Technology

Mon
15
Jul
John Lister's picture

Google Admits Staff Listen to Google Home Recordings

Google has admitted that staff listen to some recordings from the Google Home smart speaker. It says it's only for quality control purposes. It made the comments after a contractor in the Netherlands went to local media to talk about his work, in ... which he was paid a "few cents" to transcribe comments and questions made by people using the voice controlled device or phone app. According to the worker, some of the clips he heard did not appear to be people intentionally using the device. This included one case of a mother scolding a child and another clip which the worker suspected ... (view more)

Wed
26
Jun
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Revealed: Why Old-School USB Cables Never Fit the First Time

The man who co-created the USB plug says its greatest annoyance was simply a matter of cost. Ajay Bhatt says that in the original design of the USB-A cable, the plugs were not reversible in order to keep costs down, which would then help get the ... format established. Bhatt discussed his work in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). He talked about the often baffling experience in which users would try to plug a USB cable in, find that it would not fit, flip it over, find it didn't fit (again), then flip it back to its original orientation and find that inexplicably it now fit. It's a ... (view more)

Thu
28
Mar
John Lister's picture

Google's New Amp Email: Good or Bad?

Google is to make emails more interactive. It's billed as offering "more engaging and actionable email experiences" but might appeal to marketers more than users. It's all to do with the release of what Google calls "AMP for Email." AMP (Accelerated ... Mobile Pages) already exists and is a project designed to have web pages open quickly on mobile devices even if they contain media such as photos or videos. AMP for Email makes it possible to send a document in AMP format, but have it delivered as an email. At its most basic level, that should mean emails will be quicker to load, rather ... (view more)

Fri
15
Mar
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Google Phones Become Seeing Eyes for Blind

A new Google app uses a phone camera to describe the world around blind and visually impaired people. It's an artificial intelligence take on a task that's already performed remotely by human volunteers. The app, dubbed "Google Lookout," works best ... when the user puts the phone around their neck like wearing a lanyard, or in a shirt pocket with the camera lens uncovered. The app then uses the camera view to analyze what's around the user and describe what it can "see". The idea is that the app activates in situations where a blind user might ask for help, adjusting to context. For ... (view more)

Thu
28
Feb
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Bill Gates Predicts Breakthrough Technology

Bill Gates has picked 10 technologies he thinks will break through in 2019. Perhaps surprisingly for the Microsoft founder, only one is even partially related to computers. Gates made the picks after being chosen as the first ever guest editor of ... the MIT Technology Review annual list. His only real computer-related choice was artificial intelligence-based assistants (which appear on PCs as well as mobile devices and gadgets) doing a better job of understanding human language. That's always tough, because human speech doesn't follow mathematical logical rules and often depends on context. ( ... (view more)

Thu
31
Jan
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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
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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
John Lister's picture

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)

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