3 key tech developments for your smart home from CES


While this year’s CES hasn’t necessarily born any great surprises in debuting home tech, it has revealed that smart home tech is becoming the norm rather than niche as more big brands reveal their connected home products to the masses. Last year we saw a lot of the first wave of smart home devices with a particular focus on the basics like smart lighting and home security. Now everyday home products are rising to the challenge. Here’s what has our attention:

1. Voice control and connectivity are key



A new survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate and Vivint Smart Homes found that smart home device owners overwhelmingly want voice control, particularly to operate entertainment devices. Since the huge popularity of Amazon’s Alexa, not to mention the increased functionality of Siri and the recent addition of Google Home, voice-controlled assistants are becoming an integral part of the connected home.

You can operate Samsung’s  VR7000 robot vacuum cleaner through voice controls and open and close simplehuman‘s voice activated garbage can with “Open can” or “Open sesame”. This extends to increased product capabilities. For example, the VR7000 has the ability to map out rooms and optimize its cleaning depending on floor type, whilst the simplehuman garbage can will be able to keep stock of your garbage bags and upon depletion automatically order more through Amazon’s Dash Replacement service.

The year at CES, Whirlpool announced the launch of 21 Alexa enabled devices in both the kitchen and laundry. For example, Whirlpool Scan-to-Cook technology sends cooking instructions and settings straight from a frozen food packages’ UPC barcode to the brand’s microwave, wall oven or range via the Whirlpool mobile app.

GE also announced a partnership with Nest enabling its’ smoke detector to turn off connected ovens if you burn dinner or notify you if an appliance remains on in your absence. GE is also pairing with the Drop Connected Kitchen Scale which will be able to communicate with smart GE ovens and tell them to preheat to the proper temperature at the appropriate time. Consumers have been asking for this kind of interoperability and it looks like it’s finally emerging.

2. Fridges are more than just cold storage



Samsung has released a new collection of smart fridges, expanding to 10 models under the name Family Hub 2.0 with a number of updates since it’s original predecessor in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the fridge can now also be controlled via voice commands and it can provide recipe suggestions based on the contents of your fridge and allow you to order food as images of the items you need can be added to the shopping list feature and ordered directly via the Groceries by MasterCard app.  Each family member can create a profile enabling individual calendars and lists as well as connected internet radio. That said, I’m still unconvinced of the value of a $6000 fridge in the home of most people, especially when we are either wearing or in close proximity to a suite of other connected devices already and I still prefer Smarter’s FridgeCam at a mere $149.


3. Devices are engaging with utilities



On first consideration, a smart shower head may seem like a rather surplus device. But if you’re in a period of drought, dealing with a roommate who takes hour long showers or wanting to save money on home utilities it’s are a practical addition to the home. Made by a French start-up, the Hydrao First lights up the water spray with different colors depending on the amount of water used. Powered by the shower’s natural water-flow, no external power supply is needed. It therefore, allows you to instantly control your water consumption and the energy needed to heat it. You can even track how much water you’ve used and how much money you’ve saved on your water and energy bills through a corresponding app or by (of course) asking Alexa.

In a similar vein, the Moen U smart shower includes a wall outlet and smartphone app that can change water temperature before use, set timers and automatically turn your shower on off after a specified time.

There’s also the Haiku L Series Fan that senses when you’re in the room, automatically changing to the preferred temperature. It syncs with Nest’s  Learning Thermostat and can provide insight into your usage, contributing to energy bill savings.

Home consumers are now focusing more attention on everyday living home products. They want a seamless user experience where products communicate with each other and information flows in ways that make life easier. The present price points make many smart home appliances prohibitive to all but in time they will drop in price and become more prevalent.

The challenges for the foreseeable future will be:  the problem of early adopters who make their allegiance too early (for example to Nest or Alexa) but may later wish to switch platforms; whether products over the next few years will have value over a sustained period of time as technology becomes more advanced and of course the ever present, challenges of cyber security. Perhaps next year’s CES will offer more insights.

[Source: Readwrite]

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves

Once launched, the swarm can decide for itself how best to execute a mission.


What’s small, fast, and is launched from the bottom of a fighter jet? Not missiles, but a swarm of drones.

