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...

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...

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...

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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...

Health Tech News

Advancement of AI Opens Health Data Privacy to Attack

A new study led by professor Anil Aswani of the Industrial Engineering & Operations Research Department (IEOR) in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley has revealed that what we’ve seen as exciting advances in artificial intelligence may be just the opposite.

He and his team discovered that the advances open the door for more and new threats to the privacy of health data. In the midst of current AI developments, current laws and regulations are no longer enough to keep our health statuses private. You can view all of their research on JAMA Network Open.

Aswani’s study, partially funded by UC Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, proved that artificial intelligence can identify individuals through tracking and learning daily patterns in step data (like that collected by activity trackers, smartwatches, and smartphones) and then correlating it to demographic data.

After gathering two years’ worth of data encompassing over 15,000 Americans, he concluded that the privacy standards associated with 1996’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation require dire change.

We Need to Look at That

“We wanted to use NHANES (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) to look at privacy questions because this data is representative of the diverse population in the U.S.,” Aswani says.

“The results point out a major problem. If you strip all the identifying information, it doesn’t protect you as much as you’d think. Someone else can come back and put it all back together if they have the right kind of information.”

“In principle, you could imagine Facebook gathering step data from the app on your smartphone, then buying health care data from another company and matching the two,” he explains. “Now they would have health care data that’s matched to names, and they could either start selling advertising based on that or they could sell the data to others.”

The problem is not with the advancements and devices themselves but with how one can misuse these devices for their own personal gain.

“I’m not saying we should abandon these devices,” he says. “But we need to be very careful about how we are using this data. We need to protect the information. If we can do that, it’s a net positive.”

From this study covering step data, Aswani suggests that more than just the specific area of research could be affected. “HIPAA regulations make your health care private, but they don’t cover as much as you think,” he says.

“Many groups, like tech companies, are not covered by HIPAA, and only very specific pieces of information are not allowed to be shared by current HIPAA rules. There are companies buying health data. It’s supposed to be anonymous data, but their whole business model is to find a way to attach names to this data and sell it.”

As AI advance, information is easier to retrieve, and employers, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and others could begin to use it in illegal and unethical ways.

“Ideally, what I’d like to see from this are new regulations or rules that protect health data,” he says. “But there is actually a big push to even weaken the regulations right now. For instance, the rule-making group for HIPAA has requested comments on increasing data sharing.

The risk is that if people are not aware of what’s happening, the rules we have will be weakened. And the fact is the risks of us losing control of our privacy when it comes to health care are actually increasing and not decreasing.”

A new study led by professor Anil Aswani of the Industrial Engineering & Operations Research Department (IEOR) in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley has revealed that what we’ve seen as exciting advances in artificial intelligence may be just...

Tech News

Alcatraz AI is Building Face ID for Corporate Badges

Ever experience the frustration of heading out of work for lunch and getting back to the office just in time to only realize that you left your badge upstairs on your desk? Now, you’re late and stuck waiting downstairs for one of your co-workers to be gracious enough to bring your badge down to you so that you can get back in.

Meanwhile, your boss is none too happy with you. And perhaps this is your third or fourth strike!

Well, it’s time you met Alcatraz AI, a start-up that wants to replace all the badge readers in your office with a Face ID-like camera system. With Alcatraz, any of the multiple sensors have the capability to identify faces and unlock doors effortlessly.

High-security buildings have made fingerprints and iris scanners a regular commodity, but your everyday business would end up with traffic jams at the door if they started using a fingerprint system. On top of all that, every time a new employee is hired, their biometric information would have to be added to the system.

This process would be tedious, especially for large companies with lots of employees.

Facial Authentication

However, with Alcatraz AI, facial authentication guarantees a quick, painless process. You begin with a badge, like the one you have now, but after you’ve used it a few times, Alcatraz Al has scanned your face enough to form a model. From then on, you can always leave your badge on your desk – or at home, for that matter –, and simple facial recognition will get you in the door.

Alcatraz Al has built custom hardware with three different sensors that include both traditional RGB sensors and infrared sensors for 3D mapping which they would install. Once everything is set and running, companies only need to pay an annual fee to continue using the platform.

Alcatraz AI can even detect tailgating – that is, someone trying to get in somewhere secure by following in an authorized person. It gives customers analytics and real-time notifications.

Overall, the process is much simpler and easier, and the ongoing license cost should be the same as what your company previously used to pay guards. The start-up has raised nearly $6 million already from Hardware Club, Ray Stata, JCI Ventures, Ruvento Ventures, and Hemi Ventures.

