Tech Sightings, February 4, 2014

Posted February 4th, 2014 at 3:14 pm (UTC-4)
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Just Who is Microsoft’s Satya Nadella?

Until 2013, Nadella ran Microsoft’s server and tools business, and gained internal and external credibility for his success. Before that, he ran the company’s Bing search engine.

Tech Founders: What I Learned From Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook celebrates its 10-year anniversary today. What started a decade ago as one of Mark Zuckerberg’s many web projects has changed the world.

Ghana: E-Payslip Innovation Successful

More than 11,000 people have already registered for the Electronic pay slip (e-pay slips) system for public sector workers, which will allow them to access their pay slips online.

The Transformative Power of Facebook – for Better or Worse

Facebook, which marks its 10th anniversary this week, has become a repository for daily interactions, photographs, news and personal announcements. Ahead of its birthday, The New York Times asked readers to relate some of what they experienced because of Facebook.

Facebook Eyes Bigger Growth in Indian Market

Facebook has about 93 million users in India, with 75 million of them on mobile. Facebook said in a statement Tuesday that the Indian market is its next big thing.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Technology Approved for Light Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will take steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology for light vehicles to improve safety and avoid crashes.

PC Gaming Spending on the Rise Despite Release Drought – Report

DFC Intelligence reports global PC gamer spending increased year-over-year in 2013 and is expected to continue to increase in 2014 to as much as $25 billion.

 

 

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, February 3, 2014

Posted February 3rd, 2014 at 4:34 pm (UTC-4)
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How Social Media Changed the World

Ten years after Facebook was launched, social media continues to transform the world. Who knows what the future of technology will bring to a connected world?

Mentally Ill Man Launches Massive Social Media Campaign to Find the Person Who Saved His Life in 2008

Londoner Jonny Benjamin, who was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, thought he had nothing more to live for and almost took his own life, were it not for a stranger who persuaded him reconsider.

The Future of Wearables: 8 Predictions from Tech Leaders

Wearable tech is still in its infancy, but the market is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the next few years. CNET talked with some top executives to see where this technology is headed.

Building a Better Battery

Apple engineers have been experimenting with solar chargers to power up iPhone and iPod batteries. With competition heating up, the race is on to find alternatives to traditional batteries and ways to make them last longer.

Nintendo’s Decline ‘Could be Detrimental to the Market’, Sony Says

UK PlayStation boss Fergal Gara says Nintendo’s decline will affect the market unless platform holders reach out to younger consumers and introduce more family-friendly casual experiences.

How Twitter Is Impacting the World of Television

Twitter is leading the way in bridging the interactive gap between TV producers and their viewers

3D-Printed Chair Uses Sugar, Paste as Its Building Block

London-based architect and designer Daniel Widrig has created his 3-D printed Degenerate Chair using a mixture of sugar, plaster and Japanese rice wine.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Mobile App Could Save Lives

Posted January 31st, 2014 at 11:17 pm (UTC-4)
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Photo courtesy Phone Oximeter.

Photo courtesy Phone Oximeter.

This week’s TECHtonics feature was written by VOA reporter Matthew Hilburn.

Canadian researchers are developing a device that could allow mobile phones to be used to measure the oxygen content in the blood, a vital sign useful for diagnosing a variety of ailments, including some that threaten the lives of women and children.

Roughly 6,000 women die every year from pre-eclampsia, which occurs during pregnancy and is related to high blood pressure. The Phone Oximeter could save the lives of thousands of pregnant women in the developing world who have life-threatening high blood pressure during their pregnancy.

The device could also be used to detect pneumonia at an early stage. Pneumonia is the number one killer of children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The device  measures the oxygen levels in the blood by shining a bright light through a patient’s fingertip. Oximeters are commonly used during the administration of anesthesia to ensure a patient is getting enough oxygen. The mobile device is a downloadable smartphone application and two LED lights, a clip and a power cord which can be plugged into a smartphone’s headphone jack.

According to a co-developer of the Phone Oximeter, Mark Ansermino, it can be used by anyone who is literate after about five minutes of training.

“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to make it intuitive,” said Ansermino, who is an Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, at the University of British Columbia in Canada “In many of these countries there aren’t enough physicians, so we’re targeting community health workers.”

