City Life Cool Stories Tech News

Lamborghini Now Registers Cars On the Blockchain

Italian luxury brand Lamborghini Adopts Salesforce Blockchain The Italian luxury sports car maker has adopted the Salesforce blockchain platform to certify heritage cars securely.  The platform also speeds up the process of tracing and authenticating these vehicles.

The move was announced in November 2019 following Salesforce’s launch of a hyper ledger-based blockchain platform back in May.  This will now mean that a network can be implemented, joining together many trusted participants who will be able to carry out checks each time a  Lamborghini’s is resold.

It is good news for both sellers and buyers because now every Lamborghini vehicle will have its own record of service.  Under the old system, the vehicle would be taken to  Sant’Agata Bolognese, Lamborghini’s Italian HQ to undergo around 800-1,000 checks for the vehicle to be resold.

It is a long and involved process involving collaboration between a network of photographers, repairs shops and auction houses to verify the vehicle’s parts and service history.

Fighting Counterfeit Vehicles

With the introduction of the blockchain certification, Salesforce and Lamborghini have announced that every car will be resold with a full record of service, including parts, previous owners and any restoration work.

The new system will mean that there is less risk of buyers being sold a counterfeit vehicle as all the entire process of authentication is conducted by Lamborghini and its trusted partners within the network.

In August 2019, Lamborghini’s conducted a pilot trial of Salesforce Blockchain when it certified it’s Lamborghini Aventador S.  This unique car has been protected as a work of art and certified using the  Salesforce Blockchain when it took part in the  Monterrey Car Week.

Italian luxury brand Lamborghini Adopts Salesforce Blockchain The Italian luxury sports car maker has adopted the Salesforce blockchain platform to...

Tech News

Personalized News Now Available on Google Assistant

When we are looking for the latest news it is always helpful to get a list of all the day’s main headlines.  Instead of being limited to just one broadcaster the Google Assistant will now provide a tailor-made news playlist of all the top stories.

The feature, Your News Updates, will look at stories from across multiple news outlets and select them according to your interests and location.  Audio is a great way of conveying the news but the technology has been a lot slower to adapt than other media such as text or video.

This looks set to change. Google Assistant now allows the user to ask specific questions for example, ‘what is the latest news about Brexit’? And will respond with relevant news items.

Enter Audio Clips

The company has been busy behind the scenes developing its new service looking at providing focused clips rather than long podcasts or news items to make it more user-friendly now that time is at a premium for most people.

By dealing with news specific to the user it means that the audio clips are more relevant.  For instance, it can draw on your interests and then access more news sources to give you all the latest stories, then follow up the headlines with slightly longer more in-depth pieces.

There is an emphasis on your location too so that news items that you here relate to places that you know and care about.

The recommendations for news stories will likely get more refined as the AI gets more of an insight into your personal preferences.  If you skip an item, for example, it will pick up on this and offer more appealing stories.

It may eventually be tailored for context, for example, providing traffic reports when you are in the car.  It could even assess traffic, estimate the length of time you have in the car before you reach your destination and provide a story or other listening to fill that time.

Your News Update is currently available in the USA in English, but there are plans to expand the service globally in 2020.

When we are looking for the latest news it is always helpful to get a list of all the day’s main headlines.  Instead of being limited to just one...

Inspiring Stories Tech News

New Facebook & Instagram Donation Tools to Rival PayPal

Donating to charities and causes is going to become a lot easier for Facebook users after new changes were announced by the social networking site this week.

Facebook is moving into an industry that is dominated by GoFundMe and PayPal and now the company has announced initiatives such as fundraising stickers on Facebook Stories, and the option to add donate buttons to video game streaming accounts and Instagram business.

The big guns, PayPal and GoFundMe are currently charging users 30cents for every donation, and a 2.9% processing fee.  Where PayPal will allow a lower charge of 2.2% on payment processing for nonprofits, Facebook has completely waived the fee for any type of donation.

