A new patent shows how drones can keep an eye out on a home while making deliveries. CNET For years, Amazon has shown off how it’ll use drones to deliver items to customers, and it’s even developed a super-quiet drone for neighborhood deliveries. The company has a new patent that’ll give these flying robots a second use: surveillance. Amazon received a patent for what it calls “Image creation using geo-fence data” from the US Patent and Trademark Office in early June. The application explains that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, could be used to provide a secondary service of checking on an individual’s property while the robots are out doing deliveries.An image from the Amazon patent shows how drones will deliver and provide surveillance. US Patent and Trademark Office/Amazon As part of this service, customers can receive images or videos from the drones overlooking the property. UAVs would only be allowed to record the property of the individuals who consented and not those of their neighbors. “We take customer privacy very seriously,” John Tagle, senior PR manager for Amazon, said in an email Friday. “Some reports have suggested that this technology would spy or gather data on homes without authorization — to be clear, that’s not what the patent says. The patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home.”One company you might think would be worried about this is Sunflower Labs, a startup developing home security drones. But Chief Executive Alex Pachikov says he’s happy with Amazon’s patent.”I am actually very excited to see this,” Pachikov said. “We’ve long believed that drones are ideally suited for security, and while Amazon’s approach is different from ours, we are happy to see this market validated.”Like many patents granted to tech companies, there’s no telling if this drone security service will actually see the light of day. So far, Amazon’s plans for drones and autonomous vehicles are for deliveries sometime in the future. CNET reporter Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.Originally published June 21, 7:50 a.m. PT.Update, 9:16 a.m. PT: Adds Amazon comment. Update, June 23: Adds comment from Sunflower Labs. Share your voice Tags Comments 5 Patents Amazon Drones Smart Home Security Security Cameras
Share Claire Harbage/NPRNewly sworn-in U.S. citizens rise from their seats during a 2018 naturalization ceremony in Alexandria, Va.The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The decision grants the administration’s request for an immediate review of a lower court’s ruling that stopped plans for the question. A hearing is expected to be held in April.The question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?“The Trump administration is locked in a legal battle with dozens of states, cities and other groups that do not want the question to appear on forms for the constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S.The Census Bureau has not asked all households about U.S. citizenship status in close to 70 years, although a sample of households have encountered a citizenship question on a smaller Census Bureau survey now known as the American Community Survey. For the 1950 head count, census workers asked where members of all households were born. If people were born outside the U.S., census workers asked whether they were naturalized citizens of the U.S.Citing Census Bureau research, the groups suing argue that asking about citizenship status will depress census participation among households with noncitizens. That could lead to an undercount of immigrants and communities of color, which would have major implications for the way political power and federal funding are shared over the next decade.Pressure is mounting to resolve all of these disputes by June so that the printing of paper questionnaires for the census can proceed as scheduled.Population counts from the census determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives. They also guide the distribution of an estimated $880 billion a year in federal tax dollars to states and local communities for Medicare, schools and other public services.The Supreme Court’s decision comes a month after U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question. Furman’s decision for the two lead lawsuits based in Manhattan was the first major trial court ruling out of seven lawsuits over the Trump administration’s decision to add the question to the census.The administration maintains that the Justice Department wants responses to the question to better enforce part of the Voting Rights Act.In his 277-page opinion, however, Furman concluded that was not the “real reason” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, approved including the question on the census. The judge found Ross’ decision to be “arbitrary and capricious,” in part because adding the question is less effective and more expensive than an alternative method the Census Bureau recommended to Ross — compiling existing government records on citizenship.Furman also said that Ross made a “veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut” violations of administrative law, including providing misleading statements about the citizenship question.Ross has said that the Justice Department “initiated” the request for the question. But court filings show that after discussing the question with Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Ross pressured his staff at the Commerce Department to get a formal request for the question from the Justice Department.Spokespeople for the Justice Department, which is representing the administration in these lawsuits, did not immediately respond to NPR’s inquiry about the Supreme Court’s decision.“Adding a citizenship question to the census would cause incalculable damage to our democracy,” said Dale Ho, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys at the ACLU, in a statement. “The evidence presented at trial exposed this was the Trump administration’s plan from the get-go.”