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ProgrammableWeb

Amazon Alexa Live 2020 Embraces Deep Linking for Alexa for Apps

This week at Alexa Live 2020, Amazon announced a handful of improvements to the Alexa voice assistant. Updates to the assistant include streamlined access to mobile apps via skills, new AI-driven dialogue management, and a new API for gaming. 

With the introduction of a preview for Alexa for Apps, developers will now be able to enhance custom Alexa skills to allow users to interact with iOS and Android applications directly via Alexa. Amazon notes that adding this functionality is simple for any application that is already taking advantage of deep links. Alexa for Apps is already being used by TikTok, Yellow Pages, Uber, and more. 

Alexa Conversations, released this week via beta, is designed to provide an easy way for developers to make conversations with Alexa feel more authentic. Amazon notes that this is possible because:

“Alexa Conversations uses AI to bridge the gap between what you can build manually and the vast range of possible conversations. You provide a few sample dialogs showing your ideal dialog paths and templates for the APIs you’ll need called, and AI extrapolates the spectrum of phrasing variations and dialog paths for you.”

Additionally, Amazon announced the general availability of the Alexa Web API for Games. This API brings voice games to Alexa via all Echo Show devices and select Fire TV devices. Using the API developers can develop games using HTML5, Web Audio, CSS, Javascript, and WebGL. 

Make sure to check out the full list of newly announced features from this week’s event. 

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">KevinSundstrom</a>

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ScienceDaily

Hubble sees summertime on Saturn

Saturn is truly the lord of the rings in this latest snapshot from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, taken on July 4, 2020, when the opulent giant world was 839 million miles from Earth. This new Saturn image was taken during summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Hubble found a number of small atmospheric storms. These are transient features that appear to come and go with each yearly Hubble observation. The banding in the northern hemisphere remains pronounced as seen in Hubble’s 2019 observations, with several bands slightly changing color from year to year. The ringed planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons that give it a yellowish-brown color.

Hubble photographed a slight reddish haze over the northern hemisphere in this color composite. This may be due to heating from increased sunlight, which could either change the atmospheric circulation or perhaps remove ices from aerosols in the atmosphere. Another theory is that the increased sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical haze produced. “It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn,” said lead investigator Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Conversely, the just-now-visible south pole has a blue hue, reflecting changes in Saturn’s winter hemisphere.

Hubble’s sharp view resolves the finely etched concentric ring structure. The rings are mostly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders. Just how and when the rings formed remains one of our solar system’s biggest mysteries. Conventional wisdom is that they are as old as the planet, over 4 billion years. But because the rings are so bright — like freshly fallen snow — a competing theory is that they may have formed during the age of the dinosaurs. Many astronomers agree that there is no satisfactory theory that explains how rings could have formed within just the past few hundred million years. “However, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft measurements of tiny grains raining into Saturn’s atmosphere suggest the rings can only last for 300 million more years, which is one of the arguments for a young age of the ring system,” said team member Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley.

Two of Saturn’s icy moons are clearly visible in this exposure: Mimas at right, and Enceladus at bottom.

This image is taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers continue tracking shifting weather patterns and storms.

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ScienceDaily

Magnetic field of a spiral galaxy

This image shows the huge extent of a spiral galaxy’s magnetic field. The galaxy NGC 4217 is a star-forming, spiral galaxy, similar to our own Milky Way, 67 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy is seen edge-on in a visible-light image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Kitt Peak National Observatory, and the magnetic field lines, shown as green, are revealed by the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope.

The magnetic field lines extend as much as 22,500 light-years beyond the galaxy’s disk. Scientists know that magnetic fields play an important role in many processes, such as star formation, within galaxies. However, it is not fully understood how such huge magnetic fields are generated and maintained. A leading explanation, called the dynamo theory, suggests that magnetic fields are generated by the motion of plasma within the galaxy’s disk. Ideas about the cause of the kinds of large vertical extensions seen in this image are more speculative, and astronomers hope that further observations and more analysis will answer some of the outstanding questions.

“This image clearly shows that when we think of galaxies like the Milky Way, we should not forget that they have galaxy-wide magnetic fields,” said Yelena Stein, of the Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg, leader of the study.

The scientists who produced the image are reporting their results in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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Materials provided by National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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ProgrammableWeb

Sendbird Bolsters Healthcare Interaction Capabilities Via HIPAA Compliant APIs and Services

Earlier this year Sendbird debuted voice and video functionality for its in-app chat feature, today the company is announcing that the same APIs that make this possible are now HIPAA compliant. Additionally, Sendbird Desk, the company’s embeddable support feature for chat, social, and video has also achieved compliance.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) sets the standards for protecting sensitive patient data and ensures that complaint services are safe to use. By achieving HIPAA compliance Sendbird is enabling healthcare providers to use their products to better communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This announcement is especially timely given the increased demand for telemedicine capabilities across all of the healthcare industry.

