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2022-11-24 21:00:08| Engadget

Robots that can whack a golf ball down a fairway aren't exactly new, but building one that can play the nuanced short game is a more complex problem. Researchers at Paderborn University in Germany have done just that with Golfi, a machine that uses a neural network to figure out how to line up a putt and how hard to hit the ball to get it into the hole from anywhere on the green.The robot takes a snapshot of the green with a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera and it simulates thousands of random shots taken from different positions. It takes factors like the turf's rolling resistance, the ball's weight and the starting velocity into account. Paderborn doctoral student Annika Junker told IEEE Research that training Golfi on simulated golf shots takes five minutes, compared with 30-40 hours were the team to feed data from real-life shots into the system.Once Golfi has figured out the shot it should take, it rolls over to the ball and uses a belt-driven gear shaft with a putter attached to make the putt. The robot doesn't get the ball in the hole every time, though. Junker said the robot nailed the shot around 60-70 percent of the time. That's still a better accuracy rate than most amateur golfers and at least you won't see Golfi fly off the handle like Happy Gilmore if it misses.However, Golfi sometimes drove over the ball and moved it out of position. The researchers have only tested the robot in the lab, so real-world conditions, like greens with divots or steep slopes, may pose problems for a system that relies on a bird's-eye view.In any case, the researchers didn't set out to build a robot capable of competing with PGA Tour pros. They hope that the techniques they used in Golfi could be used for other robotics applications. You can also transfer that to other problems, where you have some knowledge about the system and could model parts of it to obtain some data, but you cant model everything, Niklas Fittkau, another Paderborn University doctoral student and co-lead author of a paper on Golfi, told IEEE Research.Back in 2016, a different robot called LDRIC sank a hole-in-one at a PGA event (albeit on the fifth attempt). I wonder who footed the bill for a round of drinks at the clubhouse afterward.


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2022-11-24 19:30:29| Engadget

Google has disclosed several security flaws for phones that have Mali GPUs, such as those with Exynos chipsets. The company's Project Zero team says it flagged the problems to ARM (which produces the GPUs) back in the summer. ARM resolved the issues on its end in July and August. However, smartphone manufacturers including Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Google itself hadn't deployed patches to fix the vulnerabilities as of earlier this week, Project Zero said.Researchers identified five new issues in June and July and promptly flagged them to ARM. "One of these issues led to kernel memory corruption, one led to physical memory addresses being disclosed to userspace and the remaining three led to a physical page use-after-free condition," Project Zero's Ian Beer wrote in a blog post. "These would enable an attacker to continue to read and write physical pages after they had been returned to the system."Beer noted that it would be possible for a hacker to gain full access to a system as they'd be able to bypass the permissions model on Android and gain "broad access" to a user's data. The attacker could do so by forcing the kernel to reuse the afore-mentioned physical pages as page tables.Project Zero found that, three months after ARM fixed these issues, all of the team's test devices were still vulnerable to the flaws. As of Tuesday, the issues were not mentioned "in any downstream security bulletins" from Android manufacturers.Engadget has contacted Google, Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi to ask when they will deploy the fixes to their Android devices and why it has taken so long for them to do so. As SamMobile notes, Samsung's Galaxy S22 series devices and the company's Snapdragon-powered handsets aren't affected by these vulnerabilities.


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2022-11-24 19:00:15| Engadget

Critter & Guitari's lineup of hackable music computers and video synths are undeniably unique. They do things that practically no other instrument can, plus they're probably the most visually distinctive portable music devices out there. Its latest creation is the 201 Music Synthesizer, an arguably long overdue replacement for the company's first product the Pocket Piano. Like its flagship Organelle, the 201 is built on open source software, specifically Pure Data and Faust. But rather than trying to be all things to everyone, it's more narrowly focused. It ships with six built-in synth engines covering chiptune-style bleeps, analog-esque sounds, drum samples, physical modeling (likely via Karplus Strong), and vocal synthesis. Rather than four knobs that vary in purpose depending on what patch you've loaded (which may or may not have particularly good documentation, depending on who created it), the 201 has three parameter knobs for envelope, tone and "surprise" for when you just want a happy accident. One of the things that makes the 201 really standout though, is the pattern generator and sequencer. While you can simply play notes live and record them for later recall, the synth can also create patterns for you. A couple of presses on the unique maple keys and the 201 will start spitting out simple octave jumps, arpeggios or random polyphonic chaos. And if something strikes your fancy, you can save that as well. And you can save literally thousands of sequences to the included 8GB microSD card. Like the Organelle, you can actually hack together your own patches for the 201 using Pure Data or Faust, but that's more of a nice bonus than the main selling point here. Under the hood of the 201 is a 900Mhz ARM processor with 512MB RAM, which should be plenty for most synth patches, but it's not quite as powerful as the Organelle M. The 201 also has a built-in speaker, a 1/4-inch stereo out jack, 1/8-inch MIDI in and out, USB-A for connecting MIDI controllers, and USB-C for accessing the files on the microSD card.Of course, to be a true replacement for the Pocket Piano, the 201 also needs to be portable. So, in addition to the AC adapter, it can be powered by three AA batteries. And at about one pound and a little over nine-inches long, it's pretty easy to toss in a backpack. The Critter & Guitari 201 Music Synthesizer is currently crowd funding over at Kickstarter and has already surpassed its goal. If you'd like to secure one when they start shipping in April of 2023 you can back it before December 20th for $295. 


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