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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens
Thwaites Glacier

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers January 7, 2023 to January 13, 2023 and includes articles on analyzing glacier crevasses with an AI system and using a supercomputer to target herbicide resistance. 

1. Recreating Voices

Microsoft has created an AI system, known as VALL-E, that can replicate users’ voices, emotional tones, and acoustic environments using a three-second audio sample. Researchers at the company trained the system with 60,000 hours of speech recordings from over 7,000 speakers.

2. Flying Planes

Airbus, an aerospace company based in the Netherlands, has started testing an autonomous flying system that can divert flights to the nearest airport if pilots become incapacitated. The system, known as DragonFly, uses data from sensors and computer vision technology to fly and land on runways. 

3. Applying Makeup

L’Oréal, a French cosmetics company, has launched two tools to help individuals with limited hand or arm mobility apply makeup. The first, known as HAPTA, consists of a handheld device that uses sensors and self-leveling technology to help users apply lipstick. The second, named Brow Magic, uses augmented reality to display different eyebrow shapes on images of users’ faces. A device with 2,400 nozzles then applies brow makeup according to the users’ choices. 

4. Screening for Cervical Cancer

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created a smart tampon that can screen for cervical irregularities. The tampon has an AI-powered camera that can identify abnormal cervix cells during screening and alert patients to visit their doctor. Medical providers and patients can use the tampon to make cervical cancer screening more accessible. 

5. Monitoring Inventory

Google Cloud has created an AI system that can identify packaged goods in images or videos of store shelves. Researchers trained the system with a database of over a billion goods. Retailers can use the system to monitor inventory levels and replenish stock more efficiently. 

6. Targeting Herbicide Resistance

An international team of researchers has identified the genes responsible for certain types of herbicide resistance in weeds. The team used a supercomputer to analyze two weed populations with herbicide resistance and determine if the two shared genetic traits. They located both overlapping genes that may result in resistance and genes unique to each weed population, suggesting that resistance may originate in a set of shared genes and subsequently evolve according to the plant’s needs. 

7. Monitoring Glaciers

Researchers at the University of Leeds and the University of Bristol have created an AI system that can spot forming crevasses in satellite images of the Thwaites Glacier ice tongue in west Antarctica. The team trained the system with satellite images from the past decade. Researchers can use the system to monitor the Thwaites Glacier ice tongue for further changes and inform policies for future rises in sea levels. 

8. Automating Lost and Found Programs

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia and the Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York have adopted an AI platform to improve the return process for goods in their lost and found systems. Airport officials and travelers can enter basic information of lost goods into the platform, and an AI system will match common entries. 

9. Mapping Wetlands

Researchers at the Chesapeake Conservancy, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Chesapeake Bay in the eastern United States, have created an AI system that can map wetlands. The team trained the system with satellite and aerial imagery of wetlands and data on soil moisture collected with lidar technology. In tests, the system mapped wetlands with 94 percent accuracy.  

10. Encouraging Healthy Choices

Chipotle, a chain of fast casual restaurants, has partnered with Snap to launch a lens that encourages healthy lifestyles. The lens uses augmented reality to guide users through challenges related to exercise and meditation. Users who complete the challenges will receive a free small side or topping of guacamole at Chipotle. 

Image credit: Flickr user NASA ICE

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