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CSAIL robot disinfects Greater Boston Food Bank

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With every droplet that we can’t see, touch, or feel dispersed into the air, the threat of spreading Covid-19 persists. It’s become increasingly critical to keep these heavy droplets from lingering — especially on surfaces, which are welcoming and generous hosts. 

Thankfully, our chemical cleaning products are effective, but using them to disinfect larger settings can be expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming. Across the globe there are thousands of warehouses, grocery stores, schools, and other spaces where cleaning workers are at risk.

With that in mind, a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), in collaboration with Ava Robotics and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), designed a new robotic system that powerfully disinfects surfaces and neutralizes aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.

The approach uses a custom UV-C light fixture designed at CSAIL that is integrated with Ava Robotics’ mobile robot base. The results were encouraging enough that researchers say that the approach could be useful for autonomous UV disinfection in other environments, such as factories, restaurants, and supermarkets. 

UV-C light has proven to be effective at killing viruses and bacteria on surfaces and aerosols, but it’s unsafe for humans to be exposed. Fortunately, Ava’s telepresence robot doesn’t require any human supervision. Instead of the telepresence top, the team subbed in a UV-C array for disinfecting surfaces. Specifically, the array uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms and disrupt their DNA in a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

The complete robot system is capable of mapping the space — in this case, GBFB’s warehouse — and navigating between waypoints and other specified areas. In testing the system, the team used a UV-C dosimeter, which confirmed that the robot was delivering the expected dosage of UV-C light predicted by the model.

“Food banks provide an essential service to our communities, so it is critical to help keep these operations running,” says Alyssa Pierson, CSAIL research scientist and technical lead of the UV-C lamp assembly. “Here, there was a unique opportunity to provide additional disinfecting power to their current workflow, and help reduce the risks of Covid-19 exposure.” 

Food banks are also facing a particular demand due to the stress of Covid-19. The United Nations projected that, because of the virus, the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double to 265 million. In the United States alone, the five-week total of job losses has risen to 26 million, potentially pushing millions more into food insecurity. 

During tests at GBFB, the robot was able to drive by the pallets and storage aisles at a speed of roughly 0.22 miles per hour. At this speed, the robot could cover a 4,000-square-foot space in GBFB’s warehouse in just half an hour. The UV-C dosage delivered during this time can neutralize approximately 90 percent of coronaviruses on surfaces. For many surfaces, this dose will be higher, resulting in more of the virus neutralized.

Typically, this method of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is used largely in hospitals and medical settings, to sterilize patient rooms and stop the spread of microorganisms like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile, and the UV-C light also works against airborne pathogens. While it’s most effective in the direct “line of sight,” it can get to nooks and crannies as the light bounces off surfaces and onto other surfaces. 

“Our 10-year-old warehouse is a relatively new food distribution facility with AIB-certified, state-of-the-art cleanliness and food safety standards,” says Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank. “Covid-19 is a new pathogen that GBFB, and the rest of the world, was not designed to handle. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with MIT CSAIL and Ava Robotics to innovate and advance our sanitation techniques to defeat this menace.” 

As a first step, the team teleoperated the robot to teach it the path around the warehouse — meaning it’s equipped with autonomy to move around, without the team needing to navigate it remotely. 

It can go to defined waypoints on its map, such as going to the loading dock, then the warehouse shipping floor, then returning to base. They define those waypoints from the expert human user in teleop mode, and then can add new waypoints to the map as needed. 

Within GBFB, the team identified the warehouse shipping floor as a “high-importance area” for the robot to disinfect. Each day, workers stage aisles of products and arrange them for up to 50 pickups by partners and distribution trucks the next day. By focusing on the shipping area, it prioritizes disinfecting items leaving the warehouse to reduce Covid-19 spread out into the community.

Currently, the team is exploring how to use its onboard sensors to adapt to changes in the environment, such that in new territory, the robot would adjust its speed to ensure the recommended dosage is applied to new objects and surfaces. 

A unique challenge is that the shipping area is constantly changing, so each night, the robot encounters a slightly new environment. When the robot is deployed, it doesn’t necessarily know which of the staging aisles will be occupied, or how full each aisle might be. Therefore, the team notes that they need to teach the robot to differentiate between the occupied and unoccupied aisles, so it can change its planned path accordingly.

As far as production went, “in-house manufacturing” took on a whole new meaning for this prototype and the team. The UV-C lamps were assembled in Pierson’s basement, and CSAIL PhD student Jonathan Romanishin crafted a makeshift shop in his apartment for the electronics board assembly. 

