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Published: September 14, 2017

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Audiophiles know that sound reproduction is improved by adding more speakers to a room and making them larger. But that won’t help make today’s increasingly slim and often tinny-sounding laptops, tablets, and phones sound good.

There is a way, however, to make small devices sound larger and better, enabling a high-quality, immersive audio experience, suggests HP Labs researcher Sunil Bharitkar a member of the Media team in HP’s Emerging Compute Lab.

“We can use software to process the audio signals on HP devices so that they approximate the spatial quality of sound that you hear in a room with a multi-loudspeaker audio system,” he says. “We call it immersive audio.”

While competing approaches offer similar processing techniques, the key to HP’s lies in applying specific audio filters and “transforms” that create natural sounding audio with a low compute complexity.

Bharitkar has been guiding an effort at HP Labs, in partnership with colleagues in HP’s Personal Systems and Print groups spearheaded by Personal Systems Chief Technologist Mike Nash, to use this research to upgrade the audio quality on HP’s mobile and desktop devices.

“Audio is an essential, and often underestimated, component of any technology experience, which is why we’re thrilled to be working in close collaboration with HP Labs to make our devices sounds second to none in the industry,” says Nash.

 

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The team first needed to establish objective metrics against which to measure audio performance on HP devices. Based on the outcome of those measurements, they then started redesigning HP’s audio processing technology from the ground up, an effort that has included creating a novel signal topology and a unique set of audio filters.

Additionally, the researchers are applying machine learning in their audio processing topology to classify the sound content (whether it was a movie, for example, or a song). Furthermore, using machine learning it can be ensured that multiple layers of unnecessary processing are not applied where the content is identified as having already been processed, reducing the signal processing compute load and minimizing artifacts.

 

Head, Torso & Mouth Simulator used by HP Labs for extracting directional cues associated with sound localization, and for speech reproduction.Head, Torso & Mouth Simulator used by HP Labs for extracting directional cues associated with sound localization, and for speech reproduction.This is rapidly taking users towards an experience – delivered either through a device’s small speakers or a set of headphones – that faithfully reproduces the intent of its creator of any kind of audio, from a song recorded in a small studio to a Hollywood blockbuster, while consuming as little processing power as possible.

Thanks to commonalities between internationally standardized testing methodologies used for image and audio quality assessments, the HP team have been able to draw on the experience of HP’s Print Quality Evaluation group to test their improvements, assembling several panels of non-experts to evaluate their innovations..

In an effort led by HP Mobility’s Head of Software, Chris Kruger, the first iterations of HP’s new audio processing algorithms are now being packaged into the Qualcomm Snapdragon audio processing chips used in HP mobile devices. Next up: further refining the technology and adding it to HP’s consumer offerings, and towards that the Labs are working closely with Sound Research, an HP partner, for integration.

    HP Labs Innovation
Published: January 08, 2018

 

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In an era when laptops take pictures, phones track your movements, and digital assistants listen for instructions at home, people are increasingly worried about the sensors they are letting into their lives.

“If you see how many users are doing things like putting tape over the cameras on their laptops, that suggests there's something we can do to help them feel more comfortable,” says Mary Baker, a senior researcher in HP’s Immersive Experiences Lab.  

In response, Baker has been leading an effort at HP Labs to understand what exactly people are concerned about when it comes to interacting with today’s digital devices and to imagine ways in which those concerns might be addressed.

She began with a survey of HP consumers from a wide range of backgrounds, asking them to describe their attitudes to the smart digital assistants that are gaining in popularity with families across the world.

“To me that was a good place to focus because it's a new technology, so a lot of people are thinking about why they might or might not want to adopt it,” Baker notes. “What I found was that while the top reason for not buying an assistant was because people weren’t sure they really needed one, the second biggest was all about security and privacy – the word “creepy” came up in lots of the comments.”

Indeed, it became clear that many people worry that these devices are enabling something or someone to listen in on them or see them without their knowledge.

That spurred a follow-on study where Baker interviewed a smaller group of users in depth about their attitudes to sensing technologies and challenged them to create simple prototypes of devices that would assuage their concerns.

“We wanted to know what it might take for people to just look at a device and know intuitively how private they are with respect to it,” says Baker. “Is it obvious to them how they would control it? Can they trust those indicators and controls?”

Significantly, interviewees felt that an LED “recording” indicator was not something they were able to trust. Instead, they preferred solutions that physically blocked or separated a sensor from a device to indicate that it was not currently in use.

“So while tech companies spend a lot of time trying to hide sensors, users might prefer us to make their behavior more obvious,” Baker suggests.