U.S. military officials have announced that they’ve carried out their largest ever test of a drone swarm released from fighter jets in flight. In the trials, three F/A-18 Super Hornets released 103 Perdix drones, which then communicated with each other and went about performing a series of formation flying exercises that mimic a surveillance mission.


But the swarm doesn’t know how, exactly, it will perform the task before it’s released. As William Roper of the Department of Defense explained in a statement:

Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature. Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.

Releasing drones from a fast-moving jet isn’t straightforward, as high speeds and turbulence buffet them, causing them damage. But the Perdix drone, originally developed by MIT researchers and named after a Greek mythical character who was turned into a partridge, is now in its sixth iteration and able to withstand speeds of Mach 0.6 and temperatures of -10 °C during release.

A Washington Post report last year explained that they had been developed as part of a $20 million Pentagon program to augment the current fleet of military drones. It’s hoped that the small aircraft, which weigh around a pound each and are relatively inexpensive because they’re made from off-the-shelf components, could be dropped by jets to perform missions that would usually require much larger drones, like the Reaper.

Clearly, they’re well on the way to being that useful. Now the Pentagon is working with its own Silicon Valley-style innovation organization, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, to build fleets of the micro-drones. [MIT Tech. Review]

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
Meet the World’s First Completely Soft Robot

Researchers use an ingenious design to make a soft robot that moves on its own.


The “octobot” is a squishy little robot that fits in the palm of your hand and looks like something in a goody bag from a child’s birthday party. But despite its quirky name and diminutive size, this bot represents an astonishing advance in robotics.

According to the Harvard researchers who created it, it’s the first soft robot that is completely self-contained. It has no hard electronic components—no batteries or computer chips—and moves without being tethered to a computer.

The octobot is basically a pneumatic tube with a very cute exterior. To make it move, hydrogen peroxide—much more concentrated than the kind in your medicine cabinet—is pumped into two reservoirs inside the middle of the octobot’s body. Pressure pushes the liquid through tubes inside the body, where it eventually hits a line of platinum, catalyzing a reaction that produces a gas. From there, the gas expands and moves through a tiny chip known as a microfluidic controller. It alternately directs the gas down one half of the octobot’s tentacles at a time.

The alternating release of gas is what makes the bot do what looks like a little dance, wiggling its tentacles up and down and moving around in the process. The octobot can move for about eight minutes on one milliliter of fuel.


So how do you even build something like this? “You have to make all the parts yourself,” says Ryan Truby, a graduate student in Jennifer Lewis’s lab at Harvard, where the materials half of this research is taking place. The mold for the octopus shape and the microfluidic chip were among the things developed nearby in Robert Woods’s lab.   

The octobot is made out of materials that most microfluidics labs have on hand. But it took the researchers 300 tries to get the recipe right. First they place a microfluidic chip in an empty, custom-made octopus mold. Then they pour a silicone mixture into the mold, covering the chip. After they use a 3-D printer to inject lines of ink into the silicone, they bake it for four days. This seals the shape of the octobot and makes one of the inks evaporate, leaving behind hollow vessels through which the pressurized gas will flow.

Still missing are sensing and programming abilities that would afford more control over the robot’s movement. But the octobot is purposefully minimalist, meant just to show that such a soft robot can be made at all.


A researcher measures a silicone mixture that will form the body of the octobot.

A platinum ink is prepped for extrusion through a 3-D printer.
Molds like this are used to form the robot’s distinctive shape.
At the center of the octobot is a soft microfluidic chip, which acts as the bot’s “brain,” directing the motion of all eight tentacles.
The first step in assembly is pouring the silicone mixture into the mold.
Next, a 3-D printer squeezes out lines of ink, which will be suspended in the silicone body. The platinum ink will help turn liquid hydrogen peroxide into gas to move the tentacles; another ink will pave the way for vessels throughout the bot that the gas will travel through. 
The full array of tools and molds the researchers use to create these bots. It took 300 tries to get the octobot to work.
A close-up of the microfluidic chip that goes inside the bot.
The mill used to create the octobot mold.
The octobot is usually colorless. Flashy dyes are sometimes added for illustrative purposes.
The colors here show the alternating routes that the gas can take through the bot, moving half of the tentacles at a time and helping it wiggle. The bot is about two inches long.
Just for fun, the ink can glow under a black light. [MIT Technology Review]
January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
Vocal Biomarkers: New Opportunities in Prevention


The line has a long tradition in literature and cinematography. Its earliest presence might be in the Tales of One Thousand and One Nights by storyteller Scheherezade. In one of her stories her voice reveals a princess dressed in male cloths to a dervish; and he uses this exact line to tell her, he knows he is in fact female.

