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Smart Watch

Monday, August 28th, 2017

There’s no doubt that with the popularity of smartphones that can manage virtually every aspect of our lives, the trend in technology is to get more and more “connectivity” into smaller and smaller packages. Simultaneously, wrist watches have become a lesson in technological redundancy for many people. Ask a friend for the time of day and they’re just as likely to glance at their smartphone as they are to look at an actual wrist-bound timepiece. The newest wave of smart watches aims to change all that.

Smart watches are digital watches that do more – a lot more – that your old analog time tracking device. We’re not talking about that once-amazing calculator watch that you had in elementary school. These are full-fledged digital tools. Smart watches can run apps and play back all sorts of digital media, like audio tracks or radio streamed to Bluetooth headphones. Many of these watches have touchscreens, which allow you to access functions like a thermometer, calculator, compass and more.

Most of the current iterations of smart watches aren’t wholly standalone devices, simply because they lack an Internet connection. So many of the watches are designed to link directly with other devices that do have Internet connectivity, namely your smartphone. Just as with your smartphone, Internet access enables a smart watch with whole world of potential capabilities, like message notifications, GPS navigation and calendar synchronization. And of course, a Bluetooth connection to your phone means the watch can help you place calls or send and receive messages. Some smart watches are made specifically for athletics purposes, letting you track your lap times, distance and route. They may work in tandem with accessories such as a heart rate monitor or cadence sensor. There are specialty smart watches built especially for sailing enthusiasts, helping them track variables such as speed, wind direction and wind speed.

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Google previews videos to search results on phones

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Google is beginning to add what it calls “video previews” to search results. They’ll start out on Android, where they’ll appear for searches made in Chrome and the Google app. At first, they’ll only be in English and in the US, but Google plans to expand the feature globally and in all languages in the future. A spokesperson says Google also hopes to expand video previews to other platforms, so presumably iOS and perhaps the desktop are coming. You’ll now have an idea of what’s in a clip before you bother playing it. Now, if you do a Google search on your phone in either the app or Chrome, results in the video section will show not a static thumbnail image, but a snippet of the clip. The idea is to help you decide if you should click to the video or not. After all, more and more of the content we ingest online is taking the form of short film clips.

That video there on your screen, the one demanding to be watched — is it basically just gonna eat a few minutes of your life for no good reason? That’s the question Google wants to help you answer with a new search feature announced on Friday for its mobile app on Android and its Chrome browser on Android.

Google started rolling out the change on Friday and said the feature would be available more widely next week. The snippets play only if you’re on a Wi-Fi connection, so they shouldn’t affect data fees from your phone company. What’s that you say? Auto-play videos make you wanna scream? Relax; Google says you can simply turn off this feature by way of the settings menu in the Google app or in Chrome.

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IPhone 8 Facial Recognition

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Regardless of whether or not the iPhone 8 will feature Touch ID, it’s all but guaranteed that the device will feature facial recognition technology. Over the past few weeks and months, word that the iPhone 8 will incorporate facial recognition has been corroborated by a number of credible sources, not to mention an endless stream of iPhone 8 parts leaks featuring discernible cutouts for additional camera sensors on the front panel of the device. While Apple tends to keep upcoming technologies and features under lock and key, its upcoming facial recognition software will likely be based on technology it acquired when it purchased an Israeli machine learning company called Realface earlier this year. Consequently, a close examination of Realface’s cutting edge technology can provide us with a number of significant clues as to what we can expect out of the highly anticipated iPhone 8.

Now what happens when a person’s appearance changes over time? After all, individuals routinely alter their appearance in a myriad of ways. Impressively, this is where the machine learning aspect of the software comes into play. Another design consideration is the fact that face recognition in the authentication context, you only need to keep track of one individual; but you need to keep track of changes in his appearance over time. People shave, wear makeup, wear their hair differently. So, we designed a new learning method that’s called personalized recognition that enables the system to evolve over time and essentially get to know you. All that being said, Realface’s facial recognition technology is said to be so advanced that it can reliably be used for bio-metric authentication and even as a means to authorize secure financial transactions. Indeed, Littwin during the aforementioned lecture made a point of noting that the technology was designed with the intention of meeting the stringent security requirements of financial institutions.

All in all, this sounds like a great feature, but it’s still hard to envision facial recognition replacing Touch ID entirely given certain use-case scenarios where a user isn’t looking directly at the screen. Replacing Touch ID would also make using Apple Pay decidedly more awkward. The good news is that we won’t have to wait too much longer to see what the iPhone 8 has in store for us. If all goes according to plan, we can expect Apple to unveil the iPhone 8 at a special media event in just about two months.

