Staff picks for the week of May 9, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralHappy Friday! Wrap up your week by checking out what’s new in technology with our staff picks!

These grad students didn’t know their teaching assistant was a robot (Read by Camillia S.)

I completed my grad school education last year, and after reading this article, I’m wondering if one of my online course instructors had some robotic assistance as well. Grad students at Georgia Tech were floored when they found out the teaching assistant (TA) they had been interacting with, named “Jill Watson,” was a robot created on the IBM Watson platform. The professor already had eight TAs, but with 300 students every semester and a whopping 10,000 messages in the online forum, the team needed a hand. A virtual one. This is just one more example of how AI is impacting our lives and how it’s here to stay.

15-year-old’s 200 vintage Apple computers are now a Mac museum (Read by Camillia S.)

There are a couple reasons why I chose this article. The first being that I love all things vintage and the second being that a 15-year-old kid in Maine has acquired more wealth in the span of five years from collecting old computers than I probably ever will in my whole life. Fifteen-year-old Alex Jason saved up $2,000 from lawn mowing (I guess I know what my summer gig is) and purchased 50 Apple computers that took his hobby to the next level. Alongside his father, he plans on putting the collection on display at the soon-to-be Maine Technology Museum. The best part is that the teenager has no idea how much the collection is worth, but with one of the computers in his collection selling for $900,000 in 2014, there’s no doubt he’s sitting on a gold mine.

Incredible five-fingered robotic hand has ability to LEARN from its own experiences (Read by Jennifer P.)

A team at the University of Washington has developed the most ambitious prosthetic hand yet — one capable of learning repeated movements. This new technology helps replicate the muscle memory used to type on a keyboard and readjust grip. While this new technology is too expensive for consumer use at $200,000, these types of advances will help breed the next generation of prosthetic limbs.

Location trackers reveal where your e-junk really ends up (Read by Heidi B.)

E-waste or not, it’s hard to know for sure where the materials you toss out actually end up, but the Basel Action Network (BAN) is on a mission to find out. BAN equipped 200 printers and monitors at various recycling facilities with tracking devices to see if they did indeed wind up at their proper destinations. So far, not so good … 62 items were shipped to countries that prohibit imported e-waste. On the bright side, this monitoring system will hopefully keep recyclers honest and push them to properly dispose of electronics in Earth- and human-friendly ways. As technology continues to become more and more involved in our daily lives, I think a “watchdog” system is a good way to ensure we’re taking care of our planet.

The Starry Station router wants to demystify your Wi-Fi (Read by Alexandria H.)

When it comes to routers, I know just enough to keep my devices connected and functioning. (By “know,” I mean I can sufficiently locate the name of my Wi-Fi connection and type in the password.) Suffice it to say, if something went wrong with my connection, I’d be in a pickle. Fortunately, there’s a new type of router on the scene and it aims to change the way users think about Wi-Fi. Named the Starry Station, this router provides useful information like the number of devices connected to the network and the performance levels of those devices. The triangular touch screen router also offers your “Internet Health Score,” calculated based on your service, speed, and Wi-Fi conditions. If you’re the kind of person that prefers to be in the know when it comes to your wireless connection, the Starry Station may be the option for you.

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