It has been commonplace since ancient times to spot liars based on their voices. Secret services such as the FBI currently also uses speech patterns in determining the truth value of statements. In an interview with CNBC, former FBI negotiator, Chris Voss said, “only 7 per cent of a message is based on the words, while 38 per cent comes from the tone of voice and 55 per cent from the speaker’s body language and face”. In the television series Lie to Me! the main character played by Tim Roth solved countless crimes based on body language as well as through recognizing lies from the intonation and cadence of the bad guys.


Your Voice Reveals You - Vocal Biomarkers


According to the latest scientific studies, it is definitely not negative, if your voice betrays you. On the contrary! The characteristics of your voice – or as medicine labels them, vocal biomarkers – reveals a lot about your health; and help in detecting serious diseases and health risks.

The term “biomarker”, the shortened version of “biological marker” refers to medical signs, which indicate the medical state observed from outside the patient. So while patients sense symptoms, medical professionals measure biomarkers. Currently, they take into account all kinds of objective, quantifiable biomarkers ranging from biochemical, radiology markers to various health parameters. And as you could have guessed already, vocal biomarkers are medical signs deducted from the features of your voice.


Sound of Your Voice Helps Detect Diseases - Vocal BiomarkersVocal biomarkers have an amazing potential in reforming diagnostics through their accuracy, speed and cost-effectiveness.


They are able to detect some diseases earlier than an average check-up process; and an earlier diagnosis could essentially be the difference between life and death in relation to certain illnesses. It is an amazing area of medicine, and the field is buzzing. More and more start-ups are eager to join in: Beyond Verbal, Sonde Health or the Berlin-based Audio Profiling. The tech giant, IBM is teaming its Watson AI supercomputer with academic researchers to try to predict from speech patterns whether patients are likely to develop a psychotic disorder. Even the US Army got interested! In May, 2016 it launched a partnership with MIT researchers with the goal of developing an FDA-approved device to detect brain injury. But that’s not all!


Let me show you the potential areas where diagnosticians could use vocal biomarkers successfully!


Voice Analysis - Vocal Biomarkers


An Israeli company, Beyond Verbal deals with emotion analytics and provides voice analysis software. It has announced that its algorithms were successful in helping to detect the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD) in a group of patients.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2016; carried out in cooperation with Mayo Clinic. It involved a double-blind study with 120 patients undergoing both an angiography and a voice analysis; and a group of controls. Beyond Verbal used a smartphone app to measure their voice signal prior to a coronary angiograph. One voice characteristic in particular indicated an almost 20-fold increase in the likelihood of CAD. Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal said that these vocal features are not audible by the human ear alone.

Now, imagine all the implications of the research! Imagine how easy it would be if medical professionals could identify patients with CAD over a phone call! There would be no need to go to the doctors’ office, wait for hours for costly examinations and days for the results.


CAD identification over phone call - Vocal Biomarkers


Sonde Health Inc., a Boston-based company develops a voice-based technology platform for monitoring and diagnosing mental and physical medical conditions, with the help of a technology licensed from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Researchers designed the technology to enable analysis of brief voice samples to screen and monitor for a range of mental and physical medical concerns based on subtle changes in acoustic characteristics of the speaker’s voice.

“The ability to help recognize early signs of psychiatric illness and monitor treatment responses on devices that people already own is an important step in moving from reactive to preventive care,” said Aimee Danielson, Ph.D., Director, Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “This would be particularly useful in conditions that are chronically underdiagnosed, like perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression.”

Another Boston-based company, Cogito, is developing a voice analysis app. The US Department of Veterans Affairs started to use it already to monitor the mood of service members. Its testing also started on patients with bipolar disorder and depression. It is amazing how they are able to detect depression in individuals based on a brief sample of spoken words! I hope the technology will be widely available soon.


