New in Technology: GPS-enabled shoes, 256 GB microSD card, self-driving cars, virtual watch displays and more

EasyJet launches GPS-enabled shoes, Samsung launches 256 GB microSD card at ₹16,740, Google to pay $20/hour to test self-driving cars, Samsung files patent for virtual watch displays, New Chrome experiment converts images into music, and more news from technology, startups and astronomy

gps enabled shoes 256 gb microsd card self driving cars virtual watch displays
gps enabled shoes 256 gb microsd card self driving cars virtual watch displays

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EasyJet launches GPS-enabled shoes

British low-cost carrier, EasyJet launched GPS-enabled shoes today, which connect with the GPS on your smartphone to help tourists discover new places. The shoes have vibrators embedded which give out signals, helping the travellers to follow the right route. It will soon be available for purchase onboard, according to company MD, Peter Duffy.

Samsung launches 256 GB microSD card at ₹16,740

Samsung has launched a 256 GB microSD card ‘EVO Plus’ priced around ₹16,740. It claims to store up to 12 hours of 4K UHD video recording or 33 hours of full HD video playback. The card also claims reading and writing speeds of 95 MB/s and 90 MB/s, respectively. It will be available in over 50 countries from June 2016.

Google to pay $20/hour to test self-driving cars

Google has announced to pay $20/hour to drivers in Arizona for testing its self-driving cars and providing a written and oral feedback to the engineering team. Drivers will need to work under 12-24 month contracts and drive the vehicles from six to eight hours per day. Notably, Google in April had announced to expand its self-driving car program to Arizona.

Samsung files patent for virtual watch displays

Samsung has filed a patent for technology that projects a virtual user interface of a smartwatch display onto the wearer’s hand. The laser interface would project touch-sensitive “buttons” onto the hand, forearm or length of the arm for users to interact with larger, less-cumbersome screens. According to the patent, the feature isn’t limited to smartwatches and can also be used for VR/AR headsets.

New Chrome experiment converts images into music

PixelSynth, a new Chrome Experiment written in Javascript, allows users to turn images into music. Users can choose from a library of pre-selected images or upload their own to start the experiment. They can also adjust the brightness, contrast, scale, key and speed to modify the music. Launched in 2009, Chrome Experiment is an online repository of several browser-based experiments.

Twitter bug lets verified accounts verify others

A bug on Twitter for iOS allows verified accounts to verify other users by simply retweeting their tweets. However, this glitch is only visible to verified users and unverified users won’t be able to see blue ticks appear by their usernames. The bug was first reported by Tom Warren, senior editor at American technology news website The Verge.

Scientists release data from 70k dating profiles

Danish researchers have collected data from 70,000 profiles of online dating website OkCupid and released them on the internet. While the data used no real names, it mentioned usernames, locations and answers to personal questions like political leanings. The profiles were technically already public, however according to OkCupid, collecting data without consent violates the website’s legal policy.

iTunes bug deleting users’ music libraries

Apple has confirmed in a statement that an “extremely small” number of customers were having their music libraries disappear without their permission due to a bug in iTunes. This came after a designer named James Pinkstone blogged about his 122 GB of music files getting deleted. Apple said it will release an iTunes patch next week to fix the issue.

Samsung launches Charm fitness band

Samsung on Friday launched its Charm fitness band that tracks steps taken, distances travelled and calories burnt. The bracelet-style band also inform users of incoming calls, texts, and social media messages using colour-coded LED notifications. Featuring a 17 mAh battery, the device is currently available in South Korea, Italy, France, and Russia in Gold, Black, and Rose Quartz colour variants.

Google for Work head Amit Singh moves to VR unit

Amit Singh, the head of Google’s enterprise business ‘Google for Work’ on Friday announced that he has taken on a new position inside the company’s recently created virtual reality (VR) division. He said on Twitter, “Thrilled to be joining Google VR team to lead biz and ops.” Singh had left Oracle to join Google in 2010.

Jack Ma, others’ private data leaked on Twitter

Personal data like national identification numbers, addresses, educational attainment and marital status of China’s elite including Alibaba Founder Jack Ma was leaked on Twitter on Thursday for a few hours. The data was posted by account ‘@shenfenzheng’, which means ‘personal identification’ in Chinese. While the account was suspended, a cached version of the webpage reportedly continues to exist.

BMW to launch self-driving car ‘i NEXT’ in 2021

During an annual shareholder meeting in Munich, BMW CEO Harald Krueger revealed the company’s plans to debut a self-driving car, called i NEXT, in 2021. Krueger said that the car will feature “autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, and a totally new interior”. He added that the vehicle will bring “the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”

Ultra-thin lense turns smartphone to microscope

Italian startup Smart Micro-Optics has developed ‘Blips’, a $23 portable set of ultra-thin adhesive micro and macro lenses, which turns any smartphone or tablet into a microscope. While the micro lense provides high resolution micro images up to 4 microns, the macro lense provides 10 times optical magnification. Microscopic images are visible through a dedicated Android or iOS app.

BlackBerry denied patent for digital signature

Canadian telecom firm BlackBerry has been denied an Indian patent on the company’s claimed invention regarding a method of verifying digital signatures, especially in smaller devices like the mobile phone. The patent office denied the company’s claim citing a section of the Patent Act 1970 which stated that computer programs or algorithms are categorised as non-patentable subject matter.

Closing website archives content to last 10k yrs

Journaling website, that closes on September 1, is archiving its users’ contributions in nickel plates that will be readable for another 10,000 years. Around two million words and 14,000 photos etched on nickel plates will be visible through an optical microscope. The co-founder said it was his moral responsibility to give his users a place to put their stories.

1st ever mitochondria-less eukaryote discovered

A team led by a University of British Columbia researcher has discovered the first ever eukaryote – complex organisms that contain genetic material – without a mitochondria. The microorganism was originally recovered from a pet chinchilla. Mitochondria is a cell organelle that helps to produce the energy currency of the cell, called ATP, through respiration and regulate cellular metabolism.

Plastic-use can raise agriculture yield: Report

A wider use of plastics in agriculture in applications like drip irrigation and mulching can increase the value of agricultural output in India by ₹68,000 crore, a report by consulting firm Tata Strategic Management Group said. Further, innovative plastic packaging and handling techniques can promote harvest management, it further said, adding the government should promote plasticulture in India.

IBM creates chemical to fight viral infections

IBM Research has created a chemical “macromolecule” that could help fight several viral diseases including Ebola, Zika, dengue and herpes. The chemical has the ability to fight off the viruses regardless of any mutations they naturally make over time. It was designed to combat viruses in three ways – protecting healthy cells, stopping virus’s replication and boosting the immune system.

UR Rao to be the 1st Indian in IAF Hall of Fame

Former ISRO Chairman UR Rao will become the first Indian to be inducted into the ‘International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Hall of Fame’. He will receive the ‘IAF Hall of Fame’ Award during the 67th International Astronautical Congress in September 2016. Rao is being honoured for his outstanding contribution to the progress of astronautics within the framework of the IAF activities.

Guinness names 30-yr-old cat ‘Oldest living cat’

Thirty-year-old Siamese cat Scooter, who is from Texas, has set the Guinness World Record for being the new ‘Oldest living cat’. He was reportedly born on March 26, 1986, and has been living with his owner Gail Floyd ever since. Scooter has visited 45 of the 50 US states along with Floyd, who says, “He likes to see new places”.

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Food pre-ordering app Zeppery shuts down

Restaurant food pre-ordering app Zeppery has shut down after six months of launching operations due to low response and higher customer retention costs. Founded in 2015, the app lets users browse food menus and pre-order their meals before visiting a restaurant. Zeppery owner Inweone Technologies is now working on a micro-delivery logistics business and building a new team.

Carpooling app Derbii raises angel funding

Carpooling app Derbii has raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Anurag Chauhan, MD, Accenture and Arvind Modi, Director and CEO, Komli Developers. Founded in 2015 by Gaurav Sinsinwar, Prasenjit Singh and Akash Chaudhary, the app lets users share AC cabs with door-to-door pickup and drop service. Derbii currently operates in Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Manesar, Noida and Ghaziabad.

Apparel rental startup Klozee shuts down

Bengaluru-based premium apparel platform Klozee has shut down within seven months of raising its seed funding. “Demand was a lot slower than we expected. The idea would have taken a lot of money and investment to scale up. So we decided to shut down in January,” said Aman Haji, Klozee’s Co-founder. Klozee’s Co-founders have joined home decor marketplace Livspace.

India’s 1st startup hostel launched in Bengaluru

Entrepreneur platform Construkt Media has launched India’s first startup hostel in Bengaluru as a business-friendly accommodation for the travelling startup and creative community. Started with a budget of ₹22 lakh, the 3,500-square-feet hostel can host 20 people at a time at a cost of ₹850 per night. Its facilities include a self-catering kitchen, WiFi, lounge space, laundry and meeting space.

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Scientists find 4.5-bn-year-old pieces of Earth

According to a study published in the journal Science, researchers have discovered 4.5 billion-year-old pieces of Earth within the volcanoes in Canada’s Baffin Island and in a region near Solomon Islands. These materials were created within the first 50 million years of the Earth’s creation, researchers added. The discovery could help them understand the processes that shaped the planet’s birth.

Tiny space debris hits ISS, cracks window

British astronaut Tim Peake, aboard the International Space Station, has shared an image of a cracked window hit by space debris. According to the European Space Agency, the debris was “possibly a paint flake or small metal fragment no bigger than a few thousandths of a millimeter.” Notably, anything larger than 10 cm could “shatter a satellite or spacecraft into pieces”.

NASA finds seasonal patterns in Mars atmosphere

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover recorded distinct seasonal patterns through two full cycles of Martian seasons, scientists have claimed. Mars atmosphere is clear in winters, dustier in spring and summers, and windy in autumn, scientists added. The Curiosity rover has measured relative humidity up to 70% during winter nights which can prompt researchers to search for formation of frost on ground.

Scientists use stars to date 2,500 year-old poem

Scientists from the University of Texas have used advanced astronomical software to accurately date poet Sappho’s “Midnight Poem,” which describes the night sky over Greece more than 2,500 years ago. Using the references in Sappho’s poem, scientists recreated the night sky of the Greek isle on Lesbos from 570 BC to determine the season in which the poem was written.

NASA records magnetic explosions above Earth

In a first, a fleet of NASA’s four spacecrafts, dubbed Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, has recorded magnetic explosions above the Earth. Recent revelations of the recordings, taken in October 2015, showed that when two magnetic fields collide, electrons shoot out from the point of impact in straight lines and then slowly begin to curve in response to the new magnetic fields.





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