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Picasso, Reconstructed by an A.I.

It’s rare for artists to spring up surprises long after their demise, but some occasions are noteworthy. Think Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso.

Beneath the Old Guitarist (1903-04), Pablo Picasso’s popular Blue Period painting is the figure of a woman in faint markings. She was originally noticed in 1998 when X-rays and infrared light were used by conservators of the Art Institute of Chicago to peep behind the top layer of the paint.

She sits with her right arm tucked onto her lap and her left arm reaching toward the viewer.  Strangely enough, she resembles a sketch Picasso sent to a colleague at the same time the painting was made.

Enter A.I. Conservation

The foundation for the neural network was a technique created in 2015 by Leon Gatys at the University of Tübingen, Germany, called neural style transfer. The machine vision technique can indicate the style of a painting and convert it to match another.

For example, it can convert a Paul Cézanne to the style of Michelangelo. This technique has been used on videos as well, so it is possible to watch clips of Ice Age in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

All that could be recognized of the woman in the painting until now was the slightest trace of her outline. Other intricate details like style and color were lost.

Nevertheless, with the use of a neural network trained to differentiate the style of one artist from the other or one period from the other, researchers at University College London have given her a new life, even if it is not true to the original of Picasso.

Researchers George Cann and Anthony Bourached published their paper titled “Raiders of the Lost Art,” on the arXiv preprint server. The paper was also featured in a recent article in the MIT Technology Review.

The X-rayed images of the woman’s outlines were plugged into a neural network built to convert images into the style of La Vie (1903), another exceptional piece of Picasso’s Blue Period. In as much as the result cannot be a perfect match of Picasso’s painting which was also pained over 10 decades ago, it is at least conforming to the style he used at that period.

In Picasso’s The Crouching Beggar, the same technique was also used. It was painted over a landscape thought to have been made by a Spanish painter, Santiago Rusiñol, using Rusiñol’s Parc del Laberint d’Horta.

Cann and Bourached said that they hope the results help projects on other lost works of art and also challenge the popular doubt that “algorithm can be creative, or innovate.”

“We argue that the use of machine learning as an artistic tool can ultimately broaden creative insight and widen the landscape of inspirational ingenuity by human-AI collaboration,” wrote Cann and Bourached.

The Crouching Beggar and Old Guitarist are not the only Picasso works that cover hidden paintings. Earlier pieces are usually painted over by artists, especially when a fresh canvas is hard to come by due to inadequate funds. A portrait of a man resting his hand on his head underneath Picasso’s The Blue Room (1901) was found by researchers in 2014.

It’s rare for artists to spring up surprises long after their demise, but some occasions are noteworthy. Think Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo...

Cool Stories Tech News

Robotic Contact Lenses Allow You to Zoom In on Blink-Command

Everything robotic is on the rise!  As of late, researchers at the University of California San Diego have explored the idea of contact lenses that will zoom in on objects by blinking twice!  They are called “soft robots” which actually copies elements found in living organisms. They can be integrated with a human body and this is one of the projects that is taking center stage.

The researchers have actually created a prototype contact lens that’s controlled by the movement of your eye.  You can simply blink twice to zoom in and out from an object.  These biomimetic lenses are made from elastic polymer films designed to respond to the electric signals that are generated by eye movement.

The layers that expand or contract will change the thickness of the lenses which changes the amount of light that passes through. Actually, this technology is not new, it’s very much like eye-tracking technology that allows people to control their wheelchairs.

Soft Robots

Due to many unique features, soft robots have been extensively explored to work in collaboration with humans.  The latest development of soft robots can be either controlled manually or through a pre-written program.

The researchers explained that current developments have created a human/machine interface that uses electrooculographic signals that are generated by the movement of the eye to control motions and change the focal length of a biomimetic soft lens.

The motion and contortion of soft lenses are achieved by actuating areas of the dielectric polymer films which copies the mechanism of the eyes in people as well as in most mammals. In a recent study, the system has the potential to be used in visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotic in the near future.

This is really an amazing breakthrough that could allow your eye to see things more clearly and even zoom in on very small objects that the human eye has difficulty seeing. From there, the sky’s the limit.

Everything robotic is on the rise!  As of late, researchers at the University of California San Diego have explored the idea of contact lenses that...

Earth Tech News

Arch Rao is Back With a New Company for Energy Management

If you don’t know who Arch Rao is, he was the former head of products, applications, and sales engineering at Tesla Energy.  He was behind the company’s successful Powerwall home energy system.  He is now back as founder and CEO of a new company, Span IO, promoting energy management and efficiency for homes.

Span IO is working to upgrade the electrical fuse box for homes with a digital system that integrates into the existing circuit breaker technology that has been the foundation of home energy over the last century.