Vocal Biomarkers


It is time-consuming, difficult and expensive to carry out standard medical tests for Parkinson’s disease. Scientists found though that the chronic illness affects limb movements as much as voice – and some of them started to develop a technology for easier diagnosing the illness. Through voice.

For proving the efficiency of the new diagnostic tool, a couple of researchers started the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative. It aims to record 10,000 voices across the world – to collect enough recordings to introduce the jaw-dropping technology on a wider scale.

This could enable some radical breakthroughs, because voice-based tests are as accurate as clinical tests, but additionally, medical professionals could administer them remotely, and patients can do the tests themselves. Also, they are high speed (take less than 30 seconds), and are ultra low cost. So, they are massively scalable. Amazing, isn’t it? Would you like to facilitate the great cause? You’ve got the chance to participate in their smartphone data-gathering or PVA Voice test, so do it!


Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease - Vocal Biomarkers


In 2016, Beyond Verbal announced the launch of Beyond mHealth Research Platform. It aims to collaborate with research institutes, hospitals, businesses, and universities to collectively search for unique markers in voice samples.

This is a fantastic idea since more data could lead to more accurate results and better solutions for patients. One of them might be the use of AI algorithms for analyzing billions of voice samples and suggesting a potential diagnosis. Beyond Verbal, which has gathered more than 2.5 million voice samples in 40 languages, wants to build such an algorithm with a virtual assistance. Thus, it encourages other institutions, researchers and others interested in collecting voice data through smart cars, the Internet of Things devices in smart homes or personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. It is a wonderful idea and I hope they will succeed!


Beyond Verbal - Vocal Biomarkers


It’s obvious that we need more research in the field of vocal biomarkers. We also need not to forget the ethical issues concerning the voice recordings. Although algorithms analyzing samples may not be interested in the content of the speech; nevertheless listening to someone talking to someone else over the phone and analyzing the vocal biomarkers in it, could constitute a serious breach of privacy. What should we do about that?

Well, regulators need to keep up with the development of the field of vocal biomarkers, and consider privacy issues before the sea of vocal analytics apps reach the market. [The Medical Futurist]

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
The 10 Best Health Technology Innovations at CES 2017

For geeks and gadget-lovers the year does not usually start with the 1st January, but a couple of days later, when CES opens in Las Vegas. It is even more exciting this year, since the exhibition celebrates its 50th anniversary – so it is obviously bigger and better than ever before.

It’s almost impossible to collect and analyse every novelty appearing at the fair, and I’m certainly more interested in the coolest health sensors and trackers than the announcement of T-Mobile making customer bills much simpler (although that’s relevant, too), but there are some palpable trends. Here are the two most important.


CES 2017


  • Tech companies and start-ups jumped eagerly on the ‘smart’-train, so your phone’s sensor might actually tell you which strawberry is sweeter or what is hiding in your fridge, but I do not think that creating smart apps, gadgets or technology for the sake of data is enough. I believe that instead of the tech version of l’art pour l’art, companies and start-ups should rather strengthen behavioral change. So smart objects and apps do not only gather information about the users or the environment for the sake of data, but in order to (ultimately) achieve a better life.
  • Looking through the latest technologies presented at CES – I have to emphasize that not every product was introduced at the tech gathering, but they certainly get here the most attention -, I believe real innovation is missing. According to the most trending chart created by CES, one of the most used buzzword (next to spidermanhomecoming) was “upgrade”. It is obvious, isn’t it? Instead of impacting, long-lasting, real innovation, tech companies are mostly upgrading their already existing products. Which is also quite exciting and requires a lot of work, it just indicates more of a gradual than a disruptive process.

However, no matter how the big picture looks like, there are still truly inspiring and forward-looking innovations out there with great potential for medicine and healthcare.


Health Technology at CES 2017


No, apnoea is not an exotic snake type. It is actually a very dangerous health condition. It means that breathing stops periodically during sleeping. Apnoea might generate hypertension, heart disease, brain attacks, diabetes or somnolence. Neogia offers a smart solution for recognizing the problem and normalizing sleep. Its wearable, MOTIO HW detects sleep apnoea and improves sleeping quality via a personalized artificial intelligence that learns about the user.


