Reagan Back on Campaign Trail — as Hologram

A characteristic twinkle in his eye, Ronald Reagan waves to a crowd from aboard a rail car in a hologram revealed Wednesday at the late president’s namesake library in Southern California.

“We think we made a good beginning, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” the digital resurrection of the nation’s 40th president says in his steady voice as a flurry of balloons falls in front of him.

Reagan, who died in 2004 at age 93, was speaking about the nation’s future during a 1984 campaign stop but easily could have been referencing the technology that brought him back to life in 2018. The audio used is edited from his real remarks.

​’A stunning experience’

“We wanted to make President Reagan as lifelike as possible,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan Foundation. “It’s a stunning experience.”

In two other holograms, Reagan appears in a suit and tie inside the Oval Office and in horseback riding pants, carrying a lasso alongside his dog, Victory, at his beloved ranch. All three holograms will be on display to visitors of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, west of Los Angeles, starting Thursday.

They will be shown in a specially designed room that will be the first stop for guests. Seats are set up in front of a stage, and a curtain opens up to thunderous applause at Reagan’s campaign stop more than three decades ago.

How it was done

The computer-generated imagery for the holograms was created starting with a silicone cast of Reagan’s head that was photographed from various angles with 300 cameras. His head was then digitally “placed” on the body of an actor portraying the president with full costumes and backdrops for the three scenarios.

Reagan’s face comes to life via specific movements of the mouth, nose, eyes, cheeks and hairline, all manipulated by computers.

The library worked with the same special-effects technicians who helped bring singers like Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Roy Orbison back to life on stage.

The Hollywood firm Hologram USA helped create the holograms and the stage on which they’re projected.

A lover of technology

As a radio host, television star and movie actor, Reagan understood and appreciated new technologies, company senior vice president David Nussbaum said.

“He always thought many steps ahead,” he said. “If he was looking down right now on this project, I think he would give us his seal of approval. I think he would totally get this and support it.”

Seeing her former boss “almost in the flesh” was “a little eerie, but at the same time, very comforting,” said Joanne Drake, who served as Reagan’s chief of staff after the Republican left office following his two terms from 1981 to 1989.

“It’s fun to think that he’s standing in front of us,” said Drake, who’s now chief administration officer for the foundation. “Intellectually, you know it’s not him standing there, but you see his facial movements and his arm movements and his body and that twinkle in his eye and that little grin that he always got, and it makes you remember really what he brought to the office.”

Drake said future plans could include bringing the holograms on the road.

“I do think we’re going to see Ronald Reagan back in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Reagan Back on Campaign Trail — as Hologram

A characteristic twinkle in his eye, Ronald Reagan waves to a crowd from aboard a rail car in a hologram revealed Wednesday at the late president’s namesake library in Southern California.

“We think we made a good beginning, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” the digital resurrection of the nation’s 40th president says in his steady voice as a flurry of balloons falls in front of him.

Reagan, who died in 2004 at age 93, was speaking about the nation’s future during a 1984 campaign stop but easily could have been referencing the technology that brought him back to life in 2018. The audio used is edited from his real remarks.

​’A stunning experience’

“We wanted to make President Reagan as lifelike as possible,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan Foundation. “It’s a stunning experience.”

In two other holograms, Reagan appears in a suit and tie inside the Oval Office and in horseback riding pants, carrying a lasso alongside his dog, Victory, at his beloved ranch. All three holograms will be on display to visitors of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, west of Los Angeles, starting Thursday.

They will be shown in a specially designed room that will be the first stop for guests. Seats are set up in front of a stage, and a curtain opens up to thunderous applause at Reagan’s campaign stop more than three decades ago.

How it was done

The computer-generated imagery for the holograms was created starting with a silicone cast of Reagan’s head that was photographed from various angles with 300 cameras. His head was then digitally “placed” on the body of an actor portraying the president with full costumes and backdrops for the three scenarios.

Reagan’s face comes to life via specific movements of the mouth, nose, eyes, cheeks and hairline, all manipulated by computers.

The library worked with the same special-effects technicians who helped bring singers like Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Roy Orbison back to life on stage.

The Hollywood firm Hologram USA helped create the holograms and the stage on which they’re projected.

