The CITE That No One Will Live In

When it comes to technology, people are constantly told to test it before release. Car makers are being warned that they need to slow down the release of automated driving in order to help people find and understand the risks and dangers of having a machine make decisions which will ultimately affect thousands on a daily basis, and with large companies like Tesla and Apple looking to get in on the automated car business, everyone wants to be safe before their cars hit the road. The site for Apple’s testing may have become revealed, though, in a brand new CITE.

No that is not a spelling mistake, CITE stands for The Center for Innovation Testing and Evaluation, a 15 square miles of desert located within New Mexico. Set to cost around $1 billion and begin sometime this year, Pegasus Global Holding will begin the construction of the city for 35,000 people, but no one will ever live there.

Dubbed a “City lab” the city will feature everything from hospitals and highways to schools and could be used for testing self-driving transportation and green energy systems, with a research campus designed to help people study and understand technology on a city-wide scale before it’s released to the real world. With an estimated operational date of 2018, it could be a while before we see a city that’s fully automated, which is all good for us as long as they don’t name any of the systems Skynet or the Red Queen.

Elon Musks Hyperloop Construction Delayed

Everyone travels these days, be it for work or to see family and friends, we live in a world where going from A to B is as casual as breathing. You can fly or catch trains, drive or even hire a taxi with your phone, but there are still other ways. With the addition of  electric streetcars coming to New York, the next revolution to travel is set to be the Hyperloop.

The Hyperloop is a new train system that will use a vacuum tube to help trains reach speeds of over 700mph. Recently they announced that construction had been started with the completion date set for public access in 2018 on its test track. That was until recently when Tech Insider revealed that there may be a delay to that timeline.

In an email sent to the Student teams that are working on the pods that will shoot down the track, SpaceX (the company responsible for the Hyperloop) could have the final part of the competition, to see which pod would be best chosen for the project, happening in August (or even later). In the email, SpaceX stated,

“Our best guess for Competition Weekend is early-to-mid August, but this could move in either direction (based on construction and post-construction testing)”

With the original date set for June, the delay is minor if it still happens in August, but if is delayed even further behind then the 2018 opening gets more and more like a pipe dream with each week.

Touch Screen Devices are ‘Eroding’ Digital Skills for Children

Hands up if you own a touch screen phone? How about a touch screen laptop/tablet? How many of your devices use a touch screen these days? It would seem that this may not be amazing news if you’re handing these devices to children as an Australian educational body noted that there was a ‘significant decline’ in what is classed as IT literacy among some students, in part due to the wide adoption of touch screens.

Think about how you open up a link or perform an action on your phone or your tablet compared to how you would do it on your computer, now think about how often do you use a touch screen for office work.

The report produced by Australia’s National Assessment Programme states that 16-year-olds have a lower than average IT proficiency than any other year. Among the tasks to complete were creating invitations using graphics software, setting up a tablet and installing apps and even promoting an event through social media.

The lower results could be due to the use of mobile technology, an area where skills are developed but are not commonly associated with ICT literacy. A new emphasis was put on teaching relevant knowledge and the skills and understanding to use this knowledge in both personal and professional environments.

New Firefox Testing Feature Warns Of Insecure Website Password Submission

Consumers are exposed to a myriad of cyber threats which are intent upon harvesting as much information as possible, from bogus emails offering state cash refunds to spoofed pages which purport to be from a genuine vendors, but are in fact aiming to collect sensitive consumer details. Well known and popular browser Mozilla Firefox have recognised the importance of alerting consumers to the security of password submission by offering a simple yet important safeguard within the latest Firefox Nightly build.

The security measure in question is in the form of a faded crossed out padlock icon within the address bar of the browser, thankfully it’s more useful than simply a new icon. The aim of this new feature is to warn consumers if a password field is not submitted over HTTPS and thus regarded as insecure. If a consumer clicks on the icon it will provide further details as to why a particular site is considered insecure, below is an image to convey the change. This feature is currently “only in testing as part of Firefox 44 Nightly”.

This new yet simple feature is a good way of informing consumers as to the risks of submitting a password over an insecure method, cyber security is a hot topic and the more every individual knows the better. It will be interesting to note the rollout timescale of this feature once Firefox confirms it for its finished builds. On a side note, let’s hope consumers actually update their browsers in order to benefit from the latest security fixes, I bet many a reader knows someone who is running a version of Firefox that is at least 10 versions behind that of the currently available.

Image courtesy of technodyan

Aidmics to Release Fertility Gadget For Your iPad

This story is certainly not going to be a typical iPad feature, but I can promise you it’s unique. iPads are versatile and can be used to run a multitude of applications for a vast array of industries. You know the phrase “think outside the box” Well, Taiwanese startup by the name of Aidmics has invented a device which connects to an iPad with the aim to measure sperm.

