Staff picks for the week of July 20, 2015
Technology does a tremendous amount of good for the world: Never before have we had so much opportunity to change the world with our ideas, creations, and passions. This week’s picks demonstrate new ways creative people are using technology to solve problems, but remind us why we should also be cautious.
Car racing, and Formula 1 specifically, has given us a vast number of new car features and innovations, particularly around sensors and data. What’s cool is that the real-time, data-intensive practices used in Formula 1 racing are also helping other industries and organizations, from football and the Olympics to offshore drilling and children’s hospitals.
Help People Living on the Street with a Simple Tap of this App (Read by Heidi B.)
How would the world differ if everyone with a smartphone could simply tap an app and trigger a company to donate to the local homeless? That’s a question the creators of WeShelter, a new donation app, are seeking to answer. WeShelter partners with corporate sponsors and allows users to tap an in-app button each time they walk past someone in need, initiating a donation process in which sponsors make a small donation (usually 5 cents) to a local homeless organization. The app even has the functionality to call a local homeless outreach operator in the event you see someone who needs immediate assistance. As someone who rarely carries cash, this app would make it possible for me (and others in the same boat) to be charitable when I see someone in need.
New wearables want to change how you feel (Read by Camillia S.)
Move over FitBit. The wearable shown at San Francisco’s Wearable Technology Conference are doing more than tracking your activity; they’re giving users the sensation to get up and move (or slow down and relax). For instance, the doppel is worn on the inside of the wrist and delivers vibrations that can increase or decrease your heartrate. The UpRight is a device worn on the lower back that can fix your posture, and OURA is a ring that records your pulse and calculates how much energy you have left.
A Robot Passes a Self-Awareness Test for First Time (Read by Ed M.)
Nobody loves a good post-apocalyptic story more than me, and that absolutely includes The Matrix trilogy. That’s why this story about an off-the-shelf robot able to “learn” self-awareness – and the warnings about this kind of artificial intelligence from Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk – made me immediately do some calculations of my own. I’m trying to figure out whether or not I will still be alive when machines finally assume complete control of the world. I would have used my trusty TI calculator to work out the math, but it’s been pulling quite the attitude lately and I just don’t trust it.