“As we drive the robot around the food bank, we are also researching new control policies that will allow the robot to adapt to changes in the environment and ensure all areas receive the proper estimated dosage,” says Pierson. “We are focused on remote operation to minimize  human supervision, and, therefore, the additional risk of spreading Covid-19, while running our system.” 

For immediate next steps, the team is focused on increasing the capabilities of the robot at GBFB, as well as eventually implementing design upgrades. Their broader intention focuses on how to make these systems more capable at adapting to our world: how a robot can dynamically change its plan based on estimated UV-C dosages, how it can work in new environments, and how to coordinate teams of UV-C robots to work together.

“We are excited to see the UV-C disinfecting robot support our community in this time of need,” says CSAIL director and project lead Daniela Rus. “The insights we received from the work at GBFB has highlighted several algorithmic challenges. We plan to tackle these in order to extend the scope of autonomous UV disinfection in complex spaces, including dorms, schools, airplanes, and grocery stores.” 

Currently, the team’s focus is on GBFB, although the algorithms and systems they are developing could be transferred to other use cases in the future, like warehouses, grocery stores, and schools. 

“MIT has been a great partner, and when they came to us, the team was eager to start the integration, which took just four weeks to get up and running,” says Ava Robotics CEO Youssef Saleh. “The opportunity for robots to solve workplace challenges is bigger than ever, and collaborating with MIT to make an impact at the food bank has been a great experience.” 

Pierson and Romanishin worked alongside Hunter Hansen (software capabilities), Bryan Teague of MIT Lincoln Laboratory (who assisted with the UV-C lamp assembly), Igor Gilitschenski and Xiao Li (assisting with future autonomy research), MIT professors Daniela Rus and Saman Amarasinghe, and Ava leads Marcio Macedo and Youssef Saleh. 

This project was supported in part by Ava Robotics, who provided their platform and team support.


Topics: Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Lincoln Laboratory, Covid-19, Pandemic, Public health, Disease, Robots, Robotics, Health care, Systems design, Manufacturing, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), School of Engineering

Source: http://news.mit.edu/2020/csail-robot-disinfects-greater-boston-food-bank-covid-19-0629

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How The Education Sector Modifies To The New Normal?

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As coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, people are thinking of when everything will return to normalcy. Everyone is willing to get back to their workplace since work from home is nothing less than a struggle. Similarly, children can’t wait to go back to school either because who likes studying without friends?

“Epidemiologists suggest people will have to adopt the new normal since Covid-19 is not going anytime soon. Are you wondering how it would be?”

Undoubtfully, it will involve higher levels of health precautions to eliminate the threat of contracting the virus. Digital technology will play a vital role in ensuring the smooth functioning of banking, business, health, and especially the education sector. After all, none of the countries can afford the loss of education since the economy needs to dig itself out of recession.

Therefore, schools, colleges, and universities are crawling towards virtual infrastructures. In regions where the threat of viruses is minimal are opening schools with safety protocols. Thus, sooner or later, everyone will have to adapt to this change, and the education sector has already plunged into it. Look below to see how the education sector modifies to the new normal.

1. Online Classes

Every educational institute is bringing forward technical infrastructures that support some form of virtual learning. Online learning is being pushed deeper as the ultimate solution, addressing the challenges of this industry during this pandemic. Instructors are using videoconferencing to foster face-to-face communication with students, along with some other learning management systems.

Hence, the concept of online learning is growing extensively. Universities are offering online degree programs with the same credentials. Likewise, you can take online classes for high school credit, allowing you to graduate timely. Most of the schools are doing this flawlessly, while some teachers are still learning the ropes. However, this new normal is solely dependent on technological tools that are not accessible to everyone.

2. External Partnerships

The pandemic is highlighting an education gap since everyone is not privileged enough to have iPads and laptops. Likewise, not every teacher is tech-savvy, especially high-qualified senior professors. Surprisingly, educationalists are addressing these concerns. In this new normal, they build a healthier home and school relationships to facilitate robust and consistent communication.

Schools are teaching parents how to navigate the learning environment and guide children with online classes. This idea is also expanding in local communities to help other institutions enforce effective educational programs. With these partnerships, it will become easier for everyone to cope in these uncertain times without sacrificing education.

3. Virtual Assessments

In this pandemic, students are going through a tough time with a lot of mental pressure. Hence, educational institutes are reviewing exams and assessments, allowing everyone to adjust to the new normal. They are making students accountable for learning while also supporting and encouraging them by offering flexibility. It lets students finish their assignments when they are ready and capable of doing it.