People Do Donate

It is working well for the charitable causes too – they are seeing a rise in donors through the Facebook initiatives.  In 2018 PayPal was used by over 55 million people who made donations to nonprofits a total of $9.6billion.  In 2010, $5billion was raised through GoFundMe. Since 2015 Facebook has been instrumental in raising $2billion for nonprofits.

Facebook’s influence in digital payments is growing and this is likely to increase alongside its initiatives to help people fund non-profits.  The platform is keen to encourage groups and private messaging and incorporating donations and, while it will not provide a financial gain, it will encourage users to continue engaging with each other through Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in May that he was looking to encourage more group conversations on the platform and groups would be a more central part of the platform’s app.  The ability of a group to promote a cause and collect funds will assist him in this goal.

Donating to charities and causes is going to become a lot easier for Facebook users after new changes were announced by the social networking site...

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Earth Tech News TooCool

The Astronaut Smart Glove Was Field-Tested and It’s a Go!

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has successfully field-tested the astronaut smart glove. It’s deliberately designed for exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations. The Smart Glove is a model for a human-machine interface or HMI, allowing astronauts to wirelessly operate robotic equipment such as drones through simple hand gestures.

Just last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revealed their new Artemis Generation spacesuit, created to keep astronauts comfortable and safe on the Moon’s surface.

That said, SETI Institute claims spacesuits will still remain cumbersome, limiting the ability of astronauts to perform precise tasks. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist with SETI and the Mars Institute, said a smart glove-equipped spacesuit might just be the solution.

Lee believes astronauts could easily control a number of robotic assets, making science and exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations more effective and productive. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s startup Ntention, which is run by students, developed the smart glove that was tested in HMP’s 2019 field campaign.

Intuitive Human-machine Interfaces

Moina Medboe Tamuly, COO at Ntention, said their philosophy is to create technology that will allow human-machine interfacing intuitive and seamless. They are very excited to see their technology has potential applications in space exploration.

Lee suggested that after seeing the demonstration of the glove for space applications, it could be applied to an astronaut’s spacesuit. Lee added when he first saw the smart glove in action, he immediately thought of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law, saying any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

With Tamula as lead designer, the Ntention team accepted his challenge to create a prototype that uses a microcontroller to read subtle motions. These subtle motions are transferred to a mobile device to control a robot. The smart glove was interspersed into an existing Collins Aerospace spacesuit and then put through a series of field tests involving the teleoperation of commercial drones.

When astronauts are on Mars or the Moon, they want to fly drones for a number of reasons, including collecting a sample that is out of reach or must be isolated from contamination. Another reason could be to perform a search and rescue operation. Other purposes might include mapping, sampling, surveying, fetching, scouting, and inspecting.

Further assessment of the Astronaut Smart Glove for Mars and Moon exploration will continue along with applications to control other kinds of robotic equipment including robotic manipulators and rovers.

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has successfully field-tested the astronaut smart glove. It’s deliberately designed for exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations. The Smart Glove is a model for a human-machine interface or HMI, allowing...

Earth Nature & Tech Tech News

US Scientists Develop Sunflower That Can Collect Solar Energy

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much promise in the sphere of solar power, potentially being used to power spaceships.

Researchers based in the University of California, Los Angeles, led the research which was aiming to raise the amount of energy that could be collected using a similar movement as that used by plants that move towards the sun.  This phenomenon, known as phototropism, enables the plant to optimize the amount of solar energy it gets.

Flower Power

The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, and indicated that the team had encountered significant challenges trying to replicate the behavior artificially which they overcame by developing a special type of polymer.

This material is responsive to light and the system has been called the SunBOT, a slightly catchier abbreviation of the full technical name:  sunflower-like bio-mimetic omnidirectional tracker.  The SunBOT works in multiple temperature ranges and does not need a power supply or human intervention.

The ‘stem’ of the plant was created using the polymer and topped with the ‘flower’ which is comprised of solar cells.  As the light shone at the SunBOT, the polymer stem got hotter and shrank.  This is what makes the flower turn towards the light.

