Saving the Rainforest with Old Cell Phones

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Rainforests have some of the most complicated soundscapes on the planet. In this dense noise of insects, primates, birds, and everything else that moves in the forest, how can you detect the sounds of illegal logging? The old cell phone you have sitting in your desk drawer may have the answer. How do you go about saving the rainforest with old cell phones? After a visit to the rainforests of Borneo, physicist and engineer Topher White was struck by the sounds of the forest. In particular, he noises he couldn’t…

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Reinvention of the alarm clock in the age of smartphones

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The alarm clock has existed in a weird place since the advent of the smartphone — after all, why have a separate device on your nightstand for telling the time or waking you up in the morning when your phone already does that? That hasn’t stopped companies from trying to reinvent the alarm clock for the connected era, and Circa, a new Kickstarter project from Circa Labs, seems like one of the nicer attempts at the idea. Unlike some of the other smart alarm clocks out there, Circa doesn’t include…

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Self-driving shuttle bus in crash on first day

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A self-driving shuttle bus in Las Vegas was involved in a crash on its first day of service. The vehicle – carrying “several” passengers – was hit by a lorry driving at slow speed. Nobody was injured in the incident which city officials say was the fault of the human driver of the lorry. The man was subsequently given a ticket by police. The shuttle is the first of its kind to be used on public roads in the US. The collision comes a day after Waymo – owned by…

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Aluminium foil increases your wireless speed

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Researchers at Dartmouth University have found that a 3D printed shape covered in aluminum foil can improve wireless range and increase Wi-Fi security. The project, which appeared on Eurekalert, involves placing a reflector on and around a Wi-Fi router’s antennae to shape the beam, increasing range and preventing it from passing through to unwanted spaces. “With a simple investment of about $35 and specifying coverage requirements, a wireless reflector can be custom-built to outperform antennae that cost thousands of dollars,” said Xia Zhou, a Dartmouth assistant professor. In their paper,…

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New startup that helps you scan, send and print yourself

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Kat Kinkead and Peter Weijmarshausen met at their old company, Shapeways. Weijmarshausen recently stepped down as CEO and was looking for something cool to do when he and Kinkead realized that the most popular application of 3D scanning and printing was in 3D figurines. These tiny action-figure-like representations were wildly popular print subjects back at Shapeways but they were notoriously difficult to capture and print. Now, thanks to improvements in scanning, color printing, and software, they’re surprisingly easy. Thus Beheld was born. Kinkead, the CEO, has an MFA in industrial…

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Flying cars: Future of transportation or an inflated expectation?

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It seems like flying-car startups are finally taking over the “140-character” kinds of tech companies we are used to. With EU-based startup Lilium working on an all-electric autonomous flying taxi, garnering a $90 million Series B led by Tencent and supported by a number of well-known VCs (including Atomico), it’s clear that flying cars are transitioning from a fascinating concept to a quite-mature technology and promising investment thesis. But will we see flying cars out in the world? And how will the market environment evolve? The ecosystem is maturing. There are…

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Waymo is first to put fully self-driving cars on US roads without a safety driver

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Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reached an important milestone recently: since mid-October, the company has been operating its autonomous minivans on public roads in Arizona without a safety driver — or any human at all — behind the wheel. And starting very soon, the company plans to invite regular people for rides in these fully self-driving vehicles. The news that Waymo’s vehicles have been on public roads with no human in the driver’s seat was announced today by the company’s CEO John Krafcik at a…

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NHS offers Smartphone GP appointments

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A 24-hour service has been launched for NHS patients, offering GP consultations via videolink on smartphones. The pilot scheme will initially cover 3.5 million patients in greater London. Patients will be able to check their symptoms through the mobile app and then have video consultations within two hours of booking. The Royal College of GPs has warned the service may not help patients with complex needs. The new free service has been launched by a group of London GPs and the online healthcare provider Babylon. Patients joining will leave their…

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Covert influence, the new money laundering

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Google is the most recent company known to have discovered evidence of Russian covert influence on its books. As more media companies realize Russia bought advertising space or promoted news stories, fake and otherwise, on their platforms, covert influence has become the new money laundering. Both activities hide below the surface of legitimate enterprises, cast a shadow of disrepute on those very enterprises and can be neutralized through transparency and accountability. Anti-money laundering laws provide useful lessons for combating covert influence and could be adapted for online media models that do…

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Thousands of WhatsApp customers reporting issues with the App

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Independent website DownDetector, which tracks social comments around a certain topic to monitor outages across the globe, shows over a thousand of WhatsApp customers reporting issues using the app. According to the site, problems with the chat app occurred around 8am this morning, with hundreds of people reporting issues with the app. DownDetector says that 51 per cent of customers are having issue connecting to it. A further 29 per cent report issues receiving messages and 19 per cent are struggling to login. People can’t send or receive messages using…

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