These insights clearly have implications for any company interested in creating devices that users feel will protect their privacy, and Baker and her HP Labs colleagues have been sharing their findings with HP’s various product groups. Most recently, Baker, along with Jim Mann from the Office of the Chief Engineer, and Cath Sheldon from Customer & Market Insights, led a workshop for teams from across each of the company’s major business units. The workshop, sponsored by Chief Engineer Chandrakant Patel, offered the opportunity to discuss and share information about design features that are most likely to reassure users and has prompted new inventions around sensor privacy.Rotating microphone.Rotating microphone.

She and her colleagues Eric Faggin and Hiro Horii have also shared a variety of conceptual sensor solutions developed by Immersive Experiences Lab engineers in response to her survey research. These include microphone units that must be physically manipulated before they work and clasps that cover cameras when not in use.

While considerations like complexity and manufacturing cost are always major determinants of final designs, teams across HP now have a better understanding of how consumers are likely to respond to sensors in future HP devices.

“We want the users’ experience with HP products to be associated strongly with protection of their privacy,” Baker says. “That’s what this research is all about.” 

Published: November 29, 2017

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Today, FitStation powered by HP announced that Brooks Running Company, which designs and markets high-performance running shoes, apparel and accessories in more than 60 countries worldwide, is partnering with FitStation to deliver the first-ever fully custom running shoes. FitStation, a new platform that delivers custom-fitted and individualized footwear through innovative 3D scanning, dynamic gait analysis, and manufacturing technologies, has piloted the innovative biometric-based running shoe development platform at 11 premium retail locations across the US, to rave reviews.

Brooks is committed to providing the experience each runner wants. The ability to deliver a personalized shoe based on an individual’s unique biomechanics is an important offering for the runner who is interested in tip-of-the-spear technology and a totally tuned ride,” said Brooks CEO Jim Weber. “As part of our focus on reinventing performance running, we will continue to push the envelope to bring runners new innovations that help them tailor their unique running experience.”FitStation_003.jpg

 

FitStation combined with Brooks’ deep understanding of runners’ unique biomechanics and commitment to providing personalized experiences that enhance the run for the individual, brings Run Signature to the next level and delivers the most personalized individualized running footwear, all based on the customer’s personal data. This personalized footwear will be available via special order through select retail partners beginning June 2018.   

The Brooks announcement comes on the heels of another key partnership; in October, HP joined partner Steitz Secura at A+A in Germany. A safety shoe specialist, Steitz Secura is using FitStation to aid in its focus on comfort, preventative health and safety.

The digital foot scanning platform allows customers to create a profile, choose to receive personalized off-the-shelf insole and shoe recommendations, fully customized 3D printed insoles, or receive their own pair of truly individualized custom footwear. This unique solution analyzes each foot using a combination of 3D scanning and pressure plate technology to deliver a complete dynamic gait analysis for the individual. FitStation analyzes the data and produces details for custom shoes with polyurethane injected midsoles, that vary in density based on the customer's precise needs. Then, the products can be produced locally for unbelievable ease and speed.FitStation_006.jpg

 

Reinventing how the world designs, manufactures, and sells

FitStation is HP’s next step in the company’s journey to reinvent how the world designs and manufactures with commercial 3D technologies. It’s also a significant leap in reimaging what the retail experience of the future will look like. While brick and mortar stores have faced challenges as online shopping grows in popularity, there is still a deep desire for in-store experiences. But the store of the future needs to engage customers in fresh, tailored ways. Offerings that deliver individualized ‘you-get-me’ options will win the retail wars. "FitStation by HP is changing what personalization means—from the in-store experience to the final product. In collaboration with Brooks and Superfeet, we are delivering truly made-to-measure footwear with a lot size of one,” said Ed Ponomarev, general manager of FitStation and business development HP Inc. “Digitalization of biometric data opens an opportunity to ultimate individualization with the speed and cost efficiency of mass production. HP brings deep experience in computing, scanning and technology integration at scale to deliver a revolutionary digital manufacturing platform, creating individualized products that are available to anyone—from casual runners to elite athletes.”

“Without question, the system is on the cutting edge within our industry, and the level of engagement with our consumers is remarkable. FitStation has become an integral component now in our standard shoe-fitting process with our business. In addition to a cool experience, the system allows us the opportunity to sell the consumer a very personalized ME3D insole while never having to stock an inventory item...positively brilliant,” said Adam White of Running Central.FitStation_015.jpg

 

FitStation uses HP Multi Jet Fusion printing technology to manufacture the world’s first 3D printed insoles made using 3D scanning and dynamic gait analysis to create a one-of-a-kind digital profile of each foot. Superfeet, the leader in innovative, over-the-counter insoles, is piloting the platform in select stores across the 4,000 retail locations where they have a presence.

"For 40 years, we have set the standard for shape and fit. Until today, the technology to deliver a 3D printed insole that meets Superfeet’s exacting standards didn’t exist,” said Eric Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer at Superfeet. “Our new solution allows us to create the most individualized shape and fit on the planet.” 

