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Army photogrammetry technique makes 3D aerial maps in minutes – TechCrunch

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Aerial imagery is a common asset in military matters, but 3D maps can be difficult to collect on short notice without specialized equipment. This new photogrammetry technique from the Army Corps of Engineers, however, can make accurate 3D maps from ordinary aerial footage in just minutes.

Photogrammetry is the process of comparing multiple photos of the same location or item to produce a 3D map of it. It’s a well-known method but in some cases is still reliable on human intelligence to determine, for instance, which frames of a video should be used to produce the best results.

Ricky Massaro from the Army’s Geospatial Research Laboratory in Virginia has mitigated that problem and produced a highly efficient photogrammetric method that can turn aerial imagery into accurate 3D surface maps in near real-time without any human oversight.

This image shows the depth map as color – red being higher. It was created from combining multiple 2D images.

The system was tested by the 101st Airborne, which flew a drone over Fort Campbell in Kentucky and mapped a mock city used for training exercises. It was also deployed in Iraq for non-combat purposes. So this isn’t stuck in a lab somewhere — it’s been put to work, and is now being publicized because the patent filing is in and the Army is now negotiating to commercialize the system.

“Whether it’s for soldiers or farmers, this tech delivers usable terrain and intelligence products fast,” said Quinton King, a manager at TechLink, the Defense Department’s commercial tech transfer organization. “And I’m happy to help companies learn how they can leverage Dr. Massaro’s work for their own products or applications.”

The real-time photogrammetry wouldn’t replace lidar or ground-based mapping systems, but act in concert with them. Being able to produce accurate depth from ordinary aerial imagery, and without having to send tons of data to a central location or involve human experts, makes it adaptable to a variety of situations. If you’re curious about the specifics, you can check out the patent application here.



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SoftBank sells stake and gives up board seats in embattled startup Wag

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wag dog walking appLarry French/AP

  • SoftBank’s Vision Fund is giving up its nearly 50% stake in the dog-walking startup Wag, as the company continues to struggle. 
  • A memo circulated among Wag employees informed them that the company was parting ways with SoftBank and cutting a significant number of jobs. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo. 
  • The dog-walking startup has faced significant obstacles lately, including the departure of its former CEO Hilary Schneider last month. This happened while the company reportedly shopped around for buyers and sought to sell itself for a lower price than its original valuation, according to Bloomberg.
  • SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested $300 million in Wag last year, an investment that has drawn close scrutiny lately after a series of high-profile investment flops, like WeWork’s implosion, have left the company reeling. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SoftBank is selling back its nearly 50% stake in Wag to the embattled dog-walking startup, while the startup struggles to turn around its performance.

Wag CEO Garrret Smallwood circulated a memo around the company on Monday, informing employees that it was cutting jobs and it was was “amicably parting ways” with SoftBank. SoftBank was also giving up two seats on the board.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo,who wrote that SoftBank was selling the shares back at a price “well below” the $650 million valuation that Wag commanded when SoftBank bought the shares last year.  

“Today, we said goodbye to a number of our friends and colleagues as we align our organization with the needs of our business,” Smallwood wrote in the internal memo, reviewed by Business Insider. “This was an extremely painful and difficult step. But it was also an important one for our future.” Wag declined to comment on how many employees were laid off, or disclose any further financial details. 

SoftBank’s Vision Fund first invested in the dog-walking startup last year in January, pushing up the company’s valuation to around $650 million. But the startup has struggled to compete, and sought to sell itself beginning this fall. Smallwood only became the Wag’s CEO last month, after the company’s former CEO Hilary Schneider left to join another firm. 

SoftBank’s Vision Fund investments have drawn close scrutiny over the past few months, after a series of high-profile investments flopped and left the company reeling, like WeWork’s pre-IPO implosion this fall. SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son seemed to express concern about Wag in his latest investor presentation, as he referred to a dog-walking company as one of Vision Fund’s more troubled investments. 

SoftBank’s sale of its stake followed a disagreement within the company’s board on its path to future profitability, one person familiar with the talks told Business Insider. 

SoftBank’s Vision Fund did not respond immediately to a request for comment. 



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SAP + Intel Technology Partnership | Industry Experts Speak

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SAP HANA is The First Major DBMS Optimized for Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory.

Revolutionizing data processing with high-capacity, low-cost in-memory capabilities with SAP HANA—the first major database management system optimized for Intel Optane DC persistent memory.

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Apple has ‘deep concerns’ that ex-employees accused of theft will flee to China

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SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) – Apple Inc on Monday told a federal court it has “deep concerns” that two Chinese-born former employees accused of stealing trade secrets from the company will try to flee before their trials if their locations are not monitored.

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

At a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, prosecutors argued that Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen should continue to be monitored because they present flight risks.

Federal prosecutors alleged Zhang worked on Apple’s secretive self-driving car program and took files related to the project before disclosing that he was going to work for a Chinese competitor. Federal agents arrested Zhang last year at the San Jose airport as he was about to board a flight for China.

Prosecutors allege Chen took from Apple more than 2,000 files containing “manuals, schematics, diagrams and photographs of computer screens showing pages in Apple’s secure databases” with intent to share them. Agents arrested him in January at a train station on his way to San Francisco International Airport for a trip to China.

The men were each charged with one count of criminal trade secrets theft and pleaded not guilty. They were released on bail shortly after their arrests and have been monitored since then.

Attorney Daniel Olmos, who represents the men, said Monday that both had family reasons to visit China and had shown no signs of violating their pre-trial conditions so far.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris argued that if either man fled to China, it would be difficult if not impossible for federal officials to secure their extradition for a trial. Three Apple employees sat in the courtroom to support prosecutors, including Anthony DeMario, a strategic adviser to Apple’s global security group and veteran of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Harris read Apple’s statement to U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila in San Jose, California.

“Apple’s intellectual property is at the core of our innovation and growth,” the statement said. “The defendants’ continued participation in these proceedings is necessary to ensure a final determination of the facts, and we have deep concerns the defendants will not see this through if given the opportunity.

Zhan stood listening through an interpreter and was dressed in a white and blue dress shirt, black jeans and Nike sneakers. Olmos told Davila GPS monitoring was unnecessary to secure Zhang’s appearance at trial.

“This is not an espionage case,” Olmos said. The government “is not requesting detention, but they are requesting essentially indefinitely location monitoring.”

Harris said Zhang’s wife told federal agents that Zhang, who is a permanent U.S. resident, attempted to flee to Canada when agents searched his home.

During that search, agents found a laptop at the bottom of a laundry hamper that they allege contained trade secrets about Ethernet technology from Zhang’s prior employer, chip supplier Marvell Technology Group Ltd, according to court documents.

Chen, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from China in 1991, listened to the proceedings through an interpreter and wore a dark blue hoodie. He has been under radiofrequency monitoring, which is less precise than GPS tracking.

CONFIDENTIAL MISSILE DOCUMENT

Prosecutors allege that Chen is a flight risk in part because they found documents from several other former employers – including General Electric Co and Raytheon Co – at Chen’s second residence in Maryland, where his wife and son live. Prosecutors said in court papers they found a 2011 document from Raytheon that they later determined was classified as “confidential,” the lowest level of sensitivity in the U.S. government system.

“This document contains information relating to Raytheon’s work on the Patriot Missile program and was not (and is not) permitted to be maintained outside of Department of Defense secured locations,” prosecutors wrote.

Olmos, the defense attorney, said it was not a file, but a single paper document “sitting in a box somewhere” in Chen’s home.

Trial dates have not been scheduled. A hearing is scheduled for February.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Jose; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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