Arch Rao and his team are focusing on integrating renewable power energy storage, and electric vehicles making it easier for people by redesigning the electric panel for modern energy requirements.

They packaged the metering controls that travel between the bus bar and the breaker.

Rao said energy flows through the panel through a breaker bar and the breaker bar has tabs that you slot your breakers into, the tab is normally a conductor.  They have designed a digital sub-assembly that packages current metering voltage measurement, and the ability to turn each circuit on and off.

The technology will be sold through various avenues such as solar energy or battery installers. They already have plans to integrate their power management devices with energy storage systems similar to those available from LG.

Span plans on selling their products in states like California and Hawaii where the demand for solar installation is very strong and homeowners understand the significant benefits from installing renewable energy and energy efficiency systems.

What Happens When There’s an Outage?

One of the great advantages, homeowners having this new power management system will give them control over what areas of their homes will be powered in case there is an outage.  The technology hooks up the entire home to a renewable system.

Rao said using existing technologies, installers can set up a separate breaker and just rewire certain areas of the home to receive the power generated by a renewable energy system.

The control is handled through a consumer app which is available for downloading on mobile devices.

Span IO is backed by many investors including Wireframe Ventures, Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Ulu Ventures, Hardware Club, Consignment Ventures, I/O Capital, and Energy foundry.  They plan on raising new cash before the end of this year to push forward.

If you don’t know who Arch Rao is, he was the former head of products, applications, and sales engineering at Tesla Energy.  He was behind the...

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Virgin Galactic Unveils its Spaceport

The countdown for Virgin Galactic’s “Gateway to Space” has truly begun as it edges closer to being the first publicly-traded space tourism company to successfully take customers into space.

A week ago, the company showed off its new New Mexico spaceport to the public, and it looks like those first $250,000-ticket tourists are in for the ride of their life. The facility is part of the state-run Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which also hosts facilities for SpaceX, EXOS Aerospace, and other companies

The interior is reminiscent of a retro, 1960s vibe, but the technology is nothing but modern. You’ll find a barista where you can get a latte for your flight and an interactive walkway to enjoy, as well. The social hub is located on the first floor, called Gaia. Cirrus, the second floor, is where the operations center and mission control is located.

Though the third floor is yet to be revealed, the company has stated that it will be a lounge for their space-flying customers. “Each floor developed has a nice story connecting it back to social activity on Earth,” says designer Jeremy Brown. “Then moving through the mission control part of the building with lighter material references there.”

The Future is Now

Virgin Galactic’s CEO George Whitesides says, “We’re on the home stretch now.” In just a matter of weeks, the aircraft carrier will head to Mojave, where the company’s test facilities are located. There, it will pick up Virgin’s spacecraft, the VMS Unity, and transport it back to New Mexico where test flights will ensue.

Once all the kinks have been worked out and Virgin Galactic is satisfied with their finished product, they’ll be ready to take on their first commercial flight. Currently, 603 reservations have been made for spaceflight, totaling about $80 million in deposits.

They haven’t marketed for tickets since 2014, but once commercial space flights have commenced, Virgin Galactic will be offering new tickets for at least $250,000.

Back in July, the company announced that they would be merging with Social Capital Hedosophia, which will invest $800 million for a 49% stake in the company. In addition, they’ll trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

You may be thinking, “Who even has enough money sitting around to afford one of these flights?” But you’d be surprised to discover that the company received over 2,500 inquiries for reservations for the first flight in December 2018, and more are clamoring since last week’s unveiling.

When everything is set for that first commercial flight, customers will board the Unity, which will be attached to the underside of the aircraft Eve, and once the airplane flies to around 50,000 feet, the rocket will detach and launch into space where passengers will get a stunning view of both space and Earth.

For a few minutes, they’ll be free from the restraints of their seats to experience the weightlessness until it’s time to head back home. In total, the duration of the flight is going to be around 3-4 hours from take-off to landing.

The countdown for Virgin Galactic’s “Gateway to Space” has truly begun as it edges closer to being the first publicly-traded space tourism company to successfully take customers into space.

A week ago, the company showed off its new New Mexico...

Cool Stories Funny Stories Tech News

Have You Ever Wondered Where The Smiley Face Emoji Came From?

You might not even know what an Emoji is!  These images are faces we use in our text message to display emotions such as blushing, smiling, or scowling.

Whether you want to end your message on a high note, add a smile in the middle of your text, or wishing someone a happy birthday, there’s an emoji for you.  We use them in messages on social media, in our emails to one another, or in other ways to convey an emotion or sentiment.

What you might not know, where did the original smiley come from?  This concept actually started back in the 60s when Harvey Ball created the very first smiley face drawing.  Over the years, the image began to change and develop into smiley emoji drawings that we all love and enjoy to use.