Ansermino says the device alone can not make an accurate prediction about whether a pregnant woman will develop life-threatening complications from high blood pressure, but that when taken with other symptoms, the device can increase the number of accurate diagnoses by 23 percent.

Currently, the Phone Oximeter would probably cost about $30 to $40, said Ansermino, adding that the price would likely fall if produced on a larger scale.

Later this year, a randomized trial of some 80,000 women will be conducted in Mozambique, Nigeria, India and Pakistan, said Ansermino.

 

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, January 30, 2013

Posted January 30th, 2014 at 4:44 pm (UTC-4)
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Lenovo Faces Chance to Become Rare PC Maker Successful in Phones

Chinese company Lenovo’s US$2.9 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility from Google could position Lenovo to become one of rare PC makers with handset businesses. Related: Lenovo Buys Google’s Handset Business for $2.91B

South Africa Demonstrates Algae-to-Energy Technology

A demonstration by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth unveils new technology that uses algae to convert waste coal dust into clean, high-quality coal that can be processed into biofuel.

New Web Addresses Now Live

AInternet users can now register addresses in seven new domain names that include .bike, .singles, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, and .ventures.

Nintendo to Persist with Console Strategy, Ignores Calls to Go Mobile

Despite incurring operating losses for three years in a row, Nintendo is determined to maintain its game console strategy and has promised to offer health-related innovations instead.

 The Top 5 Security Threats to Watch for in 2014

The year has already seen significant data breaches at major retailers and more will likely follow. Here’s a look at some of the biggest security threats that could occur in 2014.

Twitter, CNN Developing Breaking News Tool for Journalists

CNN and Twitter have announced a partnership with Dataminr to develop an alert system for journalists. Dataminr aims to bridge the gap betweenTwitter posts and newsroom reports.

 

 

 

 

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, January 29, 2014

Posted January 29th, 2014 at 4:44 pm (UTC-4)
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Answers to a Puzzling Deal at Alibaba Remain in the Shadows

China’s Internet giant Alibaba, which recently acquired the Hong Kong-listed company Citic 21CN,  hopes to join the ranks of Google and Microsoft. But much remains unclear about Alibaba and its business.

Meet the ‘Bitcoin Millionaire’ Arrested for Allegedly Helping Silk Road Launder $1 Million

The arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem for money laundering for users of the Silk Road digital black market leaves the Bitcoin community with a publicity crisis this week.

Modern Technology Aims to Help Older Drivers

Reasearch conducted by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab sheds light on new technologies making their way into cars to help drivers stay safe behind the wheel.

Java-Based Malware Driving DDoS Botnet Infects Windows, Mac, Linux Devices

According to Kaspersky Lab, the cross-platform HEUR:Backdoor.Java.Agent.a takes hold of computers by exploiting a critical Java vulnerability that Oracle patched in June.

Was Your Account Hacked? How to Find Out

If you are worried that your credit card might have been compromised, here are a few things that might help safeguard your accounts in the future.

Why Android Updates Take So Long To Get To Your Smartphone

The signal for Android updates, which originates at Google, has to negotiate a series of portals through manufacturers, chipset makers and carriers before it reaches a user’s smartphone.

 

 

 

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, January 28, 2014

Posted January 28th, 2014 at 4:43 pm (UTC-4)
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Akamai: Average Internet Speed Grew 29% Year-over-Year to 3.6 Mbps, Mobile Traffic Jumped by 80%

The latest figures from Akamai’s quarterly State of the Internet report for Q3 2013 show average global connection speeds and demands in the global mobile market increasing steadily year-over-year.

Eco-friendly Technology to Boost Indonesia’s Shrimp Farming

The new technology, championed by the central Sulawesi provincial administration, will help boost the cultivation of the vannamei variety of shrimp and will replace the intensive farming techniques currently in use.

DDoS Attacks Become Smarter, Faster, More Severe

Looking ahead, Radware says DDoS attacks will remain a serious issue in 2014 as attackers’ tools become more sophisticated.

Trust in the Internet is crumbling

As trust in the Internet crumbles, tech security vendors are finding new business opportunities while governments are struggling with new challenges.

China Is Getting a Brand New Video Game Console

China Daily reports that television company TCL Corp plans to release its first home console later this year.

Report: Nintendo to Bring Demos of Its Console Games to Smartphones

The Nikkei Japanese newspaper reports that Nintendo will allow smartphone users to download and play Wii U demos on their phones.