I know, I can hear the editor of eTeknix crying as well, but let’s continue, Aidmics is hoping to cash in on the $40 billion global human fertility market with the iPad compatible gadget. The early concept of this design has been sold to livestock farmers, with the outcome being 200 sets sold since August 2014. The aim for this product is to re-market the device for the commercial mainstream.

The price point at which this device is to be sold to the general public would be between $100 – $200 (£64 – £128), so how does it work? Well, I did research this and I do wonder what Google now thinks of me, but it operates by utilizing a tiny microscope which enlarges the contents of a few drops of sperm from inside a pipette which is backlit. The light beams the moving image to the iPad camera, and algorithms then analyse the sample for total sperm count and motility and how fast sperm can swim; more details are below.

It’s a useful invention which does have real world potential to assist couples in their quest to have a child, but woe betide anyone who has their iPad hacked into.

Thank you Aidmics and Reuters for providing us with this information.

Driverless Cars to Hit UK Streets Soon

Here at eTeknix, we love to hear about the latest car technology; it’s nice to see how it has progressed over the years. Lately, we have been very interested in electric vehicles (EV’s) and autonomous/driverless cars.

In recent weeks, we have heard of the green light for Google to release driverless cars onto the public highway in California and now it seems that the UK are following suit. We are still in testing stages due to the massive public fear that autonomous cars aren’t safe to be in or around while they are active on the road; Google has quashed those fears, but some are still against the idea. The testing locations will be Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich (London).

This isn’t exactly a surprise considering how well the US has taken driverless cars, but the UK will be the first in Europe to lead the way in allowing these vehicles to use the road.  In a statement, Transport Minister Claire Perry said “the trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology.” This is a huge step forward considering the likes of Volvo are ready to ship driverless cars to the UK consumer market; they have to wait until 2017 before Sweden will allow them on the roads.

How do you feel about these vehicles being allowed on the streets of the UK? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Apple Watch Sightings on The Increase

MacRumors reports that sightings of the Apple Watch have increased as we move closer to launch. A number of people have seen the device in the wild being used most likely by Apple employees. It’s been rumoured that Apple has dispatched hundreds or maybe even a couple thousand watches to the most senior employees within Apple. All of this will be part of the company’s stringent testing programme leading to its release in April.

One such watch was spotted on an unidentified wrist seen by Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes who posted the above image on Instagram. Another was spotted on the wrist of a customer in a restaurant in the Marina district of San Francisco.

Rumours have suggested that the company has hastily been working on improving the battery life of the device, with them managing to get at least a nightly charge out of it with average use. As well as that, it seems testers will also be focusing on the device’s software, as Apple tries to iron out any bugs.

One wonders whether these testers need to have the thing padlocked to their wrist.

Source: MacRumors Image: Suzy Menkes via Instagram

First Drone Launched From FAA Test Site Crashes

The first drone to be launched from the FAA’s test facility in Nevada crashed almost immediately. The facility is intended to test drones for their entry into commercial use.

The Magpie UAV did eventually get certification, but the first public demonstration flight of the aircraft crashed with all to see, including the Governor of Nevada himself.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems has been set up to provide certification to commercial drone operators. It is currently illegal in the US to fly drones for commercial purposes, so this facility has been set up to ensure drone’s airworthiness before they go into service.

I’m pretty sure this demonstration made the facility seem worthwhile.

Source: Gizmodo

Skype Releases Preview of Translator App

Microsoft has today released a preview version of its Skype Translator app. The app uses a technology the company demoed some months ago now, where Sype has the ability to translate speech in realtime.

The app is essentially that – while someone speaks, you receive realtime text-to-speech translations of the speech from the person at the other end. At the moment only English and Spanish is support for audio translation, while text chat provides support for over 40 languages. The app is the result of years of R&D from Microsoft Research, where efforts have been focused on making the app reliable enough for anyone to use with pretty much any microphone. Efforts have also been centred on making the translations accurate – unlike the often humorous results you can receive from a service like Google Translate.

Currently the preview is open on an invite only basis, with Microsoft asking those who’d like to test the app out to visit this site. 

Source: The Verge

Driverless Cars to Be Tested in Four UK Cities

Driverless cars will be tested in 4 UK cities starting 1st January. Coventry, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Greenwich in south-east London will be the first to see the vehicles hit public roads.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne announced the plans during today’s Autumn Statement in Parliament. The initiative was launched back in July, but plans are now starting to take shape. Mr Osbourne also announced an extra £9 million of government funding for the project, adding to the earlier £10 million.