How It All Began:

Graphic artists, Harvey Ross Ball created the first smiley face without giving it much thought, let along turning it into an international icon!  Possibly, he was just doodling while coming up with ideas in his head for his next project.

He was originally hired by State Mutual Life Insurance Company as a graphic artist to produce an image that would encourage their employees to smile more often during their time at the workplace.

It took him less than 10 minutes to draw this cute smiley face and was only paid $45 for his artwork.  While the image probably did nothing to ramp up morale in the workplace, this smiley face caught on like wildfire!

It was printed on buttons, posters, shirts, etc.  Even though Ball never copyrighted the design, saying he was not a man of means or money, his smiley face continued to gain in popularity in our culture.  Before he knew it, even the company workers stood up and took notice of his simple cute drawing.

How The Smiley Face Evolved:

Through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the little yellow smiley face started to evolve and soon became an image of happiness and peace within pop art and started appearing on tee-shirts and posters.

As mentioned earlier, Ball never claimed the copyright but someone else stepped up to the plate to promote and commercialize this little yellow face.  Franklin Loufrani, a French journalist, was a driven man and he decided to attached this smiley drawing to all his positive newspaper stories and received a lot of attraction from readers.

At one point, he copyrighted the image and made a lot of money selling just about anything he could with the image printed on it.  He named the image simply “Smiley” and started the Smiley Company selling tee-shirt transfers to anyone who wanted to show off this positive image.

Even though the image was created long before the cell phone, this French journalist’s company played an enormous role in the production of the 21st-Century Emoji!

The Birth Of The Emoji:

If you’ve ever wondered how this little smiley face ended up on the internet, we’ve got you covered!  Scott E. Fahlman was a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon. He is the man who got the idea that would eventually lead to becoming known as an Emoji.

He decided it would be a great idea to have some visual way to express emotions that are funny to text messages, especially at the closing of a message with either a happy or sad face.

Then, Shigetaka Kurita, a Japanese interface designer started sending out cartoons in his company messages that were emoji-like faces.  So in some ways, he is the one who created the emoji!  He used a 12 x 12 grid to produce the pixel images such as laughing faces, hearts, and of course, the original smiley face.

This new concept remained only in Japan for almost 10 years.  Meanwhile, Loufrani’s son Nicolas was working on the smiley replication of emojis.  He created an amazing 470 emojis during 1999 and licensed them out to phone companies for a price.  Finally, in 2010, emojis hit the public internationally with 722 emojis being released on iPhone and Android devices.

Now in the age of cell phones, there are approximately 3,000 emojis available for our devices. It’s almost impossible for any of us to imagine not having these emojis for our messages.  Though I must look back and say it’s a shame that Ball only received a total of $45 for a design that was formed in his head alone.

You might not even know what an Emoji is!  These images are faces we use in our text message to display emotions such as blushing, smiling, or scowling.

Whether you want to end your message on a high note, add a smile in the middle of your text, or wishing...

City Life Tech News

Daimler & Bosch Driverless Parking Has Gotten a Thumbs Up

Without a doubt, we have come a very long way getting Artificial Intelligence-based self-driving systems.

As of date, Daimler & Bosch have received approval from the German regulators to operate their automated driverless parking facility without involving a human safety driver sitting behind the wheel.

This is the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be totally approved for everyday use.  The thumbs-up comes 4 years after the companies started working together on the technology end.

Bosch board member, Dr. Markus Heyn said this decision by authorities only shows that innovations like automated valet parking is now possible in Germany.

He believes that driverless parking and driving are the cornerstones for tomorrow’s automated mobility.  Automated parking shows just how far we have already come and the continued development path that lies ahead.

Look Ma No Hands!

Level 4 was designated by SAE which means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human interference.

Until now, there have been several Level 4 tests and trials in the works but they all involved people behind the wheel of the vehicle as a backup.

Bosch is considered one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world and they handle the infrastructure aspect of the automated parking function.

It works in collaboration with Daimler’s vehicle technology on its Mercedes-Benz vehicles.  Users can easily access the independent valet service using their smartphone app.

Bosch and Daimler started developing their fully automated driverless parking back in 2015. Their initial partnership including car2go, the which is the car-sharing unit of Daimler.

They debuted their automated valet parking function back in 2017 at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Then in 2018, after intensive testing, museum visitors ere able to test the automated parking service with one very important warning, a human safety driver must always be behind the wheel.

Using their smartphone app, visitors could reserve vehicles from the facility.  Their vehicle would arrive independently to the designated pick up place in the garage.

When the visitor is finished with the vehicle, they could deliver it to the drop off area.  The vehicle would then drive itself back to its assigned spot, guided by the garage’s infrastructure and onboard sensors.