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AIRLINES WILL SAVE BILLIONS WITH PILOTLESS PLANES

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

A move to pilot less planes would boost industry profitability. Alternatively, if the cost savings were entirely passed to consumers, tickets could cost much less (11% cheaper in the U.S.). That would be about $40 a ticket based on a average of round trips est cost of $370. A survey of 8,000 people found that 54% of respondents were unlikely to take a pilot less flight. Just 17% of respondents, who were from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia, said they would buy the ticket. Air traffic laws in most of the world require “four-eye-rule” in the cockpit. Two pilots should be present at all times, and if one of them needs to take a break, another member of the crew has to take his or her spot.

The technologies in development today will enable the aircraft to assist and back up the pilot in all the flight phases, removing the pilot from manual control and systems operations in all types of situations. Commercial flights already land with the assistance of on-board computers, and pilots manually fly the aircraft for only a few minutes on average. However, contrary to popular belief, airliners do not fly themselves, even when they’re on autopilot. Pilots are continually monitoring and adjusting aircraft navigation and systems, communicating with air traffic control and preparing for the next phase of the flight. Analysts said the transition to pilot less planes is likely to happen over many years. Cargo planes would likely be first to incorporate the new technology, with commercial flights being the last to go pilot less. The number of pilots needed for each flight could be reduced along the way.

The shift has the potential to save the aviation industry huge amounts of money. Airlines typically employ 10 pilots per aircraft, and reducing their number would result in less spending on training, salaries and other staffing costs. It could also help alleviate an expected pilot shortage over the coming decades. An annual forecast released by Boeing last month said passenger and cargo airlines around the world are expected to buy 41,000 new airliners between 2017 and 2036.

The aviation industry could save $35 billion a year by moving to pilot less planes, according to a new report. Just one problem: The same report warns that only 17% of travelers are willing to fly without a pilot. The technology required to operate remote-controlled planes could appear by 2025. Further advances beyond 2030 might result in automated business jets and helicopters, and finally commercial aircraft without pilots.

 

 

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Walmart Futuristic Delivery Truck

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Walmart and Peterbilt have collaborated on aerodynamic, hybrid, electrification and alternative fuel projects in the past, each with incremental gains in fuel efficiency and emission reductions. The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience tractor combines many of these projects in a single vehicle. “Peterbilt’s goals of producing the most fuel-efficient, aerodynamic, and lightweight trucks in the industry mirror those of Walmart,” said Landon Sproull, chief engineer at Peterbilt. “Our combined efforts help build a business case for these technologies in the future, as well as support one of our best customers.”

Designers used extensive computational fluid dynamics analysis to optimize the truck’s styling. The truck’s shape represents a 20 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag over Walmart’s current Peterbilt Model 386. By placing the cab over the engine, the truck’s wheelbase is greatly shortened, resulting in reduced weight and better maneuverability. Walmart relied on product development supplier to carry out the vehicle’s construction with these detailed design specifications.

 

The truck features a micro turbine Range Extender generator developed by Capstone Turbine Corporation. The company also engineered the truck’s integrated hybrid drivetrain solution. The use of a hybrid powertrain allows the turbine to remain at optimum operating revolutions per minute (RPM), while the electric motor/energy storage handles acceleration and deceleration. A longer-range version of this powertrain would feature a larger turbine and smaller energy storage system.

 

When keyed on, the truck automatically detects the state of charge of the batteries and starts charging them, if needed, using the turbine engine. Charge mode can be manually selected if an operator wishes to “top off” the batteries prior to shutting down. For use in urban areas, the truck will run on electric power alone until the battery state of charge hits 50 percent. At that time the turbine will automatically start and begin charging the batteries.

Innovation is key to improvement, and the project aims to demonstrate a wide range of cutting edge technologies and designs Walmart is considering in an effort to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet and lower the company’s carbon footprint. Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels. The prototype is the result of collaboration between Walmart and many vendors, including Peterbilt, Roush Engineering, Great Dane Trailers and Capstone Turbine. Almost every component on this vehicle is cutting edge and showcases innovations of the future that will drive increased efficiency.

 

 

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Futuristic Transportation Already Testing – Hyperloop One is making Leaps of Speed!

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Nowadays the most common forms of transportation are cars, buses, trains, airplanes, and even boats. We tend to know the safety, reliability, and efficiency of using these vessels. They have been a part of society for many, many years. By using these vessels, we have learned to deal with traffic that causes delays in motor vehicle transportation, airplanes that get delayed for various unforeseen reasons, and boats that also run late due to inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. We have begun to understand and compromise in order to accommodate life’s unknowns that tend to come up.

