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MeowTalk: an app that translates cat’s miaow

US
By US Desk
Fri, 11, 20

An app that aims to translate your cat’s miaow has been developed by a former Amazon Alexa engineer....

TECH BYTES

An app that aims to translate your cat’s miaow has been developed by a former Amazon Alexa engineer.

MeowTalk records the sound and then attempts to identify the meaning. The cat’s owner also helps to label the translation, creating a database for the AI software to learn from. Currently, there are only 13 phrases in the app’s vocabulary including: “Feed me!”, “I’m angry!” and “Leave me alone!”

Research suggests that, unlike their human servants, cats do not share a language. Each cat’s miaow is unique and tailored to its owner, with some more vocal than others.

So, instead of a generic database for cat sounds, the app’s translation differs with each individual profile.

By recording and labelling sounds, the artificial intelligence and machine-learning software can better understand each individual cat’s voice - the more it’s used, the more accurate it can become.

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Baby Yoda gets a makeover

The Mandalorian breakout star Baby Yoda has stolen the hearts of many Star Wars fans, including former MythBusters co-host Adam Savage. So when Savage got his hands on Sideshow Collectible’s life-size replica of Baby Yoda, he couldn’t help but add a few improvements.

In the latest episode of Savage Builds on his Tested YouTube channel, Savage modifies the collectible by giving it more flexibility. Savage takes Baby Yoda apart and adds posable arms.

Savage also applies a more weathered look to Baby Yoda’s cloak. Baby Yoda has been in more than a few scrapes on the popular Disney Plus streaming series, so why not make his clothes look the part?

Watch Savage as he disassembles Baby Yoda and gives the little guy a more realistic appearance that best reflects his latest adventures - aside from eating frog eggs, that is.

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Scientists discover beautiful blue new mineral petrovite

The world of minerals is just as wild as the world of animals when it comes to discovering new specimens.

A research team led by crystallographer (crystal specialist) Stanislav Filatov at St. Petersburg University found a lovely new entry into the world of minerals: petrovite. Petrovite is beautiful to look at, but it could also help inspire advancements in next-generation batteries.

The bright blue mineral comes from a wild place: a volcanic landscape formed by major eruptions in the 1970s and the 2010s in the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.

Petrovite is particularly interesting because it’s a bit of an oddball in its composition and structure. The mineral consists of oxygen atoms, sodium sulphur and copper, which form a porous framework. The voids are connected to each other by channels through which relatively small sodium atoms can move.

This means petrovite could be useful as a component of sodium ion batteries, a type of rechargeable battery that could become an affordable alternative to the lithium ion batteries common today.

Petrovite was born in a fiery place in the wild, but Filatov said researchers could look into synthesizing a compound with its same structure in a lab for use in battery development. That would be quite a journey from a volcano to powering gadgets in people’s homes.

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Google wants to help cities plant trees to combat the climate crisis

Google is working on bringing more shade to help cool our cities as the climate crisis worsens. The new Tree Canopy Lab combines artificial intelligence and aerial imaging to help cities see where there are gaps in their tree coverage and tree planting projects. Cities will then know where to plant more trees, Google said.

Google is working with the City of Los Angeles on the project

Extreme temperatures are becoming more common in cities where concrete and infrastructure are now creating heat islands - areas that experience higher temperatures, leading to poor air quality, dehydration and other public health concerns. Trees are increasingly seen as a solution to both lowering street-level temperatures while improving quality of life.

The Tree Canopy Lab shows what percentage of neighborhoods have tree coverage, as well as population density and areas that are subject to extreme heat. It uses images collected by planes during the spring, summer and fall, including colour photos and near-infrared photos. Google AI is then used to scan the images and detect trees, and Google Earth Engine helps analyze this data.

Google believes if we expand our urban forest, we can sow the seeds of a healthier, more sustainable and equitable future for communities hit hardest by rising temperatures and intensifying heat waves.