Ever experience the frustration of heading out of work for lunch and getting back to the office just in time to only realize that you left your badge upstairs on your desk? Now, you’re late and stuck waiting downstairs for one of your co-workers to be...

Tech News

Apple Introduces Its Own Credit Card

Apple Inc. is driven to do more and more to create more users and to make its users happier. The company is continually advancing and introducing newer technology, and now they’ve announced they’ll be releasing their very own credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard.

Integrating the Apple Card will be especially useful for those who have already made it a habit to use the Wallet app and Apple Pay. According to Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Apple Pay will reach 10 billion transactions this year and will be available in over 40 countries by the year’s end.

Over 70 percent of American businesses accept Apple Pay, and more are being added to that number daily while countries like Australia are already at 99 percent acceptance.

Signing up for the Apple Card is simple; all you have to do is sign up from your iPhone, and within a few minutes, you’ll be able to use it with Apple Pay. You’ll have complete control over the card from your Wallet app.

If you want to see you credit card bill, your recent transactions, or keep track of your spending, you just tap the card, and all the information is at your fingertips. You can even see where you spent the money. When you tap a transaction, the location shows up in a miniature Apple Map.

Go Titanium

You’ll also get a hard, titanium card along with the virtual one with a laser-etched name, but there’s no card number, no CVV code, no expiration date, and no signature on the card. All of that information can only be found on the Wallet app, and each device will have a different credit card number.

Every transaction gives you an instant 2 percent cash back, and with Apple purchases, it’s 3 percent! Physical transactions, however, are only eligible for 1 percent cash back. The cash back is credited to your account daily instead of at the end of the month.

All of your private information is guaranteed to be secure; in fact, Apple won’t even be able to see what you bought, where you bought it, or what you paid for it. Goldman Sachs agrees not to sell your data for advertising or marketing.

What makes this card even more unique than it already is is that you will have no late fees, no annual fees, no international fees, and no over-limit fees. You can easily set up a monthly plan to pay off your balance if you aren’t able to, and customer support is always at your fingertips via text messages through the Messages app.

Apple says the card will be available to customers in the U.S. this summer.

Apple Inc. is driven to do more and more to create more users and to make its users happier. The company is continually advancing and introducing newer technology, and now they’ve announced they’ll be releasing their very own credit card in partnership...

Tech News

AI Google Doodle Lets Users Make Bach-Music

Google’s innovation and creativity never ceaseto amaze, and one of our favorite features is its goal of honoring different men, women, and key holidays through the Google doodle on their search engine homepage. In honor of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday, Google created and released its first artificial intelligence-powered doodle.

Google made the doodle available internationally in over seventy countries and set it to run for a full forty-eight in most of those countries. Users had the freedom to create their own melody and allow the Al built into the doodle to form the melody they created into one that matches Bach’s own style.

But that’s not all the doodle was built to do! Users could also hear their melodies in a rock genre, seeing how it transforms the notes to sound like a Bach melody, and exactly how Google did all this is in a behind-the-scenes video they released later on.

Google’s Magenta, Google’s People + AI Research team, and doodle teams collaborated together to create the Bach doodle. Magenta is a mind-blowing project that uses machine-learning to create music – not just a single melody but harmonies and smooth transitions, as well. Then, Google’s PAIR program does the research to creates technologies that shape the approach to work with AI.

The Google team created a model called Coconet through Magenta which was able to pick out Bach’s individual style through a dataset of over 300 of his own harmonies. As a result, Coconet could match the doodle users created to Bach’s works. “Coconet is trained to restore Bach’s music from fragments: we take a piece from Bach, randomly erase some notes, and ask the model to guess the missing notes from context. The result is a versatile model of counterpoint that accepts arbitrarily incomplete scores as input and works out complete scores,” said the blog post from Magenta.

Which Calendar?

According to the Julian Calendar, Bach was born on March 21, which is now March 31 on the Gregorian calendar used today. Google decided to honor him on the original date of March 21, however, and then had the doodle run for forty-eight hours instead of just twenty-four.

What Google wanted was for users to learn more about the composer himself as they created melodies through the doodle, and what a creative and fun way to remember the famous composer! The doodle is still accessible now in the doodle archive online, so if you didn’t get a chance to use it for yourself, you still can.

Google’s innovation and creativity never ceaseto amaze, and one of our favorite features is its goal of honoring different men, women, and key holidays through the Google doodle on their search engine homepage. In honor of German composer Johann Sebastian...