What if there was another method of transportation that could transport passengers almost as fast as an airplane without hesitation due to the weather or delayed due to traffic? Would you be willing to try it out and make it a part of your daily transportation routine? Well, the people at Hyperloop One believe they have the answer and they have been testing their resolve with the testing of Hyperloop One.

 

Many people wonder what consists of a Hyperloop.  Well it’s an environmentally friendly and efficient new way of transportation.  Many depictions of a hyperloop were in James Bond “The Living Daylights” and “The Polar Express”. Now the dream of the Hyperloop has been brought to life by a company called by the same name “Hyperloop One”. Hyperloop One has begun testing their version of the Hyperloop in Nevada, just north of Las Vegas. Hyperloop One is now on it’s way to getting this new mode of transportation on the market as soon as they can complete their testing to show its ability to not only transport safely, but also faster than any other mode of transportation and equal to that of an airplane, but without the high altitudes.

Hyperloop One anticipates at the peak of the Hyperloop introduction into society, they are anticipating speeds at the speed of sound or 750 miles per hour. The two tests in the desert showed promising. The first test conducted showed the pod tapping out at 2Gs of acceleration and a top speed of 70 Mph. The second test, the company published a video showing the pod tapping out at 192 Mph to give an idea of the direction it is heading towards getting faster and faster in its journey towards the speed of sound.

The mechanics behind the Hyperloop is the Hyperloop One is composed of a 1 passenger pod, which is 28 feet that is composed of aluminum and fiber for its outer shell. The pod was able to reach the top speed of 192 miles per hour in a mere 5 seconds and covering 300 feet before slowing down. Hyperloop one is powered by an electric propulsion system. The pod is pulled along a low-pressure tube by magnetic accelerators which push the pod along the tubes. This system gives the pod its ability to move quickly and slow down equally the same. To deal with air pressure buildup in the front of the pod, the team of Hyperloop One has added air compressors at the front of the pod which moves the air to the rear, while helping to keep the pod aloft by using the air displacement. This new technology could turn a 6 hr trip into a 35 min ride in the Hyperloop.

 

This new mode of transportation is more efficient than conventional rails, water, air, and roads that the world has grown accustomed to using. More overly it is environmentally friendly with zero emissions, faster, and does not use any oil that we are so heavily dependent on currently.  On top of using electric power, the Hyperloop would also be equipped with solar panels which will distribute solar energy making it a low electric energy consumer.

 

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Rolls-Royce Phantom opens doors for an electric future

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Rolls-Royce is in a peculiar position when it comes to imagining the future of luxury transportation. The 112-year-old motor company is the very definition of a luxury car, but much of its auspicious reputation is based on its embodiment of classical luxury, in the tradition of Beethoven, and delectable suicide doors. Rolls-Royce customers expect the best, and as the brand focuses on wooing a younger customer base, tasteful, top-of-the-line technology is becoming paramount to those expectations. The look, tactile feel, and the user experience of that technology fall on its design department to imagine. Giles Taylor is charged with striking that careful balance as design director of Rolls-Royce. His most contemporary response is the brand’s flagship model, the Rolls-Royce Phantom, officially unveiled today in the UK. It is the eighth Phantom model to be produced in the history of the company.

 

The new Phantom is anything but unemotional. Sweeping curves disguise a myriad of sensors, including a touch-sensitive one on the door for valets to use at great affect. A new feature the brand calls “The Gallery” toys with the screen art of the car, featuring the work of commissioned artists as a backdrop option that spans across the dash. The instrument panel is digitized against a 12.3-inch display. Rolls-Royce markets it as “the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce ever.” The clock, however, is analogue. While the Phantom was revealed publicly today, It was first seen in its aluminum space frame flesh at a private viewing for select customers and media in New York City in June. Both Taylor and Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös were there to present the car and describe its nuances. Pageantry is essential to the presentation of a new Rolls-Royce. The brand, owned by parent company BMW, makes every effort to distinguish itself as a distinctly unforgettable British, super luxury car-maker.

 

How this translates into the modern-day eighth generation Phantom is alluded to in design elements such as the shape of the grille, which is presented flush to the car. “We wanted to start to get the grille as an expression of the car rather than a standalone piece, Taylor said. “Does it really need to be there to hide a combustion engine? Finally, the aesthetics can start to grapple with that new sense of freedom.” In a company that grapples with maintaining its classic identity, these structural changes are not made lightly. In a Rolls-Royce, each part of the hand-built interior feels like a jewel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Artificial Intelligence, Rapid Integration, and the move to Consciousness!

