Tech

Just ask Bus Uncle

Chatbot on Facebook Messenger informs you of bus arrival times - in Singlish

ASK THE BUS UNCLE

The next time you need to know when your bus is arriving, you can just whip out your phone and send a message to Bus Uncle. His first reply to you will be: "Which street lah, bus stop lah, or send me location also can."

After sending you the info - "Just 4 mins only better be at bus stop ah" - ask him if the information is "confirm?" and he'll reply: "4 hours hahaha no la 4 mins."

The entertaining "Bus Uncle" is actually a chatbot on Facebook Messenger created by Abhilash Murthy, a 24-year-old Information Systems Management graduate from Singapore Management University, according to website Tech in Asia.

The chatbot was "trained" to answer users' queries using natural language processing, which involves the communication between intelligent systems and humans using natural languages.

When users send a message to Bus Uncle, they are asked for their location, which they can easily send at the touch of a button using Messenger's in-built location-sharing function.

According to Bus Uncle's Facebook page, the bus times are based on data from DataMall, which is the Land Transport Authority database.

Visit facebook.com/sgbusuncle.


SMILE TO 'LIKE'?

Soon, you may be able to react to a Facebook post by making a face.

Facebook said on Wednesday that it has bought facial recognition start-up FacioMetrics, potentially using the technology for photo or video effects to better challenge rival Snapchat.

"How people share and communicate is changing and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways," a Facebook spokesman said.

"We're excited to welcome the FacioMetrics team who will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos and build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook."

Silicon Valley-based Facebook did not disclose the financial terms of the deal to buy FacioMetrics, which was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

FacioMetrics was founded in 2015 and specialises in using artificial intelligence to give facial image analysis capabilities to applications that run on smartphones.

The technology has potential for a host of applications, including measuring audience reactions and virtual or augmented realities.

- AFP.


SCAN YOUR PRINT PHOTOS, THANKS TO GOOGLE

Time to take out that box of old photos and get them scanned.

Google unveiled its new PhotoScan app on Wednesday, allowing anyone with an iPhone or Android phone to easily preserve their print photos digitally.

The app uses the phone's camera and flash to scan photos. Users are guided on how to move their phone around to capture different angles of the photo.

The app removes glare, background and corrects colour and orientation in mere seconds.

Once the photo is taken, it can also be uploaded easily to Google Photos, the company's photo storage app, where the photos can be further cropped or enhanced with filters and tweaks to level and colour settings.


DRONES AT DISNEY

If you're heading to Walt Disney World in Florida soon, you may see a new kind of fireworks show.

Disney and Intel announced this week a partnership to create a new light show, called Starbright Holidays, using 300 LED-lit drones, which are controlled simultaneously.

The show features Intel's new lightweight and versatile Shooting Star quadcopters, which carries multicoloured lights.

It is a "new type of unmanned aerial vehicle" designed for entertainment displays, reported Digital Trends.

Intel tested a light show using 100 drones in Germany last year.

Earlier this year, it broke a Guinness world record with a light show featuring 500 drones, reported Quartz.

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