The pilot program was limited in scope and restricted by a safety driver, but it served a valuable purpose for Bosch and Daimler and even other companies hoping to use automated driving in Germany.

That said, Germany does not have an approval process for automated driving without a human driver.

From the beginning, Bosch and Daimler brought in authorities from Stuttgart and the state of  Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry as well as experts from the German certification authority TUV Rheinland.

You would think the group would assess the safety of Bosch & Daimler’s parking function but it also helped regulators come up with guidelines for testing and the approval benchmark that could be applied beyond the pilot project in a parking garage in Stuttgart.

Bosch & Daimler tested lighting ideas on the vehicle’s pilot project.  They used turquoise lighting to indicate that the vehicle was in automation mode and informed others passing by along with other road users, that the vehicle was driving itself.

This is not the only Bosch & Daimler project that is in the works.  In 2017, they partnered to bring fully automated vehicles to urban roads within the next 10 years.  Last year, they announced plans to have a pilot robotaxi service in San Jose, Calif.

They are planning on using automated Mercedes-Benz S Class vehicles during the second half of 2019. There will be a geofenced area in the San Carlos and Stevens Creek corridor which is between downtown and west San Jose.

The pilot will have an on-demand ride-hailing service app operated by Daimler Mobility Services.  All rides will be monitored by a safety driver.

Presently, Bosch is building a $1.1 billion facility designed to assemble semiconductors used in self-driving cars, smart homes, and smart city infrastructure.

The Dresden-based chip is expected to start manufacturing silicon, commercially, in 2021 and construction is expected to be finished in 2019.

Without a doubt, we have come a very long way getting Artificial Intelligence-based self-driving systems.

As of date, Daimler & Bosch have received approval from the German regulators to operate their automated driverless parking facility without...

Tech News Vacation

The TSA is Working to Keep Your Laptop in Your Bag

The TSA is finally testing a screening method that will allow passengers, even those without a TSA PreCheck, to keep their laptops in their bags during the process. This new screening method is being tested in Las Vegas, and if it works, it will expand throughout the nation.

This month the TSA announced the opening of a new facility on the lower level of Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The new method being tested is under the Advancing the Checkpoint Environment program, or ACE, for short.

The Innovation Task Force

The director of the Innovation Task Force, Jose Bonilla, stated that this new facility will allow them to assess the new technology and processes being considered.

It will also make it easy for them to make a demonstration of the unique network of capabilities without having an effect on current operations.

The usual TSA checkpoints at Terminal 3 are found in the upper level of the building, while the ACE facility can be found downstairs. For the moment, only domestic passengers flying United Airlines will be able to go through ACE lanes.

However, this will soon be expanded to other domestic and international airlines. The ACE checkpoint is open for 4 hours every day, from Sunday to Thursday.

Passengers that go through the ACE lanes can leave their laptops in their bags even if they don’t have a PreCheck and they will be able to bypass traditional checkpoints. This process also provides faster security screening because fewer passengers are processed on these lanes.

The main ACE trials involve advanced imaging machines that make use of CT tech to look into the carry-on bags of passengers.

The images are more detailed than the traditional images produced by X-ray scans, which is why it will no longer be necessary for passengers to get their things out of their bags.

Similar machines are also being tested on other airports in the country, such as JKF Terminal 7. As ACE continues being used, newer technologies and procedures will be introduced to guarantee its evolution.

In fact, one of the main objectives of the ACE facility is to allow the testing of different types of tech and processes in conjunction with each other.

Passengers going through the ACE lanes will still have to remove liquids from their bags as well as their shoes, but it may not always be the case. The procedure will evolve alongside the technology, so many more upgrades to the screening process will follow.

The feedback from passengers who have used the ACE lanes and from the agents who manage them is important to evaluate these new processes and technologies, which will help the TSA roll out these new procedures and machines more broadly.

So far, the feedback is great on the introduced innovations, so we expect to hear more about this very soon as it will eventually appear on other airports in the country.

The TSA is finally testing a screening method that will allow passengers, even those without a TSA PreCheck, to keep their laptops in their bags during the process. This new screening method is being tested in Las Vegas, and if it works, it will expand...

Nature & Tech Tech News

Tel Aviv Named One of the Best Cities in The World for Female Entrepreneurs

What better place to start a business than in your hometown? Or so architect and entrepreneur Lihi Gerstner thought, and since her hometown happened to be Tel Aviv, she was right.

On opening her first hotel there, she told From the Grapevine, “It’s one of the most pluralistic cities in the world. It’s a place where you are judged the least on your socio-economic status, where you come from or on your gender and orientation.”

