Valve lets you stream Steam games from anywhere

Valve doesn’t want to miss the cloud gaming bandwagon. As PC Gamer spotted, The company quietly released a beta version of Steam Link Anywhere. As the name suggests, it lets you turn your gaming PC into a cloud gaming server and stream games from… anywhere.

The company’s strategy is a bit puzzling here as Valve recently discontinued its hardware set-top box, the Steam Link. While Valve might be done on the hardware side, the company is still iterating on Steam Link apps.

You can now download the Steam Link app on an Android phone, an Android TV device or a Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, Valve still hasn’t found a way to release its Steam Link app on the App Store for iOS devices and the Apple TV. You can start Steam on your computer and play demanding PC games on other screens.

Steam Link works fine on a local network, especially if you use Ethernet cables between all your devices. With Steam Link Anywhere, your performance will vary depending on your home internet connection. If you don’t have a fiber connection at home, the latency might simply be too high to play any game.

Now let’s see if Valve plans to flip the switch and let you run Steam games on a server in a data center near you. That would turn Steam Link Anywhere into a Shadow competitor.

Microsoft recently showed off Forza Horizon 4 running on an Android phone thanks to Project xCloud. Google has also been teasing its Game Developers Conference to learn more about its gaming projects. It’s clear that everybody wants to turn 2019 into the year of cloud gaming.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

wearTRBL lets you express yourself with a connected T-shirt

When I interviewed Parrot founder and CEO Henri Seydoux at TechCrunch Disrupt back in 2016, he surprised everyone when he said he was working on a new kind of T-shirt — nobody knew for sure whether he was joking or not. But the connected T-shirt is real, and it’s called wearTRBL.

While the project started as a Parrot subsidiary, the company was spun off in July 2018. Seydoux is still credited as co-founder and Olivier Levy acts as co-founder and CEO. wearTRBL expects to launch its first product in a few months.

The team has been working on a flexible E Ink display that you can seamlessly embed into a T-shirt. Thanks to a mobile app and Bluetooth Low Energy, you can change the image on the display and make a statement.

You can store up to 20 images on the display and the battery should last around 4 days. That doesn’t mean you’re supposed to wear your T-shirt for 4 days straight because that would be incredibly gross. But you can remove the display and put it into another T-shirt, sweatshirt or accessory.

If you’re thinking about this product with the expectations of a consumer electronics enthusiast, you’re going to be disappointed. This is a fashion product, a way to express yourself with your T-shirt and show some of your personality using what you wear.

The original idea behind this T-shirt started after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015. Many people wanted to express themselves by replacing their online profile pictures with drawings. People wanted to write “Je Suis Charlie” on giant banners.

wearTRBL wants to create a community and a curated library of pictures. You’ll be able to browse a collection of designs and download it to your T-shirt. You’ll also be able to attract followers and broadcast content to other users.

The startup eventually wants to become a brand of iconic clothing items that are all compatible with the E Ink display. It’s an ambitious bet, but Seydoux wasn’t joking when he said “I’m working on a T-shirt that you’ve never seen before.”

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Let’s save the bees with machine learning

Machine learning and all its related forms of “AI” are being used to work on just about every problem under the sun, but even so, stemming the alarming decline of the bee population still seems out of left field. In fact it’s a great application for the technology and may help both bees and beekeepers keep hives healthy.

The latest threat to our precious honeybees is the varroa mite, a parasite that infests hives and sucks the blood from both bees and their young. While it rarely kills a bee outright, it can weaken it and cause young to be born similarly weak or deformed. Over time this can lead to colony collapse.

The worst part is that unless you’re looking closely, you might not even see the mites — being mites, they’re tiny: a millimeter or so across. So infestations often go on for some time without being discovered.

Beekeepers, caring folk at heart obviously, want to avoid this. But the solution has been to put a flat surface beneath a hive and pull it out every few days, inspecting all the waste, dirt, and other hive junk for the tiny bodies of the mites. It’s painstaking and time-consuming work, and of course if you miss a few, you might think the infestation is getting better instead of worse.

Machine learning to the rescue!

As I’ve had occasion to mention about a billion times before this, one of the things machine learning models are really good at is sorting through noisy data, like a surface covered in random tiny shapes, and finding targets, like the shape of a dead varroa mite.

Students at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland created an image recognition agent called ApiZoom trained on images of mites that can sort through a photo and identify any visible mite bodies in seconds. All the beekeeper needs to do is take a regular smartphone photo and upload it to the EPFL system.

The project started back in 2017, and since then the model has been trained with tens of thousands of images and achieved a success rate of detection of about 90 percent, which the project’s Alain Bugnon told me is about at parity with humans. The plan now is to distribute the app as widely as possible.

“We envisage two phases: a web solution, then a smartphone solution. These two solutions allow to estimate the rate of infestation of a hive, but if the application is used on a large scale, of a region,” Bugnon said. “By collecting automatic and comprehensive data, it is not impossible to make new findings about a region or atypical practices of a beekeeper, and also possible mutations of the Varroa mites.”

That kind of systematic data collection would be a major help for coordinating infestation response at a national level. ApiZoom is being spun out as a separate company by Bugnon; hopefully this will help get the software to beekeepers as soon as possible. The bees will thank them later.

Gadgets – TechCrunch