“The District Court recognized these facts in ruling in favor of our challenge and we look forward to seeing the Trump Administration in court once again,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office represented some of the lead plaintiffs in district court under her predecessor.In an unusual move, the Trump administration’s attorneys appealed Furman’s ruling to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before asking the Supreme Court to bypass the 2nd Circuit and take on reviewing the decision earlier.Besides the two lead lawsuits in New York, district judges are hearing citizenship question cases in California, Maryland and Washington, D.C.Internal documents released as part of the lawsuits reveal that the Trump administration had prepared to defend adding a citizenship question in the country’s highest court.“Since this issue will go to the Supreme Court we need to be diligent in preparing the administrative record,” Commerce Department official Earl Comstock wrote in a 2017 email to Ross.“We should be very careful, about everything, whether or not it is likely to end up in the SC,” Ross replied.Copyright 2019 NPR. 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More information: Project page idav.ucdavis.edu/~okreylos/ResDev/SARndbox/ What’s even cooler is the fact that the software used to create the simulations is all available under a GNU public license agreement, which means most any school, museum or other teaching program could build a similar system at very little cost. With such a system, students can gain a deeper understanding of how land and water systems interact and see for themselves how changes to topography over time cause changes in the environment in a much more hands-on fashion than when building static models out of sand, dirt or clay. Pico projector used in eye based video gaming system Explore further © 2012 Phys.Org (Phys.org) — Most children at some point in their schooling are taught about the water table and many wind up being tasked with creating a model of some sort to represent how it all works. Some use clay, but many more likely use sand, as it’s far easier and faster than most anything else. Now researchers at UC Davis have taken that model to new extremes by building a sandbox system that is capable of automatically adding augmented reality real-time coloring to the sand to indicate altitude and moving water as changes are made to the terrain with a hand or small tool. Citation: University research team creates augmented reality sandbox (w/ Video) (2012, May 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-05-university-team-augmented-reality-sandbox.html The project is part of the University’s Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (funded by a National Science Foundation grant) and was started as a means of building an educational system for children to help kids better visualize how land and water systems work. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. To make the sandbox, the team combined a Kinect 3D camera, a digital projector and simulation software running on a computer and of course, an ordinary sandbox raised up on four legs for optimal viewing.The system works by first collecting images of the sandbox from above using the Kinect camera, at thirty frames per second, as a demonstrator (or student) changes the landscape below in the sandbox. Information from the camera is fed to a computer running the simulation software (Vrui VR development toolkit). The software generates different colors to represent different elevation levels in a virtual topological map. It also uses a set of Saint-Venant shallow water equations to create realistic looking water movement. Both are then projected down onto the sandbox in real time, giving the appearance of reacting to changes made by a person creating hills, valleys, rivers, streams and lakes in the sand. The result is nearly instant color coding of elevation topography and the instigation of virtual water into the modeled waterways.
August 18, 2015 This story originally appeared on Engadget Adding solar panels to your roof can be frustrating, since it’s often difficult to know if your home receives enough light to justify the investment. Google Maps, however, has satellite, navigation and sunlight data for every property in the world, so it’s ideally placed to tell you how many rays hit your crib on a daily basis. That’s why the firm is launching Sunroof, a database of how much solar energy hits each building in a city, helping people work out if it’s worth the effort. Sunroof is intended as a “treasure map” for future green energy projects, telling you how much of a saving you’d make and how long it’d take to make back your initial outlay.To begin with, Project Sunroof will only be available in three locations: Boston, San Francisco and Fresno. If it turns out to be successful, however, then Google will roll the service out to the rest of the country and, possibly, the world. Once you’ve put in your address, you’ll be told how much you’re likely to save in energy costs, and then be put in touch with a local installer.We tested the service out on Aol’s building in San Francisco, and it told us that we received 1,840 hours of usable sunlight per year. In addition, we learned that we have roughly 15,641 square feet of available space that we could use to install solar panels. It then took us through our options, letting us know that we’d save $14,000 if we leased the hardware, or $24,000 if we bought them outright. So, if you’re in one of these three areas, why not share how much Google thinks you’re likely to save and if that’ll prompt you into signing up. Hear from business owners and CEOs who went through a crippling business problem and came out the other side bigger and stronger. Problem Solvers with Jason Feifer Listen Now 2 min read