Gerstner is not the only one to benefit from the opportunities Tel Aviv has to offer, particularly to women. In a new report unveiled last week at the Dell Women Entrepreneur Network Summit in Singapore, the city was named one of the best worldwide for female entrepreneurs.

Every two years, 50 cities are ranked based on five characteristics: access to capital, technology, talent, culture, and markets. Amsterdam, Pittsburgh, and Toronto also made the list with San Francisco and Silicon Valley at the top. Mexico City proved to be the most improved, going from a ranking of 45 in 2017 to No. 29 this year.

Females Changing the World

Wired Magazine named Inna Braverman, who based her start-up Eco Wave Power in Tel Aviv back in 2011, on its list of “Females Changing the World.”

She told us, “Being an entrepreneur is difficult. Being a female entrepreneur adds an additional layer of difficulty to the equation. However, a supportive environment is like wind under our wings. When we feel supported, we feel that we can achieve anything – regardless of whether we are a man or a woman.”

Braverman is sure that her substantial success could not have happened anywhere else. “I truly believe that Israel plays a significant role in my personal journey, confidence and achievements,” she said.

Sivan Ya’ari, another female entrepreneur who has made it in Tel Aviv with her non-profit Innovation: Africa, reports a great support system in the city. “Tel Aviv has proven to be a hub for creativity and innovation which helps us continually improve and reinforce our commitment to being efficient and reliable in bringing solar, water and agricultural technologies to African villages,” she explained.

“I couldn’t think of another city where our engineers could be able to brainstorm with other motivated change-makers in the fields of social impact and international development to directly transform the lives of the people we reach.”

The inaugural Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit, an international gathering of top young talent, brought women from 39 countries to Tel Aviv earlier this year, and in the meantime, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg plans to visit the city in August this year to launch Facebook’s new offices.

Sheryl is well-known and loved for her 2013 book Lean In, a manifesto for women in the workplace. The offices, called “Playground,” will be a space offering courses and house start-ups as well as developers and business working on newer technology.

What better place to start a business than in your hometown? Or so architect and entrepreneur Lihi Gerstner thought, and since her hometown happened to be Tel Aviv, she was right.

On opening her first hotel there, she told From the Grapevine...

Entertainment News Tech News

Snapchat Challenging Netflix

Snapchat is taking on its rival services with a new feature which allows users to watch “Creator Shows’ original content. In case you don’t know about Original Shows, they are with celebrities and influencers like Arnold Schwarzenegger creating videos for Snapchat.

These videos are constructed and displayed inside the app as short, vertical original shows.   Arnold Schwarzenegger has a show called “ Rules of Success” with Arnold Schwarzenegger” which is made up of motivational words from the actor.

There is a new advancement making these shows available in a Nexflix-style.  At this time, the shows are integrated into the “Discover” section of the app, but according to Mashable, users will be able to swipe from the Discover page to access a dedicated “Shows” section on the app.

Cleaner and Shorter

Also, it seems cleaner than other parts of Snapchat making it much more comfortable for users streaming platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. The layout is in a grid form which has shows you have recently watched and those you have subscribed to.

A spokesperson for Snapchat said the company is presently testing the feature but has not said when it will become fully available. Snapshot is currently pushing ahead with original content.

The new shows are targeting the majority under 34 Snapchat user base including a scripted drama called “Two Sides”. This show is about a teenage couple breaking up and then showing both sides of the argument at the same time.

New programs, documentaries, and comedies are also featured and the company who owns Snapchat said the time being spent watching these shows has literally tripled over the past year.

Snapchat is taking on its rival services with a new feature which allows users to watch “Creator Shows’ original content. In case you don’t know about Original Shows, they are with celebrities and influencers like Arnold Schwarzenegger creating...

Tech News

The Latest, Most Anticipated New Tools Coming To iOS 13!

During Apple’s annual developers’ conference (WWDC) they announced its latest most anticipated new tool for iOS 13.  During the conference, an Apple representative revealed how the setting will look like on various apps including Apple Music, Photos, and News.  It will be available on iPhones through an app with an owl icon and is slated to debut in the fall.

As Dark Mode on Mac was launched last year, it should not be a surprise that the new mode is dark!  So what is all the fuss about?  Simply, experts believe it’s easier on your eyes and possibly will save on your battery power.  That said this is what you can expect:

Its New Look:

As it is a Dark Mode, the color scheme is dark and offers a black background on the phone.  It also comes with a gray keyboard and various icons to keep it from looking to stark or too bright as offered on a white background.

Apple’s support page for installation of the dark mode on Mac states the setting makes it easier to stay focused on your work because the content will stand out while the controls and windows are somewhat in the background. That might possibly be debated.

