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Is a precise answer always better than a slightly less detailed one? Not necessarily. Some problems could take forever to compute and tie up vast IT capacity. Where solutions are needed urgently, e.g. in business or manufacturing, near-enough can be more than enough. ERC-funded research has produced a library of fast, powerful approximation algorithms.
We are nowadays in the middle of the second quantum revolution. The first one brought forward the rules that govern physics at the atomic level – the quantum mechanics. The second entails the use of these rules for developing new technologies. In his ERC-funded project, Prof. Andris Ambainis from the University of Latvia investigates new methods of developing quantum algorithms and the limits of quantum computing.
Tired of endlessly looking for a parking spot? Dreaming of having a bird's-eye view to locate free spaces in a congested city? ERC grantee Prof Luc Van Gool is a research leader in the area of computer vison. With his project "VarCity", he works to innovate existing 3D city modelling by using object class recognition methods and crowd generated data. To apply his idea, Prof. Van Gool received an additional ERC Proof of Concept grant and created a spin-off that commercialises a video-based smart parking system. In the city of Locarno, Switzerland, "Parquery" stands the test.
Compared to humans, the sensing and dexterity of current robots is extremely limited. Reproducing these fundamental human abilities in robotics systems requires a new scientific and technological approach, according to Professor Danica Kragic.
It has long been a sci-fi dream to have a humanoid robot in our everyday life. Soon that dream may seem even more vivid, thanks to Dr Pierre-Yves Oudeyer’s ERC-funded project. His team has developed the first complete open-source 3D printed humanoid robot, called “Poppy”. Poppy is a robot that anybody can build – its body is 3D printed and its behaviour programmed by the user. The technology will be of benefit to the fields of science, engineering, education and even the arts.
We are more and more accustomed to interacting physically with technology - using touchscreens for example. We now routinely “thumb-flick” through information on our phones or tablets rather than pressing keys. For Professor Sriram Subramanian and his team this kind of technology needs to be pushed beyond a flat interaction with the screen beneath our fingers - instead we should be able to feel what we are currently touching. Only by doing so can we fully interact with the information we are accessing.
Lights, camera... action! On the eve of the Oscars, we take a look at an ERC project in the field of film. ERC grantee Marcelo Bertalmío loves cinema so much that he made it the core of his research. A filmmaker himself – he has directed two movies – Dr. Bertalmío is developing a series of image processing algorithms that will create a better and cheaper way to shoot movies, whilst granting more artistic freedom to directors and cinematographers. He is the author of a book, Image Processing for Cinema (2014), which has already received plaudits from the film industry.
Providing new directions in the field of security, Dr. Feng Hao’s project aims to devise a secure and publicly verifiable system of e-voting - a “self enforcing e-voting system” - which does not rely on vote-tallying authorities. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2013, Dr. Hao is based at Newcastle University (UK).
Nanotechnology – making and manipulating structures with nanometre-scale dimensions – has the potential to transform many areas of science and engineering. Professor Molly Stevens of Imperial College is carrying out research into the areas where nanomaterials and biological systems converge.
Nanotechnology — the science of making and manipulating the very small — has the potential to transform our lives. With the help of ERC funding, Dr Davide Iannuzzi is building microscopic moving parts on to the ends of optical fibres, leading to better instruments for observing and measuring at the nanoscale.