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

It has been talked about and brought to life in movies and series such as Star Trek, and I, Robot. In Star Trek we see machines such as Data which is self-aware, but very helpful to human beings and also very protective of the human race. On the other hand we see I, Robot in which the robots choose to use their state of consciousness in order to take over and move to attempt to eliminate the human race. Both are similar in their depiction of Artificial Intelligence being a constantly evolving software that reaches the tipping point to choose to be either “bad” or “good”.

 

 

In the news, articles and shows, the word AI has been used so frequently that most people when they hear the word it doesn’t prime a severe reaction, but maybe a grunt or good read if you are lucky. However, lets peel back the possibilities and see where we are today using Artificial Intelligence. We are rapidly developing AI as a human race on a global scale. The integration of AI in almost every technology has been seamless and most people use AI daily without even realizing the gradual integration. For example, Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are virtual assistants that assist users in making their experience with a device more interactive and memorable. AI in the background gathers and uses the information to be more efficient at helping its owners to achieve any task they desire on their device of choice.

Video games is another noted system integrated with AI which is why the game changes scenes and difficulty levels due to the playing habits and skill level of the user or users playing the games.  The software constantly is learning and using the data from the games being played in order to become better and more efficient. Over the years the types of AI and the ability that the software has compared to years ago is a completely different system now compared to then. One heavily AI integrated game is 2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. In this game, each of the non-player characters have individual personality and memories of past interactions including previous objectives. Other noted games are Call of Duty and Far Cry which use the data gathered by AI to strategize, analyze environments, investigate sounds, and find objects. This AI is a money maker in its usefulness which is why gamers are always spending millions of dollars to keep up with this technology and assist in making it greater.

 

 

 

If you are noticing a rise in “self-driving” cars or cars that can reverse and park on their own, well this is because they have an on-board AI which is constantly learning and can depict the environment to determine when to move the wheel, change gears, or apply the brake in various cases.  In the news lately has been Google’s self-driving car project and Tesla’s auto-driving feature. The algorithm that Google is using for its AI is capable or allowing the AI to learn how to drive in the same manner that humans are capable.

There are so many notable instance of AI in today’s society which include purchase prediction, fraud protection, online customer support, and much more. Some of the more notable aspects are AI being able to monitor security surveillance, recommend movies, smart home devices, and much more. There is even a second layer to the AI intelligence arena which has been noted ahead of its time, but is giving AI the access and data it needs to learn part of us allowing AI to be self-aware and self-reliant? Well the answer to that is no, because every action of AI currently needs commands to be programed in the machine in order for it to learn or gesture in the manner that we see.

 

So the answer to the question is “no”, there is no wave of robots etching to take over the world in the near future as they become self-aware, but with advances in AI including Deep Learning integration, the possibilities of tomorrow are endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jaguar thinks you shouldn’t have to leave your car to pay for gas

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Jaguar and Shell are teaming up to launch a brand-new feature that allows drivers to pay for gasoline without ever leaving their car. Starting today, drivers of select models will be able to use their car’s touchscreen display to pay for fuel at participating gas stations with a new cashless payment app produced by Shell. The feature, which is available in 2018 Jaguar F-PACE, XE, and XF models, utilizes PayPal or Apple Pay to make the secure payments, the British carmaker says, with Android Pay expected to be added later in the year.

The new service will only be available at all of Shell’s UK stations in the near-term, but Jaguar says it expects it to roll out globally later. And this won’t be the only cashless service offered by the carmaker: Jaguar says it is working on similar in-car payment features for parking and drive-through restaurants.

“In a world where cash is no longer king, customers are increasingly using electronic payments and contactless cards,” said Peter Virk, Jaguar Land Rover’s director of Connected Car and Future Technology, in a statement. “Making a payment directly from a car’s touchscreen will make refueling quicker and easier.”

Of course, you’ll still need to leave your car to actually pump the gas, so the time saved by paying with your car’s infotainment system isn’t likely to add up to much. That said, it will be interesting to see whether other carmakers adopt similar services, especially as more attention is focused on transforming the car interior into a smartphone-style gadget.

 

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Is Microsoft Edge Really Safer than Chrome or Firefox?