Neogia - CES 2017


If you have a small child, you know how difficult it is to measure the sweet little baby’s temperature. There are always some movements, plush animals or bodily fluids involved. Now, the struggle is over. TempTraq offers a patch-like smart device, which monitors body temperature 24/7. It continuously senses, records, and sends temperature data to mobile devices so caregivers can keep track without unnecessarily disturbing the child. It is amazing due to its double effect: it will calm the mom down, while letting the baby sleep.


TempTraq - CES 2017


QardioCore promises a discreet as well as easily usable hearth monitor without patches and wires. The FDA-approved, medical-grade wearable uses sensors to record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data, which can be shared with medical professionals or synced to the free Qardio app or Apple’s Health app on iPhone or iPad. It was first introduced at CES 2015, and the first batch of these smart and tiny chest straps will be shipped to their lucky users as early as April 2017.


QardioCore - CES 2017


What if reaching 10 thousand steps a day is actually great for your annoying co-worker, Nathan, but bad for your health? Every single person has a different body in need of a personalized fitness plan and health solution. And Mio Slice wants to take that into account. At first sight, it looks and acts like a fitness tracker. It measures steps, calories burned, distance, all day heart rate and sleep. However, it adds to it its very own Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) index. PAI provides you with a personalised target score which reflects your body’s response to physical activity based on heart rate. It can reform the market of fitness trackers!



If you’ve ever been to any of the invisible exhibition series, you already got a limited impression how difficult it is to navigate through the world if you cannot see your surroundings. Aira is eager to help everyone who has problems with vision. Using a pair of smart glasses or a phone camera, the system allows an Aira “agent” to see what the blind person sees in real-time, and then talk them through whatever situation they’re in. It would be a bit easier crossing a busy street, shopping for dinner or finding the light switch. You could even help the company by becoming their agent! Stunning technology!


AIRA Glasses - CES 2017


Expecting a baby comes with a lot of worries and stress. Is the little one healthy? Safe? Am I doing okay? Is my wife or girlfriend doing okay? Bloomlife wants to help every concerned parent-to-be out there. They developed a “pregnancy wearable”, a patch with a small device that sticks to the baby bump and measures contractions by reading the electrical activity of uterine muscle. It sends the information to your smart phone and lets you read and interpret the data. This way, you can make a difference between false alarms such as Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing. Also, one of the most awesome idea of the start-up is that you do not need to buy the wearable. Since it is useful for you only for a limited time, the company is leasing the product instead of selling it. Great marketing, guys!


Bloomlife - CES 2017


Okay, if you dread to think of panpipe music, this app will not work for you, but in most cases 2breathe’s sleep inducer has a pretty good success rate. It combines a Bluetooth sensor, a smartphone app and some soothing panpipe melodies. The wearable around your waist analyses your breathing patterns, and then your phone gives out guidance in the form of smooth, lilting melodic tones to prolong exhalation and reduce brain activity, thus making you sleepy. It’s pretty easy. And believe me, you do not have to count sheep anymore before falling into a sweet dream.


2breathe - CES 2017


Do you find fitness trackers and wearables too big, too visible, too uncomfortable and never matching your outfit? For a long time, companies and start-ups are experimenting with the idea of stuffing all their features into a tiny ring. Now, I believe Motiv succeeded. Its ring acts like a fitness tracker – with step counter, heart rate monitor or sleep tracker. It also withstands the elements – so you can wear it during swimming as well as on the North Pole. The ring is elegant, stylish and tasteful.


MOTIV fitness ring - CES 2017


Your facial skin is one of the best indicator of your health due to its sensitivity. It responds to your mood, stress level and changes in the environment. Thus, it needs your peculiar attention. S-Skin wants to help you achieving it. It is made up of a microneedle patch and a portable device that can help analyse your skin, give you solutions and even suggest products that you’ll be able to use. Through the LED light, it can measure your skin’s dryness, hydration, redness, or melanin and then save the information on the app so you can track its changes.