"FitStation is a truly disruptive platform that will improves people’s lives and change the way people purchase footwear and shoe insoles,” said Louis Kim, Global Head of Immersive Computing, Personal Systems, HP Inc. “We are reinventing the footwear shopping experience, bringing a level of customization and personalization never before seen. We are stitching HP’s capabilities in 3D scanning and 3D printing to bring this Blended Reality vision to life and are working with leading partners within the footwear industry to develop this revolutionary platform.”

Learn more about FitStation powered by HP.

Published: November 27, 2017

Multi-jet-fusion printed part on the left and a high resolution scan of the indicated portion of it on the right  showing the micro surface structure used  for authentication.Multi-jet-fusion printed part on the left and a high resolution scan of the indicated portion of it on the right showing the micro surface structure used for authentication.An HP Labs investigation into accurately identifying and authenticating 3D-printed objects is helping enable a future where parts for high performance machines like jet engines are routinely printed to order. It may also aid the development of new systems for tracking physical objects of any kind on a massive scale.

HP Labs Distinguished Technologist Stephen PollardHP Labs Distinguished Technologist Stephen Pollard

 “To use a 3D printed part in a machine like an aero-engine, you need to be able to confidently identify and track that part after it has been printed from a known and trusted printer,” observes Bristol, UK-based researcher Stephen Pollard.

One way to do that would be to add a unique identifier like a bar code to each printed item. But Pollard and his colleagues in HP’s Print Adjacencies and 3D Lab wanted to come up with an approach that added no processing or materials cost to the 3D printing process and that would also have applicability for 3D objects created via more conventional methods.

Their solution: a low cost, three-stage, automated identification and authentication system that doesn’t require a printed object to be readied for authentication in any way.  

It works by first designating a small area of the object to be tracked as the location of a “virtual forensic mark.” This need only be a centimeter or so square and can easily be pre-assigned in the digital version of the 3D object before it is printed.   

Once the item is printed, it is robotically scanned so that the location of the virtual forensic mark can be identified. Finally, a second, very high resolution scanner takes a measurement of that small area. It’s so accurate – detecting surface differences of just two thousandths of a millimeter - that it can establish a unique digital signature for every printed version of an identical 3D object.

With this identifying information on file, the object can be scanned again whenever a confirmation of the object’s specific identity is needed.

“It’s like a fingerprint scanner for physical objects,” says Pollard.

The team has already created prototypes for most of the elements in their system. They next plan to miniaturize and integrate them together into a single prototype device, creating a tool that does the work of instruments that currently cost tens of thousands of dollars for under $100 per machine.HP Labs research engineer Faisal AzharHP Labs research engineer Faisal Azhar

One major challenge will be to place each of these elements together in way that allows the process to be fully automated, adds Labs researcher Faisal Azhar.  

“The other hard problem we face is extracting reliable and repeatable signatures of the 3D parts,” Azhar says. “We are already able to make incredibly accurate scans but those scans need to be reliably repeatable to be confident that the object we identify right after printing is the same object we later want to place, for example, in a machine.”

At present, the system is optimized to scan the surface of objects created by HP 3D printers. But the Labs identification and authentication team plans to expand its capabilities to include objects made from a more diverse array of materials.

More broadly, they are also looking to measure properties of 3D objects beyond their shape, and devise methods for further enhancing production line integration and automated machine interactions with them. “This “forensic” level of authentication and identification will really come into its own when 3D printing moves from prototyping and into production, and manufacturers are printing millions and even billions of copies of any one part,” says Pollard.

Published: November 02, 2017

reinvent1.jpgToday marks our second anniversary as HP Inc. To celebrate this milestone, and our role as an innovation leader and founder of Silicon Valley, HP has invited thought leaders from organizations as diverse as IDEO, SoundHound Inc. and Wisdom VC to reimagine new possibilities in the way that people design and create, secure and protect, sustain and explore. The ‘Future Powered by Reinvention’ event will showcase technology shaping the future while reinventing the human experience today.  

 

With like-minded creative thinkers, influential visionaries, and business leaders, we’ll spark conversations about the rapid pace of the world around us and how we stay ahead of change to innovate, adapt, reinvent, and engineer experiences for a future that promises to look very different from today. To guide us into the future, we look to major socio-economic, demographic and technological trends occurring across the globe. These "megatrends" will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead and will influencer how we:   

 

Design and create with digital manufacturing. For the last 150 years or so, we’ve approached manufacturing in basically the same centralized way: design in one location, manufacture in a low-cost geography or in large automated facilities, then load goods on container ships and sent around the world. Not a scalable model in a world of rapid growth and urbanization.  