These tiny sunflowers were then tested for efficiency and it was found that, compared with materials that remained stationary (non-phototropic materials), they were up to 400% more efficient.

There are likely to be numerous ways that the SunBOTs can be used, however, for it to make commercial sense the technology still has a way to go.  Once it does move forward, the research team are confident that it could be of use across multiple industries.Things like smart windows, solar sails, and intelligent energy generation have been highlighted and the study does show that the concept is sound.  We will likely see a lot more of these tiny flowers in the future.

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much...

City Life Tech News

Alphabet’s Wing Begins First Commercial Drone Delivery

For some time now, the talk of drone delivery services has been a growing phenomenon. Seen as the future of automation as well as the beginning of the end for working people, there’s a massive amount of disparity on this topic.

Many people simply don’t know where such technology will eventually stop. if automation keeps coming, what will the already struggling populace do for a living?

With that in mind, it’s important to note that Alphabet, the company behind Google, has released its first commercial drone delivery service. This is known as Wing, and it’s going to become the leading name in the industry.

Having beaten the likes of Uber to the release of such a project, this is going to become a major part of the process for delivery in the near future. Indeed, it’s already been out delivering packages to people around the United States.

Wing has managed to beat the competition by being able to get access to Federal Aviation Authority approval. This means that they could be using their drones to fly door-to-door, dropping off deliveries in the same way that a normal delivery driver would.

It’s already beat the major competitor, Amazon Prime Air, to the punch. Prime Air is expected to start on December 7th, but it’s already a service that Alphabet has put into practice.

The aim is to use these drones instead of having to use delivery drivers in dense living areas. If you are trying to make deliveries in an urban area, you can find it hard to make the speedy delivery necessary. These drones would put an end to that, making sure that people can get items dropped off to them in ways and in places that was simply not possible pre-drone.

The Ideal Solution to Delivery

Wing will be able to see their drones fly out from North Christiansburg, and then start delivering parcels given to them by local retailers. While it can’t exactly chap on the door and ask the recipient how their day is going, it will allow for much faster, simpler delivery. It will improve the speed of delivery, too, and will most likely change the future of delivery for customers.

Deliveries are rapid, too, with some companies seeing deliveries to local buyers in as little as eight minutes – you’d be lucky to get ‘fast food’ delivered in that kind of timeframe. Therefore, it’s very much become the go-to option already for local firms looking to try and speed up and streamline their own delivery process.

While some people worry that such technology could one day become problematic for society, today we can appreciate having our goods dropped off to us by our friendly neighborhood drone.

For some time now, the talk of drone delivery services has been a growing phenomenon. Seen as the future of automation as well as the beginning of the end for working people, there’s a massive amount of disparity on this topic.

Many people simply don’t...

City Life Lifestyle Tech News

Hidden Online Shopping Threats: e-skimming & ‘Magecart Attacks’

The internet is obviously a great place, giving us all the opportunity to learn, to invest, and to buy like we never could in our own communities. That being said, if there is one issue with the online industry, it’s just how easy it is for hidden threats to your personal data, and even your income, through hidden online shopping attacks.

This has become a sadly common practice, so much so that the FBI in Portland has already stepped out to raise awareness. With October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it’s important that you do a bit of reading into what you could be running into when trying to buy items online.

Indeed, a common issue for many people when shopping online comes from “e-skimming”. This technique has become very commonplace in the online e-commerce industry and has seen many people impacted.

This hacking technique is used by criminals to try and get in line with third-party vendors who provide credit card payments online. However, even government agencies have been impacted in the past.

The main issue, though, is cost. The big companies and agencies often have the funds to put in place solid preventative measures to stop this problem from getting any worse. They can also then work together with others to try and reinforce their own security. But what about the small and independent companies that you might choose to buy from?

Beware of Magecart attacks

Another common problem that has become a major blight on online shopping is known as ‘Magecart’ attacks. These are part of the wider e-skimming industry, but they are used to attack everyone from the little to the large. While some warning signs on a Magecart attack, it’s often something that could slip through the net.

