Emerging Tech Roundup — February 19
The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.
This week in tech: Scientists try to build tech that replicates dogs’ ability to detect cancer, Interplay raises $18 million to expand VR training platform, AR and VR markets predicted to reach $661.4 billion by 2025, Zillow taps into AI for automatic floor plans, Epic Games aims to help developers and creators save time while building gaming characters, and Lego teams up with Universal Music Group on a fun AR-powered app.
Dogs Are Teaching Machines to Sniff Out Cancer
(The Scientist, February 18)
Detecting cancer early on can greatly improve the effectiveness of treatment, but diagnosing cancer is not an easy task. One incredible way that cancers are detected is through specially trained dogs, who are able to detect some cancers that modern testing can’t. Because of this phenomenon, scientists have been working for years on “electric noses” to try to replicate the dogs’ detection method, but so far, nothing has proven as effective as the dogs themselves. A new proof-of-concept study is working to integrate the canine olfaction with machine odor analysis as a way to learn from dogs and better replicate their detection abilities. The long-term goal is to create a smartphone-enabled device that can effectively detect cancer through electronic smell and machine learning.
Interplay Raises $18 Million for Enterprise-Focused VR Training Solutions
(VentureBeat, February 17)
A Texas-based company, Interplay, has been working on creating a 3D and VR platform that can train trade workers. The platform utilizes a combination of lessons, quizzes, 3D simulations, and walkthroughs with experts. The app is helping to train people in areas like plumbing, HVAC, facility maintenance, electrical work, and more. Due to the pandemic, VR training is more appealing than ever, and Interplay is looking to capitalize on this momentum. The company recently announced that they have raised another $18 million, which they plan to use to move into new markets and further expand their existing training courses and platform.
Frost & Sullivan Forecasts $661.4 Billion AR and VR Technology Market
(Mobile ID World, February 17)
The remote living of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we interact with technology and machines, accelerating the use of innovative technologies. Companies across industries have been increasingly turning to AR, VR, and biometrics to deliver personalized experiences. This widespread usage is the basis for a report released by Frost & Sullivan in which the firm predicts that the augmented and virtual reality technologies market will soar, hitting $661.4 billion by 2025. This growth is huge, representing a CAGR of 86.3% from 2019 to 2025. In addition, they predict that the biometrics market will also grow, reaching $54.97 billion.
Zillow’s 3D Home App Can Now Use AI to Guess the Size of Your House
(The Verge, February 17)
Zillow is a popular home listing site that has grown in popularity as people try to relocate or simply escape reality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zillow’s 3D Home app, originally launched in 2019, provides immersive ways for people to view home listings virtually. With it, a user can take a series of 360°photos and upload it to be stitched into a virtual tour of a space. Now, the company has tapped into the power of AI to include a new feature that automatically generates home floor plans based on scans uploaded by a user. With this, a user can select a specific area within a floor plan to jump to that part of the virtual tour. In addition, the AI technology can predict the square footage of a room based on the photos provided.
Epic Games Reveals MetaHuman Creator for Unreal Engine
(Comic Book, February 15)
Creating lifelike characters has become an increasingly costly and time-consuming task for video game creators; especially as gamers have come to expect constant upgrades. However, Unreal Engine from Epic Games might have developed a solution to this problem. The project is titled “MetaHuman Creator,” and it creates lifelike digital animations of humans, which can then be used across a variety of tools. One of the great features is that MetaHumans can be used in multiple projects without having to be recreated, which can save time and money. However, critics are already pointing to potential problems. The software starts with a preset face that you adjust in a number of ways, so some people are worried that the same faces will be popping up in numerous games, making things redundant and stale.
Lego Vidiyo Hands-on: An AR-Powered Music Video App With Scannable Minifigures
(CNET, February 16)
Lego is teaming up with Universal Music Group to create a fun new way to combine Legos, music, and AR. Lego Vidiyo uses plastic tiles called “Beat-bits,’’ which unlock music, digital props, effects, and dance moves. Using a selection of music from Universal Music Group’s catalog, users can create music videos through the app. The music video will scan available effects, moves, and sounds from the beat-bits and animate your Lego creation dancing to the selected music. It’s a fun new way to play with Legos, and a creative way for children (of all ages) to create quick music videos featuring their Lego characters.