Technology

Wed
29
Nov
John Lister's picture

Study: Videoconferencing Mentally Draining

Video calls could cause more mental fatigue than in-person events according to a recent study. Although the study was on a very small scale, the researchers said the differences were "notable." Austrian academics said they wanted to find out if ... widespread anecdotal reports of "videoconferencing fatigue" were true. They defined the effect as "somatic and cognitive exhaustion that is caused by the intensive and/or inappropriate use of videoconferencing tools." In other words, the exhaustion affected both the mind and the body. The researchers asked 35 students to wear heart monitoring and ... (view more)

Thu
09
Nov
John Lister's picture

GPS Tool to Warn of Local Crash Risks

A Google-owned map tool will now warn drivers about known accident hotspots. But the information might not be all that useful for now. The new feature is in Waze, a GPS navigation tool that began in 2006, with Google buying it out in 2013. It's ... original selling point was that it combined data from multiple users to spot where they were driving slower than expected, indicating congestion. It then adjusted its recommendations for the quickest routes. Although Google owns Waze, it still operates as a separate service. That lets Google use it as a smaller scale test ground for features that might ... (view more)

Tue
31
Oct
John Lister's picture

New Phone Offers Physical Privacy Switches

A proposed new smartphone would include two physical switches to control privacy. The Murena 2 would run Android apps, but use its own operating system. The makers have reached a (very low) funding goal on the Kickstarter site with around 450 sales ... at the time of writing. That theoretically means the project can go ahead, though without any legal guarantee it will do so. The main selling point of the phone is a privacy-focused design, which the makers say is to tackle data being collected on Android and iPhones even when the owner isn't actively using the handset. The most eye-catching part ... (view more)

Tue
12
Sep
John Lister's picture

Samsung and Apple Working on Smart Rings

Samsung and Apple are both reportedly working on "smart ring" fitness trackers. They're designed as an alternative to smart watches, though with some inherent limitations. Several companies already sell smart rings to wear on the finger, but none ... are household names. The likes of Apple and Samsung getting into the market could be a breakthrough, particularly for people with the relevant brand mobile phones. The logic behind the devices is that some people want to track fitness measures such as step count and heart activity, but don't want to wear a special watch. For example, they may already ... (view more)

Tue
22
Aug
Dennis Faas's picture

DMV Investigation Prompts 50% Cut in Robotaxi's

Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, is set to reduce its robotaxi fleet by 50% in San Francisco, according to information from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). ( Source: cnbc.com ) The decision follows a series of mishaps ... involving Cruise's autonomous vehicles in the city. These incidents include instances where the self-driving cars halted in intersections and a collision with a fire truck. The move is a setback for Cruise, as it had recently launched a paid robotaxi service in San Francisco, operating alongside Google parent company Alphabet's Waymo. Driverless ... (view more)

Wed
16
Aug
John Lister's picture

'Holy Grail' UltraRAM Blends RAM and Flash Memory

A new form of computer memory has won an award for innovation. UltraRAM combines the performance of ordinary computer memory with the long-term storage of flash. Most memory in a computer is DRAM (dynamic random access memory). This holds data that ... the computer processor is most likely to need to access imminently. It's a little like having paper documents on a desktop rather than in a filing cabinet: the cabinet has much more room, but it takes some time to walk to the cabinet to get the information, versus having it right on the desktop. One of the key drawbacks of DRAM is that it stores ... (view more)

Fri
28
Jul
John Lister's picture

FTC Considers 'Age Estimation' Scanning Tools

The FTC is asking the public whether facial "age estimation" is a smart way to make sure games companies don't break privacy rules for children. The tool would be used to check the age of adults giving consent, not to check the age of the player. ... The proposal originally caused some major confusion as it comes from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which rates games for age suitability in a similar way to the Motion Picture Association's movie ratings. However, this proposal has nothing to do with checking whether somebody is old enough to play a game. Instead, it's to do with ... (view more)

Tue
18
Jul
John Lister's picture

Two Steps Forward for Quantum Computers

Two sets of researchers into quantum computing have announced very different sets of results. One claim they've already achieved more powerful performance than a traditional computer, while the others say they've confirmed the potential for ... performing genuinely useful tasks. Quantum computing aims to take advantage of the way particles can exist in more than one state at a time. That compares with traditional computers which store data in bits, each of which is either a 0 or a 1. In principle at least, a quantum computer could be made up of "qbits" and perform calculations dramatically faster ... (view more)

Wed
14
Jun
John Lister's picture

Official Warns AI Could Heighten Bias

A senior European official has warned that using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to decide whether to offer a mortgage could lead to discrimination. Margrethe Vestager said this was a more likely risk than dramatic predictions of AI leading to human ... distinction. Vestager is the European Commissioner for Competition. That's a key position as not only is she responsible for competition and antitrust issues across the 27 countries in the European Union, but her work affects businesses around the world that operate in Europe, including tech companies. Talking to the BBC she warned that AI can ... (view more)

Tue
13
Jun
John Lister's picture

Fitness Tracker 'Heatmap' Dubbed Privacy Risk

Researchers say a feature in a jogging and running app called Strava makes it possible to track down a user's home address. However, they make a pretty weak argument about how plausible and successful an attack would be. Strava lets users track ... their fitness activities, including running routes. Since 2018, the app has included a "heatmap" feature that shows areas where a lot of users are active. The idea is to let people spot well-used running routes that may be useful for their needs. The feature has already been criticized after it revealed routes used by US military personnel on foreign ... (view more)

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