This feature works on iPhones, iPads, and apps in the Apple environment.  It can be turned on automatically at sunset or the time you schedule it for.

That said, this dark mode is not something conceived by Apple,  it is very popular on various platforms and devices such as Twitter, Samsung Galaxy, smartphones, and Google’s Chrome browser.

Better Battery Life:

Even though some experts have claimed the battery will have a longer life, Apple has not jumped on that bandwagon.

Smartphones use OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) in their displays.  Selecting a black mode on a phone with an OLED display can actually use less power than your basic white background.  Therefore, you could save on power if the display is black causing greater improvement to your battery’s performance.

Also, if you are in a dark environment, you will not stand out with a white background shining in your face!

Easier On Your Eyes:

Apple claims this dark mode on the screen is much easier on your eyes.  It is a welcomed change compared to the very glaring white backgrounds found on many websites and other backgrounds.  It’s been proven that too much stark exposure to white screens can cause eye fatigue and headaches.

Neurobiology Professor at the University of Alabama, Paul Gamlin, said the dark mode might actually be beneficial for sleep.  His studies on cells in the retina showed that the eye powers the circadian rhythms and drives pupil responses.

Using the dark mode on your iPhone in the evening and during the night could have less of an impact on your circadian rhythms, your sleep cycle, and your wake cycle.  Gamlin said that bright light in the evening hours has been known to shift the rhythm in your “central circadian pacemaker”.

On the other side of the coin, Dr. Euna Koo, an ophthalmologist at the Stanford Byers Eye Institute, believes it is much easier for readers to have darker fonts against a lighter background.  She does not believe that the dark mode has an effect on eye health, given the information that is available.

She believes the duration of time is of greater importance than the intensity of the brightness when discussing the effect of this dark mode on eye fatigue and eye health.

I guess, whether the dark mode has any impact on your eye’s health or if the life of your battery is improved, is still up for debate.  What we do know, the colors and text pop out and is a really nice alternative to all that boring white background we have come to accept for so many years.

During Apple’s annual developers’ conference (WWDC) they announced its latest most anticipated new tool for iOS 13.  During the conference, an Apple representative revealed how the setting will look like on various apps including Apple Music...

Inspiring Stories Tech News

Nudes Lined Outside Of Facebook’s Headquarters In New York

Protesters gathered outside of Facebook’s Headquarters highlighting the injustice of gender inequality regarding the company’s nudity policies.

On this particular Sunday morning, from Astor Place, you would have gotten an eye-full as the sun slowly rose.  Approximately 125 people decided to pose naked outside the headquarters to challenge the company’s suppression of artistic nudity.

Participants covered their nipples with stickers of photographed male nipples which were provided by different celebrities including Andy Cohen, Andres Serrano, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Tunick, Adam Goldberg, and Mpagi Sepuya.

The group worked with the National Coalition Against Censorship to point out their rigid and old-fashioned gender inequality that exists within Facebook’s policies.  It’s deemed acceptable that men can go bare-chested but not women.

#WeTheNipple

Both Facebook and Instagram are on the same page regarding their policies. It seems their policies accept images of nipples when a woman is giving birth, breastfeeding, or revealing scars from a mastectomy.

Global policy management, Monika Bickert marked this up to safety and consent. She told Business Insider, that it’s very difficult to determine the age of a person or to determine their consent.  On top of that, even if it’s obvious the person gave their consent to a photo, did they give consent for the image to be shared?

The NCAC argued that various platforms such as Instagram, have global audiences so banning all photographs of nude human bodies is an outdated and old-fashioned position of shame and censorship.  There never seems to be a problem in artwork found in museums or art galleries, just on social media.

Tunick, the leader behind the Sunday Protest said the work he’s allowed to post is essentially different from the work he made.  He said every pixelated nipple only succeeds in sexualizing censored work.  He also added that censorship actually breaks his spirit.

That said, YouTube has allowed for artistic nudity for a long time after changing their policies more than 10 years ago which seems to have taken place after the NCAC and EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation ) stepped in.

Will Facebook and Instagram reverse their standing anytime soon?

NCAC sent a letter to Bicker requesting they change their stance to welcome and respect the arts.  Director Christopher Finan believes there are many solutions and suggested that individual users have the ability to create filters to screen or block images.

As of Monday, the NCAC said that the #WeTheNipple had been blocked on Instagram and over 500 images supporting the art have been removed.  A spokesperson for Facebook said they have been in touch with the NCAC and look forward to keeping an open dialogue with them and other groups for more details and information.

I guess, only time will tell if both sides of the aisle can come to a compromise.  Nudity is a difficult issue for all involved.  Artistic expression should always have a place while censorship in an effort to protect younger people should be heard as well.

