Staff picks for the week of Aug. 15, 2016

 In News, Staff Picks

Happy Friday! Here are the most interesting tech stories our staff read this week.

Staff Picks General

Red light, green light: New Audis will predict the time until that stoplight turns green (Read by Camillia S.)

“Waiting for a green light is perhaps the worst of all driving frustrations.” As a lifelong New Jerseyan, I have to disagree: Red lights are not worse than 287 rush hour traffic. But if you agree with the author and want an Audi, you’re in luck. The German carmaker is adding software to select 2017 models that communicates with traffic lights to predict when they will turn from red to green. This is one of the first steps toward making roads safer for autonomous vehicles. I’m curious to see how quickly (or if at all) this feature will spread to other cars. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned!

Researchers create temporary tattoos you can use to control your devices (Read by Jen P.)

MIT Media Lab has created DuoSkin, a high-tech temporary tattoo that allows wearers to control their devices and smartphone apps. Made of gold leaf and applied to the skin like an ordinary temporary tattoo, the tattoos provide a functional yet aesthetically pleasing vehicle for self-expression that’s much less painful than a traditional tattoo. Sign me up.

The fasinating  … fascinating history of autocorrect (Read by Heidi B.)

Sure, many of us laugh at autocorrect’s occasional silly mistakes, but let’s be real – it’s pretty darn good at fixing our mobile spelling blunders. For that, we have Dean Hachamovitch to thank. Now a Microsoft vice president, Hachamovitch started working at the software giant in the early 90s on the Microsoft Word team. It was there that he created the original autocorrect using a master list of common spelling and grammar mistakes. Read on to learn more about autocorrect’s humble beginnings and even cooler yet, the goofy pranks Hachamovitch would play on his coworkers. Ejnoy – I mean, enjoy!

Google announces new Google Classroom features for back to school (Read by Heidi B.)

Just in time for the start of the school year, Google has released three new features for Google Classroom, its collection of free classroom productivity apps. The new features include: automatic daily or weekly summaries of students’ work that teachers can email to parents, an annotation function that enables teachers to draw on students’ assignments, and Expeditions, a new virtual reality app that allows teachers to host VR field trips all across the globe – and even into space! Expeditions reminds me of elementary school when my teacher lined our chairs up and made us pretend we were on a plane … only a lot more high tech!

Airbus wants to make self-flying airborne taxis a real thing (Read by Alexandria H.)

The day cars are no longer confined to highways and can take to the open sky to fly may be drawing near. Airbus hopes to complete the prototype for an autonomous flying taxi by early next year! Airbus, traditionally known for its aircraft, will target areas with a higher population since they’re more prone to traffic jams. The airborne vehicle, codenamed Vahana, will be able to transport passengers as well as cargo. While the sound of self-sufficient taxis sounds exciting, I’m skeptical to believe we’ll have self-flying taxis before we’ve ironed out the kinks to self-driving cars.

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