Motiv’s activity tracking ring now works with Android and Alexa

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Motiv is making good on promises of widening support for its fitness tracking ring. To start, Android support is finally here in an early form. If you have one of a handful of phones (one of the Google Pixel series, the Galaxy S7 through S8+ and th…
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AI predicts your lifespan using activity tracking apps

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Researchers can estimate your expected lifespan based on physiological traits like your genes or your circulating blood factor, but that's not very practical on a grand scale. There may be a shortcut, however: the devices you already have on your bo…
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YouTuber demos new TrueDepth face tracking features in GarageBand on iPhone X [Video]

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During its education event yesterday, Apple announced updates to its iWork apps for iOS that add support for the Apple Pencil. Afterwards, the company also quietly pushed an update for GarageBand for iOS that adds support for facial tracking via the TrueDepth camera on iPhone X…

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This week’s top stories: Apple’s March event, sleep tracking with Apple Watch, and more

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In this week’s top stories: Sleep tracking with Apple Watch, expectations for Apple’s March event, WWDC wallpapers, the forgotten history of obscure Apple accessories, and much more. Read on for all of this week’s biggest stories…

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Affectiva launches emotion tracking AI for connected car drivers

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Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab startup, has launched the Automotive AI service, which enables the manufacturers of connected vehicles and in-car systems to track drivers’ and passengers’ emotional responses.

The system is designed to boost road safety.

Affectiva said that its AI model offers a deep understanding of driver and occupant emotions, cognitive states, and reactions to the driving experience, including joy, surprise, fear, and anger. More significantly for road safety, it can also identify drowsiness, yawning, and other signs of fatigue.

It does this by measuring facial expressions and voice tones in real time. The system tracks the head and face, analysing expressions, sounds, yawning, eye-closing, and blinking patterns to understand the emotions and states of mind of both drivers and passengers.

Affectiva said it is working with the likes of Porsche, Daimler, BMW, robotaxi startup Renovo, and vehicle safety systems providers such as Autoliv, as well as hardware providers NVIDIA and Intel. This suggests that new connected cars will come equipped with the AI in the near future.

Affectiva’s aim is to combine the software with other onboard systems to make for a more connected drive. For example, the AI could trigger audiovisual alerts or seat belt vibrations to ensure the driver remains engaged, and intervene in dangerous driving situations that may stem from fatigue or distractions.

By sensing fatigue, anger, or frustration the AI can determine if an autonomous car should take control from its driver – and when it is safe to pass back control.

The software could also call upon a virtual assistant to guide divers through alternative ‘road rage free’ routes if they seem angry, or play a soothing playlist to calm them down.

Read more: IBM launches new Watson Assistant AI for connected enterprises

The system isn’t just focused on drivers: passengers are equally important, said Affectiva. Passenger reactions could be used to personalise video or music playlists, or adjust heating and lighting, while the autonomous driving style could be altered if passengers seem anxious or uncomfortable.

Affectiva used a database of six million faces from 87 countries to build its AI model. The startup has also developed a voice analysis tool for the makers of AI assistants and social robots.

Read more: Blackberry, Jaguar Land Rover collaborate on next-gen vehicles

Internet of Business says

This innovative mix of AI, in-car systems, connected cars, and autonomy holds great promise for the future of safer, more pleasurable driving for all – if these systems are designed and deployed sensitively.

Too intrusive or insistent a presence in cars may trigger some of the problems that AI is designed to solve. At heart, both driving and personal transport are about people; too machine-like an experience and many car owners or users may begin to feel that the humanity is being taken out of the picture.

The post Affectiva launches emotion tracking AI for connected car drivers appeared first on Internet of Business.

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We can’t allow privacy to be an afterthought with eye tracking

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No one can afford to think about this later.

The cool thing about the virtual reality conversations at GDC this year is how focused everyone seems to be on improving what we have now. Developers are having great conversations about what they have done wrong so far, and sharing best practices to ensure everyone’s next project has a better chance of survival. While these conversations are happening in the convention center, hardware people are off in different rooms showing people what features the next piece of hardware will have behind closed doors.

The big thing coming to VR headsets within the next year is eye tracking, and on a high level everyone should be very excited. Eye tracking is going to allow instant authentication into your collection of apps and services, but also improve every experience you have in VR right now. Your eyes will appear more realistic and human in social VR apps, puzzles will become faster and more dynamic, the world of interactive experiences is truly about to open up and some fun things are going to come out.

But it’s also important to remember this is being accomplished by giving some company somewhere unlimited and potentially very detailed access to your eyeballs. It doesn’t get much more personal than that, and it is important for every link in the chain responsible for delivering your eyes to those sensors to be involved in keeping this personal information safe.

It’s not hard to make eye tracking in this context sound deeply creepy, and quickly turn users off to this kind of feature.

We think about eye tracking in a couple of different ways right now. Some phone manufacturers are starting to use the front-facing camera and an infrared sensor to scan your irises as a way to unlock your phone. Apple’s Face ID tech can be used for dynamic eye tracking for some trippy visual effects in coordination with ARKit. Windows 10 supports eye tracking to navigate parts of the OS, while some game designers use it for more natural navigation in games. This tech has been slowly crawling to the foreground for a while now, but we could potentially see eye tracking as a standard in the next generation of VR headsets.

