News, Technology

App that could help endangered species is backed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

fishbrain

If you want to help protect endangered species, there’s a new app that might facilitate that. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said Monday it’s teaming up with Sweden-based FishBrain to develop a social, free-to-use app that might make a difference for local wildlife. The app can be downloaded for Apple and Android devices. Anglers are among the most likely people to

News, Technology

The world’s most powerful laser just fired in Japan

Image: Juergen Faelchle/Shutterstock.com

Japanese researchers have just fired the most powerful laser ever fired on Earth, producing a 2 petawatt pulse – 2 quadrillion watts. Located at the Osaka University, the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiment (LFEX) has a concentrated energy equivalent of 1,000 times the world’s electricity consumption. However, it could only be sustained for a trillionth of a second. The LFEX laser projector is about

News, Robotics, Technology

A Chinese factory replaced 90% of its employees with robots – production soared soon after

A 2010 photo shows assembly line workers at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, a city in southern China. Shifts are 12 hours, with two breaks for meals at a company cafeteria. Robots don't have to eat though or take a break. Hence robots are better.

Evenwin Precision Technology, an electronics processing company, sacked 90% of its employees, replaced them with robots and saw productivity soar. Previously, there were 650 employees at the factory, now there are 60 – mostly engineers and accountants that oversee the production lines – and the number should go down to 20, according to company officials. The robots have produced almost three times as many pieces as were produced before. Quality has also improved. The product defect rate was 25%, now it is below 5%.

News, Technology

Is Google actually building its own cars?

A band of Google's self-driving Lexus vehicles. Image: Google

Self-driving cars have a promising future, and leading the pack technologically is Google, now a household name that has long transcended its status as a search engine. First and foremost, Google is a technology company and its interest are aligned with anything cutting edge, whether it’s information technology or hardware (smart homes, smart appliances, cars). Since 2011 when Google first showcased its extremely successful self-driving Prius, later switched for a Lexus, the company has been making rapid progress. But Google rarely experiments just for the sake of it. Part of its philosophy is turning disruptive technology into a product, get it out to the people. But how do you go about self-driving cars, considering the auto business is one of the riskiest in the world? Well, just like it did with the Android for smartphones, Google could partner with the leading automakers supplying the technology. Indeed, Google confirmed this January that it had talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. But some highly interesting documents gathered by The Guardian suggests a possible alternate route. Google might actually build its own cars, all from scratch.

News, Technology

Eyes up above: you can’t lie satellite imagery

The shadows in such images can indicate the fullness of an oil container. Image: Orbital Insight

A couple decades ago, satellite were solely the provision of governments, since they were the only ones that could afford launching billions dollars worth of tech into space. Slowly but surely, corporations hitched a ride and now, when an imaging satellite can fit in the palm of your hand and costs only a fraction it used to, small enterprises are flourishing. Along with them is innovation.

News, Technology

New WiFi chip uses 100 times less power with minimal loss of quality

The microchip for wearable devices developed by researchers at JPL and UCLA reflects wireless signals instead of using regular transmitters and receivers. Credit: JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Nearly all communication devices today, whether we’re speaking of smartphones, tablets or notebooks, rely on WiFi signal to connect to the internet and transmit data. With the rise of the Internet of Things, WiFi will become even more ubiquitous. However, enabling an active WiFi connection also eats up a lot of power. When I have WiFi on, my smartphone goes dead in under 24 hours, compared to 48 or more otherwise. In fact, according to a report, the routers that keep us constantly connected to the Internet – now in nearly 90 million American homes – uses about $1 billion worth of electricity annually. But in a bid to cut WiFi power waste in space, NASA might inadvertently change this situation forever.

Health & Medicine, News, Technology

Blind pensioner can see again following bionic eye implant

Ray Flynn, 80

An 80-year-old man suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the most common cause of sight loss in the world – can now see again after being fitted with a bionic eye. The technology was developed at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, and the implant marks the first trial for the Argus II system for AMD.

News, Technology

Neural network image processor tells you what’s going in your pictures

zombie

Facial recognition and motion tracking is already old news. The next level is describing what you do or what’s going on – for now only in still pictures. Meet NeuralTalk, a deep learning image processing algorithm developed by Stanford engineers which uses processes similar to those used by the human brain to decipher and interpret photos. The software can easily describe, for instance, a band of people dressed up as zombies. It’s remarkably effective and freaking creepy at the same time.

News, Technology

Will Tesla’s Gigafactory be the largest man-made structure on Earth?

Image credits: Bob Tregilus.

Tesla’s newest up-and-coming building could be larger than previously thought – much larger. At a presentation about the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, Dean Haymore, from Story County Commission, mentioned that Tesla bought an extra 1,200 acres next to the ongoing construction, and will buy 350 more. While this hasn’t yet been confirmed by Elon Musk, this raises the question: how big

Materials, News, Technology

The Netherlands Plan to Pave their Roads with Recycled Plastic

plastic-road_1024

We sometimes get the feeling that the Netherlands is like a Think Tank for countries – they just come up with some of the most creative ideas ever. Now, they’ve tackled a very important part of the infrastructure: road paving. They want to use recycled plastic, and they want to do it soon – in less than three years. A