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MIT researchers are working on AI-based knitting design software that will let anyone, even novices, make their own clothes – TechCrunch

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The growing popularity of 3D printing machines and companies like Thingiverse and Shapeways have given previously unimaginable powers to makers, enabling them to create everything from cosplay accessories to replacement parts. But even though 3D printing has created a new world of customized objects, most of us are still buying clothes off the rack. Now researchers at MIT are working on software that will allow anyone to customize or design their own knitwear, even if they have never picked up a ball of yarn.

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), led by computer scientist Alexandre Kaspar, released two new papers describing the software today. One is about a system called InverseKnit that automatically creates patterns from photos of knitted items. The other one introduces new design software, called CADKnit, that allows people with no knitting or design experience to quickly customize templates, adjusting the size, final shape and decorative details (like the gloves shown below).

The final patterns can be used with a knitting machine, which have been available to home knitters for years, but still require a fair amount of technical knowledge in order to design patterns for.

Gloves made using CADknit

Both CADKnit and InverseKnit want to make designing and making machine-knitted garments as accessible as 3D printing is now. Once the software is commercialized, Kaspar envisions “knitting as a service” for consumers who want to order customized garments. It can also enable clothing designers to spend less time learning how to write knitwear patterns for machines and reduce waste in the prototyping and manufacturing process. Another target audience for the software are hand-knitters who want to try a new way of working with yarn.

“If you think about it like 3D printing, a lot of people have been using 3D printers or hacking 3D printers, so they are great potential users for our system, because they can do that with knitting,” says Kaspar.

One potential partner for CADKnit and InverseKnit is Kniterate, a company that makes a digital knitting machine for hobbyists, makerspaces and small businesses. Kaspar says he has been talking to Kniterate’s team about making knitwear customization more accessible.

To develop InverseKnit, researchers first created a dataset of knitting patterns with matching images that were used to train a deep neural network to generate machine knitting patterns. The team says that during InverseKnit’s testing, the system produced accurate instructions 94% of the time. There is still some work to do before InverseKnit can be commercialized. For example, the machine was tested using one specific type of acrylic yarn, so it needs to be trained to work with other fibers.

CADKnit, on the other hand, combines 2D images with CAD and photo-editing software to create customizable templates. It was tested with knitting newbies, who despite having little machine knitting experience were still able to create relatively complex garments like gloves and effects, including lace motifs and color patterns.

“3D printing took a while before people were comfortable enough to think they could do something with it,” says Kaspar. “It will be the same thing with what we do.”

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The Real Reason The US Cancelled This Multi-Billion Dollar Helicopter Project

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Prior to UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper capturing the public’s attention during the War on Terror, stealth aircraft were all the rage. Aircraft like the B2 Spirit showed the potential for stealth attack aircraft. The RAH-66 Comanche was supposed to follow that same trend. 

The Comanche was a joint venture by Sikorsky and Boeing and was originally intended to act as a reconnaissance aircraft and pinpoint targets of interest, according to Boeing. 

Looking like a PlayStation One render of a helicopter, the Comanche was designed to operate stealthily. Its angular body panels allowed it to fly into enemy territory virtually undetected. The Comanche was not designed to be a flying weapons platform like the AH-64 Apache, but it wasn’t a slouch either. It boasted a 20mm chin gun and the wing pylons could be equipped with air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles (via Hotcars).

With nearly 20 years of hindsight, it’s easy to see why the military favored drones over the stealth wizardry of the Comanche. But back then, a stealth helicopter was the future of warfare.  

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American Airlines New Supersonic Jets Could Slash Flight Times In Half

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Being built to travel at Mach 1.7, or about 1,304 miles per hour (when traveling over water), the Overture would get passengers to their destinations much faster than the average commercial flight. Though one of its primary trade-offs is capacity, as Boom says the jet can only manage between 65 to 80 passengers at a time. That’s roughly half of the commonly-used Airbus A320’s 140 to 170 passenger capacity or the 149 to 220 maximum seating of the Boeing 737 series. Though on paper the Overture does boast more range — up to 4,250 nautical miles — than either of its mass transit contemporaries.

A ride in an Overture aircraft should also be just as safe as today’s typical flights, with Boom on the hook to make sure the new plane meets the current industry standards. Additionally, the new models will also have to meet American’s own requirements even before it delivers its first plane.

If all goes according to plan, Boom should begin rolling out manufactured Overtures sometime in 2025. It expects to start carrying passengers by 2029. So far nothing has been said about the availability of Overture flights to American Airline customers once it has the planes in hand, nor anything about ticket pricing.

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The 5 Best Ways To Celebrate May The 4th: Star Wars Day

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While you’re perfectly welcome to head to your local LEGO retailer to pick up a set and snap it together, we’ve got another bit of a treat for you. Straight from yesterday’s Toys-R-Us “May The 4th Be With You” Star Wars LEGO event, here are the directions to the Wookie Gunship mini-build.

Above you’ll see the first half of the directions, below you’ll see the second. These pieces should be relatively easy to find – supposing you’ve got stacks of LEGO blocks handy to build with.

These sets weren’t sold – they were given away to the tiniest and newest fans of Star Wars, the kids! The next generation!

Below you’ll see a gallery provided by Toys-R-Us of the Star Wars event held at (most) Toys-R-Us locations across the United States.

Celebrate along with us by sharing your Star Wars Day experience right now!

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