Technology

Thu
31
Jan
John Lister's picture

Robocalls, Spam Likely to Surpass Legit Calls in 2019

The number of robocalls to Americans rose by nearly 50 percent last year, according to a newly-published estimate. It's consistent with other reports that suggest that 2019 will be the first year where half of all phone calls are marketing messages. ... The figure comes from Hiya, a "spam-monitoring service" and is based on data from 450,000 users of its phone app. There's reason for a note of caution on the raw numbers, as it's possible the type of people who would use such an app are getting more unwanted calls than the average citizen in the first place. That aside, Hiya says that if the ... (view more)

Wed
30
Jan
John Lister's picture

WiFi Could Provide Electricity, Charge Smartphone

A new gadget can turn WiFi signals into electricity. It could one day mean an end to charging phone batteries, though the power levels mean medical uses might be more realistic. The device is a new variant of a "rectenna," which is short for ... rectifying antenna. Traditionally it turns electromagnetic energy into direct current electricity. Although the rectenna was developed more than 50 years ago, it's not been widely used. At the moment the most common use is in contactless cards, where a wireless signal from a card reader can not only open communications, but provide just enough ... (view more)

Tue
22
Jan
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Roll Away TV, Smart Sockets Among New Gadgets at CES

CES (also known as the Consumer Electronics Show) is the biggest annual gadget show in the United States and is the place where top manufacturers show off their new devices for the first time. Many of the offerings seem implausible or unnecessary - ... this year saw virtual reality shoes and a notepad that works underwater - but others catch on and are genuinely useful. Here are some of the highlights from 2019: A "smart socket" power outlet detects the charge level in a plugged-in device and then cuts out once it's fully charged to reduce energy use. For now it's designed for mobile devices such ... (view more)

Wed
03
Oct
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New Sunglasses Make PC, TV Screens Invisible

A new pair of sunglasses aims to block out screens such as TV sets and computers. It's a real product, though it's as much an art and culture project than a true business idea. The glasses work in a similar fashion to polarized lenses in ordinary ... sunglasses, which block out the most intense reflected lights from the sun. With sunglasses the idea is to block any light that's reflected off a surface such as the ground or sea, thus reducing the overall brightness. Glasses Turn Screens Black With these special glasses, however, the lenses are flat rather than curved and are rotated 90 degrees. ... (view more)

Mon
01
Oct
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Report: Google Maps For Pedestrians 'Not Safe Enough'

Google is under pressure to provide safer routes for pedestrians in its mapping tools. It's previously done so for cyclists, though hasn't yet pleased everyone. The latest call comes in international business newspaper the Financial Times. Special ... reports writer Madison Darbyshire highlighted a recent walk from a concert venue to a stop for a late night bus in which she used Google's suggested walking route. According to Darbyshire, "I found myself meandering along unlit side streets and away from the traffic that makes the city feel alive at all hours." (Source: ft.com ) Pedestrians Offer ... (view more)

Wed
20
Jun
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IBM Computer Beats Debating Champion

An IBM computer has out-argued a debating champion according to an audience vote. It did so despite not having an Internet connection to look up facts during the debate. The demonstration wasn't designed to test how much the computer "knew," but ... rather it's ability to form arguments, listen to an opponent's case, and then respond to it. The computer system, dubbed "Project Debater", took on Noa Ovadia, who was crowned national debating champion in Israel in 2016. The pair debated two topics: whether to have more publicly funded exploration of space and whether to put more money into ... (view more)

Tue
29
May
John Lister's picture

Apple Watch Alerts Man to Serious Heart Condition

A man says his life may have been saved by his Apple watch. A heart rate alert revealed he was experiencing a serious problem. Kevin Pearson was, by coincidence, visiting his father in hospital when he got the alert. It came from his watch, which ... tracked his heart rate. Normally that's to reveal general patterns as well as tracking how quickly the rate returns to normal after exercise, an important fitness indicator. However, the watch alerted Pearson to the fact his heart rate was at 161 beats per minute even though he was sitting down reading a book. Given his age of 52, that's a rate that ... (view more)

Thu
17
May
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Exams Plagued By 'Cheater' Wristwatches

British students have been banned from wearing any form of wristwatch in exams. It follows concerns that 'smart watches' containing helpful information could be disguised as ordinary watches. The new rules will affect most national exams for school ... students aged 16 and 18, including those which determined whether students can get a particular place on a university course. The rules say normally students must take off their watch and leave it in a visible place on their desk, though in some cases supervisors are collecting the watches and keeping them outside. The changes follow on from ... (view more)

Wed
09
May
John Lister's picture

Robocalls on the Rise; FCC rethinks Restrictions

Robocalls are on the rise according to one company which tries to fight them. Sneaky new tactics and a recent court ruling are both contributing factors. The rise has been reported by YouMail, which produces apps for smartphones designed to block ... automated robocalls that aren't made by a human and instead play a recorded message when the recipient picks up. Based on records collated from its apps, YouMail estimates 3.4 billion such calls were made in April, up from around 2.5 billion in the same period last year. While the nature of the estimate means the figures themselves shouldn't be taken ... (view more)

Tue
24
Apr
John Lister's picture

Robot Puts Together Ikea Furniture

A robot in Singapore can successfully assemble a piece of IKEA furniture. But there's still a long way before it can match human abilities, let alone be a superior alternative. The robot is the work of Nanyang Technological University students and ... is made up of two robotic arms and a 3D camera. The furniture in question is the "Stefan chair." It's a very basic chair frame that in theory is extremely simple to construct, however, the main reason it is challenging to build is due to a few screws that need to burrow quite deep in to wood. It therefore takes a surprising number of ... (view more)

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