Bodytrak is a unique wearable and vital signs meter. It measures biometric information from your ear. It is not well-known that the ear is actually a great spot for measurement, but I believe when the hype around the wrist will calm down, start-ups and tech companies will find the ear irresistible for their innovations. Although by that time, Bodytrak will be way before them. Its device measures body temperature, heart rate, VO2, speed, distance and cadence – continuously – and all in real-time. Moreover, since it fits nicely into your ear, you can listen to music and make telephone calls as well. What a win-win situation!


Bodytrak - CES 2017


So, these were this year’s hits. And what about the flops?…

Don’t be surprised if you see bearded hipsters in bird-shirts with Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes brushing their hair elegantly at the metro station. The smart hairbrush is here eagerly claiming its place in the universe of smart devices. L’Oreal teamed up with Withings to create the dream of bored princesses: the smart hairbrush. It is able to tell you whether you are brushing your hair too hard causing irreparable hair damage. Wow! What an indispensable piece of information! Sounds the Kérastase Hair Coach will rock your world…


Smart Hairbrush - CES 2017


Wait, what? Yes, you read it correctly. ReNu apparently offers a stress management kit with all kinds of stuff in it. At first, you are supposed to use some sort of supplements in the form of a cream or chewable nutrients (???) that the company says are “all-natural amino acids”. Then you need to take on the headset and place a couple of small patches behind your ears. These patches are apparently going to absorb the nutrients then. The stimulation is said to prepare the brain for the company’s proprietary software, which is delivered in the form of binaural audio. Which sends calming vibes to your brain.


ReNU Stress Management - CES 2017


Umm, okay. Well, I’m not sure about you, but having read only the instruction and not even thinking about the scientific implications here makes me already pretty tense, just as assembling an IKEA furniture. Let’s just say diplomatically that I would give it a pass… [The Medical Futurist]


January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
The Technologies We’re Most Fired Up to Watch in 2017


Covering technology is exhilarating.

Each year is filled with unforeseen surprises—advances we thought were years away, unexpected technology applications (like AI used for mental healthcare), and unlikely startups reimagining entire markets.

These breakthroughs keep Singularity Hub’s team of tech-enthusiasts on our toes around the clock. Though we can’t forecast like famous futurist Ray Kurzweil, many of us have a favorite technology or two that we constantly track.

Moving into the new year, these are some of the technologies we’ll be eagerly watching in 2017 and beyond.


Artificial Intelligence

“AI really made headlines this year. AlphaGo was on the tongue, OpenAI got a billion dollars to develop ethical AI, and toddlers talked to Google Home and Amazon Echo. (This generation won’t remember when they couldn’t converse with computers.) The first two developments are fascinating, but the third may be more immediately relevant. The idea of X product + AI will get legs next year—but it’s the surprises I’m most looking forward to.”

–Jason Dorrier, Managing Editor



“Cybersecurity means a lot of things to a lot of people, and often one person’s definition is at total odds with another’s. For me, I long for the type of unbeatable encryption promised by quantum computing, because quantum computing is going to make today’s encryption worthless. It’s something of a sinister race between computing power, encryption, and political motives. Meanwhile, billions of smart gadgets are coming online, and most of us already conduct our daily lives by digital means. With governments demanding access to digital devices and histories, I fear loss of citizen privacy, but still have faith in the democratization of cybersecurity.”

–Matthew Straub, Digital Engagement Manager (the voice behind Singularity Hub’s social media)


Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Networks

“I’m most excited about the future of decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) networks. As we’ve seen with the sharing economy, it may be all too easy for a small startup to siphon the wealth of a local community sharing resources amongst themselves. We can use technologies like blockchain, cryptocurrencies and BitTorrent to redefine value by integrating blockchain-based democratic decision making, decentralized peer-run organizations, and organizational principles from platform cooperativism. Ultimately, as this trend continues, we’ll have an opportunity to regenerate local economies with the resources already available instead of extracting value where there isn’t much to begin with.”

–Andrew O’Keefe, Media Producer


Technology-Aided Learning

“Over the last few years there have been great cases of technology used to enhance classroom learning, like VR experiences that take students inside the bloodstream or into Darwin’s lab to assemble a skeleton. This year, Zuckerberg Education Ventures invested in Volley, an AI learning assistant for students. The application provides students links to additional resources and highlights critical information when a user points their smartphone’s camera at a homework assignment or textbook page. In 2017, I’ll be watching for a new wave of AI applications focused on improving classroom learning for students with unique learning needs by providing resources like customized learning plans and personalized evaluations. Volley talks about ‘engineering for knowledge,’ and I’m hoping to see a lot more of this in the coming year.”