Animals Tech News

Lobster Inspired Body Armor

As fantastical as it sounds, our next innovation in defensive body armor for our military and law enforcement officer’s may be inspired by a million-year-old sea creature who is not only a tough customer but also happens to be delicious when served with a side of melted butter.

Ming Guo, from the mechanical engineering department of MIT, had a breakthrough when he was enjoying a lobster at dinner. He noticed that lobsters have membranes between their joints that is as strong as tire rubber.

He realized that this naturally growing material was nearly impossible to chew but was also flexible and soft. His thought was that this material would be perfect in the joints of body armor.

A study released in Acta Materialia states: “The knowledge learned from the soft membrane of natural lobsters sheds light on designing synthetic soft, yet strong and tough materials for reliable usage under extreme mechanical conditions, including a flexible armor that can provide full-body protection without sacrificing limb mobility.”

Ming explains, “We think this work could motivate flexible armor design. If you could make armor out of these types of materials, you could freely move your joints, and it would make you feel more comfortable.”

The Flawed Effectiveness of Kevlar

While bulletproof vests are a valuable tool for law enforcement officers and military, they do have a few drawbacks. Kevlar’s effectiveness only spans around five years, at which time they should be replaced. Kevlar is also bulky and unforgiving, not suitable for all body types.

In particular, women frequently need to have Kevlar vests altered.  Because Kevlar is bulky, it interferes with concentration and marksmanship abilities. Making the vests more mobile decreases their effectiveness.

To be truly effective, body armor needs to be flexible and light to allow the wearer to move freely.  It also needs to be tough and made from materials that are abundant for ease and affordability of manufacturing.

As hard as it is to imagine a lobster-inspired bulletproof vest, the body armor of the crustacean fulfills all of these qualities. Researchers from MIT and Harvard are currently exploring how best to harness the benefits of lobster armor for human use.

Learning from Lobsters

Even though lobster armor brings to mind a cartoon character with claws and a bright red suit, it’s not so far-fetched.  As body armor evolves to be stronger and more flexible, chances are that bulky armor, made from cloth and Kevlar, will become a distant memory.

Science fiction films hint at ways that body armor will improve.  In fact, the Robert Rodriguez film, Alita: Battle Angel, hints that in the distant future, humans will sport robotic body parts.

For now, MIT scientists are taking their cues from a million-year-old lobster who has evolved to fit their habitat perfectly.  Their armor protects them from temperature extremes and other intense under-water conditions, and one day, it may protect our LEO’s and military from equally intense conditions on duty and in the battlefield.

As fantastical as it sounds, our next innovation in defensive body armor for our military and law enforcement officer’s may be inspired by a million-year-old sea creature who is not only a tough customer but also happens to be delicious when served with a...

Tech News

U.S. Senators To Limit Facial Recognition Data

This week, Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced their Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act which is aimed at commercial users of Facial Recognition technology.

Your face can be the most important part of your personal identity. It distinguishes you from everyone else on the planet. It can unlock your smartphone and grant you access to your bank account. It is commonly used by law enforcement to accurately and successfully identify a wanted person in a crowd or even match a simple image with a database of known criminals.

The whole concept kind of conjures up the image of an Orwellian “Big Brother” creeping across the country.

Increasingly, people are becoming concerned about how their data is being collected and used, including data that is being collected through facial recognition technology. A message to the press, Senator Blunt said that we need guardrails to ensure that this technology will continue to develop but must implement responsibly.

If this bill passes, it will require companies to notify customers when facial recognition technology is being used. This could manifest in something similar to “CCTB in Operation” signage. This bill would also restrict the redistribution or dissemination of data to third-parties without the express consent from the end user.

Get Consumer Consent

This bill requires that in order for consumers to give consent they must be informed before commercial parties can collect and share all data collected through facial recognition (Blunt). All parties would have to meet data security, minimization, and retention standards set down by the Federal Trade Commission and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Keep in mind, facial recognition is nothing new. It’s been a large part of security and surveillance applications for decades. That said, its use in a commercial application while on the rise, many consumers remain unaware that “Big Brother” technology is often hidden in plain sight!

Both Senators believe their bill will make sure people are given information and, more importantly, control over how their data is used and shared with companies that are using facial recognition technology. This legislation is an important move toward protecting privacy and empowering consumers. Blunt encourages all his colleagues to support this bill.

This week, Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced their Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act which is aimed at commercial users of Facial Recognition technology.

Your face can be the most important part of your personal identity. It...