Staff picks for the week of Dec. 5, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralHappy Friday! Here are the most interesting stories our team read this week.

BMW uses remote locking to trap car thief suspect inside stolen vehicle (Read by Camillia S.)

Grand theft auto is a car owner’s worst nightmare. But technology is making it more difficult for thieves to successfully steal a car. Take this story for instance. A newlywed lent her car to a friend who forgot to take the key fob out the car with her. Finding the car unlocked, the suspect jumped in, took it for a joyride, then parked and fell asleep. BMW employees, alerted to the theft, remotely locked the car doors, trapping the thief inside the car until police arrived and carted him off to jail. Apparently a lot of car manufacturers offer this feature, but if my 2015 Honda ever gets stolen, it’s probably as good as gone because I certainly don’t have it!

Google says it will run entirely on renewable energy in 2017 (Read by Heidi B.)

Google has done it again. The internet giant announced this week that in 2017 all of its data centers will be fully powered by solar panels and wind farms. This is a particularly impressive feat when you consider that each year Google consumes as much energy as the city of San Francisco, and claims it’s the world’s largest purchaser of sustainable energy. While Google certainly isn’t the only company to explore renewable energy solutions (Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft also utilize green energy), I still tip my hat to Google for achieving such a big, green milestone.

No more lines! Amazon opening grocery stores with no checkout (Read by Alexandria H.)

Why use self-checkout at the grocery store when you can skip the checkout process altogether? In a video released this week, Amazon announced plans to open grocery stores without cashiers, registers, or self-checkout lanes. Sounds like a far-fetched idea, but machine learning, computer vision, and AI makes it possible. Shoppers shop like normal, retrieving items they wish to purchase from the shelves. The Amazon Go app on their mobile phones checks them into the grocery store, automatically tracks which items the shopper removes from shelves, and processes payment once the shopper leaves the store. It sounds almost too easy, but if I can bypass a checkout line, I am all for Amazon bringing the grocery shopping experience into the 21st century.

This ‘artificial iris’ is like a pair of programmable shades in contact lens form (Read by Alexandria H.)

A Belgium university is working to create a smart contact lens designed for people whose irises are unable to contract and dilate on their own. The lens is embedded with a monochrome LED that can adjust the amount of light that passes through the retina, automatically transitioning from completely clear and transparent to as dark as a dark pair of sunglasses. I thought smart glasses were cool, but this artificial iris is out of sight!

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