–Alison E. Berman, Staff Writer


Global High-Speed Internet:

“In November, SpaceX submitted an application to the FCC to launch over 4,000 satellites into space to envelop Earth in high-speed internet, providing connectivity to even the most remote areas of the planet. If approved, SpaceX’s plan will pose serious competition to Google’s Project Loon, which has the same mission. Besides seeing which method has more success, it will be exciting to watch the effects of increased connectivity on the global population, particularly in developing nations that have yet to solve larger challenges related to education, healthcare, and access to natural resources.”

–Vanessa Bates Ramirez, Associate Editor


Personal Synthetic Biology Lab

“I have a fantasy that one day in the future, I will be able to design, create and grow different types of biological products at home — anything from perfumes and medicine to cool materials like mushroom leather. The day when anyone can have an easy-to-use biological manufacturing facility at home is still a ways off, but the first step to that future is having something like the Amino Lab to learn bioengineering and start small, like making bacteria that grows.”

–Sveta McShane, Production Manager


Machine Learning and Autonomous Vehicles

In 2017, we will truly begin to see the coming disruption self-driving vehicles will have on our society and future. Open source machine learning agents, more advanced algorithms, and better hardware technologies are bringing this autonomous reality closer. Tesla has already said vehicles now being produced have the hardware for level 5 autonomy capabilities (no need for steering wheel or brakes). Down the road, when the algorithm is ready, Tesla may make these cars autonomous with a software update.

–Kirk Nankivell, Web Production Editor

Originally published in SingularityHub

January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , ,
You Can Now Wear a Nanoscale Archive of 1,000 Languages Around Your Neck


The future depends on how well we’ve preserved the past. Tomorrow’s breakthroughs are built from today’s innovation. To continue the trend, we must keep preserving information properly for future generations. If we leave indecipherable records, important knowledge is trapped in plain sight.

While we’ve made progress, the dream of completely preserving knowledge across generations escapes us still, and digital bits are particularly vulnerable. There’s no guarantee our digital tools will be available forever—even a century from now. And without them, much knowledge and culture will be inaccessible, left rusting away on impenetrable hard drives.

The Long Now Foundation focuses on this vision of long-term cultural preservation, and the preservation of language—a prime tool of culture—is central to their quest.

“Fifty to ninety percent of the world’s languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, many with little or no significant documentation,” according to Long Now. To save these languages, the foundation invented a rather ingenious solution.

rosetta_wearable_and_rosetta_v1_disk-1_300pxEmbedded in a sphere of steel and glass, the “Rosetta Disk” is a physical disk containing over 13,000 pages etched with information on over 1,500 different human languages. The disk itself is made of electroformed nickel, contains useful information down to the nanoscale, was built to withstand multiple generations, and only requires basic technology to read—a microscope.

That is, massive amounts of critical information stored away, no computer required.

According to the Long Now website, the disk “serves as a means to focus attention on the problem of digital obsolescence, and ways we might address that problem through creative archival storage methods.”

Depending on what the future holds, the Rosetta Disk may be the only chance for certain languages to survive beyond living members. But there’s only a few such disks.

So, the Long Now foundation decided to simplify, miniaturize, and distribute.

Now, anybody can own and wear the Rosetta Disk on a necklace. Shrunken down to a wearable size of two centimeters in diameter, the Rosetta Wearable Disk gives anyone the ability to wear the key to human language for future generations.



To make the disk wearable, the language selection was limited to around 1,000 from over 1,500. And the text included was simplified too. Chosen from freely available information to support open access, the final documents placed on the disk include:


rosetta_wearable_spiral_graphic_side_300pxAdhering to the principles of  “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe,” the wearable Rosetta Disk has taken the first step towards preservation at scale for an archive of this magnitude. (And a copy of the full-size disk is currently sitting on a comet, deep in space.)

