Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Swift Playgrounds to offer new way to learn to code using robots, drones
  • It is an intuitive programming language for building apps
  • The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available from June 5

Tech giant Apple has announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will now offer a new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments.

Swift Playgrounds is great for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language for building apps.

“More than one million kids and adults from around the world are already using Swift Playgrounds to learn the fundamentals of coding with Swift in a fun and interactive way,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

“Now they can instantly see the code they create and directly control their favourite robots, drones and instruments through Swift Playgrounds. It’s an incredibly exciting and powerful way to learn,” added Federighi.

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to programme and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more.

The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store starting from June 5.

Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10 or even later versions.

[“Source-ndtv”]

HDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings Business

HDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings BusinessHDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings Business
HIGHLIGHTS
Builders themselves are very enthusiastic about adopting technology
By 2020, the digital natives, will be buying houses
Machine learning has the potential to be a real game-changer
The startup-within-a-big-company is a narrative that’s becoming increasingly popular, but Sohel I S, CEO of the property portal HDFC RED, feels that six years on, the mindset genuinely applies to his organisation, where the average age of the team is still 28.

“We’re able to make decisions quickly and don’t have to go through so much hierarchy and we’ve had to be very fiscally responsible,” Sohel tells Gadgets 360. This also helped the company have a relatively narrow focus from the beginning, something he says helped a lot.

While many of the best known companies in the property space in India got their start in the rental market, HDFC RED stayed out of that segment, focused instead on the buying and selling of private homes from the beginning.

Last year, Housing.com announced layoffs and shut down its rentals; visit most of the other popular sites and the first option you now see is “Buy”. In some ways, RED was ahead of the time when it launched and Sohel sees the current trend as a validation of its business model.

“When we were getting started we talked about what all we should be doing, and we were clear that we aren’t going to try and do everything at once,” he says. “The problem with rentals is that there is a lot of demand, but the supply is very erratic. You’re spending money to acquire each listing, but that money is only good for about three weeks. In that much time, any house which is in a decent condition, where the rent is reasonable, goes off the market.”

“On top of that, the listing will be there on a dozen sites, and you’re all spending money to improve the quality of the listing and bring information,” he adds. “It’s just not really practical.”

On the other hand, the supply side for selling houses is a lot better, he explains. For one thing, builders are ready to pay to be on the platform. Additionally, you’re capturing the data for an entire project and not just a single house. And of course, the listings are live for a lot longer, so the money that is spent on getting and maintaining them is a lot lower in the long term.

Additionally, Sohel continues, the builders themselves are very enthusiastic about adopting technology. It’s a cost effective way to grow, and in a market where buyers are often not purchasing locally anymore – buying property in their hometowns while living elsewhere, for example – technology becomes essential to finding homes.

“Also what’s happening is that the second generation of builders is now taking over, the ones who grew up around technology and have a lot more exposure to the world,” Sohel explains, “and this means that people who are much more comfortable with technology, are much more immersed in technology, are the ones who are making the decisions now.”
And this is bringing about a big difference in the way buyers and builders are using technology. “Six years ago, people were worried that you wouldn’t buy anything online,” Sohel continues. “But when I saw people start to buy clothes online, I knew that this was possible.”

“Today, we use video conferencing for discussions, VR tours of the building to give you a 360-degree view of the apartments,” he adds, “and it’s been stopped now, because there’s not much clarity on what you can and can-not do with drones, but we were doing some really great things, like using drones to shoot the view from every window on every floor of the building, so you can decide if the 15th floor is right for you or the 20th.”

But all of this barely scratches the surface of how technology has been changing the real estate business according to Sohel. The real game changer, he believes, is artificial intelligence. “Machine learning has been moving too slowly if you ask me, mostly confined to the lab, but it’s a real game-changer,” he says. “Right now, there is a lot of data. And not much of it is useful to everyone, and it’s presented in a way that makes it hard to find the information you require.”

“What we can do is improve on the presentation of data to help you find the houses you need more easily. The next thing we do is congruence, where we help you to fine tune the data and come up with a filtered list that suits you,” he explains. “Then there are recommendations, where we can actually say we know what you like, we know what you really want, and these are the houses you should look at.”

HDFC RED has applied for a patent for its recommendation engine, and it uses everything from social profiling, to demography-based suggestions, but he admits that this is one area where further improvements are required. “I mean imagine if we know the kind of music you listen to, and what music other people like,” he says. “Maybe if we know that you’re someone who likes to listen to rock music, you’ll be better off with neighbours who like it too, so they won’t complain about your music playing late, right?”

It’s a slightly far-fetched notion, as he quickly admits, but it does show some of the ways in which the real estate business in India is changing. “Things like having an app for your property to showcase it, which then becomes an internal social network once the houses are sold,” he adds, “or setting up a VR zone to demo houses instead of having people come to the project unnecessarily, this is moving from being high tech to just hygiene.”

“By 2020, the digital natives, the ones who grew up with the Internet, will be buying houses,” he says, “and right now, we’re taking care of the search part of the equation. By then, you’ll have to have solutions for site visits, negotiation, payments, and paperwork for these buyers.”

Tags: HDFC, HDFC RED, Property Search, Real estate, Housing.com

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Indian Railways to Use Drones to Inspect Projects

Indian Railways to Use Drones to Inspect Projects

Indian Railway has used drones for the first time for inspecting a mega rail project to assess the progress on the ground and the flying machine would now be used to monitor other under-construction schemes.

An unmanned aerial vehicle, also called drone, was used to inspect the ongoing work on the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project and, as per the plan, all ongoing projects will be monitored through aerial survey.

Besides, the public sector behemoth has also decided to use drones to assess the ground situation in the aftermath of train accidents.

A drone is essentially a flying robot which can be remotely handled through software-controlled flight plans embedded in its systems working in conjunction with GPS.

“We used a drone to ascertain the progress on the 42km long track between Baghega to Srimadhopur in Rajasthan in the Western DFC and also the 56km long line between Durgawati and Sasaram in Bihar,” DFC Managing Director Adesh Sharma said.

The drone was used for three days on a trial basis to cover the total 98km on the DFC. The status report was prepared after the analysis of video recordings.

“It becomes easier and faster to prepare the status report of an ongoing project through drone. Field work can be monitored from the office using the drone footage,” said Sharma.

The drone was hired from a private operator and it cost Rs. 3,000 per km for undertaking the aerial survey.

Currently about 170 projects, including doubling and laying of new lines, are being executed by railways.

Drones will now be used to assess actual physical progress of these projects, sources said.

As far as DFC is concerned, the Durgawati-Sasaram section is complete now and awaiting safety clearance before being commissioned.

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Tags: Cameras, Drones, India, Indian Railways
[“Source-Gadgets”]