Sendbird Calls voice and video APIsTrack this API enable developers to build robust in-app voice and video integrations that are tailored to a mobile-first approach. HIPAA Compliance further simplifies the process of integrating these features for healthcare providers. Sendbird Desk provides additional support for the healthcare industry by providing “an interface for support staff or care professionals to receive and respond to care requests in a productive fashion. With automated routing, the right support or care professional will be alerted so that patients always get the right expert helping them.”

Additionally, Sendbird has announced the addition of delivery receipts for its products, with the product announcement noting that:

“With delivery receipts, message senders do not have to second guess whether a message was delivered or not; they are free to move on to other conversations, or set up notifications or events based on the message delivery confirmation. Delivery receipts can improve user experiences and engagement within the application. Sendbird customers can turn on delivery receipts in a simple click from their dashboard. “

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">KevinSundstrom</a>

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3D Printing Industry

3D printing industry news sliced: SLM Solutions, Stratasys, nTopology, Rapid Shape and more 

In this edition of Sliced, the 3D Printing Industry news digest, we cover the latest business developments, partnerships, and acquisitions across our industry.  Today’s edition features updates on the additive manufacturing industry’s ongoing COVID-19 efforts, a host of new collaborations from within the industry, additive investment from the US government, and even the “world’s first” […]

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Author: Paul Hanaphy

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ScienceDaily

New research of oldest light confirms age of the universe

Just how old is the universe? Astrophysicists have been debating this question for decades. In recent years, new scientific measurements have suggested the universe may be hundreds of millions of years younger than its previously estimated age of approximately 13.8 billions of years.

Now new research published in a series of papers by an international team of astrophysicists, including Neelima Sehgal, PhD, from Stony Brook University, suggest the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. By using observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile, their findings match the measurements of the Planck satellite data of the same ancient light.

The ACT research team is an international collaboration of scientists from 41 institutions in seven countries. The Stony Brook team from the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, led by Professor Sehgal, plays an essential role in analyzing the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the afterglow light from the Big Bang.

“In Stony Brook-led work we are restoring the ‘baby photo’ of the universe to its original condition, eliminating the wear and tear of time and space that distorted the image,” explains Professor Sehgal, a co-author on the papers. “Only by seeing this sharper baby photo or image of the universe, can we more fully understand how our universe was born.”

Obtaining the best image of the infant universe, explains Professor Sehgal, helps scientists better understand the origins of the universe, how we got to where we are on Earth, the galaxies, where we are going, how the universe may end, and when that ending may occur.

The ACT team estimates the age of the universe by measuring its oldest light. Other scientific groups take measurements of galaxies to make universe age estimates.

The new ACT estimate on the age of the universe matches the one provided by the standard model of the universe and measurements of the same light made by the Planck satellite. This adds a fresh twist to an ongoing debate in the astrophysics community, says Simone Aiola, first author of one of the new papers on the findings posted to arXiv.org.

“Now we’ve come up with an answer where Planck and ACT agree,” says Aiola, a researcher at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City. “It speaks to the fact that these difficult measurements are reliable.”

In 2019, a research team measuring the movements of galaxies calculated that the universe is hundreds of millions of years younger than the Planck team predicted. That discrepancy suggested that a new model for the universe might be needed and sparked concerns that one of the sets of measurements might be incorrect.

The age of the universe also reveals how fast the cosmos is expanding, a number quantified by the Hubble constant. The ACT measurements suggest a Hubble constant of 67.6 kilometers per second per megaparsec. That means an object 1 megaparsec (around 3.26 million light-years) from Earth is moving away from us at 67.6 kilometers per second due to the expansion of the universe. This result agrees almost exactly with the previous estimate of 67.4 kilometers per second per megaparsec by the Planck satellite team, but it’s slower than the 74 kilometers per second per megaparsec inferred from the measurements of galaxies.

“I didn’t have a particular preference for any specific value — it was going to be interesting one way or another,” says Steve Choi of Cornell University, first author of another paper posted to arXiv.org. “We find an expansion rate that is right on the estimate by the Planck satellite team. This gives us more confidence in measurements of the universe’s oldest light.”

As ACT continues making observations, astronomers will have an even clearer picture of the CMB and a more exact idea of how long ago the cosmos began. The ACT team will also scour those observations for signs of physics that doesn’t fit the standard cosmological model. Such strange physics could resolve the disagreement between the predictions of the age and expansion rate of the universe arising from the measurements of the CMB and the motions of galaxies.

