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Intel Buys Canadian Password-Application Startup

Intel has acquired PasswordBox, a Canadian identity-management technology firm, for an undisclosed amount. Intel is integrating the application—which lets users log to systems with a single tap on their screen without needing to remember their passwords—and the company’s 48 employees into the Intel Security Group. PasswordBox was founded in 2012, and its product was named the best mobile app at this year’s CES consumer-electronics trade show. (Reuters)(ZDNet)(Intel @ Business Wire)

MIT Develops Fast, Powerful, Cheetah-Inspired Robot

MIT researchers have created a robot, inspired by the cheetah,that is faster and more powerful than conventional robots. The prototype battery-powered Cheetah robot, which researchers control using video game-based technology, weighs 31 kilograms (68 pounds) – comparable to its biological counterpart -- and can run 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) per hour (10 miles/hour for 15 minutes. “This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world,” said Sangbae Kim, head of the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab. The robot is inspired by the cheetah’s speed and agility and shares its bounding gait. During the five-year, DARPA-funded development process, the researchers had to specially design the components because conventional technologies couldn’t yield the performance they wanted. Some of the components include 12 light, powerful motors controlled by and an onboard computer that also processes data from various sensors. The researchers also designed an algorithm that calculates matters such as the force each leg needs to propel the robot while still keeping it balanced. They are continuing to refine their technology and adding sensors to help the robot operate autonomously. They say their technologies and components could be applied to prosthetics, wearable technologies, and vehicles, and eventually could be used for search and rescue operations too dangerous for humans. (The Associated Press @ CBC News)(The Telegraph)(MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab)

Google Software More Accurately Describes Photos

Google has developed artificial-intelligence software capable of more accurately describing a photo scene than previous technologies, which could make searching for specific images easier or help the visually impaired better understand a photo. The technology uses two neural networks for processing. One focuses on image recognition and processing, the other handles natural-language processing and produces full English sentences to describe photos. In tests, the software, following training, was applied to images available in openly published datasets and asked to provide a description. Against an automated test used to benchmark computer-vision software, the Google technology—which is still in development—scored in the 60s. Humans taking the same test typically score in the 70s. (BBC)(WIRED UK)(MIT Technology Review)(Google Research)

New Glass for Mobile-Device Displays Is Tougher than Previous Materials

Corning has announced the release of Gorilla Glass 4, its hardened glass designed for smartphone and tablet displays. The company claims it is roughly twice as tough as Gorilla Glass 3—based on its 80 percent rate of survival of a one-meter fall onto a rough surface—and thus should help keep screens from cracking when users drop their devices. The new material is in production and should be available in commercial devices by the end of 2014. Corning had an 80 percent share of the hardened-glass display business in 2013. Apple, Samsung, and other manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches use Gorilla Glass. (CNET)(re/Code)(Corning @ Market Watch)

Coding Tutorial Uses Popular Children’s Film to Attract Kids and Disney Interactive have created a new basic coding tutorial for children featuring characters from the animated film Frozen to stimulate their interest in computer science. The Artist with Anna and Elsa tutorial offers viewers information on programming concepts like loops and conditionals. The module also is embedded with short video lectures from women working in technology. is a nonprofit organization focused on expanding participation in computer science, particularly by children, women, and people of color. The tutorial project is part of the organization’s Hour of Code campaign, a one-hour introduction to computer science for tens of millions of students in 180 countries. Disney is hosting Hour of Code events at several of its offices. (Geek Wire)(The Seattle Times)(Code.Org “Artist with Anna and Elsa”)

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