Qualcomm’s most recent VR Developer Kit (VRDK) includes a partnership with Tobii, the biggest name in VR-based eye tracking in the world today. Tobii is supplying the know-how, but Qualcomm is building these reference units for developers to build on while manufacturers work with Qualcomm to include this tech in headsets aimed at release next year. Which part of this chain takes responsibility for your safety? Qualcomm makes the reference design and encourages its partners to use this tech, but isn’t the manufacturer of record for the actual consumer product. The manufacturer is probably going to install a largely pre-made version of some other company’s operating system and rely on third-party SDKs to enable access to this hardware. Developers will take this information and build lots of exciting things, but it’s not immediately clear how this data is collected, handled, or stored.

In sitting down with Qualcomm this week, it was clear no one was really prepared to answer this question. Qualcomm doesn’t technically make the consumer product, but it is clearly highlighting eye tracking as a great potential feature. And with good reason, eye tracking can allow developers to collect “heat maps” to show where users are looking and interacting. That makes fine-tuning an experience much easier, making it possible to quickly make an experience much easier or much more complicated. It’s not hard to make eye tracking in this context sound deeply creepy, and quickly turn users off to this kind of feature. On the other hand, if privacy settings for this kind of feature is a simple on/off setting, it can quickly deprive users of a much more immersive experience.

With developers unable to access these features yet to see how much data they have access to, and manufacturers not yet announcing commercial products with these features onboard, the only company willing to discuss privacy in VR eye tracking is Tobii. While embedding sensors into the face area of a VR headset is fairly new, Tobii has seen tremendous success with its eye tracking camera for Windows 10. By default, this eye tracking tech does not allow the developer to access any images of the actual eye. Instead, the sensors convert your eye position into a set of coordinates, and the developers can use the coordinates for the appropriate positional data.

If you want access to more than the coordinates, you have to sign a very different agreement with Tobii. As Tobii’s Business Unit President Oscar Werner explained to us:

User privacy is very important to us. All of our standard license agreements with developers say that they cannot store or transfer eye tracking data, which is required for analytical use. If a developer wants to store or transfer eye tracking data they have to sign a special license with us. These special license agreements demand that the application clearly inform users that information is being used for analytical use, explain how it is being used, and require that users consent to such use.

Users will have the ability to agree to the use of data above and beyond simple coordinates being shared with developers before any information is offered, which is great. What this doesn’t address is eye authentication, something Qualcomm is boasting as a potential feature for partners to take advantage of. For that, SOMEONE IMPORTANT made it clear the eye image captured by Tobii goes into processing to generate the signal and the coordinate, and then is immediately destroyed. “The eye images are never transferred to developers or stored in persistent memory on the device. Developers only get the signal with gaze coordinates (where you look).”

It’s going to be a little while before we see eye tracking in VR headsets, and that’s exactly why we need to have this conversation right now. A slip up which exposes retinal scans from a batch of users isn’t something that should be allowed to happen in the first place. Every company involved in the process should be asked what specifically it is doing to keep this user data safe. And until we like the answer, we should keep asking.

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How to stop Facebook tracking your location

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Facebook wants to know everything about you, but the iPhone makes it easy to stop the app from stalking you. Here’s how to stop Facebook tracking your location.

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Sleep++ App for Apple Watch Now Offers Automatic Sleep Tracking

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If you’re someone who wears your Apple Watch while sleeping, you may be familiar with the Sleep++ app for the Apple Watch, which offers sleep tracking and analyzing functionality.

Sleep++ was today updated to version 3 and it’s gained a new feature that makes it easier than ever to keep track of sleep quality, length, and other metrics while sleeping — automatic tracking.


The Sleep++ automatic sleep tracking feature kicks in when Apple Watch wearers go to bed at night and stops tracking in the morning, so Sleep++ users no longer need to start and stop sleep tracking every night. For more precise tracking, though, manual options continue to be available.

Today’s Sleep++ update also includes other features like bedtime reminders, notifications with a summary of the previous night’s sleep quality, and the ability to set a nightly sleep goal to reach.

Apple Watch does not have any built-in sleep tracking capabilities because Apple has designed it to be charged at night and worn during the day, but third-party apps are able to provide this missing functionality for users who prefer to wear their watches to bed.

Apple does offer a sleep tracking solution in the form of the Beddit, an accessory that it acquired last year. The Beddit sleep tracker, which also offers automatic sleep tracking, slips under your sheet and monitors sleep quality, heart rate, and other metrics. It does cost $150, though, so it’s far less affordable than a third-party Apple Watch app.

Sleep++ can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Sleep++ 3 for Apple Watch adds automatic sleep tracking, morning sleep summary, more

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Apple’s Health app supports sleep tracking data on the iPhone, but populating the category with useful data can be a challenge.

You can capture some data using the Bedtime feature in the Clock app, but dedicated sleep trackers can be more reliable and offer more robust data and Apple hasn’t offered its own Apple Watch sleep tracking yet despite buying Beddit almost a year ago.

Sleep++ is a third-party app that lets you turn your Apple Watch into a dedicated sleep tracker, and today’s 3.0 release makes that much easier with automatic sleep tracking and new goal features.

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What the GDPR will mean for companies tracking location

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The tracking of people’s location is becoming an increasingly useful tool for many businesses, whether they want to use it to connect customers with their special offers, monitor footfall, or provide other location-based services. However, a snag is coming in the shape of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which introduces much tougher rules around the collection and use of personal data. And location data can most certainly qualify as personal data, anytime it relates to an identifiable individual. It’s not that European regulators haven’t cracked down on location-based data protection abuses before. In 2015, France’s CNIL censured the billboard giant JCDecaux…

This story continues at The Next Web
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