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Amusement Park Rides Are Becoming More Like Video Games

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Justice League: Battle For Metropolis

Justice League: Battle For Metropolis

Cruise ships aren’t the only ones integrating new technology to attract customers, theme parks are getting in on the act too. We’re not talking about Epcot or MGM Studios, which have been renowned for their use of cutting-edge technology for quite some time. We’re talking about run of the mill amusement parks—the kind that at one point not too long ago resembled the county fair. They’re finding it more and more difficult to lure customers away from their home entertainment systems and the comfort of the couch, so they’re now integrating ideas generally associated with video games and virtual reality: immersion and interactivity.

Those were the key concepts highlighted by vendors and companies at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo. They essentially want to merge video games with rollercoasters and other rides. Six Flags in St. Louis and Texas will eventually showcase a new ride called Justice League: Battle for Metropolis that combines the usual adrenaline with laser guns, animatronics, and a 3D fog screen. Or customers can lower themselves into vehicles inspired by submarines and shoot 3D sea creatures in an attempt to save a drowning berry farm in Voyage to the Iron Reef. At the Expo, U.K.-based Holovis touted an interactive indoor attraction in which customers ride in vehicles that travel through tropical scenes enhanced with animation and CGI, special effects, and music as they fire away at pirates.

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Could Robot Bartenders Convince You To Take A Cruise?

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robot bartenderThe idea of taking a cruise has never appealed to me. I love to travel, but not being able to control anything about how you travel, how long you stay somewhere, and who you’re with sounds like a nightmare. I also had a run-in with the norovirus last winter and would avoid cruise ships at this point if only for that reason. Oh, and this. But cruise ships—Royal Caribbean cruise ships, more precisely—now have one thing going for them: robot bartenders.

Royal Caribbean has a 4,180-person ship called Quantum of the Seas, and it makes good on its futuristic title—it’s the first “smart ship” in the world. Honestly, that sounds like a decent idea. Humans have proven that they’re not awesome at piloting ships. Oh, Quantum of the Seas doesn’t drive itself, unfortunately. But it does have robots and that’s always the next best thing. Apparently, that was their business strategy: robots are cool.

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Watch Tony Hawk Ride A Hoverboard, For Real This Time

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For those of us who have been waiting for a real hoverboard since we first saw Back to the Future Part II all the way back in 1989, the wait is over. We first wrote about the Hendo Hover towards the end of last month, and now we’ve got our best look at it yet, taken for a test spin by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. And yes, that’s just as awesome as it sounds. Check out the video for yourself.

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It’s Hip To Be Square—If You’re This New Water Bottle

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squareSince GFR first covered the Coolest Cooler, the invention that won Kickstarter, as well as an environmentally friendly water bottle redesign, it makes sense that we round out the trifecta with another cool crowd funded idea: the square water bottle.

Sure, it looks cool, but what’s wrong with the conventional round shape of a water bottle? If you’re wondering that, you’ve probably never brought a bottle of water on an airplane (purchased or filled up in the airport, rather than brought through security, of course). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my water bottle because I left it in my bag and it rolled out, disappearing under the feet of the folks behind me. The square design solves that problem. If they’d only invent square chapstick for the same reason, I’d be seriously impressed and delighted. And in case you’re wondering, the square design doesn’t impede shoving the water bottle into a cup holder.

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Google’s Brainy Software Can Identify And Describe Objects In Photos

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pizzagoogleGoogle is one of the companies whose artificial intelligence and computing algorithms involve something called “deep learning.” Whereas we usually think of software, AI, and computer algorithms as being programmed, deep learning goes a step further, integrating brain-like systems into software so it can learn as it feeds on data. Google has established itself as a leader in this burgeoning field, and its new experimental software shows why.

GFR has already reported on Google’s ability (and Facebook’s) to identify objects in photos. But until now, the deep learning software has only been able to identify discrete objects — perhaps a television in a photo, or a soccer ball. But now, Google’s software can identify multiple objects in context. In the image above, the program didn’t simply recognize pizza or the stove. It recognized “two pizzas sitting on top of a stove top oven.” This means the software can count and situate — it can also articulate what it sees in complete sentences.

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The Solar System May Have Two New Members

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EightTNOsIf you’re still crying about the demotion of Pluto, it’s probably time to focus on something else, namely, on the possibility that the dwarf planet isn’t the end of our solar system. Scientists have recently uncovered new evidence suggesting that the elusive “Planet X” might be real, and there might be two of them.

The idea of Planet X goes back more than 150 years. By then, astronomers knew about Uranus, but they also discovered that its orbit was wonky, which made them suspect Uranus was under the gravitational influence of another planet. In 1846, Neptune was discovered, but astronomers noted that Neptune’s orbit was also a bit odd. Hence, Pluto—except not really. As it turns out, Pluto is too small to have the kind of effect on Neptune astronomers noticed. So they figured there could be yet another planet, a bigger one, out past Neptune.

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