Protesters gathered outside of Facebook’s Headquarters highlighting the injustice of gender inequality regarding the company’s nudity policies.

On this particular Sunday morning, from Astor Place, you would have gotten an eye-full as the sun...

Nature & Tech Tech News

‘Squishy’ Robots Can Jump From Huge Heights – and Survive

Every year, we seem to find more and more stories that show us both the horrifying power of AI, and the incredible potential that it holds. However, for years, these stories are becoming more and more impressive; further examples of just how much society as a whole is changing.

One of the most recent findings was that a host of new robots that are capable of jumping from a helicopter – and landing safely – are here.

These ‘squishy robots’ have quickly become a very impressive example of where robotic science could go. Indeed, these ball-shaped robots were made by staff at UC Berkeley and Squishy Robotics. They managed to create robots that can fall as high as 600ft and not take any kind of fall damage whatsoever.

Seemingly, they are also able to move and shift into different shapes so that they can get out of unique and tough spots. It’s quite the story and could make them perfect for use in high-risk areas, such as disaster zones.

Their ability to analyze ground conditions, and to be dropped into tough areas from high heights without damage, is incredible. As is their ability to help shift and move into different forms to help fit into even the tightest of spots.

Help in Disaster Zones

UC Berkeley mechanical engineering professor, Alice Agogino, was very impressed. She stated: “Our rapidly deployable mobile sensor robots are designed to save lives, reduce costs and risks and increase the effectiveness of the emergency response,

“They can survive a high drop into a disaster zone and provide life-saving information to first responders. They can also work as co-robots with their human partners on the ground when they arrive on the scene.”

These robots could be used for all manner of solutions, and could eventually be used to help make disaster zones a little safer. However, they also have some very interesting uses that could be put to practice in day-to-day life, as Agogino noted:

“We are still working with NASA on a space probe, but as excited as I am about space robots, I was motivated to apply this technology to Earthly applications when I saw a report by the Red Cross and Red Crescent that 400 first responders lost their lives to save others in the last 20 years. Many of these lives could have been saved with better situational awareness before entering disaster zones,

“Our robots get information that first responders need in order to stay safe and respond faster and more effectively.”

This is all very impressive and shows the rapid and impressive growth of robotics equipment. With uses in both emergencies and disasters, these tools could be used to help make sure that more lives are saved, and fewer lives are lost. It’s set to be a major hit when it eventually becomes something that could be genuinely used on the field.

Every year, we seem to find more and more stories that show us both the horrifying power of AI, and the incredible potential that it holds. However, for years, these stories are becoming more and more impressive; further examples of just how much society as a...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Tech News

249 MPH? Japanese Unveil World’s Fastest Bullet Train

Train speeds are improving all the time. Did you know, for example, that Japan has just unveiled a bullet train that can move as fast as 249mph?

The Japanese have a unique habit when it comes to innovation, and tend to be pretty good at taking inventions higher than ever before. Well, with the new ALFA-X, you will be able to see a train that can hit speeds you would barely be able to believe.

When you get on a train, the aim is to get you somewhere without wasting any time. It’s the obvious and main reason to get a train; to help you get to somewhere faster than you would if you had just gone on-foot or alone.

For many people, trains are getting faster and faster than we can imagine. Often, if you were to find out the pace that a train was moving at, you would likely be surprised at just how fast it is.

The power of this train is already making experts blush; though it won’t be actually in service until, it’s estimated, 2030. So, someone has 11 or so years to board a train that can go close to 250mph!

This new treat will be used at around 224mph on average, which would mean that it would travel on average 10kph faster than the Chinese equivalent, the Fuxing Hao. This has the same top speed capacity, but it’s likely that the ALFA-X will win on consistency.

Historical Speed

At around 72ft in the nose area alone, the ALFA-X is an imposing piece of modern locomotive history. It’s going to help change the entire industry, it is hoped, bringing to light an even higher than expected standard for the future.

The futuristic, modern design will obviously make it stand out, while the imperious design style – with 10 cars in total – ensures it will be efficient as well as stylish.

The train will be part of the new Shinkansen high-speed railway lines which are appearing all across Japan. Testing will begin between Aomori and Sendai, during the evening, and will be a 3-year testing plan. This will provide ample time to perfect the overall style of the train, and make sure that it is capable of meeting expectations performance-wise.

Interestingly, the Shinkansen N700S only was agreed to be put into operation in 2020, which can hit speeds of around 186mph. This, though, will simply blow it away, adding a new level of power and pace onto the railway tracks of Japan. While it may not be as fast as trains using magnetic levitation, this will ensure that this particular kind of bullet train can still keep up with the very best.

