

8. Improving Road Safety

The Florida Department of Transportation has partnered with one.network, a U.K.-based road technology company, to launch a pilot program to improve safety for construction workers and drivers on the state’s roads. Construction supervisors will use one.network’s platform to input real-time data on lane closures, temporary speed restrictions, and on-site personnel, which will then appear on third-party navigation applications such as Google Maps. 

9. Playing Wordle

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have trained an AI system to analyze Wordle guesses and determine the best starting word. The team found that the best starting word for the game is “salet,” which performed one percent better than “slate,” WordleBot’s recommended starting word. 

10. Shopping for Clothes Online

Walmart has created a virtual try-on tool to help customers shop for clothes online. The tool uses an AI system to display over 270,000 items on customers’ own images or a model. 

Image credit: Flickr user Hitchster

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