Teachers are imposing strict deadlines, but if someone is unable to meet them – they are also offering leverage to students. Likewise, the grading based on how much students have learned in these uncertain times rather than only considering results. The focus on mastery of learning and adaptation of grades that indicate knowledge is likely to make education more meaningful. Thus, the grades given will project fairness, compassion, and flexibility.

4. Prioritizing On Flexibility and Empathy

The current pandemic came like a surprise to everyone, leaving people clueless on how to deal with it. Educators and teachers are trying to develop skills that can help students thrive without pressurizing them.

Unsurprisingly, there is a need for flexibility, empathy, and adaptability. Teachers are likely to develop these skills through life experiences and encourage students to do the same. Now, students will receive more opportunities to practice and establish skills beyond the classroom walls.

“Educationists focus on growth mindset, appreciation of mistakes, and resilience as these are the most crucial life lessons in this pandemic.”

After all, teaching them to empathize with others can help make the new normal bearable and effortless on society.

5. Social DIstancing and Face Coverings

Fortunately, some regions and cities have been prosperous in reducing the threat of Covid-19. As a result, they are resuming with life by opening schools but with all safety protocols. Honestly, parents were having a tough time managing their children’s learning routine, assisting them with homework, and classwork. Those who didn’t have digital tools were already lagging.

However, schools are no longer the same. They are divided into two shifts to practice social distancing. Half of the students take classes in the morning, while others in the evening. They can no longer sit with their friends since distance should maintain at all times. Likewise, students can’t enter the school without a mask and gloves. In the coming months, all schools reopening will have to adapt to this new normal.

Final Thoughts

The new normal focuses on learning but without compromising on safety protocols. Pushing online learning is quite an incredible concept because students are learning from the comfort of their homes. It works perfectly if education systems adopt efficient platforms and policies that reduce teacher’s burdens and keep their morale up. All this is likely to continue for several years, so the earlier you get used to it, the better!

Also, Read Challenges Public School Education Faces Today

Source: https://www.aiiottalk.com/education/education-sector-modifies-to-the-new-normal/

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Top 5 Best Online Programs to Create Surprising Videos

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Videos have been an increasingly popular format over the years. In general, we look for applications through the web that allow us to create and edit videos in no time. In the case of an ordinary user, it is very frequent that the type of desktop application is used and left aside, causing saturation in the computer’s memory and processes.

So we have selected five online tools that will allow you to do any editing without having to occupy memory space on your device.

FlexClip

This online application is free and, without a doubt, an excellent option for editing videos. It is quite simple and easy to use. You just have to follow the following steps:

Enter from your search engine “FlexClip

When you enter it, you click on the Make A Free Video button. The registration is not required to get started.

Then the template page will appear. You can either choose to start from scratch or choose a template. There are many professionally designed templates covering almost all types and fields.

Later you can make the selection of videos or photos (the advantage of this application is that you can import them from your computer or from FlexClip’s large library of stock media choices.

Next, you can add text, overlays, music tracks, sounds, transitions, filters, and other effects to enrich your video on the editing canvas.

Once the process is finished, you can download it on your device in the MP4 file. You do not need to register to use FlexClip; however, you will have to when saving a video in the cloud.

Clipchamp Create

This platform has essential functions, but it allows you to create all the videos you want without limitations. It has the advantage of not having a watermark, and apart you can add your own audio. For example, if you want to make a video without original audio and instead put a song in the background, you will have no problem doing so.

It stands out for being a free and quite complete program, although it also offers you the Premium version that does demand a cost. This will request a registration of entry that is super easy and does not require too much information.

Movie Marker Online

Movie Marker Online seems particularly simple, and it is ideal for executing jobs and making surprise tapes.

It requires registration and has basic functions to edit, cut, and add sounds. It is super practical, and you only import the videos that you want to join in sequence and adapt them to what you want. You also have the option to add titles and adjust the font, color, size, etc.

Lumen5

The strength of this platform lies in its combination of artificial intelligence and a simple interface, dragging elements that allow you to create professional content in minutes.

Start by choosing a template: use a script for an ad or promotion, use your own media (for example, to create a video of an event) or, what we like the most, make an impact video almost automatically from a post from your blog.

Copy the URL of the post, choose the video format (FB, IG, TW, Snapchat) and a template. The Lumen5 AI automatically chooses the phrases and images in the post and asks if the story is flowing well or if you want to modify it. It is effortless to change the duration, the arrangement of the elements.