The ACT research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the NSF also funds the work of Professor Sehgal and colleagues at Stony Brook.

Editor’s Note: The papers from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope researchers are available online at: https://act.princeton.edu/publications

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ProgrammableWeb

E*TRADE Announces Developer Platform for Tailored API Creation

This article is a company-provided press release and although ProgrammableWeb may have edited it, it cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements within. If you have questions regarding the information below, please contact the company that issued the press release.

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">ProgrammableWeb PR</a>

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3D Printing Industry

3D printing industry news sliced: Stratasys, Sciaky, FIT AG, Essentium, SPEE3D, VELO3D, Sygnis and more 

In this edition of Sliced, the 3D Printing Industry news digest, we cover the latest business developments, partnerships, and acquisitions across our industry.  Today’s edition features a host of new partnerships from within the industry, new aerospace and army additive applications, reimagined 3D printing facilities, industry partnerships and of course, 3D printed 300 year old […]

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Author: Paul Hanaphy

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ScienceDaily

New materials for extra thin computer chips

Ever smaller and ever more compact — this is the direction in which computer chips are developing, driven by industry. This is why so-called 2D materials are considered to be the great hope: they are as thin as a material can possibly be, in extreme cases they consist of only one single layer of atoms. This makes it possible to produce novel electronic components with tiny dimensions, high speed and optimal efficiency.

However, there is one problem: electronic components always consist of more than one material. 2D materials can only be used effectively if they can be combined with suitable material systems — such as special insulating crystals. If this is not considered, the advantage that 2D materials are supposed to offer is nullified. A team from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the TU Wien (Vienna) is now presenting these findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Reaching the End of the Line on the Atomic Scale

“The semiconductor industry today uses silicon and silicon oxide,” says Prof. Tibor Grasser from the Institute of Microelectronics at the TU Wien. “These are materials with very good electronic properties. For a long time, ever thinner layers of these materials were used to miniaturize electronic components. This worked well for a long time — but at some point we reach a natural limit.”

When the silicon layer is only a few nanometers thick, so that it only consists of a few atomic layers, then the electronic properties of the material deteriorate very significantly. “The surface of a material behaves differently from the bulk of the material — and if the entire object is practically only made up of surfaces and no longer has a bulk at all, it can have completely different material properties.”

Therefore, one has to switch to other materials in order to create ultra-thin electronic components. And this is where the so-called 2D materials come into play: they combine excellent electronic properties with minimal thickness.

Thin layers need Thin Insulators

“As it turns out, however, these 2D materials are only the first half of the story,” says Tibor Grasser. “The materials have to be placed on the appropriate substrate, and an insulator layer is also needed on top of it — and this insulator also hast to be extremely thin and of extremely good quality, otherwise you have gained nothing from the 2D materials. It’s like driving a Ferrari on muddy ground and wondering why you don’t set a speed record.”

A team at the TU Wien around Tibor Grasser and Yury Illarionov has therefore analysed how to solve this problem. “Silicon dioxide, which is normally used in industry as an insulator, is not suitable in this case,” says Tibor Grasser. “It has a very disordered surface and many free, unsaturated bonds that interfere with the electronic properties in the 2D material.”

It is better to look for a well-ordered structure: The team has already achieved excellent results with special crystals containing fluorine atoms. A transistor prototype with a calcium fluoride insulator has already provided convincing data, and other materials are still being analysed.

“New 2D materials are currently being discovered. That’s nice, but with our results we want to show that this alone is not enough,” says Tibor Grasser. “These new electrically conductive 2D materials must also be combined with new types of insulators. Only then can we really succeed in producing a new generation of efficient and powerful electronic components in miniature format.”

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Materials provided by Vienna University of Technology. Original written by Florian Aigner. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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ProgrammableWeb

Apple Expands App Store Connect API Functionality

Apple has announced new capabilities that are now available for the App Store Connect APITrack this API. Using the API developers will now be able to better manage app store product pages, update app versions, and monitor performance. 

The announcement of the update included an overview of all the changes:

  • Build and maintain your App Store product page by uploading and managing assets like screenshots, app previews, app description, and more.
  • Create new versions of your app, set up pre-orders, manage phased releases for version updates, and submit your app to App Review.
  • Monitor app performance indicators by downloading power and performance metrics and diagnostics logs.
  • Manage additional resources associated with your developer account, such as unified software signing certificates, multiplatform App IDs, and capabilities.

The full functionality of the API allows for developers to handle app management, review app metadata, set app pricing and availability, access power and performance metrics, access reporting, and more. 

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">KevinSundstrom</a>