Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s [somewhat short] collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.
Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer visited Apple HQ to have a chat with renowned designer Jony Ive about watches:
Benjamin Clymer: From childhood through your earlier years as a designer, what are some moments that stand out as those that might have shaped later products?
Jony Ive: I don’t look at watches for their relationship to popular culture, which I know is so much of the fun – but rather as somehow the distillation of craft, ingenuity, miniaturization, and of the art of making.
Always interesting to get a peek into the mind of Ive, although not everyone agrees about this particular interview.
Tom Bihn of Tom Bihn (sorry, couldn’t help myself) recently published some advice for aspiring bag makers:
Listen to everyone’s advice, but take little of it.
Everyone will give you their opinion about what you make. It’s important to pay attention to this feedback: after all, the idea is not to just make bags for yourself. But it’s also good to develop a filter that helps you sort through all the opinions before they confuse and sidetrack your own vision.
In case you weren’t already concerned about having always-listening smart assistants in your home:
Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.
…or terrified of self-driving vehicles:
These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence — even as it is making great strides — can still be tricked and manipulated. Computers can be fooled into identifying an airplane as a cat just by changing a few pixels of a digital image, while researchers can make a self-driving car swerve or speed up simply by pasting small stickers on road signs and confusing the vehicle’s computer vision system.
Now, I’m not linking this article in the interests of fearmongering. These are simply real-world security issues that will have to be overcome, and you should know that they exist.
Here’s your interesting science paper of the month: A group of researchers had subjects walk over different outdoor terrains, all while recording both their eye and full-body movements. In a Reddit post on r/DataIsBeautiful, lead researcher Jonathan Samir Matthis explained the point of the whole thing:
Recording someone’s eye movements as they complete some kind of task (like, walking over a bunch of rocks) is a great way study the kind of neural computations that support that behavior. Humans are very visual animals, but we only really get high quality visual information from a fairly small area of our retina (called the fovea, roughly the width of your thumb at arm’s length). This area takes up roughly 1% of your visual field, but roughly 50% of your visual cortex is devoted to processing information from this area! That means that a huge part of the human strategy for surviving in the world revolves around our ability to quickly and accurately directing our fovea to the parts of the world that contain the information that we need to complete a given task.
Because eye movements are so central to our neural strategy, eye trackers are a very powerful tool for the study of human sensorimotor control – Basically, eye movements are a physical measurement that provides direct insight into your cognitive processes! In this study, we were able to examine the relationship between walker’s gaze and their subsequent foot placement to determine the details of the specific control strategies they were using to navigate each terrain.
The embedded video above gives a brief overview of the study, with the good stuff starting at the 1-minute mark.
You think you know how to pick up a cat, but you don’t:
Dr. Burstyn and his feline friends demonstrate how to pick up a cat in a way that is comfortable for the cat and safe for you. A must watch for anyone with a feline in the family.
If there’s one thing to learn from this video, it’s…
Neat Stuff We Published This Week
- Guide: “8 Things That Are Both Tools AND Toys”
- Fantastic biography: Grant by Ron Chernow
- Rugged, highly versatile jack for recovering offroad vehicles: The Hi-Lift All-Cast 4×4 Jack
- Wireless clickety-clack: Matias Laptop Pro Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard
- Makes citrus zesting (and other small grating jobs) effortless: Microplane 46020 “Premium Classic” Zester & Grater
Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.