From a new company domain name appearing to edited JavaScript codes, there are many telltale signs of a potential e-skimming attack. The most common FBI tips included updating all of your systems and software, segregate your network systems and avoid running them all on one platform and make sure that all of your login credentials are advanced as well as regularly changed.

Of course, it’s also essential that any staff who are working with an e-shopping facility are trained and educated on the challenge of cybersecurity. This is becoming a major issue across the internet; the more that can be done to tackle the problem and minimize the risk, the better.

The internet is obviously a great place, giving us all the opportunity to learn, to invest, and to buy like we never could in our own communities. That being said, if there is one issue with the online industry, it’s just how easy it is for hidden threats...

Cool Stories Tech News

SpaceX Looks at 2020 for First Internet Coverage From Space

SpaceX is looking at mid-2020 to start offering broadband services via Starlink – a huge internet-from-space project.  To get the project up and running 60 satellites must be deployed which requires 6-8 launches.

Starlink constellation will consist of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth at low altitudes.  These satellites will be used to provide internet coverage.

The Federal Communications Commission has licensed Space X to launch 12,000 satellites as part of the project and last week the company contacted the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to request radio frequencies it needs to communicate with another 30,000 satellites.  In total SpaceX intends to launch around 42,000 satellites into low orbit.

The World Wants to Connect

The initiative stems from the increased demand for reliable and fast internet globally, and to reach areas where connectivity has been patchy, non-existent or too expensive.  SpaceX will likely be working to make Starlink Constellation scalable to meet anticipated future needs.

To date, 60 Starlink satellites have been launched by SpaceX and 3 of these failed when they reached orbit.  Two further satellites were removed from orbit which indicates that the company can do this if they need to.  However, the other satellites have accessed the correct orbit and are functioning normally.  This was announced by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX via the system.

The project is still very much in its infancy with a lot of work still to complete before the general public can access the internet via Starlink.  As well as getting the satellites into orbit, Space X is still developing the user terminal that receives the signal from space.

The eventual roll-out may mean direct launch to customers in some areas, whereas in others it will be accessed via a telecom company.  This, along with pricing, has yet to be established.

With its venture into the Starlink Constellation SpaceX moves into the realms of space technology being utilized in commerce.

SpaceX is looking at mid-2020 to start offering broadband services via Starlink – a huge internet-from-space project.  To get the project up and running 60 satellites must be deployed which requires 6-8 launches.

Starlink constellation will consist of...

Humans Are Awesome Tech News

Google Confirms ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Breakthrough

Google has now confirmed that it has achieved quantum supremacy with its 54-qubit Sycamore processor. The announcement comes in an article in Nature. The news was unofficially leaked a month ago but now all of the research is public and being scrutinized by the scientific community.

According to Google, Sycamore took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that would take an existing supercomputer around 10,000 years. This is said to indicate that the way the machine made the calculation would not be possible using a non-quantum machine.

The supercomputer that Sycamore has been said to have beaten is operated by IBM which, not surprisingly, has disputed Google’s claim. IBM states that its computer could do the task in 2.5 days and not 10,000 years as stated.

Extraordinary Achievement

Although IBM is keen to play down Google’s achievements researchers have welcomed the news. Likely, our ability to produce quantum computers that are suitable and practical for common usage is years down the line but Sycamore does indicate that it is indeed possible.

Scientists have been so enamored with the new machine that they have compared it to the first plane flight undertaken by the Wright Brothers in 1903.

Google has now confirmed that it has achieved quantum supremacy with its 54-qubit Sycamore processor. The announcement comes in an article in Nature. The news was unofficially leaked a month ago but now all of the research is public and being scrutinized by...

Cool Stories Tech News

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 da Vinci, and Picasso.

Beneath the Old Guitarist (1903-04), Pablo Picasso’s popular Blue Period painting is...

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 will zoom in on objects by blinking twice!  They are called “soft robots” which actually copies elements...

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 company’s successful Powerwall home energy system.  He is now back as founder and CEO of a new...

Lifestyle Tech News Vacation

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...