A lover of technology

As a radio host, television star and movie actor, Reagan understood and appreciated new technologies, company senior vice president David Nussbaum said.

“He always thought many steps ahead,” he said. “If he was looking down right now on this project, I think he would give us his seal of approval. I think he would totally get this and support it.”

Seeing her former boss “almost in the flesh” was “a little eerie, but at the same time, very comforting,” said Joanne Drake, who served as Reagan’s chief of staff after the Republican left office following his two terms from 1981 to 1989.

“It’s fun to think that he’s standing in front of us,” said Drake, who’s now chief administration officer for the foundation. “Intellectually, you know it’s not him standing there, but you see his facial movements and his arm movements and his body and that twinkle in his eye and that little grin that he always got, and it makes you remember really what he brought to the office.”

Drake said future plans could include bringing the holograms on the road.

“I do think we’re going to see Ronald Reagan back in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Bezos’ Blue Origin, Others Get $2.3 Billion in US Rocket Contracts

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday said that it had awarded a total of $2.3 billion in contracts to develop rocket launch systems for national security missions.

The awards go to Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin; United Launch Services, part of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp; and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

The three contracts are part of a Department of Defense initiative to assure constant military access to space and curb reliance on foreign-made rocket engines, like ULA’s flagship Atlas V rocket that uses Russian-made RD-180 boosters. The contracts are to develop rockets and carry defense payloads into space.

Centennial, Colorado-based United Launch Services received $967 million to develop its Vulcan rocket; Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin was awarded $500 million to build its New Glenn booster, and Northrop Grumman of Arizona received $791.6 million for its OmegA rocket.

Blue Origin’s and Northrop’s prototype vehicles for military launches are expected to be ready to fly by late 2024 and ULA’s Vulcan rocket development should be completed by March 2025.

Blue Origin said in a statement following Wednesday’s announcement that it will build a launch site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, although it did not say what rockets would launch from the site. ULA announced in September that its Vulcan rocket will be powered by Blue’s BE-4 liquid rocket engines.

Bezos’ Blue Origin, Others Get $2.3 Billion in US Rocket Contracts

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday said that it had awarded a total of $2.3 billion in contracts to develop rocket launch systems for national security missions.

The awards go to Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin; United Launch Services, part of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp; and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

The three contracts are part of a Department of Defense initiative to assure constant military access to space and curb reliance on foreign-made rocket engines, like ULA’s flagship Atlas V rocket that uses Russian-made RD-180 boosters. The contracts are to develop rockets and carry defense payloads into space.

Centennial, Colorado-based United Launch Services received $967 million to develop its Vulcan rocket; Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin was awarded $500 million to build its New Glenn booster, and Northrop Grumman of Arizona received $791.6 million for its OmegA rocket.

Blue Origin’s and Northrop’s prototype vehicles for military launches are expected to be ready to fly by late 2024 and ULA’s Vulcan rocket development should be completed by March 2025.

Blue Origin said in a statement following Wednesday’s announcement that it will build a launch site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, although it did not say what rockets would launch from the site. ULA announced in September that its Vulcan rocket will be powered by Blue’s BE-4 liquid rocket engines.

Google’s Waze Expands Carpooling Service Throughout US

Google will begin offering its pay-to-carpool service throughout the U.S., an effort to reduce the commute-time congestion that its popular Waze navigation app is designed to avoid.

The expansion announced Wednesday builds upon a carpooling system that Waze began testing two years ago in northern California and Israel before gradually extending it into Brazil and parts of 12 other states.

Now it will be available to anyone in the U.S.

Drivers willing to give someone a ride for a small fee to cover some of their costs for gas and other expenses need only Waze’s app on their phone. Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling.

About 1.3 million drivers and passengers have signed up for Waze’s carpooling service, the company says. About 30 million people in the U.S. currently rely on the Waze app for directions; it has 110 million users worldwide.

Waze’s carpooling effort has been viewed as a potential first step for Google to mount a challenge to the two top ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft.

But Waze founder and CEO Noam Bardin rejected that notion in an interview with The Associated Press, insisting that the carpooling service is purely an attempt to ease traffic congestion.