The New Bot on the Block

Japan, a leader in robotics, began to shift focus after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011 from social interaction and entertainment robots to robots able to work in highly radioactive environments.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Non-Profit CyArk Uses Lasers to Preserve Cultural Sites

Posted January 24th, 2014 at 10:02 pm (UTC-4)
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In this photo provided by CyArk, Oct. 21, 2013, an image generated by 3D laser scan data, shows a perspective of Chichen Itza, in Mexico.

In this photo provided by CyArk, Oct. 21, 2013, an image generated by 3D laser scan data, shows a perspective of Chichen Itza, in Mexico. CyArk has created digital copies of more than 100 of the world’s best-known monuments, mapping Roman ruins, ancient statues, and even an entire island.  (AP Photo/CyArk)

As a child, Ben Kacyra was both frightened and excited by sculptures of winged bulls in the ruins of Nineveh, near his hometown of Mosul, Iraq.  In 2001, he was horrified when the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

“They were gone in an instant,” he said during a 2011 TED Talk. “And unfortunately there was no detailed documentation of these Buddhas.  This clearly devastated me and I couldn’t help but wonder about the fate of my old friends, the winged bulls, and the fate of the many, many heritage sites around the world.”

Kacyra and his wife Barbara founded a nonprofit organization called CyArk – the name is an amalgamation of “cyber archive” – that aims to create records of the world’s historic and cultural sites.  Harnessing portable laser scanning technology Kacyra had developed to monitor nuclear power plants, the organization makes 3-D, digital scans of historic buildings, sculptures and other creations that are in danger of disappearing.

Justin Barton, CyArk’s Chief Technology Advoate and Manager of Partnership Development, told TECHtonics the data is gathered using tripod-mounted machines that bombard a structure with thousands of laser pulses each second.

“So if it’s a pyramid in Guatemala or a church in France, the machine records the surfaces based on the laser return and it gives us a very accurate 3-D rendering of the structure,” he said.  Since the technology was developed for engineering purposes, it’s accurate to within a few millimeters, Barton said.

While the machines are capable of making thousands of measurements each second, the process of documenting huge and sometimes enormously detailed works of architecture and art can take time.  According to Barton, the group spent about three weeks recording the interior and exterior of the Sydney Opera House.

Once the record is made, the data ends up in several places, Barton said.

“We always grant all ownership of the data we’re capturing to the site itself – to whoever happens to be the site authorities,” he said.  “We have a license to archive it and share it, but we give them all the rights to it.”  He added that CyArk sends a copy of the records to a company that stores the information in an underground bunker in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

In its first 10 years, CyArk created digital records of about 100 sites.  But the company launched an effort late last year to ramp up the number of surveys.  According to Barton, the organization hopes to record 500 sites in the next five years.

In a video on the CyArk website, Barbara Kacyra described one of the first uses of CyArk data to restore a damaged site.  In 2010, fire destroyed some of the wooden structures of the Kasubi tombs in Uganda.  Fortunately, CyArk volunteers had created digital records of the buildings the year before.  The data was used to help reconstruct the historical site.

“That really brought to home what it is we’re doing,” Barbara Kacyra said in the video.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, January 23, 2014

Posted January 23rd, 2014 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Pope Francis Calls the Internet ‘a Gift from God’

Pope Francis said in a statement that the media can be very helfpul, especially when human communications have made great advances. He said the Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.

Asia Number One Market for Mobile Apps, Study Says

A new study by mobile apps research firm Distimo found Asia to be the world’s most lucrative mobile app market.According to the study, 41 percent of global app revenue in December came from Asia.

China Blames Massive Internet Blackout on Hackers

Security experts suspect China’s country-wide Internet outage, which was blamed on a hack attack, may have been occurred when Chinese government censors inadvertently blocked all global websites.

When There Are No Barriers to Technology, How Can the Government Innovate?

Governments are rarely early adapters of new technologies. And maximizing government use of technology without infringing on privacy requires a few steps to guide its way.

The Benefits of Sensors on Your Body

North Carolina State researchers are developing wearable sensors that transmit medical information and track strain, pressure and touch.