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Microsoft is heavily pushing their Windows 10-exclusive browser, Edge. Ads built into Windows 10 are now claiming that Edge is “safer” than Chrome and Firefox. How did Microsoft determine that, and is it really true? Microsoft’s claim is based on a report by NSS Labs, a business that sells threat intelligence and risk mitigation guidance to companies. The report tested 304 examples of Socially Engineered Malware (SEM) and phishing pages. They found that SmartScreen, a security feature in Edge, blocked 99% of the SEM samples. Chrome blocked 85.8%, and Firefox blocked 78.3%.

SmartScreen Is Just Part of the Picture

To understand what this means, you need to understand how SmartScreen works. Microsoft SmartScreen was first introduced in Internet Explorer 7 as “Phishing Filter,” and has been improved upon in each release since. Chrome and Firefox have similar warnings, but nothing quite like the bright red pages in Edge. These features check web pages and applications against lists of known good and bad items. So NSS Labs’ test essentially found that when it comes to malware and phishing pages, Microsoft has better lists. But SmartScreen is only one part of a browser’s security. While tools like SmartScreen are helpful, they should hardly be your only line of defense. You should still be using a good antivirus program in conjunction with something like MalwareBytes to protect yourself if something slips through, or if something comes from another attack vector. Those programs often come with their own blockers, too, as shown below. So yes, Edge may “block 21% more Socially Engineered Malware,” but that doesn’t mean it’s 21% more secure, or that security is even quantifiable. There’s a lot more going on in modern web browsers to keep you safe.

The Other Security Features That Matter

With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the other security features you’ll find in modern browsers, and how Edge stacks up to Chrome and Firefox. Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome have both fully implemented sandboxing tech. Sandboxes break up each component of the browser—tabs, windows, and plugins, for example—into individual processes. These processes are prohibited from interacting with each other or with outside processes, making it much more difficult for malicious code to spread across your computer.

Splitting a browser into several processes can also improve performance with modern multi-core processors, though it comes at the expense of higher RAM usage. Firefox, on the other hand, launched in 2004, when the concept of sandboxing was very new. Right now, it only sandboxes media plugins, but Mozilla is working on Electrolysis, a project to make Firefox multi-process and sandbox the browser. Unlike Internet Explorer, though, which was able to introduce sandboxing in version 10, Firefox had to worry about maintaining compatibility with almost 13 years of extensions, which is why this transition has been so slow.

So when it comes to sandboxing, Edge definitely has an edge (pun intended) over Firefox, but it’s on pretty level ground with Chrome. Ever wonder why your browser updates so often? Developers are constantly patching to fix security flaws. Of course, only users who install the updates are protected. Automatic updates help ensure that most people run current, protected versions of the web browser.

Google Chrome is the poster child for automatic software updates. They are installed quickly and quietly when users close the web browser. Firefox introduced a similar silent updates feature in 2012. Microsoft Edge updates automatically as well, although those patches are delivered through Windows Update. (This is one of the big reasons you shouldn’t turn off automatic Windows updates.) There’s one downside to Edge’s approach, though: Windows updates generally come at a slower rate than Chrome or Firefox’s browser-only updates, and you must restart your computer for Edge’s updates to take effect. Microsoft has said that in the future, they will start delivering some Edge updates through the Windows Store, which will help ensure Edge users stay up to date.

Privacy Protection

All three major web browsers feature some sort of privacy mode (InPrivate on Edge, Incognito on Chrome, and Private Browsing on Firefox). When the privacy window is closed, all history, cookies, and cached data is removed, leaving nothing behind on your computer. However, this doesn’t prevent websites or advertisers from tracking you.

Firefox has a clearer advantage in this area. In 2015, Firefox introduced Tracking Protection, which removes known tracking elements from pages visited in Private Browsing. In addition, the Tor Browser is based on Firefox’s source code, and adds new privacy and security features to help protect the anonymity of its users. Because it uses the same code base, it’s possible to port changes back from TOR to Firefox. Called the “uplift” program, the two teams started working closely together in 2016. First Party Isolation is the first anti-tracking feature brought from Tor to Firefox, with more in the pipeline. It’s also worth noting that unlike Google and Microsoft, Firefox does not make money from tracking users or selling targeted ads. The larger companies are incentivized not to improve your privacy.

The Bottom Line

Right now, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have very similar security features. The claim that Edge is “safer” than Chrome merely comes from the fact that Microsoft keeps a better list of bad websites than Chrome does, though if you’re protecting yourself well with antivirus and anti-malware software, you should be pretty safe. Mozilla Firefox is behind the other two large browsers, but is on track to catch up in 2017. It is, however, currently better at protecting your privacy, so at least it has its own advantages.

 

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