While the disk itself is a little pricey—a $1,000 lifetime membership donation to the Long Now—the value of the information and efforts behind it is immeasurable. For now, the wearable disk is only available as a limited numbered edition.

Over time, we’ll see how the project unfolds.

But you don’t need to own a disk to access the library. The archive is freely available online, including an interactive graphic for browsing.


January 11, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
Visualisation of Deep Neural Networks

In this video Matthew Zeiler, PhD, Founder and CEO of Clarifai Inc talks about large convolutional neural networks. These networks have recently demonstrated impressive object recognition performance making real world applications possible.


Neural Network algorithms are capable to transform computers into artists that can generate breathtaking paintings, music and even poetry. Are you interested in neural networks and its application? Let us know in the comments how you plan to use this technology in your products.

January 9, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Intel made a PC as powerful as a MacBook that fits in your wallet

Intel’s latest invention is called Compute Card, and it’s a PC that you can carry around in your pocket. Intel made tiny PCs before, the Compute Sticks that you can connect to a monitor and enable a full Windows experience, but the Compute Card is even smaller than that. It looks like a slimmed down smartphone, one that has no screen. But it can be as powerful as some laptops, including Apple’s 12-inch Retina MacBook.

The Compute Card measures 94.5 x 55 x 5 mm Ars Technica reports and includes everything you need in a computer: CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, and wireless connectivity.

It’s a modular PC concept if you will, and that’s exactly the thinking behind it. The Compute Card holds all the smarts that may power a TV or a smart connected device. Pull it out and replace it with a new one every few years, and the device is going to stay fresh.

The Compute Card can be as powerful as a MacBook because it supports the kind of low-power Intel processors that you’d find in such fanless laptops. So expect Core M and Y-series Core i5 and i7 CPUs to be found in these cards.

After all, even the MacBook’s motherboard is very small, a feature Apple highlighted when it first unveiled the laptop:




When it comes to connectivity, the Compute Card uses a variation of the USB-C port called USB-C plus extension to connect to the system that’s used with the Compute Card. The connector then gives devices direct access to other ports, including USB, PCIe, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

The Compute Card will run any operating system you can load on a low-end PC, including Windows and Linux.

It’s unclear at this time what commercial products would work with it, or how much the Compute Card would cost. Ars says that Intel will reveal more details about it in mid-2017, with companies including Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp expected to make their own announcement. There’s always a chance these cars will power digital kiosks, signage screens, and other commercial equipment rather than home gadgets. [BGR]

January 6, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
Link… The tiny 2 TB personal cloud could solve all your storage problems

This tiny wireless SSD makes sure your iPhone never runs out of storage


Smartphones are getting more and more built-in storage these days, but that doesn’t change the fact that many users are still stuck with older versions that have inadequate storage. That’s especially true for iPhones, since storage can’t be expanded via microSD cards like it can on most Android handsets and tablets out there. But if you’re looking for more storage on-the-go, there’s a new pocket-sized device to check out, the Fasetto Link.

The Fasetto Link can offer up to 2TB of SSD storage and it connects to devices wirelessly, which makes it easy to use with a mobile phone such as an iPhone or Android device. According to The Verge, the Fasetto Link is shock resistant and waterproof (IP68 rating), and it has a built-in battery that can be recharged via USB-C.



The device comes in different versions, storage-wise, including 256GB, 512GB, and 2TB, priced at $349, $499, and $1,149, respectively. The compact V-NAND SSD inside is supposed to be incredibly fast, boasting read speeds of up to 2.5GB/s, and write speeds of up to 1.5GB/s.




The Fasetto Link has a modular design that lets you attach an extra battery (priced at $29), or an LTE expansion module ($149). That’s right, you can use the gadget as a mobile hotspot if you pay extra for the LTE module. Connectivity wise, you can expect dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE support from all models.

The built-in battery lasts for five hours of continuous use or two weeks of standby. When it comes to overall size, the gadget measures 50.8 x 50.8 x 25.4 mm, or 2 x 2 x 1 inches. The Fasetto Link comes in two color options, and it is available for preorder right away at this link.

Check out the video below to learn more about this nifty new storage accessory.


Fasetto Link CES 2017 from Black Book on Vimeo.


January 6, 2017 / by / in , , , , , , ,
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