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Game

Two Point Hospital gets Sonic the Hedgehog items alongside free-to-play weekend

Sega has revealed that two big promos are launching in Two Point Hospital today. With the first one, we’ll see a variety of Sonic the Hedgehog items go live in the game in celebration of Sonic‘s 30th anniversary. The second is a free-to-play promo that will allow newcomers to the game to check it out without paying for the privilege first.

As you can see from the trailer we’ve embedded below, probably the biggest draw of these free Sonic items is that you can now dress your staff up as Knuckles, Tails, Sonic, and Amy. The costumes aren’t all that’s included in this free pack, as there are also several decorative items for your hospital, whether that’s a Sonic statue of the palm trees from Green Hill Zone.

The game is also going free-to-play this weekend on a number of different platforms. On Steam and Xbox, Two Point Hospital will be free-to-play until Monday, August 2nd. On Nintendo Switch, the free-to-play promotion will last until Tuesday, August 3rd, so Switch owners are getting even more time to play the game before they have to pony up some cash.

Sadly, it seems that PlayStation 4 owners are being left out in the cold with this promotion, though they are still getting the free Sonic the Hedgehog items. On the platforms where Two Point Hospital is free-to-play, the game has also been discounted. On Xbox, the Jumbo Edition is down to $27.99 (compared to $39.99 on PS4). The Switch version hasn’t been discounted at the time of this writing, but we expect it to get the same discount that we see on Xbox.

On Steam, things work a bit differently. The base game is discounted to $8.74, while most of the DLC packs have been discounted by 50%. However, some DLC packs haven’t been discounted quite that much, such as the more recent Culture Shock and A Stitch in Time DLCs, but those are still discounted by 33% and 20% respectively. These sales will all be wrapping up next week, so if you’ve been thinking of picking up Two Point Hospital, it looks like now is the time to buy.

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Categories
Game

Two Point Hospital successor Two Point Campus leaked by Microsoft

If you enjoyed Two Point Hospital‘s silly take on building out and managing a hospital, then you’ll probably be pleased to learn that a follow-up game is in the works. Earlier today, a new game called Two Point Campus was leaked by none other than the Microsoft Store, suggesting that a reveal is imminent. As the name of the game implies, this time around we’ll be building a university, which isn’t often the focus of simulation games.

Two Point Campus has already managed to pique our interest, but unfortunately, someone at Microsoft realized the mistake and quickly pulled the listing from the Microsoft Store. The listing was first discovered by Twitter leaker h0X0d, while IGN managed to snag some details about the game before the listing disappeared.

As it turns out, it sounds like Two Point Campus will play similarly to Two Point Hospital, only with the focus shifted to creating a university that students want to attend. It sounds like the degrees students can pursue and the courses they can take will be absurd, just like the diseases in Two Point Hospital were. For example, students can apparently attend jousting classes if your university offers them, which certainly isn’t a class you’d expect to find at any actual school.

In any case, not only will you be managing a university in this new game, but you’ll also be making sure that your students’ needs are met. How you’ll do that is a bit of a nebulous concept at the moment, but it sounds like keeping students happy will be a major component of the game.

For now, however, we’re left waiting for an official reveal from the folks at Sega. Microsoft’s listing didn’t reveal a release date for Two Point Campus, but it did confirm that the game will be coming to Xbox consoles and PC. We’ll let you know when Sega officially reveals Two Point Campus, so stay tuned for more.

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AI

Why a Cedars-Sinai hospital and BP use facial recognition (exclusive)

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(Reuters) – Deployments of facial recognition from Israeli startup AnyVision show how the surveillance software has gained adoption across the United States even as regulatory and ethical debates about it rage.

The technology finds certain faces in photos or videos, with banks representing one sector that has taken interest in systems from AnyVision or its many competitors to improve security and service.

Organizations in other industries are chasing similar goals. The Los Angeles hospital Cedars-Sinai and oil giant BP Plc are among several previously unreported users of AnyVision.

Cedars-Sinai’s main hospital uses AnyVision facial recognition to give staff a heads-up about individuals known for violence, drug fraud or using different names at the emergency room, three sources said.

Cedars said it “does not publicly discuss our security programs” and could not confirm the information.

Meanwhile, BP has used facial recognition for at least two years at its Houston campus to help security staff detect people on a watchlist because they trespassed before or issued threats, two sources said.

BP declined to comment.

AnyVision declined to discuss specific clients or deals.

Gaining additional clients may be difficult for AnyVision amid mounting opposition from civil liberties advocates to facial recognition.

Critics say the technology compromises privacy, targets marginalized groups and normalizes intrusive surveillance. Last week, 25 social justice groups including Demand Progress and Greenpeace USA called on governments to ban corporate use of facial recognition, according to their open letter.

AnyVision’s Chief Executive Avi Golan, a former SoftBank Vision Fund operating partner who joined the startup in November, sees a bright future. He told Reuters that AnyVision has worked with companies across retail, banking, gaming, sports and energy on uses that should not be banned because they stop crime and boost safety.

“I am a bold advocate for regulation of facial recognition. There’s a potential for abuse of this technology both in terms of bias and privacy,” he said. But “blanket bans are irresponsible,” he said.

The startup has faced challenges in the past year. AnyVision laid off half of its staff, with deep cuts to research and sales, according to people who have worked for the company as well as customers and partners, all speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The slashing followed the onset of COVID-19 shrinking clients’ budgets, sources said, and investor Microsoft Corp in March 2020 saying it would divest its stake over ethical concerns.

AnyVision announced raising an additional $43 million last September.