“We don’t want to be a professional driving network,” Bardin said. “We see ride sharing as something that needs to become part of the daily commute. If we can’t get people out of their cars, it won’t be solving anything.”

Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey also sees Waze’s service as a bigger threat to other carpooling apps such as Scoop and Carpool Buddy than to Uber and Lyft. “Carpooling is a much different animal,” he said.

It’s a form of transportation that Bardin said Waze had difficulty figuring out. Early on, Waze tried to get more drivers to sign up by emphasizing the economic benefits of having someone help cover gas costs for a trip that they were going to make anyway.

But earlier this year, Waze realized it needed a better formula for connecting strangers willing to ride together in a car. Many women, for instance, only want to ride with other women, Bardin said, while other people enjoy commuting with others who work for the same employer or live in the same neighborhood.

“Carpooling is a more social experience,” Bardin said. “A lot of time those of us working in the digital world forget that social connections are often the most important thing in the real world.”

Waze’s app still sets a price for each carpooling trip and transfers payments without charging a commission. That’s something Waze can afford to do because Google makes so much money from selling digital ads on Waze and its many other services.

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work, Bardin said. Drivers and riders can agree to adjust the price upward or downward, but the fees can never exceed the rate the Internal Revenue Service allows for business-related mileage — currently 54.5 cents per mile.

Even though Waze’s carpooling service doesn’t appear to be driven by profit motive, Ramsey isn’t convinced that will always be the case. “I do think Google is realizing that it can’t just keep making all its money from selling ads,” he said.

Google’s Waze Expands Carpooling Service Throughout US

Google will begin offering its pay-to-carpool service throughout the U.S., an effort to reduce the commute-time congestion that its popular Waze navigation app is designed to avoid.

The expansion announced Wednesday builds upon a carpooling system that Waze began testing two years ago in northern California and Israel before gradually extending it into Brazil and parts of 12 other states.

Now it will be available to anyone in the U.S.

Drivers willing to give someone a ride for a small fee to cover some of their costs for gas and other expenses need only Waze’s app on their phone. Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling.

About 1.3 million drivers and passengers have signed up for Waze’s carpooling service, the company says. About 30 million people in the U.S. currently rely on the Waze app for directions; it has 110 million users worldwide.

Waze’s carpooling effort has been viewed as a potential first step for Google to mount a challenge to the two top ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft.

But Waze founder and CEO Noam Bardin rejected that notion in an interview with The Associated Press, insisting that the carpooling service is purely an attempt to ease traffic congestion.

“We don’t want to be a professional driving network,” Bardin said. “We see ride sharing as something that needs to become part of the daily commute. If we can’t get people out of their cars, it won’t be solving anything.”

Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey also sees Waze’s service as a bigger threat to other carpooling apps such as Scoop and Carpool Buddy than to Uber and Lyft. “Carpooling is a much different animal,” he said.

It’s a form of transportation that Bardin said Waze had difficulty figuring out. Early on, Waze tried to get more drivers to sign up by emphasizing the economic benefits of having someone help cover gas costs for a trip that they were going to make anyway.

But earlier this year, Waze realized it needed a better formula for connecting strangers willing to ride together in a car. Many women, for instance, only want to ride with other women, Bardin said, while other people enjoy commuting with others who work for the same employer or live in the same neighborhood.

“Carpooling is a more social experience,” Bardin said. “A lot of time those of us working in the digital world forget that social connections are often the most important thing in the real world.”

Waze’s app still sets a price for each carpooling trip and transfers payments without charging a commission. That’s something Waze can afford to do because Google makes so much money from selling digital ads on Waze and its many other services.

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work, Bardin said. Drivers and riders can agree to adjust the price upward or downward, but the fees can never exceed the rate the Internal Revenue Service allows for business-related mileage — currently 54.5 cents per mile.

Even though Waze’s carpooling service doesn’t appear to be driven by profit motive, Ramsey isn’t convinced that will always be the case. “I do think Google is realizing that it can’t just keep making all its money from selling ads,” he said.

Robots Invade Campus to Deliver Burritos

Companies race to make self driving automobiles, but there’s another race going on to create robots that can roam through neighborhoods, to deliver food and other purchases. Michelle Quinn reports on one robotic fleet in Berkeley, California.

Robots Invade Campus to Deliver Burritos

Companies race to make self driving automobiles, but there’s another race going on to create robots that can roam through neighborhoods, to deliver food and other purchases. Michelle Quinn reports on one robotic fleet in Berkeley, California.

‘War’ on Food Waste Can Save Money and Boost Profits, Tech Firm Says

Wasteless, an Israeli firm seeking to reduce food waste and save consumers money, won $2 million in funding Tuesday, as more businesses seek to cut food losses amid rising global hunger.

The two-year-old firm sells software to supermarkets so that they can manage their stocks and reduce food prices as shelf life dwindles, reducing waste and boosting profits.

“We inspire customers to be better citizens of the world and to take part in the war against food waste, while at the same time enjoying better prices,” Ben Biron, one of the founders of Wasteless, said in a statement.

Food waste is increasingly viewed as unethical, as well as environmentally destructive, dumped in landfills where it rots, releasing greenhouse gases, while fuel, water and energy needed to grow, store and carry it is wasted.

A growing number of impact investors — who aim to bring social or environmental change as well as making a profit — are putting their money into businesses responding to political and consumer pressures to address climate change and waste.

Globally, one third of all food produced — worth $1 trillion — is binned every year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, and researchers fear annual food waste could rise by a third to 2.1 billion tons by 2030.

World leaders pledged to halve food waste by then under the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations in 2015.

Wasteless said it will use the investment from Slingshot Ventures, a Dutch venture capital firm, to focus on West European food retailers.

In a trial with a Spanish food retailer earlier this year, Wasteless said its algorithm, which allows customers to choose between older or fresher food at different prices, cut food waste by a third and increased revenue by 6 percent.

Many experts say changing business practices and consumer behavior, rather than giving away excess food, is key to reducing waste.

“There isn’t any more land or any more water. One of the things that has to happen is the food that is grown has to get eaten,” Oliver Wyncoll, a partner at Bridges Fund Management, a U.K.-based impact investor, told Reuters.

“In the next few years, you will see an increasing level of investment in food waste. … The difficulty of the philanthropic charity type model is it’s not scalable unless you have a bottomless pit of donations.”

‘War’ on Food Waste Can Save Money and Boost Profits, Tech Firm Says

Wasteless, an Israeli firm seeking to reduce food waste and save consumers money, won $2 million in funding Tuesday, as more businesses seek to cut food losses amid rising global hunger.

The two-year-old firm sells software to supermarkets so that they can manage their stocks and reduce food prices as shelf life dwindles, reducing waste and boosting profits.

“We inspire customers to be better citizens of the world and to take part in the war against food waste, while at the same time enjoying better prices,” Ben Biron, one of the founders of Wasteless, said in a statement.

Food waste is increasingly viewed as unethical, as well as environmentally destructive, dumped in landfills where it rots, releasing greenhouse gases, while fuel, water and energy needed to grow, store and carry it is wasted.

A growing number of impact investors — who aim to bring social or environmental change as well as making a profit — are putting their money into businesses responding to political and consumer pressures to address climate change and waste.

Globally, one third of all food produced — worth $1 trillion — is binned every year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, and researchers fear annual food waste could rise by a third to 2.1 billion tons by 2030.

World leaders pledged to halve food waste by then under the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations in 2015.

Wasteless said it will use the investment from Slingshot Ventures, a Dutch venture capital firm, to focus on West European food retailers.

In a trial with a Spanish food retailer earlier this year, Wasteless said its algorithm, which allows customers to choose between older or fresher food at different prices, cut food waste by a third and increased revenue by 6 percent.

Many experts say changing business practices and consumer behavior, rather than giving away excess food, is key to reducing waste.

“There isn’t any more land or any more water. One of the things that has to happen is the food that is grown has to get eaten,” Oliver Wyncoll, a partner at Bridges Fund Management, a U.K.-based impact investor, told Reuters.

“In the next few years, you will see an increasing level of investment in food waste. … The difficulty of the philanthropic charity type model is it’s not scalable unless you have a bottomless pit of donations.”