The project is formed of a number of schemes backed by different companies and organisations. In London there will be the Gateway scheme which is being organised by the Transport Research Laboratory consultancy, in Bristol there will be the Venturer consortium, which is backed by insurance company Axa, while Coventry and Milton Keynes will see the UK Autodrive programme, which is being backed by Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Arup.

The individual schemes will test and experiment with different issues facing the introduction of driverless vehicles, such as insurance implications and the effect of the vehicles on reducing traffic congestion.

Source: BBC News

Google Bid Testing of High-Speed Wireless Internet

Google has reportedly been asking the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to test a new technology that will enable Google Fibre-like speeds to be transmitted wirelessly to our homes.

On Monday, Google bid to the FCC for permission to test this new technology in California and is said to utilize a rarely used millimeter-wave frequency that has the capability to transmit large volumes of information wirelessly; said to be far more advanced than the current models on offer. Google has not publicly stated that this advancement will be the next step in their currently offered fiber services, but the evidence provided points towards this being a possibility.

If approved, the testing will be conducted across three sites in California’s San Francisco Bay area within 5.8HGz and 24.2GHz frequencies and millimeter wave bands of 71-76GHZ and 81-86GHz – based on narrow-bandwidth transmissions.

Steven Crawley, a wireless engineer and consultant who monitors FCC filings commented “From a radio standpoint it’s the closest thing to fibre there is,” adding “You could look at it as a possible wireless extension of their Google Fiber wireless network, as a way to more economically serve homes. Put up a pole in a neighbourhood, instead of having to run fibre to each home”. It’s worth noting that millimeter-wave frequencies can send data over short distances up to several gigabits per second – meaning that even if it can’t match the exact speeds already offered by Google Fiber, it’s still a major advancement on the cable plans currently on offer.

If the testing is a success, it could prove quite the headache for current large-name cable and wireless internet providers such as AT&T and Verizon. We’ve already written in the past that they’re unhappy providing over 4mbps as ‘broadband’, so we find it almost impossible that they would be happy with gigabit speeds.

Image courtesy of 9to5Google

5Gbps Benchmark as Ericsson Tests Wireless 5G

Excited by the speed boost your getting from 4G? Well you ain’t seen nothing yet, because 5G is so fast, it can even blow Google Fibre a death blow thanks to its breakneck speeds. Ericsson announced on Tuesday that they’ve tested their 5G network in a hardware trial, reaching a staggering 5 gigabits per second over-the-air with its wireless 5G technology!

5Gbps is a an impressive benchmark and is no doubt conducted under ideal conditions, yet lets think about that number for a moment. 5Gbps is around 250 times faster than LTE, It is FIVE TIMES faster than Google Fiber’s impressive 1Gbps wired connection. It could download a 50GB movie in around 11 seconds, that’s an entire Blu-Ray worth of content streamed in less time it takes you to get a Blu-Ray out of its box and put it in the player.

The downside? The rollout isn’t set to be finished for ages, with launch expected in the 2020. The only good thing is that 2020 is a lifetime in terms of technology, leaving lots of time for smartphones, cars and other connected devices to make the right advances in technology to fully reap the benefits of 5G technology.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Ericsson.

Nano-Cooling Breakthrough Achieved By Intel And Berkley

University of California researchers at Intel and Berkley reported to have made a breakthrough in cooling microchips by using a combination of carbon nanotubes, which we previously reported that Japanese researchers found a way to mass produce them as well as their impact on technology, and organic molecules to create a high efficient connection between a chip and its heatsink.

As chips get smaller, and faster even, the heat generated by the chips becomes a more increasing aspect that researchers have to deal with. It was previously noted that carbon nanotubes could work as a high efficient conduit for this heat, but the issue still remained in getting the heat to the carbon nanotubes.

“The thermal conductivity of carbon nanotubes exceeds that of diamond or any other natural material but because carbon nanotubes are so chemically stable, their chemical interactions with most other materials are relatively weak, which makes for high thermal interface resistance,” explained Frank Ogletree, a physicist at Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and leader of the study”

And from here, Intel comes in with a little improvement to their plan. Nachiket Raravikar and Ravi Prasher, who were both Intel engineers from the project’s very beginning, were able to increase and strengthen the contact between the carbon nanotubes and the surface of other materials, reducing thermal resistance and increasing heat transport efficiency. It works by using organic molecules to form strong covalent bonds between the carbon nanotubes and metal surfaces, equivalent to using thermal paste between a heat sink and a CPU.

The new system formed allows for a six-fold increase in heat flow from the metal to the nanotubes, and also the method uses nothing more than gas vapour or low-temperature liquid chemistry, meaning it can easily be integrated into the production process of modern chips. But it is not done yet, since the tests currently show that only a small portion of the nanotubes connect to the metal surface, but it is progress nonetheless.

Thank you Bit-Tech for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Bit-Tech