Detecting threats

Macy’s Inc installed AnyVision in 2019 to alert security when known shoplifters entered its store in New York’s Herald Square, five sources said. The deployment expanded to around 15 more New York stores, three sources said, and if not for the pandemic would have reached an additional 15 stores, including on the West Coast.

Macy’s told Reuters it uses facial recognition “in a small subset of stores with high incidences of organized retail theft and repeat offenders.”

Menards, a U.S. home improvement chain, has used AnyVision facial recognition to identify known thieves, three sources said. Its system also has alerted staff to the arrival of design center clients and reidentified them on future visits to improve service, a source said.

Menards said that its current face mask policy has rendered “any use of facial recognition technology pointless.”

AnyVision in an online video without naming Menards has touted its results, and two sources said the companies struck a deal for 290 stores. In 2019, Menards apprehended 54% more potential threats and recovered over $5 million, according to the video.

The U.S. financial services unit of automaker Mercedes-Benz said it has used AnyVision at its Fort Worth, Texas, offices since 2019 to authenticate about 900 people entering and exiting daily before the pandemic, adding a layer of security on top of building access cards.

Such employee-access applications are a common early use of AnyVision, including at Houston Texans’ and Golden State Warriors’ facilities, sources said.

The sports teams declined to comment.

Entertainment deals

Several deals failed to materialize, however. Among organizations that considered AnyVision early last year were Amazon.com Inc’s grocery chain Whole Foods to monitor workers at stores, Comcast Corp to enable ticketless experiences at Universal theme parks and baseball’s Dodger Stadium for suite access, sources said.

Talks with airports in the Dallas and San Francisco areas referenced in public records also have not led to contracts.

Universal Parks, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the airports all declined to comment on their interest. Whole Foods did not respond.

Government requirements for surveillance at casinos have made the gaming industry a big purchaser of facial recognition. Las Vegas Sands Corp, for instance, is using AnyVision, three sources said. Sands declined to comment.

MGM Resorts International and Cherokee Nation Entertainment also use AnyVision, representatives of the casino operators said last month in an online presentation seen by Reuters.

Ted Whiting of MGM said the software, deployed in 2017 and used at 11 properties including the Aria in Las Vegas, has detected vendors not wearing masks and helped catch patrons accused of violence.

MGM said its “surveillance system is designed to adhere to regulatory requirements and support ongoing efforts to keep guests and employees safe.”

Cherokee’s Joshua Anderson said in addition to security uses, AnyVision has accelerated coronavirus contact tracing as the Oklahoma company rolls out the technology across 10 properties.

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Categories
AI

Rhino Health emerges from stealth to bring hospital data to federated learning

Rhino Health, a startup leveraging federated learning to connect hospitals and AI developers, today emerged from stealth with $5 million. The company says it will use the funds to further develop its platform, which provides access to distributed datasets from a diverse group of patients.

The global market for big data analytics in health care was valued at $16.87 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $67.82 billion by 2025, according to a recent report from Allied Market Research. It’s believed that health care organizations’ implementation of big data analytics might reduce annual costs by more than 25% in the coming years. Better diagnosis and disease predictions, enabled by AI and analytics, can lead to cost reduction by decreasing hospital readmission rates, among other factors.

Rhino, which was cofounded by former Mass General Brigham exec Ittai Dayan and ex-Google engineer Yuval Baror, who led the Google Duplex team, aims to power AI models through a federated learning approach that ultimately improves the standard of care. In machine learning, federated learning entails training models across decentralized devices that hold data samples (e.g., imaging data, pathology data, structured clinical data, and clinical notes) without exchanging those samples. A centralized server might be used to orchestrate the steps of the algorithm and act as a reference clock, or it might be a peer-to-peer arrangement. Regardless, local algorithms are trained on local data samples, and weights (the learnable parameters of the algorithms) are exchanged between the algorithms at some frequency to generate a global model.

Federated learning isn’t exactly new to the world of medicine. Last June, major pharmaceutical companies inked an agreement to build federated learning technologies to collectively train drug discovery AI on datasets without having to share proprietary data. Intel is engaged with a National Institutes of Health-funded program that will leverage AI to identify brain tumors while preserving privacy. And Nvidia has begun working with collaborators to release COVID-19-related models trained with federated learning through the company’s Clara Imaging Software platform, following a collaboration with King’s College London on a federated learning neural network for brain tumor segmentation.

Rhino claims its platform enables customers to develop, validate, monitor, and maintain AI models by connecting datasets and developers, ensuring layers of protection. Data is anonymized and remains behind the local firewall. Using Rhino, managers can create “regulatory-grade” data packages from model validation and monitor data streams while identifying opportunities to improve performance and generalizability. Beyond this, Rhino can help transition prototype models from the research phase to the regulatory approval and eventually clinical deployment stages.

Baror notes that as AI solutions proliferate throughout the health industry, their development and maintenance are attracting increasing attention. In January 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its action plan for AI and machine learning in software as a medical device, underscoring the importance of inclusivity across dimensions like sex, gender, age, race, and ethnicity when compiling datasets for training and testing.

“Rhino Health is bringing together foundational learnings and emerging best practices from AI-forward industries to ensure that health care solutions are solving real-world problems and delivering consistent results,” Baror said. He added that Rhino has become a member of Nvidia’s Inception program — in a collaboration with the chipmaker — to bring its federated learning solution to clinics. “With federated learning, we’re able to do this in the privacy-centric manner this industry demands, advancing the interests of patients, hospitals, and technology developers alike.”

LionBird Ventures led the seed round Rhino announced today, with participation from Arkin Holdings and several angel investors. Rhino is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an R&D center in Tel Aviv.

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