Microsoft drops 800+ computers to the bottom of the ocean

…and not just for Teh Lulz. This effort is actually quite fascinating:

The Verge writes,

Today’s underwater data center will be deployed for five years, and includes 12 racks with 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage. That’s enough storage for around 5 million movies, and the data center is as powerful as thousands of high-end desktop PCs. The data center will be powered by an undersea cable and renewable energy from the Orkney Islands. The cable will also connect the servers back to the internet.

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[YouTube]

Machine learning in trees: Cupertino students build a Smart Wildfire Sensor

Kids these days: Two high school students used TensorFlow, Google’s open-source machine learning tool, to build a Smart Wildfire Sensor, 

Aditya Shah and Sanjana Shah, two friends and high school students from Cupertino, California… built a Smart Wildfire Sensor, which can help predict where wildfires are most likely to occur in a given area so firefighters are better prepared to stop them.

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[YouTube]

Demo: Apple “Memoji”

Hmm—I foresee having fun creating & donning our son’s infamous “Henry Face” and using it as a puppet. The combo of 2D stickers + 3D faces (jump to 5:52) makes me wonder whether we might see Bitmoji, which already exist in a limited 3D form, gain the ability to pair 3D face avatars with 2D preset reaction artwork (sort of the age-old “put your face through a hole in a painted board” tourist photo idea come to more life).

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[YouTube]

“Monet Was Here”: Travel Earth through the painter’s eyes

“Oh God, not another haystack,” I found myself pleading as my folks dragged my young self through Chicago’s crowded Art Institute in the 80’s. Happily Google’s new Monet Was Here offers a much less jostling way to visit the places that inspired Monet throughout his life, from the coast to the city to the countryside, explore his paintings by color palette, and more. Enjoy!

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World’s Largest LEGO Cherry Blossom Tree

7,000 lbs? 881,000 pieces? 6,500 hours of construction time? I am there for this.

A record-breaking LEGO tree has taken shape at LEGOLAND Japan, a theme park in Nagoya dedicated to the beloved plastic bricks. The cherry tree’s construction marks the theme park’s first anniversary, and has been registered as the “largest LEGO brick cherry blossom tree” in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was made with 881,470 bricks which took over 6,500 hours to assemble.

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[YouTube] [Via]

Drawn together: Sketch in AR on iOS + Android via “Just A Line”

Google’s newly announced Cloud Anchors help users place virtual content in the same real world location that can be seen on different devices. You can grab the simple, fun, open-source Just A Line app for iOS and Android to take it for a spin with a friend, or just to sketch in space solo:

Just put two phones side-by-side and tap the partner icon. Once the phones are connected, you and your partner will be able to see, and contribute to, the same drawing.

This makes Just a Line the first app that lets two people create together in AR, at the same time, across Android and iOS.

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[YouTube] [Via]

“Faces of Frida,” a huge interactive exhibition from Google

I’d never previously seen many of the pieces exhibited in this new gallery:

The “Faces of Frida” brings Frida Kahlo’s most iconic artwork together for the first time in the largest digital retrospective on Frida, that embraces her work, life, and legacy. Discover several of her pieces that have never been viewable online, as well as personal photographs, letters, journals, clothes, and early sketches of some of Kahlo’s finest work, which were hidden from the world on the back of finished paintings.

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[YouTube] [Via]

Demo: Generating realistic 3D faces & skin from ordinary photos

10+ years ago, I really hoped we’d get Photoshop to understand a human face as a 3D structure that one could relight, re-pose, etc. We never got there, sadly. Last year we gave Snapseed the ability to change the orientation of a face (see GIF)—another small step in the right direction. Progress marches forward, and now USC prof. Hao Li & team have demonstrated a method for generating models with realistic skin from just ordinary input images. It’ll be fun to see where this leads (e.g. see previous).

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 [YouTube]

“Deep Video Portraits” can put words in your mouth

Part of me says, “What great new tools for expressive video editing!”

The other part says, “This will not end well…”

[W]e are the first to transfer the full 3D head position, head rotation, face expression, eye gaze, and eye blinking from a source actor to a portrait video of a target actor… [W]e can reenact the full head using interactive user-controlled editing, and realize high-fidelity visual dubbing.

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[YouTube] [Via Jeremy Cowles]

The joyously absurd Rube Goldberg machines of Joseph Herscher

I’m getting way too big a kick out of the work of kinetic artist & toymaker Joseph Herscher:

Khoi Vinh writes, in an inventory worth of Stefon (“this place has everything…”),

Herscher’s pièce de résistance may be “The Cake Server,” shown above: a gorgeous monstrosity that brings together melting butter, a glass of juice that pours its contents into itself, a baby using a smartphone and much more to serve a slice of upside-down cake to a plate in its God-intended manner of delivery. It’s a marvel to behold.

Enjoy:

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[YouTube 1 & 2]