The bullet train has become a major part of Japanese travel culture, and for that reason many would be sad to see it go. Make no mistake, though, this new kind of train shows that – even with the growth of the maglev trains – there is still much love for bullet trains in Japan and beyond.

Train speeds are improving all the time. Did you know, for example, that Japan has just unveiled a bullet train that can move as fast as 249mph?
The Japanese have a unique habit when it comes to innovation, and tend to be pretty good at taking inventions...

Fashion Lifestyle Tech News

UK Using Smart Billboards to Secretly Ad-target Shoppers

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the ability to identify your age, gender, and even mood.

The smart boards detect how long certain customers look at advertisements and then change what they display depending on who is walking past.

So far, The Sunday Times has happened upon 50 of these screens in the UK; several of them can be found at Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Apparently, companies utilizing this equipment don’t legally need to inform their shoppers that they are being filmed because the system complies with the UK’s data protection laws. Since no individually identifying information is being collected or stored, no laws are being broken.

First Company to Try This

One of the first companies to try this system out is Ocean Outdoor. The LookOut system is found in multiple tracking billboards throughout the UK.

Tim Bleakley, the company’s chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “We pioneered a facial detection technology which identifies the characteristics of the face to allow you to talk to advertisers about mood, gender, emotion and those kinds of things. We can measure the level of happiness or sadness. We can measure the dwell time.”

Bleakley told of how satisfied the supermarket executives of Waitrose were when they sprayed fake snow into the store and saw how evidently ‘customer happiness levels’ rose.

The cameras installed into the billboards spend every hour analyzing the shoppers to see what kind of people shopped and when they shopped. At times, shoppers are even inserted into adverts, a feature called ‘interactive advertising.’ One promotional video from Ocean Outdoor implied that the technology can determine how many ‘affluent’ people are in the area.

One of the billboards at Canary Wharf stated that 49 percent of people walking past that day were “affluent” and earned “over £100,000 ($129,000).”

The technology of Ocean Outdoor can be used on roadside billboards to figure the price of passing cars and advertise expensive things to those it thinks have lots of money.

Quividi is a French firm that also sells the facial detection technology and says that it collects and processes images of people in milliseconds but then deletes them forever once their basic profile information has been taken. Determining someone’s gender can be done with 90 percent accuracy within a five-year age bracket.

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the...

Lifestyle Tech News

Canon Takes on Fuji with New Instant-Print CLIQ Cameras

The trend of instant print cameras has been storming the market in the last five or so years, and of course, Fujifilm has been at the forefront. In an age so accustomed to everything being on their phones, what was normal for the generations previous is novel to this generation – physical photos.

As companies begin to realize this, they’re wanting in. Fujifilm shouldn’t be the only one to profit, so Canon is one of the first to successfully – well, possibly, anyway – create their own instant print camera.

Their new cameras have just debuted and should be available for purchase in a month or two, but for starters, don’t even consider buying the cheaper one which they’re calling the IVY CLIQ. It has a horrible flash – which you’ll absolutely need with these cameras – and no access to the associated app, but more on that later. The CLIQ+, in Europe it’s the Zoemini S, is the more advanced version.

Unfortunately, Canon’s dependence on digital printing keeps them from surpassing Fujifilm, but their device is actually quite simple and easy to use. It contains 8 megapixels in the small sensor – more than enough to send the 2×3” Zink printer holding up to ten sheets of paper they’ve built into the camera.

If you’re in a hurry and want to keep it simple, it can spit them out in a matter of seconds, but you also have the option to edit them, add borders, crop, make duplicates, and more! This is where the app comes in.

Companion App

The more advanced camera comes with a companion app which you can download on your phone. While this sounds novel, it may also be one of the downfalls of Canon’s latest product. The current market is thriving off of people that are tired of taking hundreds of photos on their phones just to never look at them again.

The concept of having a handheld photo keepsake without ever having to pull out your phone is exciting. So, having to mess around with an app on your phone doesn’t really capitalize on the current trend.

But who knows? Maybe the younger generation who could care less about quality and just like adding captions or funny edits to their photos and handing them out to friends will love these cute, colorful Canon cameras.

The other downfall is that Zink prints just aren’t good. They’re much cheaper than Instax Minis – less than half the price –, but they are for a reason. The resolution and color reproduction aren’t worth comparing with instant film standards. Instax, on the other hand, can capture color and detail quite well for an instant print camera.

The CLIQ+, or Zoemini S, will be sold for $160 while the IVY CLIQ with fewer megapixels, no app, and worse quality will cost just $100. However, the one pro of the IVY CLIQ is the happy yellow color it comes in!

The trend of instant print cameras has been storming the market in the last five or so years, and of course, Fujifilm has been at the forefront. In an age so accustomed to everything being on their phones, what was normal for the generations previous is novel...