Animoto

This application is ideal to be used online for video editing. It includes a fairly complete package so that you can edit your videos from the most basic to add effects, titles, and filters.

Just select a storyboard template or start a video from scratch. Then you can adjust fonts, colours, filters, music, and more to customize your video quickly. Once finished, you can produce your video to boost business sales and engagement or share it to wow your friends and family.

Conclusion

In short, a video never goes out of style, and you will see how captive those moments are captured for life by a device. We hope that the information provided in this article is useful for making your videos and surprising those you love the most. 

They are basic but quite useful online programs, so it is not necessary to know too much about video editing. They will guide you as you go along in the design of your video clip.

The programs that can be used to create videos are quite numerous.

The choice must be made according to your needs. We can say that there is the right solution depending on the situation but that there is no program or site that can always be considered the best.

Source: https://www.aiiottalk.com/business/programs-to-create-surprising-videos/

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Using embedded analytics in software applications can drive your business forward

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Analytics in your tools can help users gain insights that can help move your clients and the organization to the next level.

People interacting with charts and analyzing statistics. Data visualization concept. 3d vector illustration. People work

Image: Mykyta Dolmatov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

More about Big Data

More than two years ago, Edsby, which provides a learning management system for educational institutions, began embedding analytics into its software that enabled teachers and administrators to detect student learning trends, assess test scores across student populations, and more, all in the spirit of improving education results. 

The Edsby example is not an isolated event. Increasingly, commercial and company in-house software developers are being asked to deliver more value with their applications. In other words, don’t just write applications that process transactions; tell us about the trends and insights transactions reveal by embedding analytics as part of the application.

“Software teams are responsible for building applications with embedded analytics that help their end users make better decisions,” said Steve Schneider, CEO of Logi Analytics, which provides embedded analytics tools for software developers.” This is the idea of providing high-level analytics in the context of an application that people use every day.”

SEE: Microservices: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Schneider said what users want is transactional apps with built-in analytics capabilities that can provide insights to a variety of users with different interests and skill sets. “These are highly sophisticated analytics that must be accessible right from the application,” he said. 

With the help of pick-and-click tools, transaction application developers are spared the time of having to learn how to embed analytics from the ground up in their apps. Instead, they can choose to embed an analytics dashboard into their application, or they can quickly orchestrate an API call to another application without a need to custom develop all of the code.

“You can just click on the Embed command, and the tool will give you a Java script,” Schneider said. “In some cases, you have to do a little configuration for security, but it makes it much easier to get analytics-enriched apps to your user market faster.”

Getting apps to market faster

Here’s how an embedded analytics tool can speed apps to market.

A marketing person is tasked with buying ads and organizing campaigns. He or she gathers information and feeds it to IT, which periodically issues reports that show the results of ad placements and campaigns.

SEE: How to overcome business continuity challenges (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Now with an application that contains embedded analytics, the marketing person can directly drill down into the reporting information embedded in the app without having to contact IT. This can be done through a self-service interface in real time.

“In one case, a manufacturer was trying to improve operational performance through the use of an application and set of stated metrics,” Schneider said. “Everyone had to log in to the application to record their metrics, but the overall goal of improving performance remained elusive. The manufacturer decided to augment the original application with an embedded analytics dashboard that displayed the key metrics and each team’s performance. This provided visibility to everyone. This quickly evolved into a friendly competition between different groups of employees to see who could achieve the best scores, and the overall corporate metrics performance improved.” 

For most developers, embedding analytics in applications is still in early stages—but embedded analytics in apps is an area that is poised to expand, and that at some point will be able to incorporate both structured and unstructured data in in-app visualizations.

Best practices for embedded analytics

Companies and commercial enterprises interested in using embedded analytics in transactional applications should consider these two best practices:

  1. Think about the users of your application and the problems that they’re trying to solve

This begins with asking users what information they need in order to be successful. “Application developers can also benefit if they think more like product managers,” Schneider said. In other words, what can I do with embedded analytics in my application to truly delight my customer—even if it is the user next door in accounting who I see every day?

2. Start simple

If you haven’t used embedded analytics in applications before, choose a relatively easy-to-achieve objective for your first app and work with a cooperative user. By building a series of successful and high usable apps from the start, you instill confidence in this new style of application. At the same time, you can be defining and standardizing your embedded app development methodology in IT.

Also see

Source: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/using-embedded-analytics-in-software-applications-can-drive-your-business-forward/#ftag=RSS56d97e7

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