South Korea Plans 5G Wireless Network by 2020

South Korea’s science ministry announced it plans to invest $1.5 billion to build a nationwide 5G wireless service that will permit Gigabit (1 Gb/s) transmissions on compatible mobile devices.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Tech Sightings, January 22, 2014

Posted January 22nd, 2014 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Bill Gates Talks to TIME About the Three Myths of Global Aid

Bill Gates says improvements in the human condition have laid the foundation for improvements in their entire societies. He tells Time why a reduction in child mortality hasn’t led to population

The Elevator that Learns to Read Minds

Microsoft researchers use a Microsoft Kinect camera to enable an elevator to detect the likelihood that a person walking by will want to board it.The collected data served to identify behaviors to allow elevator doors to open automatically as a person intending to board approaches.

Secrets and Lies: Whisper and the Return of the Anonymous App

Whisper, founded in 2012, is a smartphone application that goes back to the roots of the Web when anonymity, not identity, was the norm.

Scientists Detect “Spoiled Onions” Trying to Sabotage Tor Privacy Network

Scientists identify almost two dozen computers attacking Tor privacy network to degrade encrypted connections between end users and servers.

Be Careful Which Facebook Page You ‘Like’

Facebook’s “like farming” is a technique often used by scammers and spammers to make easy cash, at worst, using seemingly harmless images that tug at heartstrings.

‘Facebook Could Lose 80 Percent of Users By 2017’

Princeton University Researchers in the United States predict that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years between 2015-2017.

 

 

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Kenyan Wearable Tech Helps Save Lives

Posted January 17th, 2014 at 3:05 pm (UTC-4)
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Boda boda, anyone? If you don’t know what that is, stick around.

Boda boda is the local name for Kenya’s favored mode of transportation. It is becoming more popular in both rural and urban areas across the country. Also known as the motorcycle, the boda boda saves Kenyan riders time, gives them maneuverability to zigzag around traffic jams, squeeze through narrow city streets and sometimes get in trouble.

FILE - Kenyan motorcyclists park along a main street to protest over what they say is harassment by the City Council of Nairobi inspectors on traffic offenses within the capital. (Reuters)

FILE – Kenyan motorcyclists park along a main street to protest over what they say is harassment by the City Council of Nairobi inspectors on traffic offenses within the capital. Motorcycles, locally referred to as “Boda Boda”, are a preferred mode for quick transport by many city dwellers. (Reuters)

Unfortunately, that means an increased rate of accidents, despite legal requirements that all boda boda riders wear reflective jackets and protective helmets.

According to the World Health Organization, between 3,000-13,000 Kenyans die in traffic accidents each year, most of whom are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists.

The problem caught the eye of brothers Joseph and Charles Muchene, respectively a certified public accountant and an electrical and electronics engineer. They now run a startup in Nairobi dealing with e-textiles, called CladLight.

Alarmed by rising motorcycle accident rates, the brothers attributed the vulnerability of boda boda riders to low visibility and determined that if they could increase boda boda visibility, then they might be able to reduce accidents by more than 50 percent.

“We had to come up with a product that could save lives as well as being trendy,” Joseph told TECHtonics in an email interview. “CladLight saw an opportunity to try and address the problem with the twist of fashion and make something out of it.”

Joseph says increasing the visibility was tricky because “it is the law in Kenya that all motorcycle riders and any passenger thereon must wear a reflective jacket and a helmet. So we really had to up our game to solve the issue.”

They decided that wearable electronics would be the most suitable avenue to tackle the problem. More specifically, they came up with an idea they called the Boda-Pack.

“Boda-pack is just a modification of the standard reflective jacket in that there are still reflective strips on the jacket and additional direction-indicating LEDs mounted on the jacket,” Joseph said. “We also made an improvement to the jacket by adding brake lights. All these are synchronized with the motorcycle indication and stopping systems.”

CladLight has already begun production of the Boda-Pack. But Joseph says the jacket was cumbersome and is being redesigned.

The new model is expected to hit the Kenyan market in January. In due course, the brothers plan to reach out to the Kenyan government and The National Transport and Safety Authority to gauge their interest in the Boda-Pack.

“After we have established the business in Kenya and creat[ed] a niche for ourselves, then by the end of the year we venture into East Africa, then gradually the whole of Africa,” said Joseph.

By all accounts, the Muchene brothers are pioneers in Africa so far as wearable electronics are concerned. And they hope to make a difference.

“We really hope to have a positive impact on society,” said Joseph.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.