Abundance Insider: August 3rd, 2018 Edition

In this week's Abundance Insider: Cell-sized sensing robots, personalized VR horror games, and the first 5G smartphone antennas.

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Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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Cell-Sized Robots Can Sense Their Environment

What it is: MIT researchers are using materials science to build micron-scale robots able to sense, record, and store information about their environment. These tiny robots, about 100 micrometers in diameter (approximately the size of a human egg cell), can also carry out preprogrammed computational tasks. The sensing and computing electronics are made of two-dimensional graphene and transition-metal dichalcogenides. These tiny electronic circuits are laid down on micron-sized colloidal particles, which maintain the necessary rigidity yet are still light enough to stay suspended in a liquid environment.

Why it's important: Cell-sized robots will be transformative for in-situ measurements of hard-to-reach places like sewage and oil pipes, or in vivo biological systems. Imagine hundreds or thousands of these micro-bots injected into one end of a flowing system, acquiring data about oil homogeneity, composition, and other fluid measurements. Last week, we featured Rolls-Royce's new insect-sized maintenance and inspection robots, another signal that the age of nanotechnology is upon us.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

This VR Horror Game Is Exactly as Scary as Your Body Can Handle

What it is: Bring to Light, a VR horror game developed Red Meat Games, may be the first game to incorporate the use of biometric sensors. By pairing with a heart monitor such as the Polar H10 of Scosche Rhythm, players have the option to allow an AI within the game to turn up the 'creep factor' based on heart rate. For example, adding more shaking doors as players walk past in an abandoned subway shaft.

Why it's important: We’ve seen countless examples of VR’s potential to deliver fully immersive experiences. It seems only natural, particularly in the context of games, to incorporate the growing set of biometric sensor data to deliver more precise experiences. How do you see this applying in non-game uses, such as the 'fear of heights' applications discussed last week?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

IBM Patenting Watermark Tech to Protect Ownership of AI Models

What it is: In an effort to protect intellectual property associated with AI model development, IBM is researching methods of watermarking using Deep Neural Networks (or DNNs). To embed the watermark, the team has developed three algorithms so far which either embed meaningful content, irrelevant data samples, or noise in the into the training data sets. So far these have been successful at delivering an "unexpected but controlled response," validating ownership without the need to access the parameters of the model directly.

Why it's important: While this method won't be able to detect models used only on internal networks, this is an step towards the protection of IP associated with AI. As AI’s begin to serve as larger and larger source of competitive advantage, look for this and related research to grow in importance.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Peter Diamandis / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Taobao Leads New Ecommerce Trend: Livestreamed Shopping

What it is: As livestreaming grows inceasingly popular in retail marketing, China’s Taobao is stepping up to the plate. Part of Alibaba’s online marketplace subsidiary, Taobao’s Global Buy division reportedly has 16,000 livestreaming agents overseas, and Alibaba aims to surpass 50,000 within the year. Heavily used by daigou agents -- Chinese expats who buy name brands abroad and resell domestically -- these livestreaming mediums are expanding far beyond the Louis Vuittons and Pradas of the world, now beginning to cover everything from handmade jewelry to unknown local cuisines.

Why it's important: While reflective of a general trend towards influencer marketing, livestreaming as a shoppers' platform is also quickly bringing about democratized merchant-consumer interaction -- real-time dialogue that remains largely relegated to brick-and-mortar stores for high-end customers. But as millions of new Chinese users come online and domestic purchasing power skyrockets, many seek a more intimate shopping experience: asking questions in real time, witnessing tomorrow's newest products as they’re explored live, and even building loyalty and rapport with brand ambassadors.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Qualcomm Unveils First mmWave 5G Antennas for Smartphones

What it is: 5G satellite constellations will provide us with a bleeding-edge, global, high-speed internet, but our mobile devices still need a mechanism to receive information from this network. To tackle this engineering demand, Qualcomm has unveiled its QTM052 antenna -- the first one of its kind in the 5G market -- which is designed to be small enough for manufacturers to seamlessly incorporate into existing phone antenna layouts. Qualcomm’s 5G Snapdragon modem can support up to 16 of these antennas to ensure the phone always has a signal, no matter how the user holds it.

Why it's important: Global 5G satellite constellation coverage is only one piece of the 5G puzzle. We still need devices capable of connecting to these networks. Qualcomm’s solution is one step closer to connecting the world. The network effects of a fully connected species will have profound implications on our ability to create a better future.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

GM Launches Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Service

What it is: Last week, General Motors launched a new peer-to-peer car rental service with pilots in Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor. Built through GM’s Maven car-sharing platform, ‘Peer Cars’ will soon be available to all 150,000 program members -- newly minted “prosumers” who can now earn a passive income with an idle asset. Securing each peer-shared vehicle through GM’s $1 million insurance policy, Peer Cars will allow any GM car owner (with a 2015 model or later) to rent out a vehicle the minute it’s left unused, reportedly earning 60 percent of each rental. And on the flip side, eligible lessees can now tap an untapped resource, on-demand, at minimal cost.

Why it's important: Joining the on-demand car sharing model of startups like Getaround and Turo, GM’s Peer Cars marks the next era in transportation’s share economy. While Uber has electrified efficient transit without any inventory, platforms like Peer Cars are now employing unused vehicles without even necessitating a driver. This means GM car owners can truly gain a passive income, sharing idle assets without stepping foot in a vehicle. But far beyond offsetting one’s auto investment, peer car-sharing represents an exciting step towards zero ownership -- a future of self-driving cars, personalized, lightning-fast, and available at anyone’s doorstep.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

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