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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers January 27, 2024 to February 2, 2024 and includes articles on shopping for eyeglasses online and tracking data on the reliability of public transportation.

1. Reading Braille
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a robot that can read braille text twice as fast as humans. It has a camera and sensors that collect data on braille letter patterns and an AI system that uses the data to identify words.

2. Locating Wreckages
Deep Sea Vision, a U.S.-based marine robotics company, may have located the potential wreckage of American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s plane. The team used an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with sonar technology to survey the ocean floor and capture an image of the plane they believe might be hers.

3. Learning Languages
Researchers at New York University have trained an AI system to better understand how children learn languages using footage from a helmet camera worn by a baby and phrases spoken by people near the baby. In tests, it could match words to the objects they represent.

4. Providing Identification
The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles will now offer digital vehicle registration cards for residents. The state also plans to develop and offer a digital driver’s license and ID card later this year. Residents can use both to prove vehicle registration and identification more efficiently than with physical cards.

5. Answering Questions
Amazon has started testing an AI-powered shopping assistant that can answer shoppers’ questions and identify good products for them. The assistant, known as Rufus, uses Amazon’s product offerings, online reviews, products’ Q&A’s, and general information from the Internet to answer questions.

6. Improving Public Transportation
The Maryland Transit Administration has launched a dashboard to improve transparency in transit usage and reliability. Riders can use the dashboard to view information on ridership levels, timeliness, route cancellations, and more.

7. Identifying Fraud
Mastercard, a U.S.-based payment processor, has launched an AI system that can identify fraudulent transactions in real time. According to the company, banks can use the system to improve fraud detection rates by an average of 20 percent, with some banks able to improve fraud detection by up to 300 percent.

8. Trying on Glasses
Walmart is expanding its virtual try-on feature to include eyewear. Customers can use the feature to view eyewear frames on their face with augmented reality and purchase prescription glasses online.

9. Updating Maps
Google has started testing a generative AI feature in its Maps app. Users can ask the feature questions about nearby locations, such as restaurants that meet certain dietary requirements, in natural language and the feature will respond with relevant results.

10. Upgrading Review Platforms
Yelp, a U.S.-based crowdsourced reviews platform, has added several AI-powered features to its app, including one that can summarize businesses’ reviews and another that can create optimal advertising budgets for business owners.

Image credit: Flickr user Dara or

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