 

Digital manufacturing will drive profound changes in the business landscape. Digitally designed, digitally printed or manufactured on demand for industries including healthcare, consumer goods, automotive, and aerospace. No staging, no warehouses. HP and channel partners are in a unique position with regard to 3D print technology, which is at the heart of this manufacturing transformation. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion—alone among leading 3D contenders—has end-to-end digital capability and a growing range of printable materials is rapidly expanding across manufacturing applications. In five-years, we’ll see an increasing number of parts and objects manufactured in this way, at or near the point of use.   

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Secure and protect with cyber trust and security. Innovation is not the exclusive domain of the good guys. Security threats on the horizon are going to force a fundamental change in the way we approach development and design, driving a need for cyber security into places you’d never expect to need it. It’s at the cellular level, literally, when we are looking at hacked pacemakers and the ability to edit DNA.  

 

It’s our responsibility as technologists, and as humans, to focus on security and on how we can get to a new model for a safer future. Cyber-resiliency is a proactive security concept that, much like a healthy immune system provides a barrier against disease, would start with barriers to intrusion. Beyond that, the focus is on immediate detection and auto-response to isolate and neutralize the threat, extract it and come back to a known state. Cyber-resilient design is already fundamental to building the world’s most advanced security into HP’s current personal systems and printers.  

 

Sustain and explore with AI and machine learning. The notion of artificial intelligence is hardly new; our industry has been pursuing the potential of AI for almost 40 years. We're now at a point where the algorithms, compute capabilities, and exponentially increasing flow of data are turning the AI vision into reality. We’re at the tip of the iceberg with big data—collecting immense amounts of information, and using advanced analytics to sift through and find insights.  

 

Where AI will gain game-changing traction, however, is in the rise of machine learning. Machine learning helps AI to actually digest that data: identifying patterns that help us see meaning. Early AI applications are arriving in the form of bots, already in customer service engines, and collecting information to continuously refine their performance.    machine.jpg

 

In education, we’ll see commercial virtual reality, but also learning analytics and adaptive learning based on AI; in healthcare, we’ll see chatbots, virtual assistants, and bionics that use AI; and in aerospace, we’ll see exploring robots and space probes that will go where no man has been before.  

 

The ‘Future Powered by Reinvention’  

At our headquarters in Palo Alto, we’ll offer a unique tour of HP’s labs and bring together visionaries working on what's next. In addition to megatrends, a compelling experiential event will highlight HP breakthrough innovation from our labs focused on immersive experiences, 3D, and emerging compute including virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing and artificial intelligence.  

 

A panel, moderated by Fast Company, will spotlight the most important technologies influencing the human experience today—and which ones will be most important the next five to ten years. Panellists include David Webster, Head of Product and Technology at IDEO, Josh Kauffman, Founder of Wisdom VC, Rachel Sibley, Futurist, Kathleen McMahon, VP and GM, SoundHound and Chandrakant Patel, HP Senior Fellow and Chief Engineer.

 

More on today’s news and event can be found here.

 

Published: October 20, 2017

A speculative wearable device ‘Data Vaporizer’A speculative wearable device ‘Data Vaporizer’In a guest lecture to students, faculty, and interested members of the public on October 26th at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, HP Labs researcher Ji Won Jun will argue the case for “Design as a Speculative Inquiry.”HP Labs researcher Ji Won JunHP Labs researcher Ji Won Jun

“I’m going to be sharing some examples of my work to show how we can use design to think more creatively about the future and think about technology in a different way,” Jun says.

Too often, Jun believes, we view the likely impact of new technologies either in terms of solving problems with existing tools or through a fantastical lens more suited to science fiction.

“Speculative Design is about challenging our assumptions about why and how we should advance technology,” she notes. “Maybe our aim shouldn’t always be to do things faster or be more productive but instead be more about things like, say, protecting our privacy.”

One of Jun’s early projects – the Data Vaporizer – is a wearable device that does just that by offering protection from hackers. A more recent investigation for the Immersive Experiences Lab, Project Jetty, explores how we can foster stronger emotional connections between people without explicitly needing to make contact with each other.

“The point is to tweak the questions we ask ourselves and, in doing that, to provoke an alternative approach,” Jun suggests. “We’re creating prototype designs that we can share with people and, in measuring their responses to those designs, learn more about what might change as we get people to see technology in a new light.”

Jun’s lecture is part of the California College of the Arts’ annual open house for its MFA program in Design and will feature projects drawn from her own MFA studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and her work in HP’s Immersive Experiences Lab, which she joined in early 2016.

Previously, Jun has presented her work at the 2017 Research Through Design Conference in Edinburgh, UK, and seen it featured in media including Fast Company, Vice magazine’s Creators project and ACM Interactions magazine. She also won the 2016 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award for Student Innovation and received an Art Center Graduate Honors Fellowship.

Jun’s lecture is on Thursday, October 26th at 7:30 PM in the Boardroom at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco.