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How AI is helping elite athletes perform their best at Tokyo’s Olympics

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Irish company Orreco wants to help athletes win big using AI and biomarker tools, including a menstrual cycle tracker for women athletes.

Irish specialist sports performance company Orreco has used AI and biomarker tools to help more than 100 elite athletes prepare for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

Since its establishment in 2010, Orreco has focused on developing products for athletes to maximise training, reduce the threat of injury and improve their overall performance in their chosen sport.

The company, which has offices in Galway, London and Los Angeles, has worked with teams and franchises in the NBA and NFL, as well as individual athletes, F1 drivers and professional golfers including a Ryder Cup Captain.

And now they are working with Olympic athletes from Ireland, the US, Australia and Great Britain across more than ten sports.

Orreco’s team of researchers and scientists will work together with the Olympians and their teams using a combination of sports science, data science and systems development to deliver personalised strategies for each athlete.

Athletes Orreco is working with for the Tokyo Olympics include: 1500 metre runner Sarah Healy, Ireland; women’s basketball player Sue Bird, US; swimmer Allison Schmitt, US; skateboarder Mariah Duran, US; marathon runner Chris Thompson, Great Britain; slalom canoeists Kim Woods and Mallory Franklin, Great Britain; beach volleyball player Alix Klineman, US; cross-country mountain biker Haley Batten, US; distance runner Jess Piasecki, Great Britain, and track athlete Nijel Amos, US.

Dr Brian Moore, who is CEO of Orreco, said that the games have always had a special place in his company’s story.

He said: “Members of our team have been fortunate to support athletes since 2000 in Sydney. As our athletes work to be faster, stronger and aim higher, so do our scientists to make scientific breakthroughs and new discoveries. We are excited to cheer them and their support teams on in Tokyo.”

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In addition to its work with some of the world’s top sports women and men, Orreco has invested a seven-figure sum in female athlete research, supporting several PhD sports science and data science students through to completion.

The company has developed a series of special PhD scholarships as part of a $1m investment programme, which it has created in collaboration with university partners in a number of locations including New Zealand, Letterkenny and London.

Researchers at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) in Ireland will receive funding for a project aiming to explain the impact of the menstrual cycle on the ability to successfully perform physical and mental tasks.

While the PhD students at the University of Waikato in New Zealand will be given funding to study cultural and sociological themes surrounding the implementation of technological solutions related to the menstrual cycle in elite sport.

And the company will also fund post-doctoral research at the University College London, which will focus on advancing the tools and processes involved in monitoring female athlete health and physiology. The research students will work with established Orreco researchers, Dr Georgie Bruinvels, director of sports science and female athlete lead with Orreco and Prof Charles Pedlar.

Commenting on the new PhD programmes, Bruinvels said: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the global charge to advance research in the female athlete space through these PhD programmes. Through our applied work, we have many questions that need to be answered through research, and it is great to be working with some inspiring partners in our mission to address these.”

Bruinvels has worked on Orreco’s female athlete program, which facilitated the creation of AI tools such as the FitrWoman app and FitrCoach platform, which allow women to manage their training programmes in sync with their menstrual cycles.

US beach volleyball player Alix Klineman, who has benefitted from the app and Orreco’s intelligence-led technology said: “Hormones definitely play a big role both in everyday life, and also in relation to my training and volleyball career. Working with Orreco’s female athlete programme has helped to optimise my hormonal health, and navigate the changes that happen during a menstrual cycle so that I can optimise my athletic performance.”

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‘I hope the world will be safer’, says Molly Russell’s father after inquest – video | Technology

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Molly Russell’s father has accused the world’s biggest social media firms of ‘monetising misery’ after an inquest ruled that harmful online content contributed to the 14-year-old’s death.

Ian Russell accused Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, of guiding his daughter on a ‘demented trail of life-sucking content’, after the landmark ruling raised the regulatory pressure on social media companies.

The inquest heard on Friday that Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, had viewed large amounts of content related to suicide, depression, self-harm and anxiety on Instagram and Pinterest before she died in November 2017

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Google delays execution of deprecated Chrome extensions • The Register

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Google has delayed its browser extension platform transition for enterprise customers, giving those using managed versions of Chrome with the deprecated Manifest v2 (MV2) extensions an extra six months of support.

The Chocolate Factory has also redefined its deadlines for general Chrome users to make the transition to the new platform, called Manifest v3 (MV3), less of a shock to the system.

“Chrome will take a gradual and experimental approach to turning off Manifest V2 to ensure a smooth end-user experience during the phase-out process,” explained David Li, a product manager at Google, in a blog post. “We would like to make sure developers have the information they need, with plenty of time to transition to the new manifest version and to roll out changes to their users.”

Chrome will take a gradual and experimental approach to turning off Manifest V2 to ensure a smooth end-user experience

Developers, in other words, need more time to rewrite their extension code.

Previously, as of January 2023, Chrome was to stop running MV2 extensions. Enterprise managed Chrome installations had an extra six months with MV2, until June 2023.

The current schedule says MV2 extensions may or may not work in developer-oriented versions of Chrome used outside of enterprises. “Starting in Chrome 112, Chrome may run experiments to turn off support for Manifest V2 extensions in Canary, Dev, and Beta channels,” the timeline says.

And then in June 2023, MV2 extensions may or may not get disabled in any version of Chrome, including the Stable channel used by most people.

New MV2 extensions could no longer be added to the Chrome Web Store in June 2022, and that remains unchanged under the new roadmap; MV2 extensions already available the Chrome Web Store can still be downloaded and can still receive updates.

As of June 2023, MV2 extensions will no longer be visible in the store (so they can’t be newly installed, but can still be updated for existing users).

Come January 2024, nothing will be left to chance: the Chrome Web Store will stop accepting updates to MV2 extensions, all MV2 extensions will be removed from the store, and the MV2 usage in enterprises will end.

Li suggests developers make the transition sooner rather than later “because those [MV2] extensions may stop working at any time following the aforementioned dates.”

In recognition of the confusion among developers trying to adapt their extensions to MV3, Li said Google has implemented new APIs and platform improvements and has created a progress page to provide more transparency with regard to the state of MV2-MV3 transition.

Since 2018, Google has been revising the code that defines what browser extensions can do in Chrome. Its outgoing architecture known as Manifest v2 proved too powerful – it could be used by rogue add-ons to steal data, for example – and Google claimed use of those capabilities hindered browser performance. Critics like the EFF have disputed that.

Coincidentally, those capabilities, particularly the ability to intercept and revise network requests based on dynamic criteria, made Manifest v2 useful for blocking content and privacy-violating tracking scripts.

Under the new Manifest v3 regime, extensions have been domesticated. As a result, they appear to use computing resources more efficiently while being less effective at content blocking.

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Whether or not this results in meaningful performance improvement, the MV3 change has been championed by Google for Chrome and the open source Chromium project, and is being supported by those building atop Chromium, like Microsoft Edge, as well as Apple’s WebKit-based Safari and Mozilla’s Gecko-based Firefox.

However, Brave, Mozilla, and Vivadi have said they intend to continue supporting Manifest v2 extensions for an indeterminate amount of time. How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

Brave, like other privacy-oriented companies and advocacy groups, has made it clear this regime change is not to its liking. “With Manifest V3, Google is harming privacy and limiting user choice,” the developer said via Twitter. “The bottom line, though, is that Brave will still continue to offer leading protection against invasive ads and trackers.”

With Manifest V3, Google is harming privacy and limiting user choice

Google, on its timeline, suggests MV3 is approaching “full feature parity with Manifest V2.”

Extension developers appear to be skeptical about that. On Friday, in response to Google’s timeline revision posted to the Chromium Extension Google Group, a developer forum member who goes by the pseudonym “wOxxOm” slammed Google for posts full of corporate lingo about safety and security and pushed back against its statement about feature parity.

“[T]his definitely sounds reasonable if you don’t know the context, but given the subsequently plotted timeline it becomes a gross exaggeration and a borderline lie, because with the progress rate we all observed over the past years it’ll take at least several years more for MV3 to become reliable and feature-rich enough to replace MV2, not half a year or a year,” wOxxOm posted.

“Neither the issue list nor the announcement acknowledge that MV3 is still half-broken and unusable for anything other than a beta test due to its unreliable registration of service workers that break extensions completely for thousands of users, soon for millions because no one in Chromium has yet found out the exact reason of the bug, hence they can’t be sure they’ll fix it in the next months.”

This may not be the last time Google revises its transition timeline. ®



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Irish Research Council pumps €27m to fund next generation of researchers

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A total of 316 awardees of the IRC’s Government of Ireland programme will receive funding to conduct ‘pioneering’ research.

Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in Ireland are set to get €27m in funding from the Irish Research Council (IRC) through its flagship Government of Ireland programme.

In an announcement today (30 September), the IRC said that a total of 316 Government of Ireland awards will be given to researchers in the country, including 239 postgraduate scholarships and 77 postdoctoral fellowships.

Awardees under the scheme will conduct research on a broad range of topics, from machine translation and social media to protecting wild bee populations and bioplastics.

“The prestigious awards recognise and fund pioneering research projects along with addressing new and emerging fields of research that introduce creative and innovative approaches across all disciplines, including the sciences, humanities and the arts,” said IRC director Louise Callinan.

Awardees

One of the science-focused postgraduate awardees, University of Galway’s Cherrelle Johnson, is working on the long-term sustainability of bioplastics as an alternative to fossil fuel-based plastics.

Another, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s Tammy Strickland, is studying the role of the circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle, of immune cells in the brain in epilepsy.

Khetam Al Sharou of Dublin City University, one of the postdoctoral researchers to win the award, is looking into the use of machine translation in social media and the associated risks of information distortion.

Meanwhile, Robert Brose from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies is investigating the particles and radiation that are emitted by high-energy sources in our milky way to try and find the most likely sources of life.

Diana Carolina Pimentel Betancurt from Teagasc, the state agency providing research and development in agriculture and related fields, is looking for natural probiotics in native honeybees to mitigate the effect of pesticides.

“Funding schemes like the IRC’s Government of Ireland programmes are vitally important to the wider research landscape in Ireland, as they ensure that researchers are supported at an early stage of their career and are given an opportunity to direct their own research,” Callinan said.

53 early-career researchers across Ireland got €28.5m in funding last month from the SFI-IRC Pathway programme, a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland and the IRC. SFI and IRC are expected to merge to form one funding body in the coming years.

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